Lisa Bielawa’s Crissy Field Broadcast was simultaneously an experiment in large-scale community music-making and a kind of interactive, open-air sound sculpture created by over a thousand musicians tramping over the former airfield and posting up against the enormous steel sculptures that now define the space.
It was wild, it was breezy and cold (as you would expect), and it was a heck of a lot of fun. The sound changed as you weaved between distinct groups: Wherever you stood there were near and far musical stimuli, and some that were just on the edge of hearing. And then musicians would move to another configuration, further out from the center of the field, and everything changed.
I watched as guitarist David Tanenbaum, leading his group at the edge of the field strained to pick up a cue, first cupping his ears, then looking at a music score taped to his forearm, then shading his eyes to look over the field, then looking at his watch. It wasn’t chaos, it was organized disintegration. Then, as if to emphasize the point, a band at the far west side of the field slid and melted, on cue, into sitting positions and, finally, reclined, still playing. It was choreography that in some ways resembled a halftime show. But instead of reinforcing an image of precision, the movements and the music exposed the physicality and the limits of human performers in a playful way.
But perhaps composer Bielawa’s best idea of all was just to fill a huge open space with musicians. After it was all over, as we walked on the beach sands, they were still there, jamming.
Crissy Field Broadcast
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