Born in 1957 in Braschaat (Belgium). Both his parents were visual artists. His father, Marc Verstockt, was known as a pioneer in a contemporary form of contructivism. He received his first music lessons on the organ, later the piano. He attended the Brussels Conservatory, where he studied solphege and sound engineering, and image and sound editing at the RITS (National institute for the dissemination of theatre and culture). At the age of 18, he also took on the clarinet at the Royal Music Conservatory in Antwerp with Walter Boeykens. Through Joris Delaet’s SEM (Studio for Experimental Music), he came into contact with techniques of electronic sound manipulation.
From 1983 to 1985 he studied at the ‘Instituut voor Sonologie’ in Utrecht with Gottfried Michael Koenig. In 1985 he organised the ‘Antwerp Electronic Music Days’ and taught at the conservatory in Arnhem.
Verstockt has also been active as a performer, including concerts with the Orchestra of the SEM Ensemble. In the early 1980s there was a lack of professional ensembles interested in performing contemporary music in Belgium. In order to try to meet this demand, he set up the ensemble Champ D'Action in 1988. In 1997, he resigned officially as artistic director, although an intensive collaboration has continued on the artistic level.
He has received composition commissions from ‘Antwerpen, Stad aan de stroom’, IPEM, deSingel, Antwerp 93 and November Music. From 1997 to 1999, Verstockt was ‘junior fellow’ of the KBC Chair for New Music in the department of musicology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
Serge Verstockt is an exponent of modernism. He believes new technologies will lead to new ways of expression. He has systematically explored the possibilities of the computer, including in recent years computer graphics and video. He rejects being categorised solely in terms of the narrow music world and his compositions are connected with various branches of the art world. They are better understood as ‘works of art’.
His first works were compositions for tapes produced by computers. This procedure differs substantially from the cutting and pasting that was carried out by composers from earlier generations. Verstockt defines the material before starting by means of a computer program designed for the job. The subsequent working out of the piece is carried out completely automatically by the computer.