Call for papers


Choral Life in Switzerland, 19th-21st Century

International Conference

Institute of Musicology, University of Bern

17–18 September 2021


The Call for Papers is now closed.

Official languages: English, German, French, and Italian


Keynote speakers:

Professor Friedhelm Brusniak, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany

Professor Beat Föllmi, Université de Strasbourg, France

PD Dr Delphine Vincent, Université de Fribourg, Switzerland


Call for Papers

Switzerland is a country with intense choral life. The report Singing Europe, published by the European Choral Association in 2015, indicates that 7,2% of the Swiss population sang in a choir in 2008. A survey by the Federal Statistical Office shows that just over one in seven people in Switzerland sings and that this activity is practised by people of all ages and all educational levels. The choral movement gained momentum in Switzerland under the influence of the music pedagogue, composer, author, and publisher Hans Georg Nägeli (1773–1836). From the beginning of the 19th century, choral societies flourished throughout the country and became one of the foundations of Swiss musical life.

Despite this significance, the study of choral life in Switzerland and its implications is almost entirely neglected in current scholarship. There is a lack of research on past and present choral activities in the different language regions of Switzerland, as well as on the relation between such activities and their social, political, and historical contexts.

This two-day conference aims to foster interdisciplinary discussions about choral life in Switzerland from the 19th century to our days. It expects to contribute to a better understanding of activities and traditions that have had and still have far-reaching influences on musical and social aspects but have hardly been researched so far.

We invite proposals for individual papers (20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of discussion) on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Choral activities and traditions in the different language regions of Switzerland
  • Musical, historical, social, linguistic and political aspects related to choral societies and their activities
  • Gender aspects related to choral singing (for instance, the participation of women)
  • Choral singing and the challenges of social and demographic changes
  • Choral singing and immigration
  • Choral singing and its impact on composition and creativity
  • Swiss composers and choral repertoire
  • Swiss choirs outside Switzerland
  • Transnational aspects of Swiss choral traditions

Researchers from different disciplines (e.g. musicology, ethnomusicology, sociology, history, gender studies, cultural studies) are welcome to submit a proposal. The conference committee wishes to encourage the participation of young researchers by offering a limited number of travel bursaries (see below).

New deadline: Please send an abstract (PDF format) of no more than 300 words accompanied by a short biography (150 words) to by 31 January 2021.

The conference will be followed by a concert on the evening of 18 September 2021 in the Französische Kirche in Bern (this concert will be repeated on 3 October in the Aula of the University of Fribourg). The Bernese choir Canto Classico and the Choeur de Chambre de l’Université de Fribourg, along with soloists and instrumentalists, will perform vocal music by Swiss composers from the 19th century to the present day. The program includes the premiere performance of works by the composers Leopold Dick and Jean-François Michel, which were specially commissioned for this event. A round table with these composers will take place at the end of the conference and will be moderated by Dr Irène Minder-Jeanneret (Dictionary of Music in Switzerland).

The organisation of the event (conference and concert) is a collaboration between Dr Caiti Hauck, researcher of the MSCA project CLEFNI – The choral life in the cities of Bern and Fribourg in the long 19th century, Dr María Cáceres Piñuel, researcher at the University of Bern, and the Association Musica Classica in Bern.



We are delighted to offer a limited number of travel bursaries for young researchers. 
Any person engaged in producing academic research and who a) is a current PhD student or b) has attended their PhD viva within the last five years is eligible to apply.
Please send an email to with the subject “Bursary Application” and provide a PDF with your name, email address, institutional affiliation (if applicable), a short biography (150 words), and up to 200 words describing how attendance at the conference will benefit you and your research.
The new deadline for bursary applications is 31 January 2021.


Participation in the conference is free of charge.


Conference Committee

Dr Caiti Hauck, CLEFNI, University of Bern
Dr María Cáceres Piñuel, University of Bern
Professor Cristina Urchueguía, University of Bern