CRAIG LEON

Booking: info(@)folkwisdom.net

Craig Leon is an American-born record producer, composer and arranger. Leon was instrumental in launching the careers of many recording artists including The Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie. Active in pop and rock music production from 1974–1998, Leon has focused on classical composition, orchestration, arrangement and recording from 1998 to the present. His main area of recent concentration is the creation of new pieces from early and folk music sources.
His work appears on classical recordings with artists including Luciano Pavarotti, Joshua Bell, The London Chamber Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle Orchestra, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and The London Symphony Orchestra. Craig’s composition and production work has featured in a large number of film soundtracks over the past four decades. Most recently his arrangement of an American folk song ” I Am A Poor Wayfaring Stranger” was the central musical theme of the widely acclaimed, Golden Globes winning and Oscar nominated Sam Mendes’s film “1917“.
Craig and his long-time collaborator Cassell Webb have been touring live performances and audio/visual installations of the work from 2013 through the present. Successful concerts in 2019 numbered, among the others Moogfest, Ambient Church, RomaEuropa Festival. In 2019 Craig also received a lifetime achievement award from and performed at The Lodz Soundedit Festival joining the ranks of previous winners Brian Eno and Giorgio Moroder. 

The Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music” is a live audio/visual performance of Craig Leon’s seminal work in progress which includes the albums “Nommos” (1981), “Visiting” (1982) and the recent addition to the project “The Canon” which was released in late 2019. The pieces tell the theoretical (or is it?) tale of a mythical music system invented by the inhabitants of a distant star system who were encountered in ancient times by The Dogon people of what is now Mali. The beings, known as “Nommos”, were the messengers who taught the ways of advanced civilisation and religion to the Dogon. In the 1970s and 80s Craig Leon wrote and recorded his concept of the music these visitors brought to Earth in those ancient times. 40 years after the first music was written Leon released vol.2 in the series which details the Earthly travels of the music from Africa to the Mediterranean are in later, but still ancient times. 

Craig Leon is also available for talks and installations in conjunction with live performances or standalone.

AN URBAN FOLK MUSIC: UNDERGROUND NEW YORK IN THE 1970s
In the 1970s a new super traditionalist form of music came out of New York art scene based on the work of pioneering artists such as The Ramones, Suicide, Talking Heads, Blondie, Richard Hell, Patti Smith and a host of others.
Craig Leon was heavily involved in the recording and presentation of the music of these bands. This is a talk on that scene and how it influenced others including the work of Craig.

ANCIENT FOLK MUSIC TO NEW CLASSICAL FORMS
An immersive audio/visual exhibition and a talk on two 20th Century works that created new musical forms based on ancient folk music.
In 1913 Igor Stravinsky used ancient Lithuanian folk music sources and techniques applied to classical instruments to create Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) a unique work that created an alternative world based on folk tradition and startled the audiences of the time.
In 1981 Craig Leon used ancient concepts of the folk music of North-western Africa and Ancient Greece to create The Anthology of Interplanetary Music which created a mythical world of the folk music of a planet other than our own. This work was heavily influenced by the techniques of Stravinsky and his pupil George Antheil.
This exhibition plays back new immersive Dolby Atmos versions of both pieces with visual accompaniment. This also can be given as a talk with conventional stereo, quadraphonic or 5.1 playback.

In 1973, producer Craig Leon went to see an exhibit of ancient art made by the Dogon people, a Malian tribe. He took what he learned and made Anthology of Interplanetary Folk, a masterpiece of early electronic music that acts as a precursor to later explorations in industrial music, new age, and ambient techno.” – Pitchfork

Visionary, evocative and simply just great to soak in, time will probably have to reveal this marvellous album as one of 2019’s major electronic works.” – Electronic Sound