Sarah Peebles: Composer/Performer


Introduction to Strange Nature () Performers () The ondes Martenot () Performance Synopsis
Credits/Participant Bios () Minnesota () Ordering Project Documentation
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Graphic Design by Anneli West/Four Corners Communications. Noritoyo Nakamoto, photo (Harada); Kei Shii, photo (Mizushima dancers); Tomoko Tezuka, photo (Peebles); Yoji Toyosaki, photo (artwork).


A nocturnal drama in one act, transforming the Village of Yorkville Park into a dynamic night-time stage, employing movement-theatre, light sculpture, sound installation and electroacoustic music.

Performance 1: Quartet Version, with lighting design by Jeff Bartlett, at The Southern Theatre in Minneapolis and regional MN locations, August 1-10, 1996. Presented by the American Composers Forum, produced by Studio Excelo as part of Sonic Circuits.

Performance 2: The Village of Yorkville Park, Toronto; Friday, August 16 & Saturday, August 17, 1996. A Fringe Festival of Independent Dance Artists Offsite Project, produced by Studio Excelo

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~ Takashi Harada - ondes Martenot (appears courtesy of JVC)
~ Kazue Mizushima - music installation, dance direction
~ Yoji Toyosaki - projections/visual installation
~ Sarah Peebles - electroacoustics, shô
~ Peter Chin, JoAnna Powell, Allison Ulan, Katherine Gordon-Marsh - dancers (Toronto only)

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an 'ondes Martenot' loudspeaker
photo:Noritoyo Nakamoto


ondes Martenot: an early electroacoustic instrument developed by the late French 'cellist and instrument maker, Maurice Martenot, between roughly 1916 and 1972. It contains two oscillators, three specially-constructed loudspeakers (oscillating a Chinese gong, a spring reverb unit and sympathetic strings), and a small keyboard interface which provides touch-sensitive vibrato, and which contains a string running the length of the keyboard, used to access non-standard tones and a wide range of glissandi, via a ring which attaches to the players' finger.

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'Strange Nature'
 performance montage
above photos by Tomoko Tezuka; video images by Haruo Higuma; image collage design by Anneli West;
Studio Kinshicho, Tokyo 1993 - "Aqua Babble/Water Echo Series"


The music of Strange Nature integrated hand-made, vintage, high-tech and ancient instruments. The ondes Martenot produces a wide variety of sounds, ranging from white noise to bird calls, industrial sound to the "cello-like" singing quality it was originally developed to reproduce. Takashi Harada's performance as soloist in the middle of the marsh underpinned the myriad of activities (both visual and aural) surrounding him, and at once contrasted and overlapped the sounds of string telephones and sampled sound environments.

Electroacoustics provided by Sarah Peebles, while invisible, were intended to draw attention to different areas of the park and to infuse the atmosphere with a subliminal pedal-point (constant) - be it the sound of gurgling water, frogs, buzzing insects or bell-like tones. The sampled sound "environments", combining North American and Japanese insects and city-scapes (see "dillpatch" and "lake ontario" diagrammes), were diffused in an intentionally tongue-in-cheek way in these area, playing off the park's theme of nature recreated.

Kazue Mizushima's string telephone installation, while made of the simplest materials, was performed to elicit subtle harmonic and timbral textures, loud, dense, reverberant soundscapes, and everything in between. Her trademarks - extensive, visually-striking constructions, detailed performance techniques, and theatric realization - played off the distinctive architecture of the Village of Yorkville Park, and the performers moving within the array of high-tension strings, were central to both dramatic interplay and sound creation.

Yoji Toyosaki's light installation worked with layers of slowly-changing slide projections against a three-dimensional, textured construction placed against the hoarding, behind the ondes Martenot player, to create a visual environment in the shadows of the park which intersected the moving figures as they passed through the light at close and far ranges, static aggregates of paper cups and string, and the art deco shapes of the the ondes Martenot speakers.

