Spencer Topel is an American artist combining sound, installation, and performance. His practice is often characterized as an exploration between sculpture and musical instruments, expressed in a variety of works ranging from site-specific installations to performance art pieces. At the heart of this inquiry is the notion that objects have their own unique voice, and the task of the artist is to reveal and amplify this quality.
Topel’s current and past projects with international arts and performing arts institutions include: Museum of Modern Art, NY; The Los Angeles Philharmonic, LA; The Barnes Foundation, PA; The Juilliard School; Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, NY; Drawing Center NY, The Estonian Music Days, Tallin; The Arts Club of Chicago; DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park Boston, LiteraturHaus, CPH; The Huddersfield Festivaal, UK; the Arts and Ideas Festival, New Haven; the Proctor Academy, New Hampshire; and the Caramoor Festival, NY. His work has been performed by celebrated ensembles that include the Minnesota Orchestra, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, the Oregon Symphony, the Juilliard Symphony, Ensemble Third Sound, and the FLUX Quartet.
Educated in music composition at The Juilliard School and Cornell University, Topel later joined the faculty at Dartmouth College as a professor of music. There he collaborated with sculptor Soo Sunny Park on several projects including Capturing Resonance for the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park.
Collaboration is a central part of Topel’s practice, which led to the formation of two companies: STUDIO TOPEL and Physical Synthesis Inc. in 2019. Notable collaborations continue with architect and artist Hana Kassem, with cellist Seth Parker Woods, and with violinist-composer Pauline Kim Harris. Most recently, Topel was Artist-in-Residence at The Yale Quantum Institute, where he and his collaborators developed the first-ever musical synthesizer using transmon qubits, the building blocks of quantum computers.
Mary Elspeth Moore 2019