Performance, creativity, and historical study in the areas of classical music (including new music), jazz, world music, and electronic music, among others, are the primary focuses of the Bard Music Program. Students may take private lessons in voice, composition, and on many instruments, in a range of styles. Performance opportunities are frequent, and include Moderation and senior recitals; chamber music and ensemble concerts; Indonesian gamelan and other world-music ensembles; and, for composers, a concert of student works by a professional ensemble every semester. All senior musicians are eligible either to perform with or have their work played by The Orchestra Now, the College’s in-house graduate orchestra, at the annual Commencement concert. Bard offers a state-of-the-art electronic music studio with a wide range of software and analogue instruments and a variety of performance spaces across campus, including installation rooms, a recital hall, a converted garage, and the acoustically magnificent Sosnoff Theater at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. Performances at other venues in the Hudson Valley are common. Some students pursue Senior Projects in music history, theory, or ethnomusicology, and in hybrid areas, combining performance with research or with other disciplines.
In addition to the BA program in music, the Bard College Conservatory of Music offers a five-year program in which students pursue a simultaneous double degree: a bachelor of music and a bachelor of arts in a field other than music. Music Program courses are open to Conservatory students, and the two programs share some courses, workshops, faculty, and performance facilities.
Areas of Study
Bard’s Music Program is equipped for specialization in four major areas: jazz (and related African American traditions), European classical music (including its younger, American parallel), electronic music (starting with its early 20th-century experimental roots), and ethnomusicology. The music major explores the history and theory of one of these four areas through course work and is free to take music courses in areas outside his or her specialization. The Music Program encourages diversity, provided the musician becomes sufficiently immersed in one tradition to experience the richness and complexity of a musical culture.
By the time of graduation, all music majors are expected to have successfully completed between eight and ten specific requirements, depending on their area of study. The requirements include courses in both music theory and history; one class in composition or, with the approval of the adviser, 4 credits in an equivalent course involving personal musical creativity; and a performance class, accompanied by two semesters’ worth of private lessons (performance class may be replaced by some other class involving public performance). Generally, half of these requirements should be completed by the time of Moderation. For their Moderation project, most students give a 25- to 40-minute concert of their own music and/or music by other composers; a substantial music history or theory paper written for a class serves for students pursuing those fields. The Senior Project consists of two concerts of approximately 45 to 60 minutes each. Composers may replace one concert with an orchestral work written for performance during the Commencement Concert. In certain cases involving expertise in music technology, a student may submit produced recordings of music rather than give a live performance. An advanced research project in music history or theory can also be considered as a Senior Project.
Recent Senior Projects in Music
- “Crystalline,” a live performance of collaborative, improvised, and original music
- “Herstory: An Exploration of Femininity through Song” and “Women Playing Men Loving Women,” a concert series in gender study
- “JU!CE,” an R&B/hip-hop album that combines hip-hop, experimental, and jazz music into one
- “A Long History, a Modern Instrument,” recitals featuring a standard chronological survey of classical piano music
Music Program offerings are grouped under the headings of courses, workshops, and ensembles. Courses cover specific material and one-time-only registration is anticipated; workshops are project oriented, allowing a student to enroll repeatedly in the same one. Courses, workshops, and ensembles are open to music majors and nonmajors alike. Some courses are specifically aimed at stimulating the interest and listening involvement of the general student population.
Recent workshops include the following: American Tableaux, Art of Collaboration, Bach Arias, Baroque Ensemble, Classical Guitar, Composition, Contemporary Electronics, Early Music Vocal Performance, Electronic Music, English and American Art Song, French Art Song, German Diction, Hands-on Music History, Improvisation, Jazz Vocals, Music Software for Composition and Performance, Musical Structure for Performers, Opera, Orchestral and Festival Audition Preparation, Percussion Discussion, Production and Reproduction, Samba School, Sight Reading, Songwriting, Transcription Analysis, 20th-Century Composition, and Voice and Vocal Repertoire for Singers and Pianists.
Program Director: James Bagwell
Christopher H. Gibbs
Renée Anne Louprette
I Ketut Suadin
Susan (Botti) Vazquez