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The Bard College Conservatory of Music Proudly Announces the Opening Celebration of The László Z. Bitó ’60 Conservatory Building

Celebration in Performance Hall, Sunday, April 14

Mark Primoff
 Image Credit: Chris Cooper

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— The Bard College Conservatory of Music proudly announces the opening celebration of the László Z. Bitó ’60 Conservatory Building on Sunday, April 14, beginning at 3 p.m. An open house with chamber music performances will be followed by a celebration in the performance hall at 4 p.m., with Robert Martin, director, Bard College Conservatory of Music; musical performances by students of the Conservatory and Bard’s Music Program; a reading by acclaimed poet Robert Kelly, Asher B. Edelman Professor of Literature; and remarks by László Z. Bitó ’60 and Bard College President Leon Botstein. A reception will follow. For more information contact Ann Gabler at 845-758-7866 or

The Bard College Conservatory of Music received a generous $9.2 million gift from Bard alumnus László Z. Bitó, class of 1960, for the construction of the László Z. Bitó ’60 Conservatory Building, designed by Deborah Berke Partners, architects. “The fact that László Bitó—who gave Bard this beautiful building for the Conservatory of Music—majored in biology at Bard and went on to distinguished careers both in science and in literature, and has become a major figure in the struggle for liberal democracy in Hungary, tells the important story,” says Martin. “The Bard Conservatory seeks to integrate music and the liberal arts and to produce musicians who are fully engaged in the world around them. László Bitó’s vision, so magnificently realized by the architects at Deborah Berke Partners, inspires us to work tirelessly to justify his confidence in us. We are deeply grateful to Laszlo and his wife, Olivia Cariño, who have become dear friends of the Conservatory and our students.”

The László Z. Bitó ’60 Conservatory Building is a state-of-the-art teaching and performance facility which addresses the growing needs of The Bard College Conservatory of Music, brought on by its fivefold growth since its founding in 2005.
The design of the building supports the Conservatory’s dedication to providing top-level musical training in the context of a liberal arts education.


Schedule of Events for the Opening Celebration of
the László Z. Bitó ’60 Conservatory Building

3 p.m.  Open house with chamber music performances in studios 

4 p.m.  Celebration in performance hall

Welcoming remarks, Robert Martin, Director, Bard College Conservatory of Music 

Fanfare composed for the occasion by Andrés Martínez de Velasco ’15, performed by students of the Conservatory 

“Poem for the Dedication,” Robert Kelly, Asher B. Edelman Professor of Literature

Remarks, Fanya Wyrick-Flax ’13 

Selections from J. S. Bach, Magnificat; Bard College Chamber Singers, conducted by James Bagwell, Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral and Choral Music 

Remarks,  László Z. Bitó ’60

Closing remarks, Leon Botstein, President, Bard College

Reception in the performance hall lobby


About László Z. Bitó

László Bitó was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1934. In the communist dictatorship after World War II, his family was among the many thousands marked as bourgeoisie, reactionaries, and enemies of the working class; in 1951 they were deported to a small village in eastern Hungary. In 1954 Bitó was drafted into a forced labor unit to work in a coal mine. In 1956 he and his comrades disarmed their guards to join the revolution, but when it was crushed he recognized that he could no longer live in the hopelessness of a returning dictatorship. Escaping from Hungary, he was granted asylum in the United States, where he was awarded a full scholarship at Bard College. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in medical cell biology and Biophysics at Columbia University. He then joined Columbia’s research faculty, where his work led to the development of a new approach to the reduction of eye pressure that saved the sight of millions of glaucoma sufferers. Upon retirement from Columbia as professor of ocular physiology, Bitó returned to his native Hungary and has started a second career, as a novelist, journalist, and highly active public figure, standing up for democratic values. Some of his 14 nonscientific books—novels, essays, and three anthologies of selections from his more than 100 newspaper and magazine articles—have appeared in translations in half a dozen countries.

For more information about László Bitó go to

About the László Z. Bitó ’60 Conservatory Building

Designed by Deborah Berke Partners architects, the László Z. Bitó ’60 Conservatory Building is at once a teaching facility and a first-rate venue for the performance of music, as The Bard College Conservatory of Music alternates effortlessly between these two modes. The 16,000-square-foot structure contains rehearsal studios, teaching spaces, a student lounge, and a performance hall. Two of these teaching spaces, which are accessible from the stage, double as pre-performance green rooms. The studios are sized to accommodate small ensembles as well as individual musicians and are generously proportioned given the dimension of the building and teaching program. In addition to the performance hall, the building boasts two percussion studios, showcasing the Bard Conservatory’s commitment to access for all classical performers.

While the teaching studios play an integral role in the building’s function, the performance hall is at its core. Seating arrangements are variable and can accommodate as many as 150 patrons and as few as 25 for an intimate show or a small ensemble. Its characteristics—wood paneling, richly textured fabric, bold color—evoke and reinforce the warm, inviting tones of a classic performance space while maintaining a modern design sensibility. The materials are durable and renewable and are appropriate for the various assemblies the Conservatory hosts.

The design and placement of windows played an important role in the building design and, as a result, natural light fills all of the studio and rehearsal spaces. The strategically placed windows also allow the landscape to play a major part in creating beautiful and inspiring spaces. Careful positioning and siting of the building allows views from the studios to extend to the surrounding woods and the Hudson River beyond.

Each room in the Bitó Building has exceptional acoustics; all can serve as teaching space, rehearsal space, or performance space. This flexibility of space within the conservatory characterizes the instrument storage corridors as well. The unusual width of the storage locker–lined passageways allows for large instruments to be moved easily in and out, and also encourages informal interactions and gatherings.

The building is exceptionally flexible, adaptable to the alternating purposes of teaching and performance, yet simultaneously conveys the stability and constancy of the educational institution. Deborah Berke Partners’ design achieves this balance on the building’s exterior by juxtaposing two materials. Smooth white stucco covers the slightly arching primary form, while dark masonry boldly accentuates important elements. This strategic interaction underscores the balance of the Conservatory as an environment open to the evolution of musical expression and as an institution with a rich tradition of excellence.

—Deborah Berke Partners

 March 2013


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March 19, 2013



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This event was last updated on 03-25-2013