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THE BARD CENTER PRESENTS PIANO PROGRAM WITH COMMENTARY ON SUNDAY, MARCH 16, IN OLIN HALL Concert features pianist Barbara Speer performing works by Copland/Bernstein, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Herbert Sucoff, and Stefan Wolpe

Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—On Sunday, March 16, The Bard Center presents Piano Program with Commentary with pianist Barbara Speer. The program, free and open to the public, will begin at 3:00 p.m. in Olin Hall.

Speer will perform an 85th anniversary tribute to Leonard Bernstein, Bernstein's arrangement for solo piano of Copland's El Salón México (1939); and a 65th anniversary tribute to Herbert Sucoff, Piece for Piano (1970). The program also will include Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin (1918); Rachmaninoff Preludes, Op. 23 (1902–03); and Stefan Wolpe's Blues and Tango (1926) and Two Pieces for Piano (1941).

Speer says that she finds the format of performing with commentary a very successful way of involving the audience with the program, while at the same time breaking down many of the stereotypical barriers associated with 20th-century compositions. She has chosen these specific works in order to demonstrate the dramatic diversity and historical synchronicities of the seminal and volatile decades in which they were composed.

Barbara Speer has played a significant role in the advancement of both piano and chamber music in the New York metropolitan area. With her late husband, clarinetist and composer Herbert Sucoff, she cofounded and codirected the nationally acclaimed Sea Cliff Chamber Players for 28 years. In her long and active career, she has performed as soloist with orchestras here and abroad and has appeared in such major New York City venues as Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, Town Hall, and Carnegie Recital Hall. The New York Times praised Speer for her "technical finesse, excellent taste, genuine involvement, and poetic understanding."

A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory with additional studies at the Salzburg Mozarteum, she received an M.S. degree from The Juilliard School. After graduation, she embarked on what was to become a lifelong involvement with chamber music, studying with Felix Galimir while touring as a sonata duo with violinist Ann Rylands. She was an artist member of the Morse College Chamber Series at Yale University and the Craftsbury Chamber Players of northern Vermont for 13 seasons. Speer has collaborated with many of the world's most celebrated artists, including the Emerson String Quartet, Jaime Laredo, Cho-Liang Lin, Pamela Frank, Michael Tree, the late Joseph Fuchs, Walter Trampler, and sopranos Jan DeGaetani and Judith Raskin. Duo piano appearances have featured Speer with Yefim Bronfman, Gilbert Kalish, and Christopher O'Reilly; works with narration have paired her with actors Claire Bloom, Eli Wallach, Stiller and Meara, and Len Cariou. She has performed in ensembles with Ani and Ida Kavafian, Peter Winograd, Kim Kashkashian, Paul Neubauer, Ko Iwasaki, Nathaniel Rosen, Nancy Allen, Carol Wincenc, Charles Neidich, and David Jolley.

Also a commentator, writer, and educator, Speer initiated, with Sucoff, an innovative project produced by Connectuct Public Radio, a series of 13 live chamber music programs and interviews for National Public Radio that was broadcast nationally and over European Broadcast Union. She has also appeared on CBS-TV and ABC-TV News, and New York City classical radio stations. Speer taught at SUNY Empire State College and Adelphi University. With her husband, she founded and directed numerous educational programs on Long Island for young people, chamber music workshops, and college seminars. With funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts, Speer participated in a recording project of four world premieres for Musical Heritage Society, including jazz legend Gerry Mulligan's first chamber music work. In 1996, she was the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from the American Jewish Congress’s Commission for Women's Equality "in recognition of the extraordinary contributions of women in the arts."

Since moving to the Hudson Valley, Speer has appeared in Piano Programs with Commentary at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, SUNY Albany, the Artist-in-Residence Series in Kingston, and the Kleinert-James Arts Center and Maverick Concerts in Woodstock. In addition to the annual Herbert Sucoff Memorial Composition Award Concert at Queens College, other highlights of this season include solo appearances in New York’s Merkin Concert Hall, C.W. Post College, Oberlin College, Albany’s EGG Performing Arts Center, and various venues in Long Island and New England.

Other upcoming music programs presented by The Bard Center include a concert on Wednesday, March 26, at 8:00 p.m., featuring the Colorado Quartet with pianist Melvin Chen performing works by Beethoven, Robert Maggio, and Alfred Schnittke. Da Capo Celebrates Bard, on Friday, April 11, at 8:00 p.m., will feature the Da Capo Chamber Players performing works by Bard Music Program faculty and Bard alumni/ae. All concerts will be held in Olin Hall and are free and open to the public.

The concert is made possible, in part, through the generosity of the Homeland Foundation and the Leon Levy Foundation at Bard College. For further information, call The Bard Center at 845-758-7425.

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This event was last updated on 03-10-2003