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The Fisher Center Presents Gustav Mahler's Massive Symphony No. 2 as Part of the April Tenth Anniversary Celebration

“A monumental piece written for an enormous orchestra and capped off by a magnificent chorus.” —Christopher Gibbs, James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Music

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Eleanor Davis

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—In celebration of the tenth anniversary of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, the Fisher Center proudly presents Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 2. The program will be performed by the largest group of musicians ever assembled on the Sosnoff Stage, with members of the American Symphony Orchestra, Bard College Conservatory Orchestra, and Longy Conservatory Orchestra; Bard Chamber Singers, Bard Festival Chorale, and Capella Festiva, conducted by Leon Botstein with James Bagwell, chorus master, and a chorus of more than 110 singers featuring soloists Heather Buck, soprano, and Jamie Van Eyck, mezzo-soprano. The performances take place on Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27 at 8 pm; with a preconcert talk at 7 pm by Christopher Gibbs. Ticket are $25, 30, 35, and 40. For tickets and more information, call the box office at 845-758-7900 or go to

While it took him all of seven years to write the Second Symphony, Mahler chose it as one of his favorite works. “Never again will I attain such depths and heights, as Ulysses only once in his life returned from Tartarus. One can create only once or twice in a lifetime works on such a great subject.” 

“Mahler’s overwhelming Second Symphony projects a powerful narrative of life triumphing over death that resonates with philosophical issues the composer explored throughout his career,” says Gibbs. “It is a monumental piece written for an enormous orchestra and capped off by a magnificent chorus that is reserved until the end of the final movement. … As a great conductor, especially of opera, Mahler certainly knew how to gauge effects; he was well aware of what was dramatically compelling. He knew how to build to a shattering conclusion.”

About the Artists

Leon Botstein, Conductor

Leon Botstein has been president of Bard College since 1975, where he is also Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities. He is chairman of the board of the Central European University and a board member of the Open Society Foundations. He has been music director of the American Symphony Orchestra since 1992. He is artistic codirector of the SummerScape and Bard Music festivals at Bard College, and conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, where he served as music director from 2003 to 2010. Forthcoming publications: a sequel to his Jefferson’s Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture (1997); an anthology of essays for the Bard Music Festival; the 2011 Tanner Lectures on The History of Listening from Oxford University Press; and an anthology of essays in German from Szolnay Verlag in Vienna, 2013. Other published works: The Compleat Brahms (ed. 1999); Jews and the City of Vienna, 1870–1938 (ed. 2004); Judentum und Modernität: Essays zur Rolle der Juden in der Deutschen und Österreichischen Kultur, 1848–1938 (1991; Russian edition 2003). Editor, The Musical Quarterly. Honors include the National Arts Club Gold Medal; the Centennial Medal of the Harvard Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences; the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art; the Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the Carnegie Academic Leadership Award; election to the American Philosophical Society in 2010; Longy Conservatory’s Leonard Bernstein Award, 2012; University of Chicago’s Alumni Medal, 2012.

James Bagwell, Choral Master

James Bagwell maintains an active international schedule as a conductor of choral, operatic, and orchestral music. In 2009 he was appointed music director of the Collegiate Chorale and principal guest conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra, leading them in concerts at Carnegie Hall during the 2011–2012 season. A highlight of this past season included Bellini’s rarely-performed opera Beatrice di Tenda at Carnegie Hall. He recently conducted a performance of Kurt Weill’s Knickerbocker Holiday at Alice Tully Hall, which was recorded live for Gaslight Records. In July 2011 he prepared the Collegiate Chorale for three concerts at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, and in 2012 they traveled to Israel and the Salzburg Festival for performances with The Israel Philharmonic. He has prepared the Concert Chorale of New York for numerous performances with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Mostly Mozart Festival (broadcast nationally in 2006 on Live from Lincoln Center)—all in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. Since 2003 he has been director of choruses for the Bard Music Festival, conducting and preparing choral works during the summer festival at The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. In June he conducted the Amici New York Orchestra at the OK Mozart Festival, and is continuing a collaboration with singer Natalie Merchant and major orchestras across the country. In December 2011 Bagwell made his debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. James Bagwell is professor of music at Bard College and codirector of the Graduate Program in Conducting.

Heather Buck Soprano

Heather Buck has established herself internationally as a consummate singing actress, “combining agile, liquid soprano, a bright, natural stage presence, and the timing of an expert comedienne” (Opera News). She performed as Lulu Baines in Elmer Gantry with Florentine Opera, which was recorded for the Naxos label (2011) and received two Grammy Awards. Her engagements for 2012–13 include a return to Virginia Opera as Leila in Les Pêcheurs de perles; to Opera Naples as Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; reprising the role of Medea in Medeamaterial by Pascal Dusapin with Teatr Wielki, Opera Narodowa (Warsaw, Poland); and singing as soloist in works of Holliger and Schubert with the Riverside Symphony (New York). Other recent engagements include her return to the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for its production of Nixon in China; her reprisal of the role of Angel in Dusapin’s Faustus: The Last Night at the Concertgebouw; and her portrayal of Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos with Toledo Opera; and her performance of the title role in the American premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s monodrama Proserpina with Spoleto Festival USA. She holds a master of music degree from Yale, where she studied with Doris Yarick-Cross, and a bachelor’s degree in music from Tufts University. She also has a bachelor of fine arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Jamie Van Eyck Mezzo-soprano

With polished, elegant vocalism, and committed dramatic portrayals on stage, American mezzo-soprano Jamie Van Eyck appeals to audiences and critics alike as a compelling young artist in opera and concert. Last summer, she debuted with the Princeton Festival and Bar Harbor Music Festival, and returned to Bard SummerScape for concerts of French songs and arias, including Debussy’s Chansons de Bilitis. This season, she performs Handel’s Messiah with the Lexington Philharmonic, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro with Arizona Opera and the Bar Harbor Music Festival, and Mahler’s Second Symphony with the American Symphony Orchestra. Recent engagements include a return to Madison Opera as Olga in Eugene Onegin, repeat performances at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Wolf Trap Foundation Discovery Series, and a debut with the Five Boroughs Music Festival in New York City in the premiere of the Five Borough Songbook. In concert, Van Eyck sang Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and Handel’s Messiah with the Phoenix Symphony. In 2011 her second recording with Bridge Records of New York, titled Complete Crumb Edition, Volume 15, was praised as “consistently wonderful” and “not to be missed” by Classics Today, and by The Classical Review as a performance rich with “immense technical skill and musical panache.”

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April 9, 2013



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This event was last updated on 04-10-2013