Cheryl E. Leonard
Cheryl E. Leonard is am American composer, performer, field recordist, and instrument builder whose works investigate sounds, structures, and objects from the natural world. Her projects cultivate stones, wood, water, ice, sand, shells, feathers, and bones as musical instruments, and often feature one-of-a-kind sculptural instruments and field recordings from remote locales. Leonard is fascinated by the subtle textures and intricacies of sounds, especially very quiet phenomena. She uses microphones to uncover and explore micro-aural worlds within her sound sources, and develops compositions that highlight the unique voices she discovers. Structurally and thematically, her creations often reflect on natural phenomena and processes. Her recent work focuses on environmental issues, especially climate change in the polar regions and California and the extinction of species. Leonard holds a BA from Hampshire College and an MA from Mills College, both in music composition.
She studied composition and electronic music with Alvin Curran, Chris Brown, George Lewis, Frederic Rzewski, Laeticia Sonami, Salvatore Macchia, and Alan Bonde; and performance art with Moira Roth, Carole E. Schneemann, and Betsy Damon.
Beyond her individual work, Leonard has collaborated extensively with other musicians, across artistic disciplines, and with scientists. Over the past three decades she has played in many experimental music ensembles and noise bands. These days she often performs with the groups Thomas Carnacki, Euphotic, and Big City Orchestra. Leonard has produced numerous installations and multimedia works together with visual artists, including Adfreeze Project with Oona Stern, Sila and Thresholds with Genevieve Swifte, and Tides:Estuary, Frozen Over, and Watershed with Rebecca Haseltine. She has also composed for dance, theater, film, and video; designed sounds for exhibits in science museums; and developed works with climatologists, oceanographers, and biologists.