Lisa Bielawa’s latest work for performance in public places is Airfield Broadcasts, a massive 60-minute work for hundreds of musicians that premiered on the tarmac of the former Tempelhof Airport in Berlin (May 2013) and at Crissy Field in San Francisco (October 2013). Bielawa turns these former airfields into vast musical canvases, as professional, amateur and student musicians execute a spatial symphony.
Tempelhof Broadcast brought together hundreds of musicians in a large-scale spatial acoustic musical celebration in and about Tempelhofer Park in Berlin, Germany. The 60-minute piece was composed by Lisa Bielawa expressly for performance on the tarmac of the former Tempelhof Airport. This site, famous for its role in the Berlin Airlift in 1948-49, was currently open to the public, unaltered, but in 2013 it began to evolve into a new role in the life of the city. From May 10-12, 2013, the runways were turned into a vast musical canvas, as community and professional musicians executed a spatialized symphony. A partnership between Grün Berlin, Work in Progress - Berlin, the Knights Chamber Orchestra of New York and Bielawa, the performance also included hundreds of amateur and student musicians. It was free and open to the public, and occurred around and among the regular public uses of the Park The massive event began in the center of the field and dispersed outwards according to instructions given in the score, with some players moving in clusters, while others spread out in long chains, before exiting the park. Some groups were instructed to stay close to each other for a certain duration, then peel away. Musicians playing larger instruments (like pianos) played on the beds of motorized luggage carriers that moved between the slower-moving groups. Their music was composed to form different sonic relationships with the musical tasks of the larger groups they approached or transected.
From October 26-27, 2013, San Francisco's Crissy Field was turned into a vast musical canvas as part of composer Lisa Bielawa’s expansive project, Airfield Broadcasts. Crissy Broadcast was a massive, spatialized symphony involving more than 800 professional, student and amateur musicians, including orchestras, bands, and experimental new music groups. These musicians performed on the grounds of Crissy Field for thousands of music lovers and unwitting park goers.
The piece interprets and celebrates the site, allowing listeners to draw their own meaning and experience. Bielawa hopes that the project will have a palpable and sustainable impact on the city, saying “I would like to see this project bring about new partnerships, new vitality and new relationships between arts and civic institutions, between different generations and economic strata, between arts or music lovers and totally non-arts-identified park-goers enjoying surprise encounter with music as a 'happening' in the middle of their familiar and beloved city.”