Photo Credit: Janos Sutyak Photo Credit: Janos Sutyak

Graduate Choral Conducting Overview

The Choral Conducting Program of The Bard College Conservatory of Music is a two-year graduate curriculum that culminates in the master of music (M.M.) degree. Led by renowned choral conductor James Bagwell, the program equips its graduates with the broad-based skills and experience necessary to meet the special opportunities and challenges of a conducting or conducting-related career in the 21st century.

The program includes instruction in conducting, in choral repertoire, and, through private voice lessons, instruction in vocal technique. For the students in the program there is also substantial podium time working with Bard choral groups and, several times a semester, with a professional chorus based in New York City—the Concert Chorale of New York. The program also includes a Core Curriculum in conjunction with the graduate orchestral conducting program— classes in diction, foreign languages, ear training, composition, and music history.

Unique to the program is its access to the resources of the New York City music world, and to the Bard Music Festival and other Bard-related musical institutions; all serve to create a rich, stimulating environment of music making on the Bard campus. Applications are welcome from all who wish to place their love of music at the service of those they conduct, the works they perform, and their audiences.

The courses below are taken only by the choral conducting students. Additional Common Curriculum classes are taken together with students from the orchestral conducting program.

Choral Seminar

Throughout the four semesters, instruction in choral conducting is based on class work and practical work—including significant podium time with a variety of ensembles and choral repertoire. Students work regularly with the Bard Chamber Singers and the Bard Symphonic Chorus. In addition, they have the opportunity to conduct the Concert Chorale of New York, a professional chorus based in New York City.


This two-semester course, offered for students in the choral conducting track together with students in the Graduate Vocal Arts Program, is an introduction to the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), including its symbols and practical use in preparing and performing Italian, French, German, and English vocal literature. The fall semester is devoted to Italian and French, the spring to German, English, and Latin. Through study of songs, arias, and choral literature, students gain a basic understanding of pronunciation rules and the rhythm of each language.

Voice Lessons and Vocal Pedagogy

The basic understanding of vocal technique is crucial for any choral conductor. In order to develop deeper understanding of the use of breath and a healthy vocal production all choral conducting students take a class in vocal pedagogy and weekly private voice lessons.

Choral Repertoire Class

This course is a broad survey of the choral repertory beginning with works from the sixteenth century through the most recent masterworks for chorus. Repertoire studied includes small and medium size works for a capella chorus, as well as larger compositions for chorus with orchestra.

Graduation Requirements