Thursday, August 30, 2018

Polar Music Performance September 20 in Brooklyn, NY

Still from Oona Stern's video for Glugge

I'm looking forward to performing my Arctic and Antarctic compositions in Brooklyn next month as part of the Musical Ecologies Series. I don't get out to perform on the East Coast often, so if you are in the area come check out this great series and see/hear my penguin bone instruments live!

In other news, I've been very busy in the studio over the past year or so and am finally almost finished mixing down the studio recordings of my Antarctic pieces. I plan to release them soon! Additionally I'm working on an album of music about water and climate change in California, and after that will come an album of Arctic music.

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 20, 2018, 8:00 PM, $10

CHERYL E. LEONARD: Music from the Ice
The Old Stone House

in Washington Park, 3rd Street & 5th Avenue
Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY – Map

The 2018-19 season of Musical Ecologies opens Thursday September 20 with San Francisco-based composer, performer, and instrument-builder Cheryl E. Leonard. Making a rare New York appearance, Leonard will present a set of music that investigates how climate change is transforming polar environments and ecosystems. Performing with an array of amplified stones, wood, water, sand, seaweed, shells, and bones, in combination with field recordings of natural soundscapes, she will perform works from Antarctica: Music from the Ice, a series of compositions developed from her experiences on the Antarctic Peninsula in 2008-2009 as a grantee of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Also included will be music inspired by a 2011 residency in Svalbard, an archipelago in the High Arctic north of mainland Norway. Her performance will be accompanied by videos from visual artists Oona Stern (Brooklyn) and Genevieve Swifte (Australia). The evening will begin with a conversation hosted by series curator Dan Joseph.
Now it its sixth season, Musical Ecologies is a monthly symposium on music and sound held at the Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Curated and hosted by composer Dan Joseph, each event typically focuses on a single artist who presents a work or project either in the form of a talk or lecture, a multimedia presentation, a performance, or combination thereof. Each presentation is preceded by an extended conversation with the curator and audience.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Polar Soundscapes concert in the San Francisco Chronicle

A very nice article about my polar music and upcoming May 11th concert was published in the San Francisco Chronicle last week. Check it out!

If you are planning on coming to this concert I highly recommend purchasing advance tickets and arriving early to get a good seat. The show is likely to sell out. You can buy tickets here:

And now, back to rehearsing with the ice and penguin bones...

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Polar Soundscapes Concert May 11

Save the date! I've got a concert of polar music coming up on May 11 in Berkeley, California. This show will feature Meltwater, an Antarctic composition of mine which uses icicles "live" on stage, and several works with videos by visual artists Oona Stern and Genevieve Swifte.

7:30pm, $15 general, $12 students and teachers, $5 kids 12 and under
Advance tickets available here

David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

In this closing event for the Vanishing Ice exhibition, Other Minds and the Brower Center present composer, performer, and instrument-builder Cheryl E. Leonard, who will create a concert using Arctic and Antarctic field recordings and natural-object instruments including penguin bones, dried seaweed, ice, and seashells. Leonard, with Phillip Greenlief, will perform works about polar environments and climate change including Meltwater, a delicate and innovative composition produced with icicles. A post-concert Q&A will be hosted by Charles Amirkhanian.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

On the radio tonight

Tonight, starting at 8:30pm PST, I'll be on the air at KALW (91.7 FM in San Francisco), talking about my music and natural-object instruments. I'll play some examples of my Antarctic and Arctic compositions and perhaps something brand new from my recent trip to Australia. Tune in if you can!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Antarctic Works in Tempe, AZ and Santa Cruz, CA

Next week I'll be out in toasty Tempe, Arizona for the Balance-Unbalance Conference, exploring intersections between nature, art, science, new technologies, aid agencies and society.

I'm very pleased to be performing at the conference on Sunday in Sonic Reckonings, a 60-minute concert of contemporary music about Antarctica. The program includes live performances by Doug Quin, Jay Needham, and myself, as well as a selection of outstanding works for tape by some of the world’s leading “polar” sound artists, including Philip Samartzis and Lawrence English. The performance will include a special edition of program notes authored by music theorist and musicologist Dr. Carolyn Philpott.

If you are in the area don't miss this show!

SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 2015

Balance Unbalance Conference: Water, Climate and Place 
Stauffer B111, Arizona State University 
950 S. Forest Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281  

Musical works about Antarctica and climate change by Lawrence English, Cheryl E. Leonard, Jay Needham, Phillip Samartis, Douglas Quinn. Live performances by Cheryl E. Leonard, Jay Needham, and Douglas Quinn.

