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Composer Lisa Bielawa Announces BROADCAST FROM HOME - a New Participatory Musical

Composer Lisa Bielawa Announces BROADCAST FROM HOME - a New Participatory Musical

Composer, vocalist, and producer Lisa Bielawa has announced Broadcast from Home, her new musical work that creates community during the isolation of the coronavirus crisis. Bielawa is asking the public at large to submit testimonies about their own experience of this crisis. Testimonies can be submitted in writing or as recorded spoken word at her website, www.lisabielawa.com/broadcast-from-home. Throughout our period of isolation, Bielawa will be selecting testimonies to set to music which she will compose in response to the text. The public will also be invited to perform Bielawa's music, and the project will eventually culminate in a series of 20- to 30-minute participatory musical performances for an unlimited number of singers and instruments.

Broadcast from Home will be a significant musical work that memorializes the unique shared journey on which we find ourselves during this challenging time. The piece will be created through an energizing and participatory artistic process and will be consciously designed for performance under the varying degrees of social distancing that we may find ourselves in in coming months - virtually, in-person but socially distant outdoors or inside, or in large public gatherings once again.

"At the time of this writing (March 28, 2020) world events are at a particularly volatile point," Lisa Bielawa explains. "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."

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.

The first phase of the project, underway now, focuses on building online community through testimony submission. Texts for Broadcast from Home will be sourced from communities during current and upcoming times of quarantine. The project's Testimonies Archivist Claire Solomon will curate an evolving set of 4-5 prompts to encourage people in isolation to report on their experiences: isolation, claustrophobia, hope, surreality, other perhaps unexpected states of mind. Some examples of prompts might be: What do you miss? What do you hope? Describe something you saw recently in a totally new way.

Bielawa will then create a collaborative musical work through another participatory process. As texts are collected, she will compose melodies, record them, and upload them to her website as Guide Tracks so that the public can learn the music and sing along. It will not be necessary to know how to read music to join one's voice in the piece. Following the instructions on her website, people at home can record themselves singing along with their chosen sections, using a cell phone or computer, and upload these audio files to the site for Bielawa to incorporate into her process, thereby adding their voices to the work itself as it develops.

Collection of both testimonies and singing sound files will be continuous throughout the development process, for as long as communities remain in lock-down. If at a certain stage of the development of the project people begin to be able to gather in groups, live "Sing-Ins" or public workshop-rehearsals can also serve to build community and teach the singing parts to the general public. If people are not yet able to gather in large groups, either small breakout groups can meet up - or using online teleconferencing software, people can rehearse virtually.

In the final phase of the project, the work will be performed live and/or live-remote hybrid as needed. The music for Broadcast from Home will be composed and constructed in ways that make it ideal for eventual performance in either concert settings or public spaces. Anyone who wishes to raise their voice can participate, guided by instrumentalists and professional Sing Leaders. Performances will also incorporate the voice recordings uploaded throughout the time of quarantine, so that the authentic voices of quarantine will blend with the voices of those gathered together at last.

Broadcast from Home is a follow-up to Lisa Bielawa's earlier works for performance in public performances - Airfield Broadcasts (spacialized works for hundreds of musicians on the field of former airfields), and Mauer Broadcast (a participatory work for public performance, for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall last year). Bielawa is currently at work on another piece called Voters' Broadcast, which is also meant to be performed in public places in the lead up to the Presidential Election.


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