A festival within a festival: Bard Summerscape & Bard Music Festival | Summer Arts Overview | Hudson Valley


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  • Photo by Oluwaseye Olusa
  • Mwenso and the Shakes.

As part of the music of the twentieth century, Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) stands out as a kingmaker. Although she was a composer and conductor herself, it was her role as a teacher of others that made her one of the most important and influential figures in Western culture. The diverse roster of the French mentor’s students continues to be felt through their art and the art of those who, in turn, have been touched by it; Among Boulanger’s students were Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Quincy Jones, Phillip Glass, Burt Bacharach, Elliott Carter, Michel Legrand, Astor Piazolla, Daniel Barenboim, Donald Byrd and other giants. Given her impact as an educator, it is therefore poetically perfect for Boulanger to have been selected as the thematic figurehead of the 31st annual Bard College educational incubator. Bard Music Festival and “festival within a festival”, SummerScape, which will take place between July 8 and August 15.

“[Boulanger] has had more influence on the contemporary music lineage than anyone else, ”says Bard Fisher Center Artistic Director Gideon Lester. “But because she was a woman and because the world is so sexist, she was overlooked. For these reasons, [Bard College president] Leon Botstein thought it was important that she be the lead songwriter this year, and I certainly agree. She is the first female composer to be chosen for the program. It is a major event.

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Justin Vivian Bond.  - PHOTO BY KYLE KUPRES

  • Photo by Kyle Kupres
  • Justin Vivian Bond.

Or to be precise, a series of events, presented in contexts very different from those of past Bard festivals, in response to the pandemic that saw in 2020 the cancellation of the celebration of world-class music and the arts. . Entitled ‘Nadia Boulanger and Her World’, this year’s return of the festival will feature a curated selection of concerts, films, lectures and dance, theater and cabaret performances occurring not only in the Frank-designed Fisher Center. Gehry on the main campus, but also online through UPSTREAMING, the centre’s virtual service, and outside on his campus adjacent to historic Montgomery Square.

Highlights include the first fully staged US production of “King Arthur (Le Roi Arthus)”, the only opera by Boulanger-near-contemporary composer Ernest Chausson; the world premiere of “Waiting for Echo of a Better Day,” a dance performance created by Fisher Center choreographer in residence Pam Tanowitz and Sphinx Award-winning composer Jessie Montgomery; “Most Happy” a concert of songs from Frank Loesser’s musical “The Most Happy Fella” directed by Daniel Fish (the recent Broadway cover of “Oklahoma!”); the two “Black Roots Summer” weekends, a celebration of Black roots music organized by Michael Mwenso and Jono Gasparro; and a special concert by cabaret favorite Mx. Justin Vivian Bond.

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Norman Garrett as King Arthur.  - PHOTO BY MARIA BARANOVA

  • Photo by Maria Baranova
  • Norman Garrett as King Arthur.

Set aside for 2021, the iconic Spiegeltent, which, due to its intimate size, does not allow adequate social distancing. But the magic of this circus-like festival will nonetheless be in full force, says Lester. “One positive outcome of the pandemic is that it has led us to focus on presenting live music and other outdoor events, with the beautiful Hudson Valley as a backdrop,” he explains. he. “We have built a new stage at Montgomery Place, and the pitch will be infused with all the panache.e and elegance that people associate with the Spiegeltent. This aspect is something that I think we will have even more of in the future.

SummerScape’s Bard Music Festival and “Nadia Boulanger and Her World” will take place in Annandale-on-Hudson from July 8 to August 15. Visit the Fisher Center website for a full schedule, tickets, and more information.

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