Catherine Branch, flute
Catherine Branch is a passionate advocate of integrating disability advocacy and the arts. As a flutist with diplegic cerebral palsy, she holds a unique perspective on music’s ability to act as a catalyst for conversations and an instigator of positive change. Ms. Branch is dedicated to exploring the arts as a vehicle to promote social inclusion for members of the disabled population, and in 2008 was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to research the role of art in social activism around the world.
While traveling, Ms. Branch found herself eager to investigate the concert as a medium for civil rights advocacy. While in Sydney, she formed a chamber ensemble dedicated to performing music that reflects upon the experience of disability. Composers from both Australia and the United States offered pieces exploring disability from a variety of perspectives, whether personal, historical, satirical or familial. During 2009, at concerts in Sydney and Melbourne, the ensemble showcased newly composed pieces about disability alongside works by prominent historical composers who experienced disability during their lifetime.
During her time in Ireland, Ms. Branch worked to improve disability awareness and accessibility throughout Dublin, and was featured in the Irish Wheelchair Association’s quarterly publication, SpokeOut. In January 2009, she presented an address at Dublin’s Unitarian Church about accessibility and equal rights for people with mobility limitations.
An enthusiastic new music advocate, Ms. Branch is an ardent performer of modern works for the flute. At the 2006 Society of Composers Inc. conference in Houston, she gave the premiere performance of Aaron Alon’s Hibakusha for solo flute, and later recorded the piece for Capstone Records. On the 2007 Aspen Music Festival’s chamber music series, she performed Barbara White’s Enough Rope for flute and soprano on a concert dedicated to the composer’s works. In addition to performing, Ms. Branch is a gifted writer. Her interview with contemporary flutist Elizabeth McNutt has been published by SEAMUS (Society of Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States).
Catherine Branch has participated in music festivals both in the United States and abroad. Early in 2007, she was invited to Festival de Musica de Santa Catarina, a Brazilian orchestra festival directed by Alex Klein, where she studied with Michel Debost, Kathleen Chastain, and Brazilian flutist Curt Schroeter. Ms. Branch has also participated in ARIA International Summer Institute, the Oberlin Flute Institute and the Aspen Music Festival. She has performed in master classes with artists such as Mindy Kaufman, ZAWA!, Marianne Gedigian, Michel Debost, Elizabeth Buck, Bonita Boyd, Paul Edmund-Davies and Jan Gippo. She graduated in 2008 from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where she was a student of Leone Buyse. Currently, Ms. Branch is completing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree as a scholarship student of Bonita Boyd at the Eastman School of Music. While in New York, she looks forward to championing the work of disabled composers and supporting the growth of repertoire that reflects upon diversity in a positive light.
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