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Computer-assisted performance including sampled sounds, Max and Sample Cell programming, diffused over 10 loudspeakers placed within the mini-marsh, trees and rear of set; water whistle, "bird-o-lator" (15 toy birds, containing chirping sample chips, placed in tress and controlled via home-made push-button box); shô - Japanese reed mouth-organ used in traditional court music (gagaku / c. 600-80 A.D.).


200 paper cups, silk string.


6 high-powered slide projectors, 2 dissolve units, cloth-wrapped styrofoam surfaces on construction hoarding; slide art - natural surfaces (rock, etc), computer-enhanced color set: The Village of Yorkville Park (Cumberland St., downtown Toronto; designed by Olsen Worland Architects): tree grove, marsh with boardwalk, corridor, water fall-sculpture (1/4 of the park, encompassing roughly 1/4 block); sculpted paper light shades (boardwalk section), background hoarding.

The work of Yoji Toyosaki

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CREDITS (Toronto):

Takashi Harada (appears courtesy of JVC)
Kazue Mizushima
Yoji Toyosaki
Sarah Peebles
CONCEPT Sarah Peebles
PERSONNEL Ron Gaskin - Production coordinator / Stage manager
James Pett -Technical coordinator; sound & recording technician
Jennifer Shaw - Lighting technician, design
Bentley Jarvis - Audio assistant
Robert Cruickshank - Technical assistant / Birdolator design
Simon Jarvis, Dave Chokrun - Technical assistants
Sachiko Murosaki - Assistant, visual installation
Ginny Wong - Assistant, visual installation
Peter Chin - Costume coordinator; design / assist - stage lighting
Sophia Grigoriadis - Production assistant, Public relations
Ron Miyanishi - Production assistant, Volunteer coordinator
Corinne Crathorne - Production assistant
Avril Helbig - Promotion
Anneli West - Graphic design
Heli Tuomi - Webspotting - Website design
Nick dePencier - Video documentation
Peter Lord - Cartage
Owen Young - Security
Francesco Gallé - Photographer
VOLUNTEER STAFF Gord Melamed, Sybil Wilkinson, Pamela Neblett, Vivian Lusney, Jenny Christodou, Marianne Madarush, Misao Kanke, Niel Benson, Rob Gilmore, Robert Kettle, Jola Sobolak, and Takayuki Miyazawa & co.

Produced by Studio Excelo (Sarah Peebles), and presented by The Fringe Festival of Independent Dance Artists and CIUT Radio. Supported through the Ontario Arts Council, The Japan/Canada Fund administered by The Canada Council, the Consulate General of Japan, and The Japan Foundation, Toronto.

Additional assistance from fFIDA, Frischkom Audio Visual, Olsen Worland Architects, The Music Gallery, Steves Music Rentals, the Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area, Innis College, Music Matrix, Array Music Studio, Zero Sun Japanese Restaurant, the Inter/@ccess Matrix electronic arts network, Science City, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, L&A Development (Canada), Ltd., and Ichiban Restaurant. Special recognition to The American Composers Forum for fund raising, tour arranging support, and to ACF and the Japan-United States Friendship Commission for international travel funding assistance.

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Strange Nature toured to Minnesota August 1 - 10, where it premiered as a quartet (without dance) at The Southern Theatre in Minneapolis, with workshop-performances at the Northfield Arts Guild and St. Cloud State University. Presented by the American Composers Forum as part of Sonic Circuits Festival of Electronic Music (Philip Blackburn, director), and produced by Sarah Peebles, the tour was supported by the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, the Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN Program, the Suitcase Fund: A Project of Ideas and Means in Cross-Cultural Artists' Relations - an initiative created by Dance Theatre Workshop in New York City with major funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, and by AT&T Foundation. Note: due to technical difficulties, Minnesota performances/residency of Strange Nature which were presented by The American Composers Forum, are not included here and will be posted soon...

Video, photo and audio documentation available upon request from:

Sarah Peebles, Studio Excelo
Time-based art with a creamy filling
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