Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Stream Now
Click Here for More Articles on Stream Now

Kaufman Music Center Announces Lisa Bielawa, Conrad Tao and Seth Parker Woods as 20/21 Artists-in-Residence

2020-21 Artist Residency events will take place both digitally and in person with social distancing.

Kaufman Music Center Announces Lisa Bielawa, Conrad Tao and Seth Parker Woods as 20/21 Artists-in-Residence

Kaufman Music Center's Artist-in-Residence program embeds versatile artists who are reimagining music and transforming the field into programs straddling KMC's thriving education and performance programs. Now in its second year, the program weaves together the many threads of Kaufman Music Center (KMC): Artists-in-Residence perform in Merkin Hall and work with students from KMC's Special Music School (SMS), the only K-12 public school in the U.S. that teaches music as a core subject; Face the Music, a teen new music program dedicated to performing cutting-edge music by living composers, including its own members; and Lucy Moses School (LMS), NYC's largest community music school.

The 2020-21 Kaufman Music Center Artists-in-Residence are: Composer, producer, vocalist and Rome Prize winner Lisa Bielawa; pianist, composer, Avery Fisher Career Grant winner and Special Music School alumnus Conrad Tao; and the versatile, genre-straddling cellist and educator Seth Parker Woods.

2020-21 Artist Residency events will take place both digitally and in person with social distancing and appropriate safety measures. Decisions about in-person events will be made throughout the season as the COVID-19 situation develops.

Kaufman Music Center Executive Director Kate Sheeran says, "During the program's first year, we came to appreciate the flexibility and innovation of our Artists-in-Residence more than we ever could have imagined. When the pandemic struck, they and our creative, resilient students were able to quickly pivot to digital projects that resulted in a series of amazing performance videos and the very first album released on the Kaufman Music Center label. As we begin a new season during a challenging time, I am so excited to see what Lisa Bielawa, Conrad Tao, Seth Parker Woods and our students will achieve, and how they will reimagine music together."


KMC will give the world premiere of the live version of Lisa Bielawa's Voters' Broadcast, a transformative, innovative work for public spaces designed to spur civic engagement. Using text from Sheryl Oring's I Wish to Say, Lisa and up to 150 KMC musicians will perform the piece in late October at several outdoor, in-person events in New York, featuring socially distanced musicians in groups of 50 to 60. Commissioned as part of the Democracy and Debate themed-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, Voters' Broadcast will also be premiered in sections at three virtual events online in September and October, featuring musicians from both institutions. On November 3, KMC will serve as a polling place for the presidential election.

In the spring, KMC will present work-in-development performances of Lisa's new opera Centuries in the Hours, which illuminates the lives of American women by setting selections from 72 American women's diaries spanning three centuries, discovered during extensive research as a William Randolph Hearst Visiting Artist Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society in 2018. Through the opera and its libretto by Claire Solomon, dozens of manuscripts rejoin the flow of public discourse. Centuries in the Hours asks: What if these women could be lifted out of their historical contexts and respective life circumstances to encounter one another? What can we learn from these women's view of American history, seen largely from within the domestic sphere? How does this resonate deeply today, especially in light of people's current experience of sheltering in place?

Lisa will also give voice masterclasses for SMS and LMS vocal students, and a composition masterclass with SMS High School composers will culminate in spring performances premiering new works by the students setting found text to music.


A series of seven free monthly digital "Performance As Process" events on Thursday evenings from September through April will invite audiences into Conrad Tao's creative practice as he develops programming for his Thursday, May 6 Ecstatic Music concert in Merkin Hall. Streamed from his home in Manhattan, these events will give the audience a deeper look into his work in piano, electronics, composition and improvisation as the program for his Merkin Hall debut comes into focus.

During the fall, Conrad will work with Face the Music to explore improvisation and latency as a creative spark in digital collaborations. A masterclass with pianists from SMS and LMS focused on practice and performance will be streamed in December, and additional talks and masterclasses on approaching recital programming and artistic practice in repertoire choices will culminate in a March group performance.


