Serge Verstockt is artistic director and artist in residence at ChampdAction. He studied music theory in the 1970s and 1980s, sound engineering and clarinet at the Conservatories of Brussels and Antwerp and simultaneously took video and audio editing classes at the RITCS in Brussels.
From 1983 to 1985, he studied with Gottfried Michael Koenig – pioneer of the development of algorhitmic composition systems – at the Utrecht Institute of Sonology. Designing music programs such as Trans led to new formally developed music structures. These elements were important in his early work. In 1985, Correlation – a computer generated tape composition – was selected by the International Computermusic Conference at The Hague. In the final years of the 1980s, he was one of the founders of the computer music department of the Conservatory of Arnhem.
In 1987, Verstockt founded ChampdAction: an ensemble for contemporary and experimental music, with a strong focus on the use of technology.
Dec, a 1992 performance based on the poem Comment dire by Samuel Beckett, was created by juxtaposing two types of analysis: the depth structure of the written language contrasted by the analysis of the spoken language. Form versus emotion.
In 1998, Verstockt and architect Werner Van dermeersch created the largescale multimedia project Screens, which featured a mix of electronic instruments, live electronics and computer controlled images. The sounds of the improvising musicians were manipulated by computers and were then spatially projected into the room, creating virtual rooms.
From 1997 to 1999, Verstockt was a junior fellow of the KBC Chair of New Music (musicology, KU Leuven). He was commissioned for compositions by Festival van Vlaanderen, Stad Antwerpen, Wien Modern, Artefact Festival, Music@venture, Ars Musica, deSingel, Concertgebouw Brugge, Transitfestival, De Bijloke Ghent, November Music, BLINDMAN and others.
2007 became a turning point in Verstockt's artistic career. He created the music for Requiem für eine Metamorphose by Jan Fabre (Troubleyn), which was performed in Salzburg, Bochum (Ruhr Triënnale) and Vilnius. In the same year, his new composition DRIE premiered at the Music@venture at deSingel in Antwerp. This composition was performed by ChampdAction in collaboration with Slagwerkgroep Den Haag. DRIE
In 2013, Hold Your Horses – Grand Opera de Trash premiered at deSingel in Antwerp as the first part of an opera trilogy. This first opera by Verstockt tackles the brutal confrontation with a fragmentary world that balances between virtuality and reality. In the libretto, inspired by the 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action by Gene Sharp, assemblies of nature and culture flirt with divas and avatars.
The second part of the opera trilogy premiered at Ancienne Belgique (Brussels) in 2015. In HRZSCHMRZ, love is the central theme in an ever-advancing digital world that engulfs us in our daily reality.
In 2017, Verstockt implemented pianolas and robots in his satire de trash 'Pianola'. The same year, he went on to create BeatEmUp: a live installation with video, live electronics and two drummers, based on the world of violent video games. The live tracking of the percussionists and the feedback to the images intensify the listening and viewing experiences.
In 2018, ChampdAction produced Verstockt's largescale location project Canticum Canticorum, in co-production with the world-renowned choir Collegium Vocale Gent and with Muziektheater Transparant. The Old Testament's Song of Songs becomes a protest song against social curtailment, delimiting powers and erected walls. In this live installation, members of the audience are carried along the aisles of a majestic church, surrounded by immersive video projections, contemporary sound structures and sublime old polyphony.
Verstockt is currently developing various future projects as an 'artist in residence'. In the meanwhile, many existing projects will be resumed or further developed as participation projects during the upcoming concert season.
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