Lisa Bielawa, Director & Composer
A transformative Election Year musical work for online and/or socially distanced ensembles with text from Sheryl Oring’s I Wish to Say.
By Lisa Bielawa, Composer & Director
Text by Sheryl Oring
To “broadcast” the thoughts, hopes, fears, passions, petitions, and questions of a wide spectrum of Americans, raising awareness of the diversity of voices – both figuratively and literally – that make up our society.
To bring a transformative artistic experience to online audiences, opening a space for heightened awareness, sensitivity and compassion at a vulnerable time in our country.
To stimulate voter registration leading up to the 2020 elections.
To serve as an example for ways to bring music-making communities into civic life in ways that have great social and artistic impact.
Voters’ Broadcast by Lisa Bielawa is commissioned as part of the Democracy and Debate theme-semester by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with support from its School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and developed in partnership with Kaufman Music Center in New York, where Bielawa is a 2020 Artist in Residence.
Multiple University of Michigan, Kaufman Music Center, and Wayne State University ensembles will participate in this 15-minute musical composition, designed to stimulate voter engagement and political awareness through the act of making music.
Voters’ Broadcast will be premiered in three virtual events hosted by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Kaufman Music Center in New York on September 30, October 14, and October 28, and one day of outdoor performances presented by Kaufman Music Center and Brooklyn Public Library at BPL’s Central Library on Grand Army Plaza on October 24 at 11am, 12:30pm, and 2pm, as part of the Library’s crowd-sourced 28th Amendment Project. All events are free and open to the public.
Photo from Lisa Bielawa's previous work with Sheryl Oring, Mauer Broadcast, which honored the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Photo by Sheryl Oring.
“The project is poised to energize and inspire people in a unique way, inciting them to think, to vote, to consider their relationships to their political leaders and to each other. It is designed to deliver equal parts beauty and mobilization. In German when one votes, one ‘gives one’s voice’ (‘I voted’ = ‘Ich habe gestimmt’ [I gave my voice]). Voters’ Broadcast is dedicated to all of those who give their voices, through singing and by voting.” - Lisa Bielawa
Voters’ Broadcast is a 15-minute broadly participatory musical performance for an unlimited number of voices made up of choral and instrumental ensembles, and Sing Leaders. The work is directed, conceived and composed by Rome Prize and American Academy of Arts & Letters Award-winning composer Lisa Bielawa, with text taken from celebrated artist Sheryl Oring’s I Wish to Say.
Voters’ Broadcast’s mission is to stimulate voter registration, political awareness, and community participation in challenging lockdown conditions, through the act of giving voice to the concerns of fellow citizens, during the lead-up to the 2020 Presidential election.
The text for Voters’ Broadcast is excerpted from Sheryl Oring’s ongoing project I Wish to Say, which uses vintage typewriters for social change. I Wish to Say consists of performances in which Oring and a pool of typists work on vintage manual typewriters and invite the public to dictate postcards to the U.S. President. In the current circumstances, Oring and the typists are holding Zoom sessions, during which participants dictate their messages to the next President. Launched in 2004, the project has garnered nearly 4,000 postcards to President Bush, President Obama, and President Trump, all of which have been mailed to the White House on behalf of the participant as part of the performance.
Bielawa's music for Voters’ Broadcast 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. The piece will unfold in sections based on the nature of the postcards that Bielawa selects to include in the work: Salutations; Petitions (statements starting with the word “Please”); Exhortations (requests and demands without the word “Please”); Questions; and others. It does not focus on the qualities or identities of the Presidents and candidates addressed, but on the feelings and views of American people addressing their elected leaders.
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
Lisa Bielawa, Composer and Director, Voters' Broadcast
with text from Sheryl Oring, Artist, I Wish to Say project, Postcards to the President, 2004-2019
For more information about Lisa Bielawa, visit: