Kaufman Music Center to Present Lisa Bielawa’s Entire ‘Broadcast from Home’ Song Cycle

By Chris Ruel

Audiences will have the opportunity to hear the award-winning composer, vocalist, and producer, Lisa Bielawa’s “Broadcast from Home” song cycle in its entirety during a two-part listening event on Thursday, August 20 at 2:00 p.m. EDT and Friday, August 21 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. The program is presented by Kaufman Music Center.

Bielawa began “Broadcast from Home” on April 9, creating a musical response to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders. The presentation of the entire cycle will also include live conversation with Bielawa featuring contributors to the project from around the world. John Glover, Director of Artistic Planning at Kaufman Music Center will moderate the discussion. The Center has served as the Lead Partner for “Broadcast at Home.”

“Broadcast from Home” was presented in weekly installments know as Chapters on National Public Radio’s ‘Morning Edition.’ After Chapter 15 was released, Bielawa put the cycle on hold as she began work on “Voter’s Broadcast,” a project meant to drive voter registration and engagement.

Bielawa asked the general public to send in their stories of the crisis. Selected testimonies were then set to music and performed at home by the public, as well as a number of frequent contributors. Before ending the release of new Chapters, Bielawa collaborated with 300 people across five continents to create stories of experiences related to the pandemic, including testimonies and recorded vocal lines. Collaborator experience ranged from high school music students to professional musicians and ranging in age from teens to those in their 60s.

In the Kaufman Center press release, Bielawa stated, “’Broadcast from Home’ arose organically out of an unprecedented moment: worldwide stay-at-home orders in response to a global pandemic, and the universal feelings of shock, grief, disorientation, hope and fear that overtook us as we navigated our strange new isolation, and then the surge of calls for justice in the midst of it all. I am so grateful to the hundreds of people, sheltering in place from NYC to Nairobi to Melbourne to Rio de Janeiro, who shared their personal experiences and raised their singing voices from their own homes to build this work with me. It stands as a document of the crisis through the lens of people’s most private experiences. Ironically, I have never felt more connected to people through my work than I did through this period of utter isolation. I’ve learned how transformative radical listening can be. The grain of individual voices (old and young, with so many regional inflections and varieties), the kinetic energy of bodies playing instruments in solitude, the moving accounts of people’s private experiences – all of these things gave solace and built community between and around us.”

“Broadcast from Home” follows up “Airfield Broadcasts,” featuring hundreds of musicians on the fields of former airfields, and “Maurer Broadcast,” a participatory work celebrating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The lineup for the performances on August 20 and 21 are as follows:

Featured guests and collaborators on the August 20 program include Natalie Mallis, Director of Choral Studies, School of Music, University of South Florida; Edith Knight Magak, writer, participant based in Kenya; Benjamin Barham-Weise, student percussionist at Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School High School, NYC; and Federico Ramirez, student cellist, Mannes School of Music, NYC.

Featured guests and collaborators on the August 21 program include Seth Brenzel, Executive Director of The Walden School Creative Musicians Retreat, based in San Francisco; Elizandro Garcia Montoya, clarinetist, Fifth House Ensemble, based in Chicago; Gregory Purnhagen, baritone, collaborator on all chapters of Broadcast from Home; and Deborah Meadows, writer, participant based in Los Angeles.

Audiences must register for each performance and can do so here:

Thursday, August 20, at 2:00 p.m. EDT – Part 1
Friday, August 21, at 2:00 p.m. EDT – Part 2

Lisa Bielawa was recently awarded a 2020 Discovery Grant from OPERA America’s Grants for Female Composers for her opera in progress, “Centuries in the Hours,” which was premiered in September 2019 as a five-song orchestral cycle by mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin and the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO), co-commissioned by the ASCAP Foundation Charles Kingsford Fund.