Catherine Louise Geach


Catherine Louise Geach was born in England and began playing the violin as well as studying classical ballet at the age of 4, performing her first concert a year later. She performed as a child soloist with, amongst others, the North Herts Youth Orchestra and the Welwyn Symphony Orchestra. Studying with Bernard Blay, then Caroline Lamont, she had Master Classes from the age of eight to the age of 15 with Professor Felix Andriewski (Yehudi Menuhin School). Her first masterclass was with Prof. David Takeno, (Guildhall) when she was aged 5.

When she was 15 she won a scholarship to study violin at the Royal Academy of Music in London. There she studied Violin with Prof. Maurice Hasson and Prof. Xue Wei and had masterclasses with Prof. Zakhar Brohn from the Moscow Conservatory. She studied Singing and Piano as her Second Studies. She performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto Opus 37 at the age of 19 in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. She later perfected her singing studies as a light (Coloratura) and Early Music Soprano in Italy (with M° Arianna Morelli and Elettra Scalpelli etc;)

Between July and September of 1990, she went to Cambodia at the age of 18, doing research in war zones controlled by the Khmer Rouge, in order to compile a report on the violation of human rights by the Khmer Rouge (post-genocide) and the devastating effect this was having on the civilian population of Cambodia. She was awarded the Bernard Brett Peace Bequest for this report – “The Aid and War Report” in 1991.

Graduating from the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 19, she returned to Cambodia in the same year, first as a violin teacher at the University of Fine Arts, but later working on a project for the Conservation and Support of Traditional Music and Cambodian music students at the University. She and her Cambodian colleagues, taught Traditional Cambodian Mohori music as therapy to Veteran soldiers badly injured and disabled because of the war at the Khean Khlang Rehabilitation centre.

In 1993 Catherine established the “Khmer Cultural Development Institute”, a Cambodian NGO, which was ratified at the Supreme National Council in the same year. She then founded and oversaw the building of “The Kampot Traditional Music School for Orphaned and Disabled Children” in 1994. The school was built during the civil war and hostage crisis. In August 1994 the school began accepting vulnerable children. Catherine lived in Kampot and worked as a volunteer as the school’s director until 2005. Today she is on the Board of Directors as a permanent board member and without receiving any stipend, takes a very active role for her school, fundraising and helping coordinate Childcare and Cultural Programs. She regularly stays at the Kampot Traditional Music School to assist her colleagues. She also set up a Music and Art Therapy project in Mesa Selimovic Primary school in Sarajevo, Bosnia, between 1996-1998 and travelled from Cambodia to Bosnia twice yearly.

She lives in Italy and is a professional solo violinist and soprano and gives concerts in Italy, the UK and worldwide. She has recorded for the Composer Stephen Melillo and for Vatican Radio. In 1999 she was given the Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Award in New York, the UNESCO “World Decade for Cultural Development” and has been the subject of various documentaries and interviews, including the BBC, Australian ABC, Sunday Telegraph Magazine, South African Radio, BBC Radio, VOA (Voice of America in Khmer language) and worldwide editions of the Readers Digest.

Her published works and lectures include: UNESCO: “Traditional Instruments of Cambodia”, Cahiers de Musiques Traditionelles 7: “Musique d’Exile”, Tablet Magazine: “The Killing Fields”, “Under the Shadow of the Khmer Rouge”, “Rice wine and Song”. She has spoken at the UNESCO Conference on the “Right of the Child to Culture” (Stockholm 1999) and given a lecture at Somerville College, Oxford University on “The Healing Power of Music” (May, 2017)