Brice Catherin

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Brice Catherin
Birth name Brice Alexandre Catherin
Born (1981-10-16) October 16, 1981 (age 33)
Origin Brussels, Belgium
Genres Classical, contemporary, free improvisation
Occupation(s) Composer and cellist
Years active 2005-present
Labels la Cafetière, Insubordinations, Audiotong, SHSK'H

Brice Catherin (born October 16, 1981 in Brussels, Belgium) is a French composer and cellist, mostly active in Switzerland.

Studies and first professional steps[edit]

Brice Catherin studied the cello at the Conservatory of Lausanne (Switzerland) with professor Marc Jaermann (cellist of the sine nomine quartet) where he successfully completed his diploma in 2004. At the same time, he was studying composition at the conservatory of Geneva (Switzerland) with professors Michael Jarrell, Luis Naon and Eric Daubresse. He received his diploma in 2005. The following year he studied at the conservatory of Basel with professor Roland Moser.

While still a student, he took his first steps in the professional scene as early as February 2005 with his first show; "Les extra-violoncellistes". The musical theatre play, was designed for three actors and nine cellists, including eight pupils of all ages and levels (Lausanne, Switzerland). A few months later, in November 2005, he was invited to present his first "portrait-concert" at the festival Akouphène (Geneva), where he would play and conduct his latest pieces both with and without electronic for two hours.

Le Car de Thon[edit]

In 2006, Brice Catherin founded a cultural association called "le Car de Thon", in order to organize and promote his work. The range of activities covers written music from the Renaissance to contemporary music, improvised music, improvisation laboratories and workshops, interdisciplinary performances with dance, art installations, live drawing, theatre, movies, and so forth. The association works like a free ensemble, inviting people form different backgrounds, generations and disciplines to create new forms of performances. The ensemble has been invited to play in places such as the théâtre du Grütli, cinéma spoutnik and la Traverse (Geneva), le Lapin Vert, Espace Bellevaux (Lausanne), and in festivals such as festival Archipel, festival Black Movie.

Since its creation le Car de Thon has worked together with more than fifty people, among who one may notice the musicians Anne Gillot, Rachel Kolly d'Alba, Yannick Barman, Tomas Korber, Christophe Schweizer; the dancers Corina Pia and Foofwa d’Imobilité;, the set director Delphine Rosay;, the illustrators and painters Baladi, Blakam, Andréas Kündig, Jean-Christophe Menu, Olivier Texier, Tom Tirabosco,.


In 2006, Brice Catherin and the trombonist Christophe Schweizer founded a duet; "Bristophe". The purpose of this duet is to explore improvisation in the entirety of its aspects, to use numerous instruments including electronic, to exist in all kind of circumstances, from recording in a studio to playing the pipe organs in an old church. Bristophe has performed numerous times in Germany in Hamburg and Berlin and in Switzerland in Thun, Geneva, and Lausanne.

Other activities[edit]

Beyond these ensembles, Brice Catherin has been repeatedly invited by organisations like the festival akouphène, Insubordinations, l'ensemble CHAU to perform as a composer, a cellist or an improvisator

His interdisciplinary performances with illustrators, have led him to often participate in books and comic books conventions in festival d'Angoulême, salon des éditeurs indépendants (Paris), BD-FIL (Lausanne), SISMICS festival (Sierre, Switzerland).

Between 2006 and 2007 he worked as a musician and actor for the théâtre du grütli.

Main works[edit]

As a composer, Brice Catherin wrote numerous chamber pieces with or without electronic. His pieces can accommodate all kinds of instruments; "Opus 69" for voice and cello, "Pérégrémotion II" for solo percussion, "Super play station 3 turbo" for free ensemble and electronic,.

He also wrote a few concertos, including a bassoon concerto and a violin concerto which were premiered in 2010 by the French bassoonist Ludovic Thirvaudey and the Swiss violinist Rachel Kolly d'Alba.

However, his most important works as a composer are "opus 40 centimeters" for two performers playing on each other, and "ma pièce avec comme un espoir à la fin", a ten hours long piece for a solo musician and electronic. Both were premiered in the théâtre du grütli in 2009 and 2010.

As a cellist, Brice Catherin is famous for playing rare 20th century repertoire such as John Cage's late number pieces, Morton Feldman's "patterns in a chromatic field", Heinz Holliger's "trema" and "chaconne", but also older pieces such as Franz Lizst's repertoire for cello and piano.

He often performs with the pianist Lucie Mauch. With other musicians and actors from le Car de Thon, they regularly play Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Aus den Sieben Tagen. Notably, in 2008 they performed Oben und Unten, a piece which had not been performed since 1971, and Goldstaub, which is equally rarely performed given the extreme physical and spiritual commitment the piece demands from its performers.

As an improvisator, he is known for engineering the concept of "improvisation laboratories", which refers to performances of onstrained improvisations. The constraints can be as different as "playing an instrument you don't know", "playing a building", "improvise music for a cartoon", "improvisation of characters", or "mixing baroque music and free improvisation".


According to the biography on his website, the important influences on his work are the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen and the filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. His works also remind of Heinz Holliger, Morton Feldman and Galina Ustvolskaya, to mention the most important ones.


  • 2007 - Opus 69 (with illustrator Baladi, written contemporary music, la cafetière)
  • 2008 - Guns'n'noises (one track with Bristophe for a compilation, limited edition, akouphène)
  • 2009 - Nos meilleurs Stockhausen (live recordings of four of the pieces by Stockhausen Aus den sieben Tagen, insubordinations netlabel)
  • 2011 - Early Works (AudioTong)
  • 2011 - Volume 7 - Brice Catherin (SHSK'H netlabel)
  • 2011 - le fils de la prophétesse - Εἰρήνη, Χρόνος (with Bristophe) (AudioTong)

External links[edit]