On Thursday, May 24 at 8pm, composer and vocalist Lisa Bielawa will present a concert with friends from the chorus of Einstein on the Beach at The Stone (Avenue C and 2nd Street, NYC), as part of a series of performances at the East Village venue curated by Gyan Riley. Lisa Bielawa is the choirmaster of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's monumental opera, currently touring worldwide. The singers are preparing for their appearance at The Stone, which features vocal music by Bielawa, while on the road together.
The concert will include baritone Joseph Chappel in excerpts from Bielawa's Lay of the Love and Death song cycle, based on an epic poem by Rilke. Soprano Melanie Russell, and mezzo-sopranos Kate Maroney and Solange Merdinian, will sing Bielawa's Gertrude Stein setting for women's trio called The Boat (a virtuoso a cappella piece), and will also join Bielawa in the first-ever resurrection of Act I of The Hildegurls Electric Ordo Virtutum, a modern response to Hildegard von Bingen's Ordo Virtutum (a chant opera written c. 1151), which premiered at the Lincoln Center Festival in 1998. The Hildegurls of 1998 were Eve Beglarian, Kitty Brazelton, Elaine Kaplinsky and Bielawa, and the production was developed in collaboration with director Grethe Holby.
The concert will also include "Lucretius" from Bielawa's Machina Mundi for six voices and electronics, which was commissioned and premiered by The Western Wind vocal ensemble to celebrate the millennium in 2000 and has not been performed since then. In addition, the evening will feature a selection from Phrenic Crush, Bielawa's 1997 music-theater piece with playwright/librettist Erik Ehn, featuring tenor John Kawa, as well as the virtuoso choral work From the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, which won the 1996 Dale Warland Singers National Competition. Additional performers include Gregory Purnhagen, baritone; Philip Anderson, tenor; and Hai-Ting Chinn, mezzo-soprano.
Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa is a 2009 Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition. She takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. Gramophone reports, "Bielawa is gaining gale force as a composer, churning out impeccably groomed works that at once evoke the layered precision of Vermeer and the conscious recklessness of Jackson Pollock," and The New York Times describes her music as, "ruminative, pointillistic and harmonically slightly tart."
Born 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. In 1992 she began touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble; in she 1997 co-founded the MATA Festival, which celebrates the work of young composers.
In recent seasons, world premieres of her music, including In medias res, a concerto for orchestra commissioned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, have been performed around the world. Her work, Chance Encounter, which comprises songs and arias of speech overheard in public spaces, has been performed in New York, Rome, Venice and Vancouver. Bielawa is at work on Tempelhof Broadcast, a 60-minute piece for hundreds of musicians, to be performed at the former Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. On several days in spring 2013, Bielawa will turn the abandoned runways into a vast musical canvas, as musicians execute a spatialized symphony.
Bielawa's discography includes A Handful of World (Tzadik); In medias res (BMOP/sound); and Chance Encounter (Orange Mountain Music). For more information, visit www.lisabielawa.net.
Joe Chappel is the longtime principal bass soloist of Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity, home of the nation's oldest running Bach vespers series. Recently, Chappel was heard at the Boulder Bach Festival, where he will return in 2013, and as a member of the international world tour of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach. This June, he can be heard as Jared Rothko, porn kingpin, in the world premiere of Gordon Beeferman's The Enchanted Organ: a porn opera. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, his teachers include Gary Kendall, Carol Webber, and Tracy Prentice.