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The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College Begins Celebrating Its Tenth Anniversary Year With a Month of Special Performances in April
Highlights Include American Symphony Orchestra Concerts; Euripides’ The Bacchae; Jack Ferver and QWAN Company; Sō Percussion Spring Concert; Faculty Dance Concert; and an Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer
Image Credit: Peter Aaron/Esto
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – This April, Bard College is launching a yearlong 10th Anniversary celebration of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts with a month of music, theater, and dance. Featuring special guest artists and Bard students and faculty, the April programs will spotlight the vital role Bard’s Fisher Center plays in the cultural lives of both Bard students and all those who enjoy its public performances. The programs will also display how the Fisher Center acts as an incubator for performing artists both young and established, giving them a home in which to create, and giving audiences a rare opportunity to witness the birth of many extraordinary works.
April highlights include an all-Wagner concert performed by the American Symphony Orchestra (ASO); a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 performed by members of the ASO and the Bard Conservatory Orchestra; a production of Euripides’ The Bacchae; comic works by Jack Ferver and QWAN Company; Sō Percussion’s Student Concert; the 2013 Bard Faculty Dance Concert; and an evening with author Neil Gaiman and singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer. For more information call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or go to fishercenter.bard.edu.
“Ten years ago, through the vision of the late Richard B. Fisher, Bard College opened a performing arts center designed to make a difference both to the Hudson Valley and to the role the arts play in our society. Bard is proud of all that has developed in the Fisher Center over the past decade, and thanks the many patrons, performers, and audiences—including those within the Bard community—who helped the Fisher Center earn its worldwide reputation for excellence and innovation in the arts,” said Bard College President Leon Botstein.
The 10th Anniversary April Celebration begins on Wednesday, April 3; the box office opens on Monday, January 14. For complete information and to order tickets go to fishercenter.bard.edu or call the box office at 845-758-7900.
To download high-resolution photography for April programs go to fishercenter.bard.edu/press.
April Celebration Programs
Live Arts Bard
Jack Ferver and QWAN Company
NOTES!!! and SWAN!!!
Sosnoff Theater Stage Right
April 3 at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $20, $5 for the Bard community
A double bill of sexy, scary, and startling works that took the downtown New York theater scene by storm. LAB visiting artist Jack Ferver presents his QWAN (Quality Without a Name) Company in the dramatic parodied readings of two well-loved screenplays, Notes from a Scandal and Black Swan. Suitable for mature and immature audiences, 15 years and older. Presented in partnership with the Center for Curatorial Studies.
Live Arts Bard
An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer
April 6 at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25, 30, 35, 40
An intimate night of spoken word, songs, stories, chats with the audience, and more than a few surprises with author Neil Gaiman (Coraline; The Graveyard Book) and musician/performance artist Amanda Palmer (Dresden Dolls; Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra).
Bard Theater & Performance Program
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz
Translated by Ned Moore ’13
April 11–13 at 7 p.m.
April 14 at 2 and 7 p.m.
Tickets: $15; free to Bard students
The god Dionysus returns to Thebes to prove his divinity and punish the city’s unbelievers. This student production is presented in partnership with the Classical Studies Program.
Bard College Conservatory of Music
Sō Percussion Student Concert
April 12 at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15; free to Bard students
Sō Percussion and the Bard Conservatory Percussion Program present their second annual spring concert at the Fisher Center. Each year, members of Sō and Conservatory students and faculty perform a selection of recent masterworks, new music for percussion groups, and works by composers from the Bard community.
American Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Leon Botstein
April 19–20 at 8 p.m.
Preconcert Talk at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $25, 30, 35, 40
This all–Richard Wagner program includes Lohengrin: Preludes to Acts I and III; Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod; and Die Walküre: Act I.
The 2013 Faculty Dance Concert
April 26–27 at 7:30 p.m.
April 28 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $15; free to Bard students
A dynamic evening of choreography by the faculty of the Bard College Dance Program, performed by students in the program.
Members of the American Symphony Orchestra, Bard College Conservatory Orchestra, and Long Conservtory Orchestra
Conducted by Leon Botstein
Symphony No. 2 by Gustav Mahler
April 26–27 at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25, 30, 35, 40
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. The monumental work builds in the final movement to a magnificent chorus that exalts the Resurrection.
About The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College
Designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry and distinguished acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, and named in honor of Bard College trustee Richard B. Fisher, The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College has received international praise for its breathtaking architecture and superb sound. The New Yorker wrote, “Bard, under the leadership of Leon Botstein, has ended up with what may be the best small concert hall in the United States.”
