A children's entertainer with mass appeal

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Andrew Bond may be one of Switzerland's most successful children's musicians, but he is also a man with a message.

This content was published on September 4, 2009 - 14:50

Each new CD release by the Swiss-British star achieves gold and platinum sales in the country and his concerts are regularly sold out. Bond has also received dozens of Swiss and international awards in recognition of his work.

But instead of fame, his biggest dream is for music to become "a sport for the masses".

"No parent would say they did not know how to play football with their child. It's a shame that so many people say they do not know how to sing. Music should not suffer from an inferiority complex," he told swissinfo.ch.

"There is no need to take expensive lessons in an instrument to have fun," he says.

The radiant faces of his young audience seem to confirm this. Bond has spent the summer touring German-speaking Switzerland with four musicians and singers as part of the Lilibiggs children's concert series sponsored by the supermarket chain Migros.

The show features a king who has been kidnapped by pirates. A cowboy and Indian find a way of freeing him, with the help of the audience, of course, who sing and dance in the front of the stage.

Wide repertoire

Parents also appear to like the music. The rhythms are not childish and include elements of rock, country, occasional hip hop, and melodies to hum along to.

The words, in Swiss German dialect, speak a simple language that at the same time avoids being childish or "cool" youthful slang.
Bond's repertoire ranges from timeless themes such as the seasons, Christmas and other holidays to nature, travel and sport.

Bond decided a few years ago to devote himself to his art and his family after teaching religion and music for 17 years in secondary school.

His first CD in 1988 was initially created as a gift for friends and family and has sold nearly 90,000 copies to date.

The summer tour is an exception in Bond's very full schedule. At home in Wädenswil in canton Zurich, he takes care of his daughter and son, aged 16 and 14, and is in charge of household duties four days a week, when his wife works as a teacher. The recording studio installed in his home allows him to write and try out his ideas.

Musician and animal tamer

Bond has always immersed himself in music. His Swiss mother and British father were teachers and musicians who played in their church. His early years were spent in Britain and the Democratic Republic of Congo, before the family moved to Switzerland when Bond was 12. His brother and sister are also musicians.

Bond works not only on the scores of his songs but also the accompanying music for schools and crèches. He gives lessons to teachers and creates games to go with the CDs.

His output does not stop there. Bond is also the author of several children's books, with versions of some of the songs in High German, and he is releasing a CD in English and another for adults.

And although the Lilibiggs tour is a "great luxury for singers", Bond says the big stage is not his preferred venue to perform. Instead he is more comfortable with the response his music gets inside a school.

"That teaches you much more about this work, because one sometimes has to be as much an animal tamer as a musician. There, one also sees one's work come alive: I prefer to see a class sing my songs by heart rather than sell another 10,000 CDs, even though that is also important."

Ariane Gigon in Zurich, swissinfo.ch (Adapted from French by Jessica Dacey)

Andrew Bond

Born in England in 1965, Andrew Bond is married with a teenage daughter and son.

His family moved to Switzerland at the aged of 12, but he regularly returns to his father's home country, Britain.

A theologian by training, Bond taught religion and music at the high school Wädenswil in canton Zurich for 17 years. Today, he devotes his time to his family and his art.

Nurseries and schools in Switzerland work with his CDs and teaching materials.

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CHILDREN'S CONCERTS

The Lilibiggs Kinderkonzerte is touring 11 German-speaking cities between June and September. The event has a budget of SFr1.2 million and attracts an average audience of 45,000.

The event was launched 11 years ago when organiser Michael Furler invited singer Linard Bardill to his children's birthday and 300 people came. Andrew Bond joined the tour the following year.

Last year, the tour made its first premier in French-speaking parts. The organisers hope it will return regularly.

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