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The Bard College Conservatory of Music and the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts Present "Music Alive! with a Touch of Klezmer, Latin, and Blues" on Sunday, October 3

Directed by pianist extraordinaire Blair McMillen and Grammy Award–Winning composer Joan Tower

Eleanor Davis

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Bard College Music Program and Bard College Conservatory of Music present “Music Alive With a Touch of Klezmer, Latin, and Blues” on Sunday, October 3 at 3:00 p.m. in the acoustically superb Sosnoff Theater. The suggested ticket donation is $20; the minimum donation is $5. All ticket sales benefit the Conservatory’s scholarship fund. For ticket information contact the Fisher Center box office at or call 845-758-7900.

Joan Tower and Blair McMillen direct a dynamic mix of styles from around the world including those tinged with a flavor of klezmer, blues, Latin, and American music by Piazzolla, Golijov, Tower, Schoenfield, Rzewski and Ewazen. The concert will feature more than 40 musicians and outstanding soloists from the Conservatory.

The program includes “Frostfire,” by Eric Ewazen, performed by the New Hungarian Brass Quintet; “Trio,” by Paul Schoenfield, performed by Renata Rakova, Yuan Ma, and Wei Zhou; “Angels,” by Joan Tower, performed by the Kalmia Quartet (The Moore Brothers and Leah Gastler); “The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind,” by Osvald Golijov, performed by Conor Brown, clarinet, and the Chimeng Quartet; “Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues,” by Fred Rzewski, performed by pianists Shunyang Lee and Blair McMillen; and “Otono Porteño” and “Primavera Porteño” by Astor Piazzolla, performed by Shawn Moore, violin, and a string orchestra conducted by Joan Tower. 

This is the fifth year that Joan Tower, one of America’s preeminent composers and Asher B. Edelman Professor in the Arts at Bard, has organized “Music Alive!” concerts, which feature performers and composers drawn from the College’s Music Program and the Bard Conservatory. “Our Music Alive! ensembles concentrate on music taken from the 20th and 21st centuries, which include a mix of living composers and masterpieces drawn from the repertoire,” says Tower.

Hailed as “one of the most successful woman composers of all time” in the New Yorker magazine, Joan Tower was the first woman to receive the Grawemeyer Award in Composition in 1990. She was inducted in 1998 into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters, and into the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University in the fall of 2004. She was the first composer chosen for the ambitious new Ford Made in America commissioning program, a collaboration of the League of American Orchestras (at that time, the American Symphony Orchestra League) and Meet the Composer. In October 2005, the Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra presented the world premiere of Tower’s 15-minute orchestral piece Made in America, which was followed with performances by 65 orchestras in 50 states. The Nashville Symphony and conductor Leonard Slatkin recorded Made in America, Tambor, and Concerto for Orchestra for the Naxos label. The top-selling recording won three 2008 Grammy awards: Best Classical Contemporary Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance. Tower has been commissioned and performed by major soloists, ensembles and orchestras throughout the United States including orchestras from St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, Dallas, San Francisco, and Detroit; presenters from Lincoln Center Chamber Society, Tanglewood, Aspen, Carnegie Hall, and Kennedy Center; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Lynn Harrell, Elmar Oliveira, ChoLiang Lin, Jaime Laredo, and the Emerson, Tokyo, Muir, Daedalus, and Juilliard Quartets, among many other groups. Since 1972, Tower has taught at Bard College. She recently concluded her 10-year tenure as composer in residence with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a title she has also held at the Deer Valley Music Festival in Utah since 1998, as well as at the Yale/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival for eight years. She will be Season Composer during the 2010-11 season with the Pittsburgh Symphony, which will perform five of her works, including a new commission. The Miller Theatre in New York city will present a “Portrait Concert” of her works presented by the Curtis Institute of Music in May, 2011. “Tower has truly earned a place among the most original and forceful voices in modern American music” (Detroit News).


Blair McMillen has established himself as one of the most sought-after and versatile pianists today. He has been hailed by the NewYork Times as one of the piano’s “brilliant young stars,” “prodigiously accomplished and exciting,” and as “new music’s torchbearer.”  Recent performances include solo appearances at Zankel Hall, the Moscow Conservatory, Casals Hall (Tokyo), Miller Theatre, Bard SummerScape, Caramoor, Poisson Rouge, Bargemusic, and with the Juilliard Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, American Symphony, and Albany Symphony. In March 2011 he will give his concerto debut in Carnegie Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra. Dedicated to new and groundbreaking projects, McMillen has premiered hundreds of pieces, and he constantly works with established and emerging composers in commissioning new works for the piano. Pianist for the Naumburg Award–winning Da Capo Chamber Players and the American Modern Ensemble, he performs regularly with the downtown New York City–based Avian Orchestra, the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensembles, and the Locrian Chamber Players, among others. An active educator, improviser, and self-taught jazz pianist, he is on the piano and chamber music faculty at Bard College and its Conservatory.


The Bard College Conservatory of Music is an innovative, five-year, double-degree program guided by the principle that musicians should be broadly educated in the liberal arts and sciences to achieve their greatest potential. While training and studying for the bachelor of music degree with world-class musicians and teachers and performing in state-of-the-art facilities, such as the Frank Gehry–designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Bard Conservatory students also pursue a bachelor of arts degree at Bard, one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges. In addition, the conservatory offers graduate programs in Vocal Arts, led by renowned soprano Dawn Upshaw, and in Conducting, led by Harold Farberman, as well as Post-Graduate Collaborative Piano Fellowship, directed by Frank Corliss. For more information call 845-758-7196, or e-mail


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This event was last updated on 09-13-2010