Earning critical acclaim for innovative productions of opera, orchestral, chamber, dance, and theater programs, the Fisher Center has become an influential force in performing arts programming. In 2003 the Fisher Center launched the Bard SummerScape festival, themed to complement the renowned Bard Music Festival. SummerScape quickly garnered a reputation as “one of the most intellectually stimulating of all American summer festivals” (Wall Street Journal). Opera, theater, operetta, dance performances, and film festivals have all become popular staples in accompaniment to the Bard Music Festival, and SummerScape has built an international reputation for staging risk-taking opera revivals to rave reviews.
The Fisher Center has established itself as a popular venue for performing arts in the Hudson Valley throughout the year. With the American Symphony Orchestra in residence, it offers a range of classical music concerts accompanied by lectures from prominent music scholars, with frequent performances by the students and faculty of The Bard College Conservatory of Music.
What the Critics Are Saying
About the Fisher Center:
“Bard, under the leadership of Leon Botstein, has ended up with what may be the best small concert hall in the United States.”— The New Yorker
“The Fisher Center is as much a piece of American landscape as anything by [Frank Lloyd] Wright. You are walking into history here.” —The New York Times
“The Bard building is a virtuoso piece.” —Sunday Times of London
About the Bard Music Festival:
“A hotbed of intellectual and aesthetic adventure.” —The New York Times
“The Bard Music Festival in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., which begins its 20th season in mid-August , no longer needs an introduction. Under the provocative guidance of the conductor-scholar Leon Botstein, it has long been one of the most intellectually stimulating of all American summer festivals and frequently is one of the most musically satisfying. Each year, through discussions by major scholars and illustrative concerts often programmed to overflowing, Bard audiences have investigated the oeuvre of a major composer in the context of the society, politics, literature, art and music of his times.” —Wall Street Journal
About Bard SummerScape:
“The most intellectually ambitious of America’s summer music festivals.”
—Times Literary Supplement
“Going to see anything at Bard’s SummerScape has to be one of the New York area’s great seasonal escapes. The Frank Gehry theatres are striking, comfortable, acoustically fine, and beneveloently placed in the lush green Bard campus, a stone’s throw from the magnificent Hudson River. … Add to that the ingenious, themed programming of Leon Botstein, and there is guaranteed to be something appealing.” —American Record Guide
“Seven weeks of cultural delight.” —International Herald Tribune
About Opera at Bard SummerScape:
“Bard’s annual opera has become an indispensable part of the summer operatic landscape because the choice of works is invariably inspired and their productions distinctively creative.” — Musical AmericaLe Roi Malgré Lui (2012)
“Bard has become a haven for important operas, some of them popular hits in their day, which for whatever reason fell victim to the shifting tides of time and taste. It’s easy to rattle off a list of the momentous revivals steered here by Leon Botstein, Bard’s president and the music director of the American Symphony Orchestra: just lately, Meyerbeer’s Huguenots, Schreker’s Der ferne Klang and Strauss’s Liebe der Danae. Add to that illustrious tally “Le roi malgré lui” (“The King in Spite of Himself”), an elegantly antic 1887 comedy by the French composer Emmanuel Chabrier. … In a fully staged production at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard, he offers further proof of this neglected work’s abundant charms.”
—The New York Times
“Le roi malgré lui (The King Despite Himself) is a classic opéra comique, sparkling with wit and charm.” —Classical Review
Die Liebe der Danae (2011)
“The production was impeccable and visually compelling. Bard SummerScape deserves credit for a job well done for successfully resurrecting an incredibly powerful 20th-century work. Die Liebe der Danae is proof positive.” —Opera Today
“With gorgeous music and a plot seemingly tailor-made for our troubled times, it is one of those operas that make you resent the stubborn smallness of the standard repertory. … Exhilarating and moving, ‘Danae’ has found its moment.” —The New York Times
Der Ferne Klang (2010)
“Der Ferne Klang is not merely a lavish curiosity worth a sidelong glance but a powerful, provocative work that richly deserves the committed advocacy it received here. All told, this presentation must surely number among Mr. Botstein’s most important achievements.”—The New York Times
“The composer’s vision—a potent cocktail of gritty realism, surging expressionism, gauzy symbolism, and late-Romantic opulence—came roaring off the stage, with all the pent-up energy of the years. Listeners at the intermissions could be heard remarking on the fierce drama and strangely alluring beauty of the score.” —Boston Globe
Les Huguenots (2009)
“Strongly cast and insightfully directed, Les Huguenots proved mesmerizing.”
—Wall Street Journal
“Let’s be grateful that Bard has resurrected this stupendous, seminal opera.”
—The Financial Times
History of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College
The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College opened its doors in April of 2003, a tribute to the vision and generosity of the late Richard B. Fisher, chairman emeritus of the Bard College Board of Trustees. The world-class theater complex was designed by American artist-architect Frank Gehry, with acoustic design by Yasuhisa Toyota.
