CATHERINE BRANCH LEWIS
ROBERT J. BRADSHAW
CATHERINE BRANCH LEWIS is a passionate advocate of integrating disability advocacy and the arts. As a flutist with cerebral palsy, she holds a unique perspective on music’s ability to act as an instigator of positive change. Ms. Branch is dedicated to exploring the arts as a vehicle to promote social inclusion for people with disabilities, and in 2008 was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to research the role of art in social activism around the world. During her travels she began the “Music of Difference” project: a concert series whose goal is to encourage positive conversations about diversity. The first Music of Difference album debuted in 2011, and as the project grows, a dedication to championing the music of living composers remains at its core. Currently, in addition to working toward her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Eastman School of Music, she is a research fellow of the national Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program. Ms. Branch works at the Institute for Innovative Transition at University of Rochester, an organization dedicated to supporting positive, informed transitions into adulthood for people with disabilities. Catherine and her colleagues work together to support inclusive higher education, competitive employment, and engaged, self-determined community living for people with disabilities.
Focused on producing socially relevant works of art, ROBERT J. BRADSHAW's (b. 1970) music is inspired by historical events and influenced by his multi-cultural family including immigrants from Italy, Scotland and his maternal grandmother’s Jewish family that emigrated to America from Eastern Europe at the turn of the century.
Bradshaw spent his formative years surrounded by generations of artists and musicians including works by his great grandfather, George A. Bradshaw, whose etchings are part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection. Bradshaw’s artistic aesthetic, shaped by his family’s diverse heritage, continues to be directly impacted by his paternal grandfather’s art, a brilliant watercolorist and art historian, and maternal grandfather’s teaching, a 1940s jazz guitarist from New York City. Bradshaw’s music is a sophisticated fusion of these musical styles, celebrated as “wholly and unmistakably American”.
Commissions and recordings of Bradshaw’s works have been supported by leading arts organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and the New England’s Music Drives Us Foundation. His music has often been heard in concert halls around the world, from Sydney, Australia to Bangkok, Thailand. In America, it has been performed in many prestigious venues including Lincoln Center and the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall, featured as part of the Kennedy Center's International VSA Festival.
Bradshaw’s multifaceted music explores and expresses emotions associated with social, historic, sacred, and contemporary issues and events. Notable works include “The Girl in White”, a ballet celebrating the influence of Mexican culture on American music and “At the Root of Identity”, an electroacoustic composition exploring stereotype threat and its impact on personal performance. Bradshaw’s catalog includes operas, ballets, symphonies and an extensive list of chamber and solo compositions.
Commissions include works for the James Pappoutsakis Flute Competition, the New England String Ensemble Musical Heritage Initiative and the American String Teachers Association with NSOA. Of particular note is the Australian Trumpet Guild's commission of the opera “.Gabriel” which was also honored with a grant from the American Music Center, named winner of a Boston Metro Opera Mainstage Award, recorded by the Palmetto Camerata and premiered at the 35th Annual Conference of the International Trumpet Guild, 2010, courtesy of Opera Australia and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra.
In addition to composing, Bradshaw is also in high demand as a lecturer and teacher at all levels of education, frequently invited to teach at institutions throughout America, including recent lectures at Harvard University and Wake Forest University. A devoted advocate for the availability of music education for all children, Bradshaw accepts residencies where he helps children compose and perform their own music. He currently holds the position of Composer-In-Residence with the Northeast Massachusetts Youth Orchestras, Waring School, and is Director of the Young Composers’ Forum at the Tennessee Valley Music Festival.
Bradshaw explores diversity and social advocacy with his partner and flutist Catherine Branch through the Music of Difference project. MoD aims to transform the classical concert venue into a venue for positive conversations about disability and difference. Branch and Bradshaw’s collaboration began with the creation of “for Catherine”, a triple concerto directly founded on the rhythm of Catherine’s unique gait.
For more information, www.robertjbradshaw.com
CATHERINE BRANCH LEWIS, flute
Using music as a catalyst for conversations and an instigator of positive change
by facilitating conversations about diversity.