Sarah Peebles: Composer/Performer, Studio Excelo


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Sarah Peebles (b.1964) is a Toronto-based installation artist, composer and music improvisor. Much of her work explores digitally manipulated found sound, unconventional methods of amplification and distinct approaches to performing shō, the Japanese mouth-organ used in gagaku (court music). She has also collaborated with artists, technicians and bee biologists on a series of projects addressing pollination ecology and biodiversity, entitled “Resonating Bodies” since 2008. Peebles' activities over the past 3 decades have been wide-ranging and include music for dance, multi-channel sound, radio, video/film, performance art, integrated media, sound installation and improvised performance. She has been active in North America, Europe, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, and has collaborated with musicians, visual artists, data visualizers and with the groups “Smash and Teeny” (Peebles & guitarist Nilan Perera), and “Cinnamon Sphere” (Perera, Peebles & action calligrapher Chung Gong). Her 2014 release, “Delicate Paths - Music for shō” features solo and group improvisations and electroacoustic works ( 42U). Her music is also published on Cycling '74, innova Recordings, Spool, Post-Concrète, and others. See Recordings & Publications for details.

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Sarah Peebles (b.1964) is a Toronto-based installation artist, composer and improviser. Peebles pursued violin, composition, and theatre studies in her native Minneapolis, MN, and received a Bachelor of Music degree in composition in 1988 from the University of Michigan School of Music at Ann Arbor, followed by workshops in electronic media at InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre, Toronto. In the 80's and 90's she studied contemporary music at Toho Gakuen School of Music, gagaku (court music) at Hatonomori Shrine, the Tokyo Association of Shinto Priests and others, and Shinto pantomime theatre music with the Okada Guild of Sato-Kagura (Saitama).

Much of her audio practice has focused on digitally manipulated found sound projected via loudspeakers and/or physical objects, as well as developing distinct approaches to acoustic and amplified improvisation on the shō (the Japanese mouth-organ used in gagaku). Her approach to the shō draws from gagaku, microtonality and psychoacoustic phenomena of the instrument, and many of her works alter its tuning and microphone placement in creating recordings of performances. She has released several recordings which include the instrument, including the album “Delicate Paths” (Unsounds 42U, 2014), which highlights her distinct approaches to performing, recording and composing for the shō. That album features a foreword and images dedicated to the instrument's ethnobotanical and ethnozoological connections to ancient Asia, and includes guest performers Evan Parker, Nilan Perera, and Suba Sankaran.

Peebles' installation practice focuses on Resonating Bodies projects, initiated in 2008. Resonating Bodies is a series of art installations, community outreach projects and a web site which illuminates aspects of Canada’s biodiversity through focusing on pollination ecology, with special attention paid to the intersection of native bees, habitat and coevolution of plants and pollinators of Canada and beyond. Current works includes Audio Bee Booths and Cabinets – a series of sensory habitat sculptures for solitary bees. These permanent outdoor works utilize cabinetry, viewable nest planks for solitary bees, electronics, pyrography, and earth-based building techniques (adobe and cob). Highlights of this work are on display at/created for The Tree Museum, Cambridge Sculpture Garden, Balls Falls Centre for Conservation, Royal Botanic Gardens (Ontario), and The University of Maryland Arboretum Outreach Centre (earthwork with Lisa Kuder, MD, USA). See more at Projects.

Other activities over the past 3 decades have been wide-ranging, including music for dance, multi-channel sound, radio, video/film, performance art and integrated media, sound installation and improvised performance; “Smash and Teeny” duo with Nilan Perera, prepared electric guitar and effects and Peebles on laptop and shō; and Cinnamon Sphere trio: Korean-influenced calligraphy performance with soundscape, with Chung Gong Ha, visuals, Perera and Peebles. Her music is published on Unsounds, Cycling '74, innova Recordings, Spool, Post-Concrète, and others. See Recordings & Publications for details.

Collaborating musicians and artists have included David Toop, Jin Hi Kim, Evan Parker, Kô Ishikawa, John Butcher, Darren Copeland, Kazuko Furuya, Harumi Kaieda, Peter Chin, Suzanne Binet-Audet, Christie Pearson, Ann Barros, Rob King, Rob Cruickshank, Sumihisa Arima, Tomomi Adachi, Renée Highway, and Pauline Oliveros /The Circle Trio, among others.

Performance venues, have included Xebec, Space Alta, Plan B, Studio Kinshicho, Hakushu Art Camp, Shukôji Temple (Japan), CCA (Glasgow), ICA and BBC3 (London), Paradox (Netherlands), Music Gallery (Toronto), The Outpost (New Mexico) and Société des Arts Technologiques, Gésu (Montréal), ROM, Art Gallery or Ontario, Music Gallery and HearTOgo festival (Toronto), The Kitchen, Roulette Intermedium, The Merce Cunningham Studio (NYC), Festival d'ondes Martenot de Montréal, Adelaide Festival-The Listening Room, The Walker Art Center and The Southern Theater via Sonic Circuits Festival, New Works Calgary, Linden Gallery (Australia) and SIGGRAPH '92 Electronic Theater Evening.

Broadcasters have included Mixing It (BBC3), RPM (RNZ), Klangkunst (Deutschlandradio Kultur-Klangkunst-Sendung), Le Navire Night, L'espace du Son, The Arts Tonight and Brave New Waves (CBC/SRC), The Listening Room (ABC), and NHK Television News and NHK Radio (Japan).


Resonating Bodies projects: USM Foundation/Professor Mike Raupp, Dennis vanEngelsdorp Honeybee Bee Lab and UMD Arboretum Outreach Center, Cambridge Sculpture Garden, CANPOLIN through TD Friends of the Environment, Balls Falls Centre for Conservation through TD Friends of the Environment, The Tree Museum through Canada Council for the Arts, Drylands Institute, InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre, New Adventures in Sound Art and the City of Toronto Parks and Recreation. Additional assistance and support provided by Pollinator Partnership, The Barcode of Life Data Systems, The Toronto Zoo, Royal Botanical Gardens, High Park Nature Centre, The Stop, Spadina Musuem, Patrick Ellard at Maggie's Farm, York Quay Gallery's “Too Cool for School Art and Science Fair”, Pollination Canada and our collaborating researchers.

Science consultation and collaboration: Laurence Packer and lab members Scott Thomson, Cory Sheffield, Lincoln Best and Claudia Ratti (York University); Lisa Kuder (University of Maryland), Sam Droege (USGS), James Thomson and lab researchers Jessamyn Manson and Michael Otterstatter (University of Toronto); Peter Hallett (University of Toronto and ROM); Peter Kevan (University of Guelph; CANPOLIN); and Stephen Buchmann (University of AZ -Tucson, Drylands Institute).

Other work: Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Japan Foundation Uchida Fellowship, The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, the SOCAN Foundation, the Banff Centre for the Arts, Inter/Access Electronic Media Arts Centre, McKnight Fellowship-American Composers Forum, ASCAP Grants to Young Composers, BMI Student Composers Award, and National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, among others.


Sarah Peebles | S t u d i o E x c e l o
"time-based art with a creamy filling"
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