Tempelhof Broadcast

by Lisa Bielawa


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broad·cast adjective \ˈbrod-kast\ 1: cast or scattered in all directions 

“Tempelhof Broadcast” brings together hundreds of musicians in a 45-minute piece composed expressly for performance on the tarmac of the former Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. This famous site where the Berlin Airlift took place in 1948-49 is currently open to the public, unaltered, but in 2013 it will be turned over to developers. On several days in the Fall of 2012, the runways will be turned into a vast musical canvas, as community and professional musicians execute a spatialized symphony. It will be free and open to the public, and it will happen around and among the regular public uses of the Park. I am  seeking $15,000 for first stage of the project, which will involve two extensive trips to Berlin in the Spring of 2011, to continue planning with the staff of Tempelhof Park and to begin forming partnerships with community music groups who wish to be part of the event.

The massive event will begin in the center of the field and disperse outwards according to instructions given in the score, some players moving in clusters, others spreading out in long chains, before exiting the park. Groups may be instructed to stay close to each other for a certain duration, then peel away. Some musicians playing larger instruments (like pianos) will play on the beds of motorized luggage carriers that move between the slower-moving groups. Their music would be composed to form different sonic relationships with the musical tasks of the larger groups they approach or transect.

This Dispersal form feels particularly apt for a last ritual experience in Tempelhof. The site has deep resonance for many older Berliners and Americans. It has been a reminder of: the ambitions of Nationalist Germany; the devastation of post-WWII Berlin; and the role of American and British pilots in the Berlin Airlift, during which a plane landed every 3 minutes around the clock to deliver goods to West Berliners during the Soviet blockade. But this history is breaking up and dissolving, as new meanings attach themselves to this ever-changing city. The meanings of Tempelhof disperse like sound, echoing then dying out.

Although the musicians will perform without the aid of any technology beyond simple wristwatches (coordinated to the second, earlier in the day), there will be a technological companion component of “Tempelhof Broadcast” realized through social networking media. New York City’s public radio station WQXR will host a site for the project on their webradio and blog Q2, where multiple streams of live media from people attending the event can be heard, seen and combined, anywhere in the world.

While  $7000 has been secured for the commission itself, we need to raise funds for the crucial planning portion of the project. I will need to go to Berlin twice, once for meetings with Grün-Berlin, the organization that runs the Park, and prospective partners in community music and public radio, and to take extensive acoustic measurements of the airfield, and a second time with a technical collaborator to lay the groundwork for the social networking matrix and launch the invitation to musical participants. This citywide invitation will be to potential participants who can either be pre-existing groups or teams who organize themselves in response to the invitation. Both trips will include fees for a translator.

A second stage of the project, in the Fall of 2011, will be dedicated to workshops in which I will design specific musical “tasks” for each participant group, based on their levels of ability and what instruments they play. After a period of compositional work in the Spring of 2012, the last stage will begin with rehearsals in the Summer of 2012 in preparation for the unveiling of “Tempelhof Broadcast” in the Fall.

Match Funds are not currently available.

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    • February 05, 2011 John Kjenner Community Member

      Congratulations, Lisa! I look forward to following you on this amazing project. Good luck, work hard, HAVE FUN!!! xo

    • December 29, 2010 Kristina Wong Artist

      Yeah!! do it baby!! love, kristina http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/project/cat_lady

    • December 29, 2010 Kristina Wong Artist

      I got five on you! So glad to support you in what little ways I can! Good luck with your project! Love, Kristina http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/project/cat_lady