Lisa Bielawa, Composer
Composer, producer, and vocalist Lisa Bielawa is a 2023 Guggenheim Fellow and a Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition, who takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. She is the recipient of the 2017 Music Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and a 2020 OPERA America Grant for Female Composers. She was named a William Randolph Hearst Visiting Artist Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society for 2018 and was Artist-in-Residence at Kaufman Music Center in New York for the 2020-2021 season. In 1997, Bielawa co-founded the MATA Festival. For her 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship period, Bielawa is writing a new opera and a book of prose vignettes from her experiences and encounters with music in a variety of international settings.
Bielawa consistently executes work that incorporates community-making as part of her artistic vision. She has created music for public spaces in Lower Manhattan, a bridge over the Ohio River in Louisville, KY, the banks of the Tiber River in Rome, on the sites of former airfields in Berlin in San Francisco, and to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. During the coronavirus lockdown, Bielawa cultivated a virtual community using submitted testimonies and recorded voices from six continents, through her project, Broadcast from Home. In 2022, Bielawa was selected for a residency with the Louisville Orchestra’s Creators Corps, during which she wrote new orchestral and community-based works to engage the Louisville community.
Bielawa’s music has been premiered at the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, SHIFT Festival, Naumburg Orchestral Concerts, National Cathedral, Rouen Opera, MAXXI Museum in Rome, and Helsinki Music Center, among others. Orchestras that have championed her music include The Knights, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, ROCO in Houston, and the Orlando Philharmonic. Premieres of her work have been commissioned and presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Rider, Seattle Chamber Music Society, Radio France, Yerevan Concert Hall in Armenia, the Venice Architectural Biennale, American Music Week in Salzburg, the INFANT Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia, and more.
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, created with librettist Erik Ehn and director Charles Otte. Vireo was filmed in twelve parts in locations across the country and features over 350 musicians. Vireo was released on CD/DVD in 2019 (Orange Mountain Music). Bielawa is also recorded on the Tzadik and BMOP/ sound labels, among others.
Photo by Liz Linder
Erik Ehn, Librettist
Erik Ehn is an American playwright and director. His works includes The Saint Plays, Soulography, Beginner, and Vireo (w/composer Lisa Bielawa). He is the founder and former Co-Artistic Director of Tenderloin Opera Company in San Francisco. He is a graduate of New Dramatists, a recent graduate of the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley California, with a Master of Theological Studies degree, and the former dean of theater at CalArts, the California Institute of Arts. Currently, Erik Ehn is a Professor of Practice at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Photo by Mark Ostow
Charles Otte, Director
Charles Otte is a producer/director/designer whose work crosses multiple platforms and genres. He recently completed work as a producer for Universal Studios Beijing Resort, spending two years overseeing design and construction in Beijing, China. Prior to that, other large scale installations included the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, the Texas State History Museum in Austin, Universal Studios Singapore, and Lotte World in Seoul Korea. As a director his work includes numerous film and television projects as well as theatre and musical events focusing on new artists and new works. Otte is pleased to be collaborating with the amazing artists involved with Vireo.
Photo by Bernie Wire