Lisa Bielawa

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Bielawa
composer, soprano

Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. She explores the ritual and phenomenological nature of music-making and listening, employing instrumental forces in ways that are both dramatic and intimate in their use of time and space. The New York Times describes her music as, "ruminative, pointillistic and harmonically slightly tart."

Ms. Bielawa is a graduate of Yale University with a BA summa cum laude in Literature. She began composing early in life—her father is a composer, and her mother a keyboardist and early music scholar—and she grew up singing and playing the violin and piano. Throughout her childhood, Ms. Bielawa was exposed to all types of music and she credits this circumstance for the palpable freedom from limitations and boundaries in her compositions.

In the 2007-2008 season, Lisa Bielawa composed her Double Violin Concerto during her time as a Radcliffe Institute Fellow. The piece was commissioned as part of Ms. Bielawa's three-year residency with BMOP, and is part of Music Alive, a joint program of Meet The Composer and the League of American Orchestras. Also in 2008, pianist Bruce Levingston will give the world premiere of a piece commissioned from Ms. Bielawa in New York. Ms. Bielawa is currently at work on Quartet in Translation, a companion piece to Oliver Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, to be premiered in the fall of 2008 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Messiaen's birth.

In 2007, the first commercial recordings of Ms. Bielawa's music were released on the Tzadik and Albany Records labels. The album A Handful of World features Kafka Songs, performed by violinist/vocalist Carla Kihlstedt; Lamentations for a City, performed by the Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble; and A Collective Cleansing, sung by the composer. In addition, Ms. Bielawa's The Trojan Women was released on Albany Records on a disc entitled First Takes, a collection of works by outstanding young American composers performed by the String Orchestra of New York City. Ms. Bielawa's next CD, The Lay of the Love and Death, is scheduled for release in the fall of 2008 as the inaugural disc of Premiere Commission Recordings, a new label based in New York.

Recent performances of Ms. Bielawa's music include the 2004 commission and premiere of Hurry, for soprano and chamber ensemble, by Carnegie Hall for Dawn Upshaw's Perspectives series, as well as the 2003 premiere of The Right Weather by the American Composers Orchestra and Van Cliburn prize-winning pianist Andrew Armstrong during Zankel Hall's inaugural season. In March 2006, Ms. Bielawa's The Lay of the Love and Death, based on an epic poem by Rilke and written for violinist Colin Jacobsen and baritone Jesse Blumberg, was premiered at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. In November 2006, Ms. Bielawa performed unfinish'd, sent with BMOP, at the inaugural concert of her residency with them.

Ms. Bielawa has received fellowships and awards from the Alpert-Ucross Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy, the Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation, ASCAP, and the Fondation Royaumont in France. An enthusiastic advocate for the field, Ms. Bielawa was a founding Artistic Director of the MATA Festival from 1997 until 2007, and now serves on its board. In addition, she has served on the board of the American Music Center and taught composition through the New York Youth Symphony Making Score program. As a vocalist, she has premiered and recorded countless works by her composer colleagues.

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Performances

Club Concert #3
Club Oberon in Harvard Square | June 7, 2010
Premieres
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | May 22, 2009
Club Concert #2
Moonshine Room at Club Café | April 7, 2009
Club Concert #1
Moonshine Room at Club Café | February 3, 2009
Boston ConNECtion
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | January 17, 2009
Club Concert #6
Moonshine Room at Club Café | April 8, 2008
MATA Festival
The Brooklyn Lyceum | April 1, 2008
Double Entendre: Premieres from inspired collaborations
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | March 29, 2008
Club Concert #5
Moonshine Room at Club Café | March 26, 2008
MIT Club Concert #4
Moonshine Room at Club Café | March 11, 2008
Club Concert #3
Moonshine Room at Club Café | February 5, 2008
Club Concert #2
Moonshine Room at Club Café | December 11, 2007
MIT Club Concert #6
Moonshine Room at Club Café | May 15, 2007
Club Concert #5
Moonshine Room at Club Café | April 3, 2007
MIT Club Concert #4
Moonshine Room at Club Café | March 6, 2007
Club Concert #3
Moonshine Room at Club Café | February 6, 2007
MIT Club Concert #2
Moonshine Room at Club Café | January 17, 2007
Club Concert #1
Moonshine Room at Club Café | December 5, 2006
Season Opening Event
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | November 3, 2006

News and Press

[CD Review] Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa's solo and orchestral music on 2-cd set
Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa's solo and orchestral music will be released as a 2-CD set entitled In medias res by BMOP/sound in June 2010. Performed by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), conducted by Artistic Director Gil Rose, the first disc, an SACD, includes four orchestral works: Roam (2001); Double Violin Concerto (2008) featuring violinist/vocalist Carla Kihlstedt and violinist Colin Jacobsen; unfinish'd, sent (2000) featuring the composer as soprano soloist; and In medias res, Concerto for Orchestra(2009).
Interchanging Idioms Full review
[Press Release] BMOP/sound Releases Lisa Bielawa: In medias res
Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa's solo and orchestral music will be released as a 2-CD set entitled In medias res by BMOP/sound in June 2010. Performed by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), conducted by Artistic Director Gil Rose, the first disc, an SACD, includes four orchestral works: Roam (2001); Double Violin Concerto (2008) featuring violinist/vocalist Carla Kihlstedt and violinist Colin Jacobsen; unfinish’d, sent (2000) featuring the composer as soprano soloist; and In medias res, concerto for orchestra (2009).
BMOP Full release
[Concert Review] Premieres and a farewell for BMOP
It seems odd to call a program with five brand new orchestral pieces commonplace. But somehow it seems apt when talking about the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, a group for whom the unexpected has become almost predictable. The five premieres on Friday's concert spoke in vastly disparate languages, each of which BMOP's fine orchestra and music director Gil Rose brought off as though it was a well-honed specialty.
The Boston Globe Full review
[Concert Review] With Orchestral Offerings, Festival Passes a Milestone
The MATA Festival is celebrating its 10th season, partly by showing off how far it has come since its early days as Music at the Anthology, a new-music series resident at the Anthology Film Archives. Since the Anthology days the festival has traveled a circuit of churches and small halls, but for the last couple of years it has been ensconced at the Brooklyn Lyceum, an old public bath converted into a concert hall.
The New York Times Full review
[Concert Review] Star Quality
In the Times, Allan Kozinn provided a typically sagacious and deftly written account of the first major concert of the MATA—Young Composers Now! series at the Brooklyn Lyceum (on April 1). The concert closed with the New York premiere of Lisa Bielawa's Double Violin Concerto, which was played with saintly elegance by Carla Kihlstedt and Colin Jacobsen, backed by Gil Rose and the excellent Boston Modern Orchestra Project.
The New Yorker, Goings On Blog Full review