Lisa Bielawa

Composer, vocalist

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.


Her music as ruminative, pointillistic and harmonically slightly tart.

New York Times


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.

Born in San Francisco into a musical family, Lisa Bielawa played the violin and piano, sang, and wrote music from early childhood. She began touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992, and in 1997 co-founded the MATA Festival New York, which celebrates the work of young composers.

Lisa Bielawa’s music is frequently performed throughout the US, Canada, in Paris, Italy, the UK and Rome. Recent highlights included the world premieres of Graffiti dell’amante performed by Bielawa with the Brooklyn Rider string quartet in Rome and Harrisburg; Emerald Waltz in Boston; Portrait-Elegy, written for pianist Bruce Levingston, in New York; The Project of Collecting Cloudsat Town Hall in Seattle by cellist Joshua Roman and chamber ensemble; the world premiere of In medias res, a concerto for orchestra commissioned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), the culmination of Bielawa’s three-year Music Alive residency with that orchestra; the premiere of The Right Weather by the American Composers Orchestra and pianist Andrew Armstrong at Carnegie Hall; and the premiere of The Lay of the Love and Death at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

Bielawa’s discography includes A Handful of World (Tzadik); The Trojan Women (TROY); Hildegurls: Electric Ordo Virtutum(Innova); The Trojan Women (Innova); In medias res (BMOP/sound), a double-disc set of Bielawa’s solo and orchestral works; and the world premiere recording of Chance Encounter (Orange Mountain Music). Another album, The Lay of the Love, is scheduled for release as the inaugural disc of Premiere Commission Recordings, a new label based in New York.

Bielawa has appeared in performances of her own works in Italy, Japan, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Canada and Russia, at the Bang on a Can, Other Minds, and Lincoln Center Festivals and, most recently, at the Venice Architectural Biennale. She has sung major roles in operas by Anthony Braxton and Michael Gordon, and has toured and recorded with the early music group Pomerium.
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. In 2007-2008, Lisa Bielawa was a Radcliffe Institute Fellow.

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.