Lisa Bielawa, Composer & Producer
For almost a decade, Rome Prize and American Academy of Arts & Letters Award-winning composer Lisa Bielawa has been creating a series of Broadcasts -- works for performance in public spaces, including Airfield Broadcasts on the sites of former airfields in San Francisco and Berlin in 2013, and Mauer Broadcast marking the fall of the Berlin Wall in 2019. Lisa Bielawa’s Broadcasts are broadly participatory musical asynchronous performances for any combination of voices and instruments. Her music for the Broadcast series is composed and constructed in ways that makes it perfect for broad participation by musicians who are isolated and not able to gather together to make music.
Broadcasts take their inspiration – and implementation – from the new reality facing several interconnected communities: music lovers and audiences who are seeking more active ways to have remote musical experiences; organizations that are seeking to fulfill their mission remotely; vocal and instrumental performers – professional, student or amateur – who seek a fully embodied, non-tech-centered way to share with audiences; and people in our community who are turning to artistic experience to bring them closer to one another at this time of increased isolation.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Lisa has made three Broadcast projects, which have all been responsive to the world's current circumstances. Her work Broadcast from Home, created online throughout the 15-week period of the first lockdown, features over 500 submitted testimonies and recorded voices from six continents in Chapters that were released online weekly. The far-reaching project was featured nationally on NPR, in The Washington Post, and on the podcast To the Best of Our Knowledge.
In October, Lisa premiered Voters’ Broadcast, a transformative Election Year musical work for online and/or socially distanced musicians commissioned by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and developed with the Kaufman Music Center in New York, created to stimulate voter engagement. The work sets postcards written to current Presidents and Presidential candidates from 2004-2020, collected by artist Sheryl Oring's I Wish to Say project, and was recorded by hundreds of musicians from the University community and Kaufman Music Center's Special Music School, a public high school.
In November, Lisa's work Brickyard Broadcast, a spatialized work for hundreds of musicians commissioned by North Carolina State University, had its world premiere in a Virtual Reality (VR) environment. The VR performance remains online and can be visited anytime at: https://music.arts.ncsu.edu/brickyard-broadcast/
As we all continue to navigate our way through the pandemic, Lisa strongly feels that it is important to make music together in ways that are specifically designed for this current environment. She is pleased to offer a collaborative experience with presenters' communities to create a custom, large-scale participatory work that involves community members from start to finish.
Lisa would write musical phrases with texts sourced from the presenter's community, around a theme or topic developed in collaboration with the presenter. Working with the presenter, she would record them as Guide Tracks and distribute them, so that the public can learn the music and sing or play along. It will not be necessary to know how to read music to join one’s voice in the piece. Following the instructions provided, people at home can record themselves singing or playing their chosen sections, using a cell phone or computer, and upload these audio files to Lisa to incorporate, thereby adding their voices to the work itself as Lisa creates it. Throughout the process, Lisa could meet with key participants virtually in order to establish a connection with them and to workshop the phrases. The work would be premiered virtually and can include a streamed Q&A session
with Lisa, the presenter, and select participants.
From start to finish, the entire process would happen over the course of 8-16 weeks, depending on the length and scope of the work, culminating in the virtual world premiere.
Objectives of Lisa Bielawa’s Broadcasts:
To “broadcast” a broad range of voices – both figuratively and literally – from separate isolated spaces into a common, shared space of exchange
To provide connection and comfort during the COVID-19 crisis
To help activate a network of organizations committed to “pandemic-proof” artistic offerings to serve their audiences
To build community through energizing participatory artistic processes that are tailor- made to each host community
To create significant musical works that memorialize the unique shared journey on which we find ourselves during this challenging time
To respond to the radically altered needs of audiences, artists and arts organizations facing unprecedented uncertainty by providing programming that is adaptive and nimble, able to be realized in any paradigm
To serve as an example for ways to bring music-making and civic life together for great social and artistic impact.
Photo by Daniel Clark.
Acclaim for composer Lisa Bielawa:
"a dynamic and innovative composer"
- The Boston Globe
"Bielawa’s music is thoughtful and approachable"
"the formal sophistication and lyrical richness of Bielawa’s music go deep" - The New Yorker
"prodigious gift for mingling persuasive melodicism with organic experimentation" - Time Out New York
"one of the most brilliant and unforgettable new scores I’ve heard in years" - San Francisco Chronicle