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ARTIST FEATURE:Who's in town....

Susie Ibarra  is a composer and percussionist who has worked and recorded with jazz, classical, world and indigenous musicians.  One of SPIN's "100 Greatest Drummers of Alternative Music," she is known for her work as a performer in avant-garde, jazz, world, and new music. Susie is a 2020 National Geographic Explorer grantee in Storytelling and 2019 United States Artist Fellow in Music.  She is a 2014 Senior TED Fellow and a  2018 Asian Cultural Council Fellow in support of her sound research of An Acoustic Story on Climate Change: Himalayan Glacier Soundscapes. Look and listen to her here.

 How do you describe your artistic practice and creative work?

I am a Filipinx composer, drummer/percussionist, sound artist. My artistic practice focuses on intergenerational stewardship for our environment through sound.  I am devoted to creating work that connects people with our natural biodiverse habitats, addresses climate issues and supports conservation culturally.  My creative practice contributes to helping communities tell their stories, and invites others to arrive at empathy for the earth, through art and science.

What inspires you most?


I am inspired by finding beauty in our daily lives around us and inside of ourselves.  This can be in the most mundane everyday ritual or event, or an extraordinary burst that I might come into presence of.

It isn't necessarily comfortable , there could be tension, sadness, there could be peace, it could be raw, it could be an intuition of what hasn't yet happened.  It could be a weighted memory or nostalgia, it could traveling in very fast motion, it could be silent and still, it could be the best humour Ive heard in a long time. It could be losing myself into the earth for a moment or moments to arrive at the same place but changed.



What are you working on these days?


 Lots of things. I think it is true as one of my dear friends eloquently put it.  i think my greatest composition is my son who is now his own incredible composition in the making walking and running around on this planet at what seems sometimes light speed. I'm working on this continually and in awe of this process how we all keep growing and I'm grateful to be a mother.


I am working on a few rhythmic scores that are for ensembles and also are rhythm teaching tools.  I am finishing a new work, a commission for San Francisco Girls Chorus , 300 girls singing + drummers, conducted by Valerie Agathe.  

I also am thinking about the beginnings of a new rhythmic learning score for a commission for the Classical Mandolin Society of America En Mass Orchestra, and contemplating this wave of sound of some 180 players.

In development are a new set of percussive piano etudes where I am adapting my drum techniques and scoring a series of a dozen etudes for concert pianist Alex Peh.  We are creating new rhythmic and percussive technique for piano within the creation of these exciting and exploratory pieces. I'm premiering a new work I wrote for viola and kulintang gongs, for Daniel Louis Doña at Boston University next week, which I am very happy how this piece turned out sonically!


I'm continuing my soundmapping and installations with Water Rhythms where with my collaborator, climate scientist, glaciologist and geographer Dr. Michele Koppes, we are mapping water towers of glaciers and freshwater around the world. We will be in the Canadian Rockies along the Fraser River and Mt Robson Glacier in collaboration with Salmon Nation as we field record along the First Nations communities this summer. 2023 We will return to the Indian Himalayas top of Gangotri Sacred Glacier and Satopanth glacier to record the mouth of the Ganges. Both the Fraser River is the longest river in North America being about 1200 miles, similar length to the Ganges.  2023 we will be up at Lake Khovsgul and the Tuul River in Ulaan Bator in Mongolia to map one of the purest freshwater lakes in the world.


I am continuing my collaboration with Joudour Sahara Music School and NGO Playing for Change in which we continue to record traditional artists of the South Sahara Morocco in the Draa Valley. This year as a 2 year project , a gender development project, the girls who are music students at the school are leading a new sound work with me. They are field recording the sounds of water and the stories of climate change in their desert communities, Stories of the M'Hamid Oasis: Water and Anti Desertification. Alongside Playing For Change, I will continue this year to work in cultural preservation recording musicians in Morocco, and in the music schools Bizung Tamale Ghana and L'Ecole de la Musique in Kirina, Mali.  In September I will conduct a new work of Fragility ( a conducted game piece inspired by glass physics equations)  in the desert ( which is in itself a glass physics equation) with an international ensemble for Festival Zamane. 


I am excited to continue my collaboration locally with Innisfree Garden and landscape architect and curator Kate Kerin in Millbrook NY. Together we will be working with the rural low income communiites of the area and partnership with two science institutes to sonically map the biodiverse habitats of the area and tell Innisfree's stories of multifaceted sustainable ecosystems, its glacial lake and horticulture.


These performative and field research works are contributing groundwork and inspirations for my central body of work for 2022 which is completing my book on Rhythm in Nature and the manifestation of my drawings and sculptures of sonic habitats and a floating sound garden. 



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