Bio/Creative Alchemy

Gabrielle Cerberville (b. 1991 in Sleepy Hollow, NY) is a curious American composer turned creative alchemist. She writes with an experimental flair that is at once familiar and alien, and her work regularly blends the lines between disciplines and discrete art forms. Her work is an exploration of communication, primarily between humans and our natural neighbors (plants, fungi, animals, and finding our place within ecosystems). She holds a Masters of Music in composition from Western Michigan University and a Bachelor of Music from Butler University in composition. Gabrielle has studied traditional and electronic composition with Drs. Lisa Coons, Christopher Biggs, Frank Felice and Michael Schelle.

Gabrielle’s works have been featured across the US and Europe. She has been honored with residencies at United Plant Savers in Ohio, Port Austin AiR in Michigan, Listhus in Iceland, Arts Letters and Numbers in New York, NES in Iceland, Convergence in Indianapolis, and has participated in several festivals, including the Ammerman Symposium, MOXsonic, Impulse New Music, EMM, Skammdegi, and A! Festival. Gabrielle’s striking and welcoming compositions have been highlighted by the artistic talents of Shanna Pranaitis, Forward Motion, Elizabeth A. Baker, Ashley Walters, Kory Reeder, Ascending Duo, Circuit721, Sotto Voce, Nicholas Tolle, Verdant Vibes, and others. She is also a well-known figure in the mycology and foraging communities, and lectures widely about sustainability, edible wild plants and fungi, identification, and environmental activism. 

Statement on Creative Alchemy

Creative alchemy is a state of being as well as an action taken. It is a predetermined decision to follow the impulse of any new work as it unfolds and to collect any new skills that may become necessary to see it through honorably. Creative alchemy leaves nothing on the table, be it visual, culinary, auditory, kinesthetic, biological, mechanical, or organic. The goal is always to serve the needs of the work at hand. It is beyond interdisciplinary, as each added layer of a work begins to lose its discrete identity to the collective whole. Alchemy is the fantastical process of transforming base materials into gold; therefore creative alchemy is the transformation of available creative matter into a new and deeply integrative art. As such, I choose to identify myself as a creative alchemist rather than a composer.

I am interested in scoring as a visual art form in addition to it being a practical method of conveying musical ideas for the purpose of performance. Lately, much of my work has revolved around live electronics and fixed media, and I am an avid collector of found sounds, I also design sound that is live and object-based. Much of my work contains site-specific elements, generally sounds captured from a particular location and manipulated within a unique space, or necessitating performance in a certain location, and as a citizen scientist, mycologist, and wild food advocate, I tend to integrate botanical and fungal wisdom into my work. Much of this work is designed to place the listener in an immersive or unusual setting, or to rebuild real places and moments in an imaginary, sometimes fantastical space. 

I generally work fluidly between mediums, drawing invented expanded notation as it suits my purpose, adding color and images to my compositions in order to express ideas and control parameters. In my practice, I am constantly transforming and redefining my scope as a creator, and exploring new avenues of expression outside of the mainstream, be they durational sculpture, sound dinners with foraged ingredients, meditations on mycelium networks, site-specific installation, or intuitive graphic scoring. 

My practice is built on the tenants of curiosity, humility, and innovation. I have a deep respect for the collaborative process that those who perform my work enter into, and consider myself an audience member just as much as I am the creator of that effort. I am, at this point, more a multimedia artist than I am strictly a composer. My goal is always to add new skills to my artistic toolbox (particularly regarding electronic media), refine those which are currently present, and have my ideas challenged and stretched. This creative perspective fosters working environments of curiosity, outside-the-box thinking, and artistic generosity.

General Questions & Considerations

My goal as an artist is to create works that spark our collective human imagination and blur the lines between creator and consumer. I seek to draw from and reassemble disparate art forms into something new and deeply experiential.

My primary artistic questions are:

  1. What are the social, political, and cultural structures that segregate different forms of artistic expression from one another, and how can artists create a culture of interdisciplinary curiosity within their collective identity?
  2. Can art foster deep intellectual and emotional relationships between artists and creators, and break down distinctions in those roles in the process?
  3. What are the rhythms and patterns of ordinary objects, and how can they be amplified to reveal our connection to them?
  4. Can physical action and freedom of movement in an experimental space foster a more welcoming environment for those experiencing art? Does participation in the creation of art in a performance setting create a deeper or more meaningful experience for the audience member?
  5. How can performance spaces be reimagined to be more welcoming to those who have historically been excluded from them?
  6. How can the gravitas of physical landscape be best implied in a multimedia setting? Can people be drawn into a refreshed awareness of their own bodies, the land they live on, and their surroundings through multimedia art?
  7. What is the universal essence of grief, and how can the shared experience of mourning be contextualized and simulated in the context of multimedia art?
  8. Is art primarily an exercise in self-expression, or may art also be a conduit for problem-solving, either on a personal or global level?
  9. How can interdisciplinary practice build empathy and deepen respect for human stories, ideas, and experiences?

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