Info on conference registration, and single day/keynote events admission

Fellow Antarctican Oona Stern and I also have a video and music piece entitled Southern Ocean currently on display in the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History in their unique Everybody's Ocean exhibition. Our piece is among the video pieces that cycle through on a flat screen monitor on the left side of the gallery as you enter. 


Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History
705 Front Street
Santa Cruz, CA

Everybody's Ocean Exhibition
A constantly evolving exhibition of artworks about the ocean featuring both crowd-sourced and curated pieces. Cheryl Leonard and Oona Stern's music and video piece Southern Ocean is included in Wave II of the exhibition.

Monday, February 2, 2015

February Performances in Oakland, CA and Boulder, CO

This month I'm excited to be performing polar music and video works in California and Colorado, including a piece inspired by the Southern Ocean (which encircles Antarctica). The show in Colorado will be streaming live, so you can watch it from anywhere with internet!

8-9 pm, free

Temescal Art Center
511 48th Street (at Telegraph)
Oakland, CA 

Composer, musician, and instrument builder Cheryl Leonard will present four works about water created in collaboration with visual artists Rebecca Haseltine and Oona Stern. Inspired by hydrology, aquifers, and California landscapes, Watershed combines field recordings from caves, rivers and oceans with sounds played live on water, glass, shells, kelp, and sand. Frozen Over is based on aural and visual phenomena from frozen lakes, and features recordings of flanging, thumping, and cracking lakes in Yosemite National Park. Rebecca Haseltine will create live video for these two pieces using natural objects, drawing, pouring, and painting. Southern Ocean and Glugge are shorter works about the polar oceans that Leonard has developed with Brooklyn-based Oona Stern. Merging audio recordings and video footage collected in the Arctic and Antarctic with live sounds from natural objects, these pieces reflect on climate change at the ends of the earth.

7:30pm (Mountain Standard Time), free
live streaming at

ATLAS Black Box Theater
Level 2B, Roser ATLAS Building
1125 18th Street
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO

Pendulum New Music Concert Series
Music and multimedia works by Nick Balderston, Aidan Patrick Cook, Hugh Lobel, JP Merz, and the final round of the 64-Bit E-Music Competition. Cheryl Leonard will perform Southern Ocean and Glugge, two pieces about climate change in the polar oceans with videos by visual artist (and fellow Antarctican) Oona Stern.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Ablation Zone in the San Francisco Tape Music Festival Jan 10th

The Marr Ice Piedmont, Anvers Island, Antarctica

This Saturday January 10th my Antarctic piece, Ablation Zone, will be played in the San Francisco Tape Music Festival, America's only festival devoted to the performance of audio works projected in three-dimensional space. This year the festival features four distinct concerts of classic audio art and new fixed media compositions by 32 local and international composers. Hear members of the SF Tape Music Collective, along with guest composers, shape the sound live over a pristine surround system consisting of 16 high-end loudspeakers while the audience is seated in complete darkness. It's a unique opportunity to experience music forming - literally - around you.

My piece, Ablation Zone, is crafted from field recordings of the Marr Ice Piedmont (the massive glacier that enshrouds most of Anvers Island) plus sounds produced on Adélie penguin vertebrae and nesting stones. Like most glaciers along the Western Antarctica Peninsula, the Marr is shrinking, and behind Palmer Station the ice has retreated more than 1500 feet over the last 50 years. The "ablation zone" of a glacier is the area below a certain elevation where there is a net loss of ice mass due to melting, evaporation, sublimination, calving, wind scouring, and so forth. Within the Marr's ablation zone I collected field recordings of meltwater streams and crevasses full of icicles. In the ocean near the Marr's terminal ice cliffs I recorded icebergs and brash ice that it had jettisoned.

The Marr produced a beguiling array of unique sounds. Each meltwater stream bubbled, gurgled, or sputtered it's own rhythms and melodies, sometimes sounding like electronics or machinery. Icicles dripped the intricate layers of gamalan songs. Icebergs crackled and snapped like giant pop-rocks, or contained large cavities in which waves resonated. To my field recordings, full of motion and insistent energy, I added the subtle sound of polished penguin nesting stones rubbing together, and otherworldly voices produced by bowing Adélie penguin vertebrae.

For this show I won't be playing any instruments live, but I will be running the mixing board and shaping how my piece is dispersed amongst the 16 loudspeakers that surround the audience. It should be cool (pardon the pun please)!