"They take the ‘play’ within the ‘radio play’ literally"

Katharina Bihler and Stefan Scheib will be awarded the Günter Eich Prize 2024.

Leipzig, 21 May 2024 . The Günter Eich Prize 2024 of Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig goes to Katharina Bihler and Stefan Scheib as a team. This was decided by the jury chaired by Thomas Fritz, a long-time radio dramaturge at MDR public broadcasting. The prize is awarded to authors who have made special contributions to German-language radio plays and is endowed with 10,000 euros. The award ceremony will take place on 7 August 2024 as part of the Summer Festival of the Sparkasse Leipzig Foundations at Media Campus Villa Ida in Leipzig, the seat of the Foundations. On the same day, the Axel Eggebrecht Prize for the radio feature will be awarded to the feature author and director Franziska Sophie Dorau.

“In their works, Katharina Bihler and Stefan Scheib - better known as the Liquid Penguin Ensemble - address the importance of hearing, language, music and noises for human interaction in a profound and entertaining way and often place it in a European context,” Stephan Seeger, Managing Director of Media Foundation, acknowledges this year's award-winning team: “My warmest congratulations go to Katharina Bihler and Stefan Scheib for the well-deserved award with our Günter Eich Prize. I would also like to thank our jury chairman Thomas Fritz and his co-jurors for the excellent choice,” continued Seeger.

Katharina Bihler and Stefan Scheib thanked the jury: “The radio play occupies a very central place in our artistic work, because the acoustic is the heart of our work, and the concentrated and concentrating form of radio art always inspires our imagination. We are happy and we are extremely pleased about this award!” said the laureates.

The jury, which, in addition to chairman Thomas Fritz, also included Diemut Roether (specialist editor for media topics at epd medien news agency) and Wolfgang Schiffer (long-time head of radio plays, radio features and literature at WDR public broadcasting), explained their choice of the award-winning team: “The radio plays of Katharina Bihler and Stefan Scheib, who call themselves 'Liquid Penguin Ensemble', are sophisticated compositions. They take the 'play' in the ‘radio play’ literally; they play with language, music, sounds, with supposedly authentic realities and with what emerges within them. Possibilities concocted by sheer imagination...For these passionate radio play makers, no topic is too remote, no question is too abstract...The result are works that are as delicate as they are anarchic, the fullness of which is revealed again and again when listening to the flow of their thoughts, compositions and associations is left to them, is delighted and perhaps inspired to think further audaciously. With their works they have broadened the horizons of the art form of radio play."

About the laureates

Author, director, performer and speaker Katharina Bihler, born in 1967, has been working with experimental theater, music, performance and radio plays since 1990. She conceives, realizes and writes in particular for projects that play with the boundaries of artistic genres and often deal with scientific, historical or European topics. A focus of Bihler's work is on the acoustic medium and the development of radio plays for radio. In 1997 she founded the Liquid Penguin Ensemble together with the composer and double bass player Stefan Scheib. She also works in other projects as a director or live actor.

Stefan Scheib, born in 1965, has been working as a musician in various ensembles with improvised and contemporary music since 1993, including In.Zeit Ensemble, autochthon, SteDaJoDa, in a duo with Elisabeth Flunger or Johannes Schmitz, the string trio hors du cadre as well as in free formation with Klaus Kugel and Frank Paul Schubert. He also works as a composer and arranger for concert, stage and radio productions. In 1997, together with Katharina Bihler, he founded the Liquid Penguin Ensemble for music/radio plays/performances (composition, conception, instruments, sound design). In addition, Scheib is particularly involved in cross-disciplinary projects and receives composition commissions, among other things, by Quatuor Plus, the Philharmonie Luxembourg, Opera mobile and ARD Radio Tatort.

The themes of Liquid Penguin Ensemble’s projects usually remain the subject of artistic research for a long time and sometimes find different artistic forms of expression over time. Sound installations are further developed into concerts or performances for small or larger ensembles, musical theatre pieces change into a purely acoustic form in radio plays for the radio, motifs and material from their radio plays form the basis for live performances. The most far-reaching project in this regard is "HEAR GRASS GROWING", which started in 2004 as a plant-controlled sound installation, which later resulted in various concerts and performances with plants in the following years, and then formed the starting point for a radio play of the same name (SR public radio, 2007), as a live radio play, that returned to the stage and most recently in 2019, at the invitation of the Modern Vienna Festival, became the basis of a production for young audiences and families as an "open day" at the biolingua Institute.

About the Günter Eich Prize

The Günter Eich Prize, awarded by Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig, honours authors who have dedicated an oeuvre of content and formal competence to the radio genre of “radio play”. Previous laureates were Alfred Behrens (2007), Eberhard Petschinka (2009), Hubert Wiedfeld (†) (2011), Jürgen Becker (2013), Ror Wolf (†) (2015), Friederike Mayröcker (†) (2017), Andreas Ammer & FM Einheit (2019), Paul Plamper (2021) and Ulrike Haage (2022). The prize is awarded every two years together with the Axel Eggebrecht Prize for outstanding radio feature authors.

2024 - Günter Eich Prize
2024 - Günter Eich Prize