The first semester in orchestral conducting is devoted to the physical movement of the baton. Symphonies of Haydn and Beethoven are the primary tool for analyzing problems and formulating technical solutions to meet the needs of the music. Regularly scheduled string quintet (plus piano) sessions are used to test and refine classroom solutions. All students conduct the Bard Conservatory Orchestra in a special session.
The second semester is devoted to a closer examination of the composer’s intent, along with further development of baton technique. Harmonic and melodic analysis and consideration of phrase structure, orchestration, and tone color are brought to bear on works such as the string serenades of Dvorák, Elgar, and Tchaikovsky. Podium time with the string quintet and the Bard Conservatory Orchestra continues, along with the possibility of guest conducting the Woodstock (New York) Chamber Orchestra.
The third semester moves to works of the late 19th and 20th centuries, and the study of new baton movements to serve new compositional concepts. Works of Bartók, Boulez, Britten, Debussy, Elgar, Messiaen, Prokofiev, Ravel, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Strauss, Stravinsky, and Varèse are studied. Quintet sessions and Bard Conservatory Orchestra readings continue.
The fourth semester emphasizes the musical heritage of the United States, with attention to works of the early American school (Paine, Gottschalk, Chadwick, and Parker), and icons of later American music, including Ives, Ornstein, Cage, Feldman, Carter, Copland, Schuman, Barber, Joplin, Ellington, Gershwin, and Bernstein.