Seth Parker Woods will work with Face the Music, using Mauricio Kagel's musik theatre work Con Voce as a vehicle to create a new collective work using instruments, facial expressivity and voices. Given our social distancing and the toll the global pandemic has taken on all of us, Seth will seize this opportunity to develop a piece that wraps together humor and theatre of the spectacle.

Seth and SMS students will perform Dick Higgins's Danger Music #17 in person in KMC's outdoor playground. Seth will give masterclasses for LMS cellists and SMS High School students focusing on expanding their knowledge of composers and repertoire curation, and coach KMC ensembles leading up to side-by-side chamber music recitals.

On Sunday, May 9 at Merkin Hall, Seth will perform a program of works for cello, electronics and film by Nathalie Joachim (The Race: 1915), Fredrick Gifford (Difficult Grace), Monty Adkins (Winter Tendrils), Freida Abtan (My Heart Is A River), Ryan Carter (Default Mode Network) and a new reimagining of Pierre Alexandre Tremblay's asinglewordisnotenough 3 [invariant] with choreographer Roderick George.


"I feel fortunate to be working with the bold and vital Kaufman Music Center community during this time, when forward-thinking and innovative community arts programming is especially needed. We are planning a season of broad participation that reaches beyond the challenges of our current time to bring joyful and thoughtful music-making to audiences and students. Together we will focus our energies on celebrating democracy in action leading up to the election with the Voters' Broadcast project, and in the Spring, through the new development of my new opera "Centuries in the Hours," we will explore the alternate history of America through the eyes of women whose vantage point from the domestic sphere resonates so deeply with our current experiences of sheltering in place. I can't imagine a better place to create this work, and this community, than at KMC!"

Composer, vocalist, and producer Lisa Bielawa is a Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition and takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. Her music has been described as "ruminative, pointillistic and harmonically slightly tart" by The New York Times. She is the recipient of the 2017 Music Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters; was named a William Randolph Hearst Visiting Artist Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society for 2018; and was recently awarded a 2020 Discovery Grant from OPERA America's Grants for Female Composers. She began touring as the vocalist with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992 and recently became the Composer-in-Residence and Chief Curator of the Philip Glass Institute. She received a 2018 Los Angeles Area Emmy nomination for her made-for-TV-and-online opera Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser, created with librettist Erik Ehn and director Charles Otte. Bielawa's work consistently incorporates community-making, including Broadcast from Home, a large-scale interactive work in response to the coronavirus pandemic crisis; and music for public spaces in New York City, San Francisco, Berlin, Rome and more. She is currently at work on Voters' Broadcast, a broadly participatory musical performance for an unlimited number of voices and instruments meant to stimulate voter engagement, political awareness and community participation through the act of giving voice to the concerns of fellow citizens, during the lead-up to the 2020 Presidential election. In 1997, Bielawa co-founded the MATA Festival, which celebrates the work of young composers.


"I'm so excited to be an artist-in-residence at Kaufman Music Center for this season! I'm looking forward to listening and working and thinking with KMC students about the sociality of music, methods of practice that open up further creative avenues, and the substance of a concert program, among other questions. It is rare to find an educational institution with a structure that so encourages students' varied interests, and I can't wait to dig in. In addition to exploring these topics collaboratively with students, I'm grateful to have the chance to present regular performance-talks leading up to a concert presentation in May, in which I'll be sharing materials and thoughts as they evolve over time. I believe in performance being a part of one's ongoing practice, not just the shiny, well-packaged end result of said practice; I hope these regular presentations can be a manifestation of that."

Conrad Tao has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer, and has been dubbed a musician of "probing intellect and open-hearted vision" by The New York Times, who also cited him as "one of five classical music faces to watch" in the 2018-19 season. Tao is a recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, and was named a Gilmore Young Artist - an honor awarded every two years highlighting the most promising American pianists of the new generation. At the 2019 New York Dance and Performance Award ("Bessies"), Tao was the recipient of the award for Outstanding Sound Design / Music Composition, for his work on MoreForever, his collaboration with Caleb Teicher.

