Science and Music


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10 Years of HUGO

What began in 1996 as a unique project, rapidly evolved into an extraordinary and successful trio. Under the title "HUGO hat Töne" Daniel Schümperli, Lukas Frey und Rudolf von Steiger, since 2001, have been transposing DNA codes and other types of genetic and biological data into music. The acronym HUGO was borrowed from the Human Genome Organisation, the large international research consortium, which, at the time, had just finished sequencing the entire human genome.

HUGO's central motivation is to merge science and music. However inconceivable this may seem, the three scientists and musicians achieve this impressively, without resorting to historic traditions. Daniel Schümperli and Lukas Frey improvise on their instruments according to concepts individually adapted to each piece of computer music that Rudolf von Steiger generates, based on real scientific data. Thus each perfomance sounds differently. At its concerts, the trio also explains certain aspects of the collection and scientific interpretation of the data as well as their musical transposition. This combination of sensual and factual information provides new insights into scientific areas that are little known to the general public.

Commissioned by the Music Festival Bern, the trio has composed a completely new programm adapted to the title of the 2009 festival, "Vom Himmel" (litterally from heaven/the sky):
"HUGO in the sky (no diamonds)" is based on data collected from different sources in the earth's atmosphere and outer space.

In January 2011, HUGO received the Science Communication Award of the Swiss Society for Cell Biology Molecular Biology and Genetics (ZMG).

And, quite recently, HUGOskytrio has become a member of the YouTube community.

Daniel Schümperli
Molecular biologist
Professor for cell and molecular biology at the University of Bern
Instrument: Clarinet
Lukas Frey
Program Officer for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (DEZA)
Instrument: Double bass
Rudolf von Steiger
Professor for experimental physics, in particular extraterrestrial physics
Director of the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in Bern
Instrument: Computer

CD HUGO in the sky (no diamonds)
Recorded live at the Museum of Natural History Bern
11 November 2009
(25 sFr. Switzerland, 30 sFr. abroad)

CD «HUGO hat Töne - Live Performances 2002-2006»
(25 sFr. Switzerland, 30 sFr. abroad)

YouTube channel HUGOskytrio