Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Composer Lisa Bielawa's 'Broadcast From Home' Sets Testimonies Of Quarantine Experience To Music

A new large-scale musical work with a call for testimonies in response to the isolation of sheltering in place, social distancing and quarantine during the COVID-19 crisis.
This project was featured by NPR.

Broadcast from Home is a new musical work from composer, vocalist and producer Lisa Bielawa 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. Throughout our period of isolation, she will select testimonies to set to music that 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.

Episodes will be posted on Kaufman Music Center's website and social channels every Thursday at 3 pm beginning April 16.

Submit Your Testimony

As Lead Partner of Broadcast from Home, Kaufman Music Center will provide production support and will also activate its community and students to participate in the work both with testimonies and in performance. 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.

Listen to Chapter One of Broadcast from Home

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 and 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.

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes, and More from Your Favorite Broadway Stars

Related Articles View More Classical Music Stories

More Hot Stories For You