5 questions to Lisa Bielawa (composer)

Following a successful round of performances in Berlin, Lisa Bielawa is bringing the next installment of her Airfield Broadcast series to San Francisco on October 26 at 10 AM and 4 PM, and October 27 at 12 PM. Crissy Broadcast—taking place at Crissy Field—is a 60-minute, fully-immersive, open air performance you do not want to miss. Bielawa kindyl answered 5 questions about this project…

You want to “close the gap between the orchestra and the audience.” Do you feel that audiences are prepared to experience something like Airfield Broadcasts?

These public-space projects always teach me something new about what audiences are prepared to experience, and in general I find that people are quite open to having unexpected artistic encounters in new contexts. I can’t wait to see how the San Francisco Crissy Field public will respond!

Lisa Bielawa - Photo by Phil Mansfield

Lisa Bielawa – Photo by Phil Mansfield

The physical gap is often easier to bridge than the socioeconomic one—even though it is one of your goals too. How do you feel that Airfield Broadcasts can concretely achieve this?

This is music written for musicians at any level, as long as they are committed to the workshops and rehearsal process. In terms of sheer inclusivity, we are reaching a very broad demographic range in our participant pool. I find that an individual musician’s response to this music has very little to do with his or her socioeconomic background, age or other demographic factors. There are people who are responsive to art and to sonic experience in every sub-stratum of our culture.

It is a very personal, individual thing – responsiveness to sound. Each of the participants brings this experience into his or her own community. Already through this project I have met many, many people who are parents, friends, school helpers or civic workers – people I would never usually get a chance to meet, let alone share a musical experience with – through the involvement of these students.

Can Airfield Broadcasts be seen as the continuation of your work on “Chance Encounter”?

Yes, I believe it can. I got the idea to do Tempelhof Broadcast when the Rome performance of CE was fresh in my mind and ears. I wanted to expand the civic engagement of the project into the actual music-making.

What attracts you to having people bump into your music? Triggering a Zen-like reaction of non-thinking, free from the expectations of the concert hall?

The most satisfying experiences I’ve had with unwitting listeners are ones that leave them smiling, feeling unexpected joy and expansiveness in the course of everyday existence.

How does one go about writing/staging a score for 800 musicians?

There’s a lot of staring at the wall and imagining stuff. One needs to get away from the piano and the studio and take long walks and runs outside, to feel what sound actually means when it travels a longer distance. Pacing, timing, silence, harmonic rhythm – these all need to be slowed down and imagined as from an airplane soaring way, way above.

Rehearsalf of Tempelhof Broadcast on the Tempelhofer Feld

For more information about Crissy Broadcast, visit: