Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. She is a 2009 Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition. 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 into a musical family, 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.
Recent highlights include performances of Bielawa's chamber music in New York at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, City Winery, Merkin Concert Hall and Trinity Church. Her music is also frequently performed at concert venues in Paris, Italy, the UK and Rome. World premieres of Emerald Waltz, Graffiti dell'amante, Portrait-Elegy, The Project of Collecting Clouds, and In medias res have been performed in cities across the United States.
Bielawa's discography includes In medias res (BMOP/sound), a double-disc set of her solo and orchestral works recorded by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and conductor Gil Rose; Chance Encounter (Orange Mountain Music), recorded by soprano Susan Narucki and The Knights; A Handful of World (Tzadik) featuring Kafka Songs, performed by violinist/vocalist Carla Kihlstedt; Lamentations for a City, performed by the Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble; and A Collective Cleansing, sung by the composer; The Trojan Women on a disc entitled First Takes (TROY941), performed by the String Orchestra of New York City (SONYC); Hildegurls: Electric Ordo Virtutum (Innova), a 1998 re-envisioning of 12th-century German abbess Hildegard von Bingen's musical drama The Order of the Virtues by the Hildegurls; and The Trojan Women in a version for string quartet performed by the Miami on The NYFA Collection (Innova). Another album, The Lay of the Love, is scheduled for release in 2010 as the inaugural disc of Premiere Commission Recordings, a new label based in New York.
In addition to a 2009 Rome Prize, 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. From 2006-2009, Lisa Bielawa was composer in residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. In 2007-2008, she was a Radcliffe Institute Fellow.
An enthusiastic advocate for the field, 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. In addition to her work as a vocalist with the Philip Glass Ensemble, she tours and records with John Zorn and has premiered and recorded works by numerous other composer colleagues.