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Selections from Antarctica, Music from the Ice

Performance by Cheryl E. Leonard and Phillip Greenlief
In conversation with Sarah Cahill

The Resonance series kicked off on October 10, 2013, when composer/instrument builder Cheryl E. Leonard performed Selections from Antarctica: Music from the Ice with Phillip Greenlief. Leonard spent a month at an Antarctic research station in 2009, exploring nearby islands and glaciers, recording natural soundscapes, and collecting objects including rocks, shells, and penguin bones with the idea that they could become musical instruments. She performed several of the pieces she composed from Antarctic sound sources and played many of her collected materials, as well as icicles, kelp, sand, salt, and scientific glassware.

Resonance performances are held in the Exploratorium’s new Kanbar Forum and enlivened by its state-of-the-art, 72-channel Constellation sound system, providing an intimate experience of each event’s sonic details.


Cheryl E. Leonard

Over the last decade, San Francisco-based composer, performer, and instrument builder Cheryl E. Leonard has focused on investigating sounds, structures, and objects from the natural world. Her works have explored the microaural worlds hidden within stones, wood, water, ice, sand, shells, and bones. Leonard uses microphones to explore the subtle intricacies of these sound sources and develops compositions that highlight their unique voices.

Her projects often feature one-of-a-kind sculptural instruments and field recordings from remote locales. Her latest projects developed out of expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, where she recorded natural soundscapes and collected materials that she used to construct instruments, including penguin bones, limpet shells, stones, and crushed ice.

Leonard’s commissions include works for Kronos Quartet and Illuminated Corridor. She has received grants from many sources, including the National Science Foundation and ASCAP.