Join ACT for a sound installation and concert by Neil Leonard, launching Leonard’s two new CDs For Kounells and Mil Maneras. The event will begin with the “True Bread” sound installation on display from 7pm to 8pm in Wiesner Building Lower Level, followed by the For Kounellis/Mil Maneras concert in Bartos Theatre from 8pm to 9:30pm.
True Bread Sound Installation | 7pm – 8pm
“True Bread” is a 10-channel ongoing sound installation based on Leonard’s collaboration with Cuban street vendors known as pregoneros. The piece explores aspects of exile, censorship, and the onset of global capitalism. These vendors were characterized by their idiosyncratic vocal marketing strategies, as for many years they whispered their market chants because more open advertising was prohibited. “True Bread” uses video footage of the pregoneros at work in Matanzas, Cuba. The installation highlights a series of interventions that began as informal field recordings. These recordings drew national attention and helped overturn censorship of the vendors who represent a characteristic sound of the island. Holland Cotter of the New York Times wrote, “[True Bread] consists of video clips of Havana street vendors who, with only semi-legal status, travel the city by bicycle selling baked goods from door to door and calling out their wares as they go. The combination of their voices and interwoven music by Mr. Leonard creates a haunting, rhythmic, chantlike score, secular spiritual music for a New World.”
For Kounellis/Mil Maneras Concert | 8pm – 9:30pm
For Kounellis is a meditative, evocative electronic work featuring samples from Jannis Kounellis’ sculpture, voice, live electronics and soprano saxophone. The sounds are based on Kounellis’ untitled installation comprising 23 large church bells that Leonard recorded at the environmental sculpture park, La Marrana di Montemarcello in Italy. “The bells appear to spiral out from a cylindrical chamber rooted in the Earth’s core. I was struck by the intensity of this chorus of silent tongues, facing the sky and projecting a colossal resonance that is felt but is not heard. Like Kounellis’ inverted bells, Vesuvius’ mouth is a sonic hallmark of local history. Both face the sky, and suggest a tremendous capacity to transform the environment.”
Mil Maneras showcases the work that Leonard developed when he broke with musical convention and began collaborating with visual artists thirty years ago. These pieces are known widely through exhibitions and performances at the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum, Guggenheim Museum, and Venice Biennale. The title track Mil Maneras was created for a mixed media installation with artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons for the Dak’Art Biennial of Contemporary African Art where the sound was heard in an abandoned textile factory. “The atmospheric beginning has no rhythm, melody or harmony, just clouds of ethereal sound that evoke the ghosts for workers past. The groove that follows alludes to the perpetual rhythm of the factory full of machines pulling in threads and spinning out fabric displaying striking Senegalese designs.”
About Neil Leonard
Neil Leonard is a composer, saxophonist, and interdisciplinary artist. His compositions and performances have been featured at Carnegie Hall, the Havana Jazz Festival, International Computer Music Convention, Tel Aviv Biennial for New Music, Moscow Autumn, and Museo Reina Sofia. Leonard’s “Dreaming of an Island” (for orchestra, electronics and live video), was premiered by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, and he has collaborated with artists Marshall Allen, Juan Blanco, Joanne Brackeen, Don Byron, Alvin Curran, Richard Devine, Robin Eubanks, Vijay Iyer, Phill Niblock, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Stephen Vitiello, Evan Ziporyn, and many others. Leonard’s collaborations with Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons have included film, video, multimedia installation, and public interventions, and their work has been featured at the Museum of Modern Art, the 49th/55th Venice Biennial, Guggenheim Museum, Guangzhou Triennial, and the Dak’art Biennale of Contemporary African Art. Leonard contributed sound to Tony Oursler’s performance “Relatives,” presented at the Whitney Biennial. He is a Professor of Electronic Production and Design at Berklee College of Music and the Artistic Director of the Berklee Interdisciplinary Arts Institute, and is presently on the Fulbright Specialist roster.
As an ACT Affiliate, Leonard developed interdisciplinary curriculum and investigated approaches to collective sound works with ACT faculty, staff and student from MIT and the Berklee Interdisciplinary Arts Institute. He lectured in ACT’s Sound Installations and Sonic Interventions course along with visiting artists Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner) and Stephen Vitiello.