A Warner Classics recording artist, Tao's debut disc Voyages was declared a "spiky debut" by The New Yorker's Alex Ross. Of the album, NPR wrote: "Tao proves himself to be a musician of deep intellectual and emotional means - as the thoughtful programming on this album...proclaims." His next album, Pictures, with works by David Lang, Toru Takemitsu, Elliott Carter, Mussorgsky and Tao himself, was hailed by The New York Times as "a fascinating album [by] a thoughtful artist and dynamic performer...played with enormous imagination, color and command." His latest album, American Rage, was released to acclaim in Fall 2019 and features works by Julia Wolfe, Frederic Rzewski and Aaron Copland. Conrad's creative process behind the album was highlighted as part of a November 2019 profile in The New York Times.

Tao was born in Urbana, Illinois, in 1994. An alumnus of Kaufman Music Center's Special Music School, he has studied piano with Emilio del Rosario in Chicago and Yoheved Kaplinsky in New York, and composition with Christopher Theofanidis.


"For at least a decade I have been enamored with the valiant creativity that has taken place at the Kaufman Music Center," says Seth Parker Woods. "The energy the students, faculty and guest artists put into art making, alongside striving for academic success continues to blow my mind. I had the great fortune to witness many of their most recent projects this past season, and I cannot wait to dive in with the students, faculty and creative team across the Center. I'm honored to have been approached by KMC for this post, and we look forward to sharing the fruits of our time together with the world over the course of this season."

Hailed by The Guardian as "a cellist of power and grace" who possesses "mature artistry and willingness to go to the brink," cellist Seth Parker Woods has established a reputation as a versatile artist straddling several genres. In addition to solo performances, he has appeared with the Ictus Ensemble (Brussels, BE), Ensemble L'Arsenale (IT), zone Experimental (CH), Basel Sinfonietta (CH), New York City Ballet, Ensemble LPR, Orchestra of St. Luke's and the Seattle Symphony. A fierce advocate for contemporary arts, Woods has collaborated and worked with a wide range of artists ranging from the likes of Louis Andriessen, Elliott Carter, Heinz Holliger, G. F. Haas, Helmut Lachenmann, Klaus Lang, and Peter Eötvos to Peter Gabriel, Sting, Lou Reed, Dame Shirley Bassey and Rachael Yamagata to such visual artists as Ron Athey, Vanessa Beecroft, Jack Early, Adam Pendleton and Aldo Tambellini.

Recent awards include a DCASE artist grant, Earle Brown/ Morton Feldman Foundation Grant, McGill University-CIRMMT/IDMIL Visiting Researcher Residency, Centre Intermondes Artist Residency, Francis Chagrin Award, Concours [Re]connaissance-Premiere Prix, and the Paul Sacher Stiftung Research Scholarship. His debut solo album, asinglewordisnotenough (Confront Recordings-London), has garnered great acclaim since its release in November 2016 and has been profiled in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times and The Guardian among many others.

Woods serves on the performance faculty at the University of Chicago as a Lecturer/Artist in Residence for Cello and Chamber Music. He previously served on the music faculties of Dartmouth College and the Chicago Academy of the Arts, and holds degrees from Brooklyn College, Musik Academie der Stadt Basel, and a PhD from the University of Huddersfield. He is a former Artist-in-Residence with the Seattle Symphony.

2020-21 Artist-in-Residence Calendar

Updates will be posted at as they become available. We will decide which concerts will be in person based on the evolving COVID-19 situation.

Lisa Bielawa

September-October: Voter's Broadcast virtual events

Late October: World premiere of the live version of Voters' Broadcast outdoors

Spring: Centuries in the Hours work-in-development opera performances

Conrad Tao

October 29, November 19, December 17, January 28, February 25, March 25, April 29: Performance as Practice monthly livestreams

October-November: Work with Face the Music

December: Piano Masterclass on Practice & Performance (streamed)

March: Performance with Repertoire & Performance Masterclass participants

May 6: Ecstatic Music performance in Merkin Hall

Seth Parker Woods

February-March: Face The Music new work

May 9: Performance at Merkin Hall

Related Articles

More Hot Stories For You