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Bard Conservatory Orchestra and The Orchestra Now Perform Side-By-Side in a Concert Featuring Dawn Upshaw on May 8

Eleanor Davis
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.––The Bard College Conservatory of Music presents a Mother’s Day side-by-side performance with Bard Conservatory Orchestra and The Orchestra Now (TŌN). Conducted by Leon Botstein, the concert includes Alban Berg’s Seven Early Songs featuring soprano Dawn Upshaw and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6. The concert will be held on Sunday, May 8 at 3 p.m. in the Sosnoff Theater of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. Tickets are a $15–$20 suggested donation and free to the Bard community. Ticket sales benefit the Bard Conservatory of Music’s Scholarship Fund. For tickets, call the box office at 845-758-7900, or go to
The Seven Early Songs were among more than 80 that Alban Berg (1885–1935) composed between the ages of 20 and 23. The seven songs-- are based on poems by seven different poets, five of whom were contemporaries of Berg and two of whom belonged to earlier generations. Gustav Mahler’s (1860–1911) Symphony No. 6 is widely viewed as one of Mahler’s most personal and darkest creations. He composed the work during the summers of 1903 and 1904. While Mahler had sought to suppress explanations as to its meaning, his long-lived widow, Alma, writes: “Not one of his works came so directly from his heart as this one. We both wept that day [when he finished writing it]. The music and what it foretold touched us so deeply. The Sixth is the most completely personal of his works and a prophetic one also. … In the Sixth he anticipated his own life in music.”
In addition to leading the Bard College Conservatory Orchestra, Leon Botstein is in his 24th year as music director and principal
conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, he established, and became music director of, The Orchestra Now, an innovative training orchestra and master’s degree program designed to prepare young musicians for
the challenges facing the modern symphony orchestra. Botstein has been hailed as a visionary
for his programming, creating concerts that give audiences once-in-a-lifetime
chances to hear rarely performed works, and inviting music lovers to participate, through talks and discussions, in the creative experience. He is also artistic director of Bard SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival, which is now in its 27th year. Both take place in The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard
College, where Botstein has been president since 1975. In addition, he is conductor laureate
of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, where he served as music director from
2003 to 2011. Botstein leads an active schedule as a guest conductor worldwide, and can be heard on numerous recordings with the London Symphony (including its
Grammy-nominated recording of Popov’s First Symphony), the London Philharmonic, NDR-Hamburg, and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Highly regarded as a music historian, Botstein’s most recent book is Von
Beethoven zu Berg: Das Gedächtnis der Moderne (2013). He is the editor of The Musical Quarterly and the author of numerous articles and books.
Soprano Dawn Upshaw has achieved global celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire, ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest sounds of today. She is artistic director of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at Bard College Conservatory of Music, and was recently appointed as head of the Vocal Arts Program at the Tanglewood Music Center. Upshaw’s acclaimed performances on the opera stage comprise the great Mozart roles (Pamina, Ilia, Susanna, Despina) as well as modern works by Stravinsky, Poulenc, and Messiaen. She has performed at venues such as Glyndebourne and the Metropolitan Opera—where she began her career in 1984 and has since made nearly 300 appearances—and in cities including Salzburg and Paris. Upshaw has also championed numerous new works created for her including The Great Gatsby by John Harbison; the Grawemeyer Award–winning opera L’Amour de loin and the oratorio La Passion de Simone by Kaija Saariaho; John Adams’s nativity oratorio El Niño; and Osvaldo Golijov’s chamber opera Ainadama and song cycle Ayre. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Upshaw received the 2014 Best Classical Vocal Solo Grammy for Maria Schneider’s Winter Morning Walks. She is featured on more than 50 recordings, including the million-selling Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Górecki for Nonesuch Records. In 2007, she was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, and in 2008, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The Bard Conservatory Orchestra consists of 90 gifted students drawn from around the world. With its music director Leon Botstein it has performed twice at Lincoln Center in New York, at Sanders Theater at Harvard, and in Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjing, Guangzhou, and Wuhan during a three-week concert tour of Asia. The Bard College Conservatory of Music, founded in 2005 as a special five-year double-degree program within Bard College, has a world-class faculty that includes soprano Dawn Upshaw, pianist Peter Serkin, and violinists Weigang Li and Ida Kavafian, to name just a few.
Students are recruited from the United States and from all over the world, including Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Palestine, Poland, Slovakia, South Korea, Ukraine, and Venezuela.
Following the Bard Conservatory Orchestra’s performance at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater in May 2011, critic David Griesinger wrote: “From the first notes it was obvious that these young players understood what was to come…This was easily the most moving performance of this amazing piece [Shostakovich Symphony No. 5] that I have heard. Special credit goes, of course, to Botstein, but he had the help of some magnificent playing…”
Founded in 2015, The Orchestra Now (TŌN) is an innovative training orchestra and master’s degree program at Bard College that is preparing a new generation of musicians to break down barriers between modern audiences and great orchestral music of the past and present. Under the leadership of conductor, educator, and music historian Leon Botstein, TŌN mines the wealth of underperformed repertoire, reimagines traditional concert formats, and strives to make the experience of the performers a part of the listeners’ experience. The musicians of TŌN hail from across the U.S. and six other countries: Hungary, Korea, China, Japan, Canada and Venezuela. In addition to a concert series at their home base—the stunning Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College—they perform multiple concerts each season at Carnegie Hall and offer free concerts at venues across the boroughs of New York City. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art they join TŌN’s Music Director Leon Botstein in the series Sight & Sound as he pairs orchestral works with masterpieces from the museum’s collection. In addition to Mr. Botstein and TŌN’s Associate Conductor and Academic Director, James Bagwell, guest conductors in the inaugural season include JoAnn Falletta, Marcelo Lehninger, and Gerard Schwarz. For more information, visit

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This event was last updated on 04-20-2016