Henry Kaiser, Dr. Cheryl Leonard, Greg Neri, and Glenn McClure, three artistic explorers, share their experiences in Antarctica and the musical inspirations they've discovered there.
Antarctica is often described as a “silent continent” — the absence of noise pollution is striking and surprising for first-time visitors, especially urban dwellers. However the “silent” Antarctic natural soundscape is full of interesting sounds, that are heard nowhere else on Earth. Antarctic “silence” has yet another meaning when considering the complete absence of human indigenous music traditions on the continent. The Antarctic Artists & Writers Program has supported a growing number of composers and musicians interested in exploring sounds inherent in the Antarctic landscape. Cheryl E. Leonard uses field recordings and instruments built with penguin bones and other natural materials found in Antarctica for her intricate compositions. Henry Kaiser uses experimental guitar music to create improvisations for the mesmerizing video footage he records during his scientific ice diving in Antarctica. Author Greg Neri captured Antarctic experiences in a three published works for students. Glenn McClure translates scientific data into classical compositions through the process of sonification. During this event, they will present their unique practices through pre-recorded performances and engage in a conversation about Antarctica’s surprisingly rich soundscapes.
Henry Kaiser is a guitarist, composer, and musical explorer. In 2001, Kaiser spent two and a half months in Antarctica on a National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program grant. He subsequently returned for twelve more visits to work as a research diver. His underwater camera work was featured in two Herzog films, The Wild Blue Yonder (2005) and Encounters at the End of the World (2007), which he also produced, and for which he and Lindley composed the score. Kaiser served as music producer for Herzog's Grizzly Man (2005) and was nominated for an Academy Award for his work as a producer on Encounters at the End of the World.
Cheryl is a San Francisco-based 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.
G. Neri is the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author of Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty and the recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for his free-verse novella, Chess Rumble. His books have been translated into multiple languages in over 25 countries. They include Tru & Nelle, Grand Theft Horse, Hello, I'm Johnny Cash, and Ghetto Cowboy, which was made into the upcoming movie, Concrete Cowboy, starring Idris Elba. In 2017, he was awarded the first of two National Science Foundation grants that sent him to Antarctica. Prior to becoming a writer, Neri was a filmmaker, an animator/illustrator, a digital media producer, and one of the creators of The Truth anti-smoking campaign. He is currently co-chair of the Antarctic Artists and Writers Collective and writes full-time while living on the Gulf Coast of Florida with his wife and daughter. You can find him online at www.gneri.com.
Glenn McClure serves on the faculties of both SUNY Geneseo and the Eastman School of Music. Recently, he concluded work on a National Science Foundation Artists & Writers Fellowship with Peter Bromirski and his associates from the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Bromirski is the principal investigator on the project, which is employing seismic sensors on the Ross Ice Shelf to better understand the Antarctic melting process and the viability of the shelf.
He will use a mathematical conversion process to bring the infragravity sound wave data into the hearing range, generating material for music that he hopes to fill concert halls with the messages buried deep in the ice.