The Graduate Vocal Arts Program is a unique master of music program in vocal arts. Created to prepare the young singer for the special challenges of pursuing a professional life in music in the 21st century, this two-year MM degree program balances a respect for established repertory and expressive techniques with the flexibility and curiosity needed to keep abreast of evolving musical ideas. Students work on art song, chamber music, new music and operatic repertoire throughout the coursework of the program. Operatic repertoire is studied and performed throughout the curriculum and, in alternate years, in a fully staged production at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. The program also includes a strong practical component, with seminars and classes on career skills led by some of the leading figures in arts management and administration.
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Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe is considered one of the most highly respected and critically acclaimed artists of her generation. Her repertoire ranges from Handel to Wagner, German lieder to contemporary and classic American song. Blythe has performed on many of the world’s great stages, such as Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, the Paris National Opera, and the San Francisco, Chicago Lyric, and Seattle Operas. In addition to leading the artistic vision of the Vocal Arts Program, she will be in residence at Bard, teaching Core Seminar III, leading the weekly Singer’s Forum, directing the Opera Workshop, and offering biweekly private coaching sessions. Ms. Blythe succeeds American soprano Dawn Upshaw, who conceived and designed the Graduate Vocal Arts Program and led it from its founding in 2006 until 2019.
In Her Own Words
Artistic Director Stephanie Blythe
“I have dreamed of joining the academic world for some time, but assuredly, becoming part of the VAP at Bard is beyond my wildest dreams. I look forward to continuing the legacy created by Dawn Upshaw—to upholding the musical and educational values of the VAP, while looking ahead to the future development of this marvelous and singular program.”
Renee Fleming Master Class, November 2018
In addition to the resident faculty, a myriad of guest artists drawn from the professional music world supplements the curriculum.
- Claire Chase, founder, former artistic director of International Contemporary Ensemble and MacArthur Fellow
- Lucy Dhegrae ’12, mezzo-soprano, director of Resonant Bodies Festival
- Beth Morrison, creative producer of Beth Morrison Projects and the Prototype Festival
- Kelli O’Hara, soprano (Broadway, Metropolitan Opera)
- Pierre Vallet, conductor, pianist, vocal coach at the Metropolitan Opera
“Svadba” by Ana Sokolovic, March 2018
Throughout the course of the program, each singer is offered opportunities to perform works drawn from the song, oratorio, and operatic repertoires. Singers work in collaboration with pianists, instrumentalists, and orchestra—in recital, oratorio, and fully staged operatic productions.
Why I Chose Bard
Diana Schwam, soprano
Class of 2021
"Bard offers the opportunity for musicians to become versatile artists. Curating well-rounded artists that can pick up any piece of music and tell a story, which is something I aspire to do. Alongside that, the faculty is incomparable in how they take the time to not only teach but connect with us. Honest and raw artistry is happening at Bard and it is truly refreshing. It made me realize that something real, special, and world changing is happening here, and I wanted to be apart of that."
Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein
Julia Bullock, soprano
Class of 2011
"I feel my education from Bard has shaped me in every single way...the connections I made through Bard continue to be a part of my life, and that feels wonderful....I was just so inspired during my two years at school by my colleagues and by the teachers."