Artist in Residence
Catherine Michel (harp)
Catherine Michel was born in Amiens, where she studied the harp, piano and music theory with her mother. After her mother’s untimely passing, Pierre Jamet took the young girl under his wing and she entered the National Conservatoire for Dance and Music (CNSM) in Paris, where she was awarded a First Prize diploma at the age of 15. She won two major international awards, in Israel and the United States, as well as a Gold Medal at the Paris Competition. She joined the Radio France National Orchestra in 1971, performing under the conductors L. Maazel, P. Paray, J. Martinon, K. Böhm, S. Celibidache, L. Bernstein, M. Rostropovitch, to name but a few. In 1978 she became a harpist with the Paris Opera. Her first recordings for the Philips and Vox labels introduced listeners to seldom-performed concertos. She recorded concertos by Villa Lobos, Rodrigo and Castelnuovo-Tedesco with the Monte Carlo Orchestra; as well as Glière, Reinecke, Pierné and Saint-Saëns with the Radio Luxembourg Orchestra. She worked together with François Lesur to create a repertoire of harp music published in the 18th century. It was with Leonard Bernstein that the idea came up, in 1990, of adapting major musical comedies for harp and orchestra. After this unique musician passed away, she got together with M. Legrand to record her first album of film music, winning the French Victoires de la Musique award in the same year. Together they recorded four CDs for the Naïve and Universal labels. Over at EMI she accompanied the leading trumpet player Maurice André, performing a variety of works, ranging from Bach to Steven Sondheim, with the Normandy Chamber Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Her teaching duties took her to Dublin, to the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg, then in Detmold followed by the one in Zurich, which she left in 2010 to focus on her career as a soloist and visiting professor.