“The center will change the cultural life of the whole mid-Hudson area,” Fisher said at the opening in 2003. “And Gehry’s design will add to the aesthetic experience of what’s going on in the hall.” In discussing his inspiration for the visually stunning, aluminum-sheathed building, Gehry commented, “It’s not a traditional theater building. … It has a park-like setting. As you approach, you see the building glistening. It’s welcoming. Its scale is user-friendly and inviting. Its façade at the end of a meadow looks out onto an expanse of green that will stay green. Its entry canopy is not a marquee; it’s more like a covered porch, a place for visitors to mingle, to enjoy a sense of community inspired by the performing arts that the building celebrates.”
The environmentally friendly, geothermal complex houses the Sosnoff Theater, an intimate, 900-seat theater with an orchestra, parterre, and two balcony sections, featuring an orchestra pit for opera, and an acoustic shell designed by Toyota that turns the theater into a first-class concert hall for performances of chamber and symphonic music. “My designs grew out of our acoustical requirements. For example, the molded balcony edges, the wood that is combined with concrete in the walls—the main auditorium could have been a box, but instead its walls are convex. The shape of the hall, its ceiling and volume, grew out of a specific acoustical program,” said Gehry.
LUMA Theater, a black-box venue with flexible seating capacity accommodating up to 300, has a smaller orchestra pit, traps, and a modified fly tower. The two theaters are situated under one roof, accompanied by the Felicitas S. Thorne Dance Studio, a soaring, light-filled space in which students take class and attend workshops, and an additional rehearsal studio. Both studios accommodate full-scale production rehearsals and have lighting grids that allow stage lighting issues to be studied and resolved. Together, they provide an outstanding home for Bard’s Theater & Performance and Dance Programs, and for a variety of productions produced and presented by the Center.
At its opening in 2003 the Los Angeles Times called the Fisher Center “not a building so much as an act of seductive … a mesmerizing architectural narrative” that the distinguished architectural critic Herbert Muschamp said “seems to vibrate like a well-tempered mind” (New York Times). “Bard, under the leadership of Leon Botstein, has ended up with what may be the best small concert hall in the United States,” wrote The New Yorker.
The acclaimed Bard Music Festival was in its 14th season when the Fisher Center opened its doors, having attained standing as an important scholarly music festival, attracting crowds to the popular summer performances staged in tents on the Bard College campus. The addition of the Fisher Center’s superb facilities provided a welcome home for the chamber and orchestral concerts and talks, and the capacity to develop innovative new programming for the surrounding SummerScape festival, launched in the summer of 2003.
The Los Angeles Times hailed Bard SummerScape as “the most important American festival since Lincoln Center”; The New York Times called it a “a hotbed of intellectual and aesthetic adventure.” Themed to reflect the life and times of the featured Bard Music Festival composer, the annual SummerScape festival has produced dozens of innovative performing arts programs, including risk-taking, original productions of theater, operetta, cabaret, and film series. The festival has built a particular reputation for rediscovering and reviving neglected operas to popular and critical praise. In keeping with its roots in the Bard Music Festival, SummerScape provides scholarly context with opera talks by eminent musicologists, and has established itself as a favorite destination for audiences from the Hudson Valley, New York City, and beyond.
Throughout the year the Fisher Center produces and presents highly regarded programs in orchestral, chamber, and jazz music, as well as theater, dance, and opera by American and international artists. As orchestra in residence, the American Symphony Orchestra attracts sold-out houses for their popular annual series. The Fisher Center has presented performances by American Ballet Theater, Mark Morris Dance Group, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and Merce Cunningham Dance Company; programming celebrating the centenary of Samuel Beckett and in honor of the John Cage Centennial; a wide variety of 20th-century music concerts; and readings, lectures, and much more.
The Fisher Center is home to the Bard College Theater & Performance and Dance Programs, providing students access to exceptional theater facilities and opportunities to work with professional directors and dramaturges on publicly attended productions throughout the year. Live Arts Bard, a new residency and commissioning program, is a laboratory for new performance, spanning and transcending the traditional fields of theater, performance, dance, music, film, and live art. The Bard College Conservatory of Music and the Bard College Music Department stage regular orchestral and chamber concerts, and the Graduate Vocal Arts Program presents performances of choral works and opera.
“Under the baton of Botstein, who doubles as music director of the American Symphony Orchestra, Bard has acquired one of the outstanding structures built on American campuses in the last generation,” wrote New York Magazine. “The full-frontal charisma of the building alone will guarantee the success of the summer festivals, and for students, the building sets the bar high for artistic invention. … The building practices the discipline and vision that the school teaches.”
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January 11, 2013