Graduate Choral Conducting Program

Choral Curriculum

Common Curriculum 

The Common Curriculum is made up of those classes taken by the students of both the choral and orchestral conducting programs. Additional classes unique to choral conducting are listed below.

Music History

This four-semester sequence concentrates on major works from the 18th and 19th centuries in the first semester and the 20th and 21st centuries in the second semester, with a focus each week on a particular composer within the larger musical, historical, biographical, and cultural context.

Ear Training and Score Reading

The Ear Training and Score Reading course combines work on solfège and harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic dictation with practice in transposition and the reading of open score.

Foreign Language Study

Two semesters of German or Italian are required. The course includes a study of the grammar of the studied language, with a special focus on developing the text translation and reading skills needed by conductors.

Career Workshops

A series of workshops with distinguished guest speakers addresses the practical aspects of working as a conductor and/or music director. Topics include creating an ensemble, applying for grants, and developing a board of directors.


This two-semester class gives young conductors first hand experience in the compositional process. It deepens their knowledge of the means of musical expression and increases their awareness of the many notatonal challenges inherent in any printed score.


Choral Curriculum

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.

All choral conducting students, first- and second-year alike, enroll in the same choral conducting seminar. In the first semester, using Josquin’s Missa Pange Lingua, Victoria’s Requiem, and selected Masses of Byrd and Palestrina as anchor works, students examine 15th- and 16th-century vocal music. Topics of discussion include analysis of counterpoint and text setting, performance practice, and liturgical function. At the end of the seminar, students prepare a practical performing edition of a motet or madrigal based on primary source material, and re-create an appropriate liturgical setting using motets and Mass settings from the period. The work of the second semester focuses on Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, Britten’s War Requiem, and choruses from Adams’s Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer. The works are examined in context with those of other composers and with special emphasis on text analysis, preparing a rehearsal schedule, and issues in concert programming.

The seminar of the third semester concentrates in detail, first, on Bach’s St. John Passion, with a special emphasis on musical structure and Baroque performance practices. The work is also studied in cultural, historical, and liturgical context. In the second half of the semester, each student prepares a detailed analysis of one of Haydn’s late Masses. The work of the fourth semester analyzes three major 19th-century requiem settings, by Berlioz, Brahms, and Verdi. Specific topics include performance practice, string bowings, and rehearsal plans. Works are studied in the context of the rise of amateur choral singing during this period, with a focus on the cultural and political implications of this development.

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.


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.

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

60 credits  (A minimum of 54 credits, all taken at Bard)