Neil Leonard

Professor; Artistic Director of the Berklee Interdisciplinary Arts Institute

Berklee Interdisciplinary Arts Institute

"I really enjoy advising students who are refining their portfolios in their final two semesters. I'm their reality check, sounding board, and idea factory."

"I want my students to be lifelong learners so they can adapt as the music industry changes. They make music in today's styles—creating everything from dance tracks, soundtracks, and algorithmic music to sound installations."

"At the same time, we take a step back and look at key issues of music and technology that won't wear out so quickly. We study ways to work with themes and develop material in modules. Students can advance their work with these tools—in contemporary styles—and at the same time 'bookmark' critical topics that they can explore and leverage for a lifetime."

"I teach my students that time management is a composition skill. The planning process is critical to making quality music efficiently. This doesn't mean you can't just write spontaneously; maybe the best thing you ever write will come out that way. But if you're in this for your entire life, you need to have more than one way to work, because some days it's going to come out of you, and some days it won't."

"I believe in intuition and inspiration, and in luck. But what do you do when you don't have those? You've still got to get the job done. I zero in on strategies for doing this in my classes."

Hear more from Neil Leonard in the video below:

 

Career Highlights

  • Appointed to Fullbright specialist roster and research affiliate at MIT program in Art, Culture and Technology
  • B.M., M.M., New England Conservatory of Music
  • Studied with Bob Brookmeyer, Michael Gandolfi, and George Russell
  • Received the first Dreese Newbury Comics grant for multimedia work
  • Directed ensemble featuring Marshall Allen (director of the Sun Ra Arkestra), Bruce Barth, Don Byron, Kenwood Dennard, Robin Eubanks, Frank Lacy, Badal Roy, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and Uri Caine.
  • Leader on Timaeus (Cedar Hill Records), with notes by George Russell and Marcel's Window (GASP Records).
  • “Dreaming of an Island” (for orchestra, electronics, and live video) premiered by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra
  • Compositions/performances featured by Carnegie Hall, Tel Aviv Biennial for New Music, International Computer Music Convention, Banff Centre for the Arts, Moscow Autumn, Museo Reina Sofia, and Auditorium di Roma
  • Collaborative work with visual artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons featured by the 49th and 55th Venice Biennial, Museum of Modern Art (NYC), National Gallery of Canada, and U.S. State Department at the Dakar Biennial
  • Composed the music for Relatives by Tony Oursler and Constance DeJong featured by the Whitney Biennial
  • Organized festivals of time-based art in Rome, Venice, La Spezia, Siena, Tel Aviv, Haifa, New York, and Boston
  • Taught sound installation at the University of Padova and the C. Pollini Conservatory-Italy
  • Co-owner of Gallery Artist Studio Project (GASP) in Brookline and curator of Sonic Arts @ GASP