A French composer and pianist.
A pianist by training, Catherine Verhelst studied at the Paris Conservatory. She took part in many international piano competitions, distinguishing herself notably with her performance of the Suite for piano op. 25 by Arnold Schönberg.
Verhelst works in close collaboration with the scenographer and stage director Hervé Tougeron, with whom she co-directs the music ensemble Skênê. Taking inspiration from Mauricio Kagel’s formula ‘music as theatre’, they together research the link between music, voice, theatre, literature, video, super 8, installations and mobile objects, seeking to relate the world of sounds with images and words. They collaborate with the actors Emmanuelle Riva, François Marthouret, Geoffrey Carey, Gérard Darman, Daniel Koenigsberg, Sylvie Moussier; the musicians Akie Kakehi, Delphine Millour, Annelise Clément, the Diotima Quartet; the artistes Chloé Poizat, Pierre Perron, Gianpaolo Pagni, Benoît Dindinaud and the Japanese film-maker Koji Yamamura.
Through music theatre shows, chamber operas, radiophonic creations, installations and films, multidisciplinary works were born, both in theatres and in heritage sites, museums and on the radio. Her works include Étude pour un buste de monsieur Erik Satie, music theatre (1998); Les sonneurs de rivets, a radiophonic creation based on the memories of naval workers in Nantes and Saint-Nazaire, commissioned by Les Ateliers de Création Radiophonique (ACR) of France Culture (2002); Les chambres noires de la villa Lemot, a musical and visual installation in the Garenne Lemot estate in Loire-Atlantique (2008); Bobine’s music for solo piano, first performed in Madrid for the centenary of the Institut Français (2010); Jules et la mécanique des souvenirs, musical show based on Jules Verne, commissioned by Radio France (2011); La pellicule ensorcelée, stage and film solo about the painter and film-maker Hans Richter, commissioned by the Centre Pompidou-Metz (2014); Water dream, l’eau des rêves, cinematographic concert and installation in collaboration with Koji Yamamura (2017); Parade japonaise, cinematographic opera, first performed by the chorus of Angers-Nantes Opéra, the Ensemble Skênê and the Japanese mezzo-soprano Akie Kakehi (2019).