Composer and artistic director of ChampdAction
Serge Verstockt studied music theory, clarinet and electronic music at the Antwerp Conservatory. In 1983 he studied at the 'Instituut voor Sonologie' in Utrecht with Godfried Michael Koenig where he concentrated on formal compositional methods and developed the programme 'Trans'.
In 1988 he founded the ensemble ChampdAction which would devote particular attention to new technological developments: live electronics, interactive computerised works, etc.
In the 1990's, with the computer as a catalyst, imagery began to become a constant factor in his work and this resulted in a long-standing collaboration with architect Werner Van dermeersch. In 2000 they jointly realised 'Screens', a multimedia performance in which music and image were intrinsically airborne loudspeakers.
In 2007 Verstockt composed the music for the production 'Requiem für eine Metamorphose' by Jan Fabre and Troubleyn. He toured with this production at the festivals of Salzburg and Ruhr Triënnale. Performances were also held in Vilnius.
In his more recent work, Verstockt has collaborated with musicians from a range of disciplines: free-jazz musicians, heavy metalgrunters, human beatboxers, noise-makers... seeking to give a new impulse to the somewhat rigid 'contemporary classical' music scene. 'Drie', for four percussionists, six 60's years organs and rudimentary beatboxing, unchained clarinets, piercing electric guitar and heavy electro-beats was enthusiastically received by audience and press alike.
In 2008 Serge Verstockt was commissioned by Blindman (Saxophone Quartet) to create a composition for ChampdAction and Blindman. This resulted in Twisted Pair, a large-scale ensemble work featuring elements such as Tibetan horns and electronics. Twisted Pair has since been performed in Antwerp, Brussels and Bruges and in winter 2009 a revised version has been performed at the museum Reina Sofia in Madrid.
In late 2009 Verstockt's multimedia production 'Voix Instrumentalisée' premiered at the festival Made in Ghent. The work has subsequantly been performed in Antwerp, Amsterdam and Bruges.
FINGERFERTIGKEIT - L' égalité des doigts written in 2012 was a next step in the oeuvre of Serge Verstockt: ‘classical’ and ‘new’ instruments in dialogue with each other. Every performer of FINGERFERTIGKEIT was asked to select three of their favourite studies for instrument. The musical material of the composition was solely derived from these studies. During the performance the musicians were accompanied by two iPads, challenging the instruments with their virtual possibilities.
In 2013 Hold Your Horses - Grand opera de trash premièred in deSingel in Antwerp. This is the first opera of Verstockt and tells the story of brutal confrontation with a fragmentary world teetering between virtuality and reality. In the libretto, adapted from the 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action by Gene Sharp, assemblages of nature and a culture of divas and avatars are flirting with each other.
In 2015 HRZSCHMRZ - the second part of the operatrilogy - premièred in the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels. In this opera Serge Verstockt and ChampdAction put the spotlight on ‘love’. They ponder the ever advancing digital world that engulfs us in our daily reality. HRZSCHMRZ balances between two worlds: one of virtual action heroes, internet angels and avatars and one of musicians of flesh and blood with different musical backgrounds.
In 2016 Serge was commissioned a new version of A la recherche de temps for clarinet and to make a new version for viola by De Bijloke in Ghent. This project was coproduced by German Ensemble Modern. The premiere took place in de Bijloke in March 2016.
In December 2016 ChampdAction will play an all Serge Verstockt program in deSingel with ao a new version of his cult piece DRIE (from 2007) with 4 percussion players coming from different musical backgrounds.
For 2017 Verstockt plans a new production 'Pianola, satire de trash' for Concertgebouw Bruges (Futurist Festival) and for Opera XXI in deSingel in Antwerp. It will be the first project including pianolas and a robot dance ensemble.
The following years Serge Verstockt will work on several projects with pianolas, dance organce and other automatised instruments.
In 2018 ChampdAction and Collegium Vocale will present CANTICUM CANTICORUM, a new major installation project designed for churches together with Muziektheater Transparant, de Bijloke and deSingel.
Serge Verstockt is also the creative brain behind projects, installations and formats such as IN C App (an online tool to play In C by Terry Riley www.incapp.net), Cam with a view, Time Canvas, LOVE SONG, These birds are flying to the North etc.