Birgit Schwab and Daniel Ahlert are performing together since 1992, and in the meantime they have been playing hundreds of recitals in Europe and the US. Critics and audiences have been admiring their unique sound cosmos, brilliant technique and rhythmical fire. They are considered Europe's most prominent artist couple with their instrumentation, and they have well established the combination of mandolin & guitar/lute in modern concert life.
Birgit und Daniel studied at Musikhochschule Köln/Wuppertal, to which they added masterclasses with Angelo Gilardino, Eduardo Egüez and Konrad Junghänel. Right in the first year of their collaboration they won 1st prize at Concours International de Duos in Soumagne/Belgium. They have also been awarded scholarships by Friedrich-Jürgen-Sellheim-Gesellschaft, Stiftung Kunst und Kultur des Landes NRW, Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Westfälischen Kulturarbeit e.V. and Werner Richard-Dr. Carl Dörken Stiftung, and they received support by "American Composers Forum" through their "Encore" programme and by the Slovak Arts Council.
1992 Duo Ahlert & Schwab made their debut with Corelli's „La Follia“. Since 1995 they additionally perform using historical instruments. Ever since they appear on stages in Europe and the USA in numerous festivals and important venues such as Festival der Laute in Füssen, Haus Opherdicke (Unna), Zeughaus Neuss, Schloss Garath (Düsseldorf), Internationales Bodenseefestival, Schleswig-Holstein Musikfestival, Oberstdorfer Musiksommer, Gitarrenfestival Speyer, Festival Orgel Plus Bottrop, Bagno Konzertgalerie in Steinfurt, Musikfest Unerhörte Musik Mitteldeutschland, Bachfestival Arnstadt, Bachhaus Eisenach, Bachfest Leipzig, Meisterkonzerte Bingen, Preston Bradley Hall (Chicago), international festival for plucked instruments in Beer-Sheva (Israel), Sundin Music Hall (Minnesota), Festival Internazionale della Chitarra in Lagonegro (Italy), Festival La Guitarra California. Otto Schily, then Germany's minister of the interior, personally gave his thanks to Duo Ahlert & Schwab after their concert on Mainau Island. In 2003 they very successfully debuted in the US. In 2004 Duo Ahlert & Schwab were invited to New York by WNYC radio, who labeled them "Lord of the Strings". On the opening day of Projekt Kulturhauptstadt 2010 Duo Ahlert & Schwab performed a programme of all Danish music for mandolin and guitar. Since 2018 Léon Berben (harpsichord, organ, square piano) is joining Duo Ahlert & Schwab for selected concerts.
Duo Ahlert & Schwab perform music from 1700 up to present time - always using instruments of and sometimes even from the specific era. Their mission and passion are doing research in libraries and archives on a quest to discover and rediscover original music as well as working closely with composers who have dedicated more than 100 new compositions to them. Among the composers are Yehezkel Braun (Israel), Ernesto Cordero (Puerto Rico), Claude Engel (France), Angelo Gilardino (Italy), Jeffrey Harrington (USA), Thomas Schmidt-Kowalski (Germany) and Jaime M. Zenamon (Brazil). The duo has recorded a lot of this music for 6 CD productions for Naxos, Claudio Records and Antes.
In addition to their chamber music programmes they also perform with orchestra. Today, Duo Ahlert & Schwab are regarded as specialists for concertos for mandolin, guitar and orchestra. They have performed and and even premiered almost all compositions written for this combination.
Birgit Schwab studied guitar and lute at Musikhochschule Köln/Wuppertal with Prof. Dieter Kreidler and Prof. Hans-Michael Koch.
Daniel Ahlert studied mandolin and and baroque mandolin at Musikhochschule Köln/Wuppertal with Prof. Marga Wilden-Hüsgen.
1992 - 1st prize at "Concours international des Duos" in Belgium
1998 - winners at Wuppertaler Barmenia Wettbewerb
1998-2001 - scholars of Friedrich-Jürgen-Sellheim-Gesellschaft
1999 - scholars of "Stiftung Kunst und Kultur des Landes NRW"
2000 - scholars of VEW Energie
2000-2012 - scholars of Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Westfälischen Kulturarbeit e.V.
2001-2003 - scholars of Werner Richard-Dr. Carl Dörken Stiftung
2005-2006 - supported by "American Composers Forum" in the "Encore" programme
2017- supported by Slovak Arts Council
WDR, SWR, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Radio 100,7 (Luxembourg), WFMT (Chicago), WNYC (New York)
Austria, Belgium, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, USA
Duo Ahlert & Schwab GbR
Fon: +49 (0)2307 4381635
e-mail: duo (at) ahlert-schwab.de