Cambridge, MA, 7 April 2010. At 4pm on Sunday, May 16, 2010, composer and vocalist Lisa Bielawa’s Emerald Waltz will receive its world premiere at Greater Boston Vineyard Church in a performance by the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra (170 Rindge Avenue). The piece was commissioned by the orchestra in celebration of the ensemble’s 35th anniversary, and is named after the gemstone commonly associated with 35th anniversaries – the emerald. The program also includes Saint-Saens’ Concerto for Cello performed by Raphael Popper-Keizer and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.
Lisa Bielawa’s music has been performed frequently in the Boston area. She was Composer-in-Residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project for three years from 2006 to 2009 and was a Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard in 2007-08. She is currently based in Rome at the American Academy as the 2009-10 Rome Prize winner.
Of Emerald Waltz, Ms. Bielawa says, “It is always a pleasure to write an occasional piece, since commissions to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and special events usually come from a very heartfelt place, and serve an intimate purpose for the people involved. I wanted to heighten the specific sense of occasion for the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra's special celebration by giving it not only a title but an actual structure that would be expressly about them and their important milestone. The emerald is the 35th anniversary stone, and the 'Viennese waltz' time that carries most of the piece forward is actually a pattern of 35 beats: 10 measures of 3/4 time (waltz time) plus one lopsided measure of 5/4.”
Born into a musical family in San Francisco, Lisa Bielawa played the violin and piano, sang, and wrote music from early childhood. She moved to New York two weeks after receiving her B.A. in Literature in 1990 from Yale University, and became an active participant in New York musical life. She began touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992, and in 1997 co-founded the MATA Festival, which celebrates the work of young composers. In addition to her work with the Philip Glass Ensemble, she tours and records with John Zorn and has premiered and recorded works by many other composer colleagues.
Ms. Bielawa frequently 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,” and Time Out New York praised her "prodigious gift for mingling persuasive melodicism with organic experimentation."
Recent performances of Ms. Bielawa’s work include the premiere of Double Violin Concerto, written for violinists Colin Jacobsen and Carla Kihlstedt and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP); the premiere of In medias res, a concerto for orchestra also written for BMOP; the premiere of Portrait-Elegy by pianist Bruce Levingston; and the premiere of The Project of Collecting Clouds at Town Hall in Seattle by cellist Joshua Roman and chamber ensemble. Other recent highlights include performances of unfinish’d, sent by the Yerevan Ensemble of Soloists in Armenia; of Topos Nostalgia from Chance Encounter with Ms. Bielawa as the soprano in Salzburg; of Hurry at Carnegie Hall during Dawn Upshaw’s Perspectives series; the premiere of The Right Weather by the American Composers Orchestra and Van Cliburn prize-winning pianist Andrew Armstrong during Zankel Hall’s inaugural season; and the premiere of The Lay of the Love and Death at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Ms. Bielawa’s music is available on the Tzadik (A Handful of World), Albany Records (First Takes), and Innova (Hildegurls: Electric Ordo Virtutuum) labels. Upcoming releases in 2010 include The Lay of the Love on Premiere Commission Recordings and an orchestral disc on BMOP/Sound.
In addition to the 2009 Rome Prize, Ms. Bielawa has received fellowships and awards from the Alpert-Ucross Foundation, Creative Capital, 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 now serves on the board of the MATA Festival. 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.
For more information, please visit www.lisabielawa.com.
Jessica Kiger, Associate Publicist
Christina Jensen PR