On April 9th, Composer Lisa Bielawa launched her new project, Broadcast from Home, as a response to the COVID-19 crisis. This large-scale interactive work combines short compositions by Bielawa with performance submissions from the public, as well as their written testimonies about the experience of living in isolation through the coronavirus. Each "Chapter" of the Broadcast includes several short musical phrases that the public is encouraged to record individually and send to Bielawa for editing and compilation on her website. Each week's Chapter will build to culminate in a series of 20- to 30-minute participatory musical performances for an unlimited number of singers and instruments - once large gatherings are permissible again. You can submit your testimonies in writing or as recorded spoken word at https://www.lisabielawa.net/broadcast-from-home as well as listen to the chapters that have been completed, which include submissions from five continents so far.
Explaining Bielawa's composition process, the Washington Post states, "The collected lines (“I want to sit across from you,” “I don’t want to meet you for happy hour online”) are then layered and formed by Bielawa into spellbinding, sparsely accompanied socially distanced choral pieces that play with absence and presence, isolation and community, fear and solace — and sound an awful lot like the voices in your head."
The composer was recently interviewed about Broadcast from Home on Wisconsin Public Radio's "To The Best of Our Knowledge", where she spoke about being inspired by several friends' words on what being in isolation felt like. On April 13th, NPR included Broadcast from Home in their coverage on Morning Edition of various composers' response to pandemics throughout history, from the Black Plague through the coronavirus, and how our mutual struggle can be turned into art. Bielawa was featured in the Houston Chronicle and interviewed on WWFM's On a Positive Note, where she invites anyone to be a part of this collective musical experience. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) recently interviewed Bielawa, as well as the San Francisco Classical Voice for their Artist Spotlight series.
Bielawa is launching Broadcast from Home with Kaufman Music Center in New York as lead partner; the Center will provide needed production support and will also activate its community and students from all programs to participate in the work both with testimonies and in performance. In addition, Broadcast from Home will activate a network of educators who are now implementing remote learning and mentoring, including universities, high schools, music and art schools. Bielawa's students from the Mannes School of Music at The New School, who are now scattered throughout the world and continuing their studies remotely, as well as students from Kaufman Music Center’s Lucy Moses School, Special Music School, and Face the Music programs, will participate as instrumentalists and vocalists in the project.
Bielawa explains, “At the time of this writing (March 28, 2020) world events are at a particularly volatile point. At this moment our communities share sudden uncertainty and vulnerability in the face of unprecedented challenges in public health, interconnectivity and community, and economic infrastructure. It is not clear to what extent and when people will be able to gather to share community through participatory events. It is also not clear to what degree and for how long various communities will be suffering from the isolation of lock-down, social distancing and quarantine. People’s need for community is a constant, and the architecture of Broadcast from Home is designed to effect communal healing in changing circumstances.”