Regular readers probably know that I have been tracking progress on the preparations for what will probably be the largest-scale musical performance of the 2013–2014 concert season. I am referring to the three performances that will be given next month of “Crissy Broadcast,” the second of composer Lisa Bielawa’s Airfield Broadcasts series of site-specific concerts. (The series began in Berlin with “Tempelhof Broadcast,” which took place on the site of the former Tempelhof Airfield.)
Bielawa’s project will involve the resources of more than 800 professional and amateur musicians. The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players will serve as Lead Professional Ensemble; and “Crissy Broadcast” will mark the beginning of their 43rd season. Other participating groups will include the San Francisco Girls Chorus, San Francisco Symphony’s Community of Music Makers, Chamber Chorus of the University of California, Golden Gate Philharmonic, Great Wall Youth Orchestra of Laney College, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Lowell High School Orchestra, Aptos Middle School Band, Presidio Middle School Panther Band, Sacred Heart Cathedral Orchestra, Berkeley High Band and Orchestra, and the Ruth Asawa/San Francisco School of the Arts. When one takes into account the fact that the audience (both those coming to Crissy Field for the occasion and those who just happen to be there) will be part of the performance (along with any four-footed guests that may be in tow), “Crissy Broadcast” could well involve the proverbial “cast of thousands.”
As I have already observed, the title comes from that definition of “broadcast” as “cast or scattered in all directions.” One might call the piece a “thermodynamic” composition, in which entropy is the primary guiding force. I previously described Bielawa’s conception as follows:
The musicians will begin as a cluster in the center of Crissy Field. Bielawa’s score then provides instructions for how they will disperse, coordinated by both long-distance audible cues and synchronized watches. Listeners are then free to move about at will to experience this dispersion process.
Bielawa has said that she wanted “to close the gap between the orchestra and the audience;” and one may say, to some extent, that this gap will be filled by the natural process of entropy that abhors a vacuum.
“Crissy Broadcast” will be given three performances, each one hour in duration. They will take place at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 26, and at noon on Sunday, October 27. (It will be interesting to observe the extent to which the ambient sounds of church bells will figure in the Sunday performance.) All performances are free and open to the general public, including those members of the public who do not realize that they are attending.