Friday, October 14, 2011

Genma Speaks! Article on Magda and myself in Nashville

We will be interviewed by cultural activist and radio journalist Genma Holms this Saturday:

Living Your Best Life Radio Show can be heard on 880 AM in the Nashville-Middle Tennessee area and on Ustream.TV worldwide from 10am-12pm CST.

October 14, 2011 – 6:00 pm | Performance

Performance by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
Free; seating is first come, first served

María Magdalena Campos-Pons will debut an intimate performance art piece at the Frist Center in relation to her exhibition Journeys, on view in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery from October 7, 2011 to January 8, 2012.

Using her body, voice, and surrounding space, Campos-Pons will expand on the ideas about dislocation that she explores in the accompanying exhibition of her work, Journeys. The notion of journey refers to Campos-Pons’s own place within the African Diaspora: she is a woman of Nigerian ancestry, born and raised in the province of Matanzas, Cuba, who has lived in Boston since 1991.

The event will be performed in collaboration with her husband, American musician and composer Neil Leonard.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New CD: Marcel's Window available on CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon

Marcel's Window
Neil Leonard Quartet
To purchase go to:

Over the previous two decades, I have collaborated with artists from a variety of disciplines to create music and sound for dance, theater, video/sculpture installation, experimental performance, and film. Many of these collaborations included local artists and materials to create dialogues about the history and geography of specific sites in Japan, China, Africa, Cuba, and Europe where the works were premiered. When I began composing the music for this CD, I expected that I would be writing for a homecoming jazz concert. Instead, using methods I learned from visual artists, I found myself creating site-specific compositions inspired by cultural landmarks in my own backyard.

I grew up in Philadelphia and played with fantastic musicians as a teenager, including Uri Caine, Robin and Kevin Eubanks, and many more. In 2007, I was invited to return to Philadelphia to perform a concert in the newly renovated Paul Robeson House. I needed a band, so I called Tom Lawton, whom I first played with when I was 16 years old, and we put together this quartet. We premiered "4951 Walnut Street," "Resounding Arc" and "Invisible Cities" at Paul Robeson's home at 4951 Walnut Street. As a young musician, I passed that building many times, not knowing that this distinguished singer-actor, forceful activist, and true Renaissance man was living on this unassuming block. "Resounding Arc" refers to the resonance of Robeson's work and the base of Robeson's rocking chair, one of the few pieces of original furniture in his home. "Invisible Cities" is a reflection on the multiple realities of urban life.

A concert in the Philadelphia Museum of Art the following year provided an opportunity to reassemble the quartet and expand its repertoire. "Alex in the Atrium" and "Marcel's Window" were premiered in the main atrium of the museum where Alexander Calder's "Untitled" mobile floats above visitors, facing capstone works by Calder père at Logan Circle and Calder’s grandfather on top of City Hall. "Marcel's Window" refers to the window cut into the museum's Parthenon-style facade to illuminate Marcel Duchamp's "The Bride Striped Bare by Her Bachelors," an architectural comment on Duchamp’s rupture with the western art canon.

"Mood for Merritt," a blues dedicated to pioneering Philadelphia bassist and composer Jymie Merritt rounds out the set. I admired Merritt's work on recordings with Art Blakey and Lee Morgan and played with him when I lived in Philly.

I am joined on this recording by three musicians with outstanding knowledge and ability. Pianist Tom Lawton plays my compositions as if he wrote them himself. Bassist Lee Smith backed up soul diva Roberta Flack, laid down Cuban mambos with Mongo Santamaria, and is as inventive and daring as anyone I've worked with. Drummer Craig McIver, who played with Max Roach's M-Boom percussion ensemble, builds fantastic grooves and uses ideas from all of us as he crafts subtleties of the form.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with these superb musicians, who’ve made me feel like the‘ve spent their lives training to make this music together.

Neil Leonard

Neil Leonard - alto and soprano saxophone
Tom Lawton - piano
Lee Smith - bass
Craig McIver - drums

All compositions by Neil Leonard (ASCAP)

Produced by Neil Leonard
Recorded January 28-29, 2009 by Matt Balitsaris at Maggie's Farm, Pipersville PA
Mixed summer/fall 2010 by Neil Leonard and John Hull, at GASP Studios, Boston MA
Mastered by Jonathan Wyner at M Works Studios, Cambridge MA

Graphic Design by Terrance K. O’Leary; Design concept and photo for silhouette by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons.

Special thanks to: George Massenberg for mixing guidance; Philagrafika and the Paul Robeson House for commissioning "4951 Walnut Street" "Resounding Arc" and "Invisible Cities"; Sara Moyan of the Philadelphia Art Museum for featuring the full collection of compositions at the Museum; Tom Lawton for logistical assistance and Tom's family for lending me my first saxophone; and to my wife Magdalena, son Arcadio, and extended family for supporting me every step of the way.

© Neil Leonard 2011
All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 3, 2011

Maria Magdalena Campos Pons and Neil Leonard at NEU

Date: 10-06-2011
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: 305 Shillman, Northeastern University

Northeastern University and the Department of Art + Design presents artists Maria Magdalena Campos Pons and Neil Leonard.

Born in Matanzas in 1959, Campos-Pons was educated in Cuba at the Escuela Nacional de Arte (1976–1979) and Instituto Superior de Arte (1980–1985). In 1988 she continued her studies as an exchange student in the graduate program at the Massachusetts College of Art. Campos-Pons has been honored with numerous international solo and group exhibitions from institutions as MoMA and MoMA P.S.1,TATE Liverpool UK ; the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which hosted a 20-year retrospective of Campos-Pons’ work in 2006 that traveled to the Bass Museum in Miami. Campos-Pons has also been included in a number of prestigious international art surveys, including the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001; the Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, South Africa; the First Liverpool Biennial; the Dak’ART Biennale in Senegal; and most recently, the Guangzhou Triennial, China.

Her art can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; the National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, Cuba; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, among many others. Campos-Pons teach at SMFA and Co founder GASP.

NEIL LEONARD works as a sound artist, electronic musician, composer and saxophonist. Leonard’s Dreaming of an Island, (for orchestra, electronics and live-video) was premiered by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. Leonard's composition Totems was premiered at Carnegie Hall by Don Byron and Uri Caine. His Echoes and Footsteps was featured by the Tel Aviv Biennial for New Music, Issue Project Room (NYC) and the Auditorium di Roma. Leonard's collaborative work with visual artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons was featured by the 49th Venice Biennial, Museum of Modern Art (NYC); purchased by the National Gallery of Canada; and presented by the U.S. State Department at Dakar Biennial. Leonard composed the music for Relatives, by Tony Oursler and Constance DeJong featured by the Whitney Biennial. Leonard is a professor of Electronic Production and Design and Artistic Director of the Interdisciplinary Arts Institute at Berklee College of Music, Boston. He taught sound installation at the University of Padova and the C. Pollini Conservatory, Italy.
Admission: Free to the public

For Directions & Campus map:

Organizer: Department of Art + Design
Contact: Judy Ulman