Cheryl E. Leonard
Composer, Musician, Field Recordist, and Instrument-Builder
Kelp Flutes, Walrus Impersonations, and Glacier Gamelans: A Composer's Search for Polar Music
Composer, performer, and instrument-builder Cheryl E. Leonard has journeyed to both the Arctic and Antarctic to gather musical materials and inspiration. Her polar music combines sounds produced on amplified natural objects and materials (rocks, bones, shells, feathers, seaweed, sand, water, ice, etc.) with carefully-edited field recordings of wildlife and natural soundscapes. Leonard’s compositions are often inspired by scientific research and connected to issues surrounding climate change in the polar regions. Several of her Arctic and Antarctic pieces were developed in collaboration with visual artists and, in addition to being performed in musical concerts, have been shown in galleries as interactive installations and video/sound art.
Leonard will discuss working with sound at the ends of the earth and share examples of the field recordings, one-of-a-kind musical instruments, and compositions that have grown out of her polar adventures. She’ll explain her compositional process and describe field recording successes and defeats, instrument-building eureka moments, how to play music on penguin bones, strategies for notating bowed limpet shells and fizzy icebergs, and what it’s like to perform live on stage with scientific glassware and dripping icicles.