Bard envisions the liberal arts institution as the hub of a network, rather than a single, self-contained campus. Numerous institutes for special study are available on and off campus, connecting Bard students to the greater community.
The Center for Civic Engagement at Bard College embodies the fundamental belief that education and civil society are inextricably linked. In an age of information overload, it is more important than ever that citizens be educated and trained to think critically and be actively engaged with issues affecting public life.
Through a series of preconcert talks and panel discussions by eminent music scholars, composers are examined within the cultural and political contexts of their careers. In 2017, Fryderyk Chopin was the featured composer; other recent subjects have included Giacomo Puccini, Carlos Chávez, Franz Schubert, Igor Stravinsky, Camille Saint-Saëns, Jean Sibelius, Alban Berg, Richard Wagner, Sergey Prokofiev, Edward Elgar, Franz Liszt, Dmitrii Shostakovich, and Aaron Copland. Related articles and essays are published by Princeton University Press in a companion book edited by a major music scholar; the series was honored with an ASCAP Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award in 2006. The combination of innovative programs built around a specific theme and an outstanding level of professional musicianship has brought the festival international critical acclaim from publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times.
The Bard College Conservatory of Music in 2016–17 presented master classes, chamber music, and orchestra concerts by students, faculty, and guest artists. In spring 2017, Conservatory events at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and László Z. Bitó ‘60 Conservatory Building included the Mozart Project, a series of concerts curated by Peter Serkin; Concerto Competition; Parilia!, a celebration of baroque music performed by students and faculty in the Conservatory and Bard Music Program; and performances by the Conservatory Orchestra and The Orchestra Now of Emil Hartmann’s Symphony No. 6 and Josef Suk’s Symphony No. 2 Asrael; and a side-by-side concert of Edward Elgar’s choral work, The Dream of Gerontius, conducted by Bard President Leon Botstein.
The John Ashbery Poetry Series, named for Bard’s distinguished Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor Emeritus of Languages and Literature, brings leading contemporary poets to campus for readings and discussion in an intimate setting. Literary artists recently featured in the series include Dawn Lundy Martin, Roberto Tejada, Jennifer Moxley, Anna Moschovakis, and Michael Ives, visiting assistant professor of the humanities at Bard College.
The Aston Magna Foundation for Music and the Humanities is dedicated to the performance and study of 17th- and 18th-century music. Founded in 1972, the Aston Magna Festival—the oldest summer festival in America devoted to music -performed on period instruments—has been held in the Berkshires every year since its inception and at Bard since 1984. Under the artistic direction of Daniel Stepner, Aston Magna’s performances aim to interpret as accurately as possible the music of the past as the composer imagined it. The performance style for these concerts has been developed through interpretation by internationally recognized specialists, and the instruments played are originals from the period or historically accurate reproductions.
Founded in 1950, the Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle has attracted a loyal regional following that has enjoyed annual June performances by some of the finest classical ensembles and soloists in the world. In 2017, featured artists included the Juilliard String Quartet; Calidore String Quartet; and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio.
Founded in 1981, Bard’s influential literary journal Conjunctions publishes innovative fiction, poetry, translations, essays, and interviews by contemporary masters and exciting new voices from the United States and around the world. As its slogan, “Read Dangerously,” suggests, the journal brings fearless writing to risk-taking readers. Edited by Bard professor and novelist Bradford Morrow, winner of PEN America’s prestigious Nora Magid Award for excellence in editing a literary journal, Conjunctions appears biannually, in the spring and fall.The spring 2017 issue, Conjunctions:68, Inside Out, investigates the theme of architecture through contributions by Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Coover, Can Xue, Ann Lauterbach (David and Ruth Schwab Professor of Languages and Literature), Robert Kelly (Asher B. Edelman Professor of Literature), and Nobel Prize winner Claude Simon, among others. The fall 2016 issue, Conjunctions:67, Other Aliens, featured the historic first publication of selected letters from gender- and genre-bending science fiction author James Tiptree Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon) to feminist novelist Joanna Russ; conversations with Kelly Link, Elizabeth Hand, Samuel R. Delany, Brian Evenson, John Clute, and John Crowley; and experimental science fiction by Lavie Tidhar, Leena Krohn, Jean Muno, Peter Straub, Julia Elliott, James Morrow, and more.
Conjunctions also publishes an online magazine at conjunctions.com, allowing it to spotlight a single author each week and to maintain an online audio vault of exclusive recordings of readings. The journal has a robust online following, with social communities at Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. E-books of current and selected past issues are available from all major online retailers
In partnership with the Lifetime Learning Institute, Conjunctions offers writing workshops to senior citizens. Among the journal’s various reading programs are the Cities Reading Series, which allows Conjunctions to hold contributor events nationwide in partnership with Bard’s Office of Alumni/ae Affairs; and the Innovative Contemporary Fiction Reading Series, in which cutting-edge contemporary writers meet with Bard undergraduates to discuss their work, then present public readings. Through the newly launched BackPage Pass Program, generous financial supporters are invited to join one of these authors and the Conjunctions editor for a literary afternoon at Bard College.
Bard Center Evenings give trustees and friends of the College opportunities to meet distinguished experts during a series of thought-provoking panel discussions. These evenings are held at least three times a year and explore issues of intellectual, cultural, and social concern. Recent topics have included “The Future of Privacy in the Internet Age,” “Building a Sustainable Urban Infrastructure in the 21st Century,” and “Addressing the Refugee Crisis: Past Lessons, Dire Warnings.”