The Music Workshop for the Circus Arts serves to elevate and create ideas and practices in the space where music and circus arts meet. Our work is to bring people of diverse backgrounds together to inspire them and give them opportunities to broaden the role of music and deepen its impact on the art form. Our dream is to promote respect for music as a unifying discipline within the circus arts.
Peter Bufano is talking to circus makers, music makers, artists, directors, and teachers about how they use music in their work. Recording interviews, transcribing, and observing them onstage and in creation. He is the recipient of the Newbury Comics Faculty Fellowship at Berklee College of Music for this project.
Practitioners of circus arts are from many cultures and places worldwide. Their philosophies, processes, and practices are extremely diverse yet they all have music in common.
There is very little formal knowledge of the relationship between circus arts and music. Not many circus schools have full time music faculty. Very few conservatories or music schools teach the creation or performance of music for the circus arts. Much can be gained by simply observing and documenting current practices of circus people and identifying their needs.
Here’s a map of where we’ve been so far.
We’re creating opportunities for circus artists and creators to explore music. We’re bringing creative composers, musicians, producers, and innovators of music technology together with circus makers in online and real spaces. Here they can move, listen, talk, experiment, and teach themselves and each other how to create meaningful works. Learn more.
Peter Bufano is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and educator with expertise in narrative media including circus arts, film, theater, broadcast, and streaming media. He’s best known for his original scores for circuses.
Bufano entered the circus arts as a young graduate of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College (‘86). He toured with Ringling for four years performing thousands of shows in front of millions of people.
His first tour was as a clown and it brought him to the entire continental U.S.even before he reached his twentieth birthday. Bufano studied Film Scoring in Boston at Berklee College of Music (‘96) and returned to Ringling Brothers in the position of keyboardist in the circus band. He toured for another two years performing in such venues as Madison Square Garden in New York, TD Garden in Boston, The Staples Center in Los Angeles, X-Finity Center in Washington, D.C., and The United Center in Chicago.
His work in the circus progressed toward creating original music for a number of shows. Starting in 2003 with his score for The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus and continuing up through his most recent work as one of three composers scoring The Big Apple Circus 2018-2019 production.
Bufano is an Assistant Professor of Film Scoring at Berklee College of Music and is the Newbury Comics Fellow for his work in circus music.