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)!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Antarctic Call and Response Show Nov 18

Tomorrow I'll be giving an Antarctic talk and performing Antarctic music at the Emerald Tablet in North Beach, San Francisco. Come check it out!

7:30pm, $5-10 suggested donation

The Emerald Tablet
80 Fresno Street
San Francisco, CA

Call and Response
Cheryl E. Leonard speaks about her project Antarctica: Music from the Ice, and performs a short solo set. Plus a group improvisation by Sheila Bosco, Jesse Burson, Kristina Dutton and Cheryl Leonard.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Polar Oceans Multimedia Performance July 12

In just a few short weeks visual artist Oona Stern and I will perform four music/video pieces inspired by the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean in the Soundwave Festival in San Francisco. Two of the pieces, including one about walruses(!), will be world premieres. I'll be making music with amplified sand, rocks, kelp, penguin bones, and oyster shells, some of which are originally from the polar regions. Fabulous musician Phillip Greenlief will be joining me to play some new "Kelpinets" plus other found natural objects. Furthermore we will have a small iceberg on stage.  Don't miss this one!

Please note: Soundwave Festival events sometimes sell out so I recommend buying advance tickets for this show or arriving early on the day of the concert.

8pm, $15 general, $10 students/seniors/underemployed

Intersection for the Arts
925 Mission Street #109
San Francisco, CA 94103

THE ASTONISHING SEA - An audio-visual performance event by Cheryl E. Leonard and Oona Stern, Mem1 and Elia Vargas

Out beyond our sights and minds comes The Astonishing Sea. Special sound and music performances reveal hidden worlds happening on our water planet. Music duo Mem1 performs ‘Mascaret’, featuring one of North America’s few tidal bores where incoming tides travel against the river’s current. Sound artist Cheryl E. Leonard and visual artist Oona Stern with guest musician Philip Greenlief return from ‘The Polar Oceans’ to weave tales with sounds from natural-object instruments including bones, shells, rocks and kelp, interspersing field recordings and videos from the Arctic and Antarctic that reveal alarming climate change; and artist Elia Vargas conjures ‘Liquid Landscapes,’ a performance installation where audiences walk through projected mist and sound that meld the digital and the natural, and water and light, while confronting profound ideas about our future technological ecosystems in comparison to our natural world. Note: Guests are asked to bring a plant, to take part in ‘Liquid Landscapes.’

More info and advance tickets available at

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Concert, Lecture and Lab April 16-18 in Milwaukee

Next week I'm heading to Milwaukee to be a guest artist at the University of Wisconsin. I'll be doing a concert, giving a lecture/slideshow, and holding "lab" hours where you can try playing my instruments or bring your own found objects to experiment with. My performance will feature the premiere of a brand new video/music work about the thawing of the Arctic Ocean created in collaboration with visual artist (and fellow polar adventurer) Oona Stern.

Come on by if you are in the area. All three of these events are free!

7 pm, free

Studio 254, Mitchell Hall
3203 N Downer Ave
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53211

Polar Music Concert
Cheryl E. Leonard presents music and multimedia works inspired by polar environments and ecosystems. Leonard will play natural-object instruments made from shells, bones, kelp, driftwood, and stones, in combination with field recordings collected in Antarctica and Svalbard. The concert will include video/music works created in collaboration with visual artists Oona Stern (Brooklyn, NY) and Genevieve Swifte (Canberra, Australia).

4-6 pm, free

American Geographical Society Library
3rd Floor, East Wing, UWM's Golda Meir Library
2220 E Hartford Avenue

Milwaukee, WI 53211

Music from High Latitudes Lecture
Cheryl E. Leonard will share stories, images, sounds, and music from her polar music projects, discuss what its like to record audio at the ends of the earth, and demonstrate several of her instruments made with natural objects like penguin bones, shells, and rocks. Audience Q&A to follow.

2-5 pm, free

Kenilworth Square Room 416
1925 E. Kenilworth Place

Milwaukee, WI 53202

Tinkerer's Lab
Come try your hand at making sounds with found objects! Cheryl E. Leonard will have an array of microphones and playing implements available for you to experiment with. Play around with underwater and contact microphones. Try bowing kitchen bowls or your desk lamp. Find out what happens when you amplify a rock and turn it up to 11. Bring your own materials to experiment with, or try out some of Cheryl's natural-object instruments, including ones made with penguin bones and shells from Antarctica.