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"The most perfect harmony of all sounds is found in silence"

- A.Schopenhauer

Foto: Margrit Müller

 "... Helena Winkelman is one of the rare talents that managed to find her own voice as a composer as well as an instrumentalist... chamber music is of great importance to her. Apart from knowing the standard repertoire she also premiered countless new works and she meets traditional swiss folk music with an open heart. As a composer she makes good use of her experience in these fields: She is respectful towards the interprets and their instruments and she is a fine craftsman. Different stilistic influences contributed to her compositoric language. With a  very subtle imagination of sound and a refined sense for musical evolutions in time she develops works that emanate warmth and feel as if they came from nature itself.  " 

Laudatio when receiving a scholarship to stay for half a year in Berlin, 2011 Schaffhausen (D)

Helena Winkelman, composer, violinist and artistic leader of the camerata variabile pursues a very diverse and successful musical career. Born 1974 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland into a family of professional interpreters of baroque music, she early developed an interest in improvisation and contemporary music and started to compose at the age of nineteen.

After obtaining her teachers and performance - diplomas (violin) with distinction, studying in Lucerne, Mannheim and Basel, she spent one year in New York where she received her first composition lessons.

Returning to Basel when she was 24 years old, she started to study compostion with Roland Moser and Georg Friedrich Haas and graduated after 5 years.

During this time she simultaneously has been collaborating with some of the finest chamber musicians in Europe and she uses her extensive experience as a performer to create new works that make full use of  the possibilities and expressive strengths of the instruments she is writing for.

She has a great interest in literature (Dante, Rumi, folk tales in particular) and in the old culture of indigenous people and they are a great inspiration for her work. In 2010 she spent one month in Varanasi, India to study the basics of Dhrupad singing with Ritwik Sanyal. 


By now her catalogue of works encompasses almost every genre - from solos to big scale orchestra works. She has a particular love for writing choir music and folk music –inspired works for ensemble. 

Her pieces are being performed all over the world but some of her favourite collaborations were with the Latvian Vocal Ensemble Putni, the NOIS quintet (Noldi Alder, Lucas Niggli a.o.) the Musikfabrik, Cologne and Dana Ciocarlie, Paris.

She took part in festivals like Davos, Lucerne and Alpentöne Switzerland as well as the IMS Prussia Cove in England and  the BASTAD Festival in Sweden. 2013 she was composer in residence at the festival in Ernen, Switzerland and 2014 in Lockenhaus, Austria.

Her work "Bandes Dessinées"  was selected for the world music days in Ljubljana and other works are performed by the Arditti Quartet, the Schumann Quartet, the Faust Quartet, Steamboat Switzerland, Ensemble Phoenix, Basel, Münchener Chamber Orchestra, Asian Art Ensemble, Berlin, Basel Chamber Orchestra and soloist like Thomas and Patrick Demenga, Xenia Jankovich, Christoph Richter, Balthasar Streiff, Robert Koller and Hansheinz Schneeberger.

Awards and bursaries

In 2016 she received the +GF+ Award of her hometown Schaffhausen and in 2017 the Swiss Music Award.

Numerous scholarships include: Migros - Genossenschaftsbund und Göhner - foundation,

Friedl-Wald Stiftung and two residencies (London, Berlin) by Landis and Gyr and KulturRaumSchaffhausen.

© 2019 Helena Winkelman, crafted by bitwave