From Violinist to Filmmaker, St. Louis Artist’s Film Lands on Major Streaming Platforms

Feb 27, 2024 | Artist Feature, Blog, News

Catherine Dudley-Rose is a Swiss Army Knife artist. She’s an actor, director, writer, musician, and teacher. While it’s difficult to separate any of those roles from the other, they all inform and interact with the various parts of her body of work.

“I always bracket it in just terms of words where people can pull it up and understand that a lot of these dovetail,” Dudley-Rose said. “I say I’m a writer, director, actress, musician, and to me, it’s that simple, and they all go together.”

Dudley-Rose operates in a number of different paradigms. Originally a violinist, music is a theme that flows throughout her body of work, but her work in film is where it all comes together.

“Film is wonderful because it’s this thing that is an umbrella for all the hats that I already normally hold,” she said.

Parallel Chords, Dudley-Rose’s 2018 film about a violinist who tries to forge a path separate from her pianist father, was released theatrically in Los Angeles in 2019 (it’s currently available to stream on Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, and on Blu-Ray or DVD). It appeared as an official selection at the Portland Film Festival and the Charlotte Film Festival, among others, and it won awards at both the LA Femme International Film Festival and the St. Louis International Film Festival. It’s loosely based on Dudley-Rose’s own life.

“It’s loosely autobiographical in the way that Tennessee Williams’ Glass Menagerie is loosely autobiographical,” said Catherine, whose late father is the concert pianist Raymond Dudley. “When I wrote it, I was doing a lot of stage work. Directing is not something I ever sought out, but it sought me out.”

For this film, she wrote, casted, music supervised, and directed the whole thing. And considering she’s a fully independent operator, she even produced it, one of those hats she often must wear, and one she says she’d like to take off at times.

Music is a recurring theme in her work, too. Dudley-Rose’s most recent project, Broken Strings, a six-part series of short features about artists and activists around St. Louis whose lives are connected by music and the arts. The project was inspired by a Zoom conversation Dudley-Rose had with John Ridley, the writer of 12 Years a Slave, who encouraged her to pursue something that built upon her existing work. Broken Strings is a continuation of the ideas Dudley-Rose established in her feature film, an introduction to a larger narrative, but in a narrative series format.

“It’s this idea of creating a map where all these things can connect, so all their different lives intersect. I’m using activism and sort of a natural discrimination of what a conductor looks like, or what a harpist looks like,” she said of the project, the first part of which was screened at the St. Louis Film Fest last summer.

Although Dudley-Rose spent many formative years in New York—originally arriving there with $100 in her pocket and her violin her back— her eventual move to St. Louis marked a turning point in her career that has proved pivotal. Broken Strings lead her to a role as an artist-in-residence with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, something that has only deepened her connections to the local arts community.

“They’re really in alignment with something I dug about New York, which is they take places where the buildings are not in great shape, but they turn them into dance performance spaces, or reading spaces, or theater spaces,” she said. Landing that residency gave her a place at which she could continue her work on Broken Strings. 

Dudley-Rose is always looking forward, and building on her arts practice. In February, she received the Individual Artist Award from the State of Missouri for her contributions to the arts. She’s the first filmmaker to ever win the award.

“A big part of what I do is bringing other people into my creative mind and world and then hopefully dispersing some of that.”

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, the largest public funder of the arts in St. Louis, proudly supported Dudley-Rose with an Artist Support Grant in 2023.