Lisa Bielawa

Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa is a 2009 Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition. She takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. The New York Times describes her music as, “ruminative, pointillistic and harmonically slightly tart.” She is the recipient of the 2017 Music Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, and she received a 2018 Los Angeles Area Emmy nomination for her unprecedented, made-for-TV-and-online opera Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser.

In 2019, Bielawa became the inaugural Composer-in-Residence and Chief Curator at the new Philip Glass Institute

(PGI) at The New School’s Center of the Performing Arts. The PGI is a landmark partnership between The New School, the Philip Glass Ensemble (PGE), and Bielawa, who began touring as the vocalist with the Ensemble in 1992. In 1997, she co-founded the MATA Festival, which celebrates the work of young composers. Bielawa served as Artistic Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus from 2013-2018 and recently completed her residency at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, California. She was named a William Randolph Hearst Visiting Artist Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society for 2018. Her discography includes albums on the Tzadik, TROY, Innova, BMOP/sound, Orange Mountain Music and Sono Luminus labels.

Bielawa’s music is frequently performed throughout the US and Europe, with recent and upcoming highlights including two world premieres at the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL, Drama/Self Pity premiered by the Orlando Philharmonic, performances as both composer and soloist at The Kennedy Center’s KC Jukebox series, SHIFT Festival, and with violinist Jennifer Koh at National Sawdust. Bielawa’s music can be found outside the concert hall as well: Chance Encounter was premiered by soprano Susan Narucki and The Knights in Lower Manhattan’s Seward Park; and Airfield Broadcasts, a 60-minute work for hundreds of musicians, was premiered on the tarmac of the former Tempelhof Airport in Berlin in May 2013 and at Crissy Field in San Francisco in October 2013. Bielawa’s Vireo was produced as part of Bielawa’s artist residency at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, California and in partnership with KCETLink and Single Cel. The opera was filmed at locations across the country, and featured over 350 musicians in support of its core cast. Vireo was broadcast online and on TV by KCET. The Los Angeles Times called it an opera, “unlike any you have seen before, in content and in form,” and San Francisco Classical Voice described it as, “poetic and fantastical, visually stunning and relentlessly abstract.”  In February 2019, Vireo is released as a two CD + DVD box set on Orange Mountain Music, featuring all of the music and episodes. It is coming to the stage as VIREO LIVE, a hybrid film-opera experience in 2020.

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