Peter Bufano Awarded Newbury Comics Fellowship for the Study of Circus Music

By 
Allen Bush
January 28, 2019
Press release
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Bufano, an assistant professor in Berklee's Film Scoring Department, will document technology's impact on circus music. 

Peter Bufano
Image by Sarah Pollman

Peter Bufano, assistant professor in the Film Scoring Department and a composer and performer of circus music, has been awarded a 2018 Newbury Comics Faculty Fellowship. Created through the generosity of Mike and Laura Dreese, the fellowship supports Berklee faculty members in designing creative and innovative approaches to fostering student engagement and learning that transcends traditional boundaries, take risks, and explore ideas in new ways. 

Bufano has been involved with the world of circus arts for more than 30 years. The graduate from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College is also a performing musician and composer of circus music in a transforming industry.  

"What some may see as the end of an era, I see as space for new ideas, people, and voices,” said Bufano. “Ultimately, it is important to me that the circus provides a lens through which we see ourselves.”

Bufano’s Newbury Comics Faculty Fellowship project is two-fold: First, he will conduct research to explore the musical needs of modern circuses, and document how circus composers and musicians are adapting to changes in the art form. He will archive his research at Berklee and make it accessible to students and others in the community. 

“While there are many places in the world one may go to study acrobatics, trapeze, juggling, or contortion, Berklee is among the few that teaches performing circus music,” said Bufano. “There is very little documentation of the process, and only a handful of known composers specialize in circus music today.”

The second part of his project will be to lead an intensive creative residency at a circus school or theater equipped to accommodate the creative work of a small group of circus artists and musicians. The group, which will include Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee students, will create new original scores for circus artists. The project will culminate in a live performance of the new works. 

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