DANCE NEWS: Bard SummerScape Returns with Full Season of Live Music, Dance, Opera, and Performance from July 8–August 22

DANCE NEWS: Bard SummerScape Returns with Full Season of Live Music, Dance, Opera, and Performance from July 8–August 22

Published on March 26, 2021
Photo: Noah Sheldon

Highlights Include 31st Annual Bard Music Festival, “Nadia Boulanger and Her World,” and a World Premiere by Pam Tanowitz and Jessie Montgomery

Founded in 2003, the annual Bard SummerScape festival offers music, opera, theater, dance, film and cabaret at the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center and other venues on Bard College’s picturesque Hudson Valley campus. Central to these offerings is the annual Bard Music Festival (BMF), dubbed “part boot camp for the brain, part spa for the spirit” (New York Times). Now in its fourth decade, each edition of the BMF offers an in-depth exploration of a major composer and the world that shaped their life and career, through an illuminating series of themed concerts, talks and panel discussions. Under the leadership of festival founder and Bard College president Leon Botstein, “one of the most remarkable figures in the worlds of arts and culture” (NYC Arts, THIRTEEN/WNET), both the American Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and The Orchestra Now (TŌN) perform at the festival, anchoring multiple concerts and the annual staged opera, which is “an indispensable part of the summer operatic landscape” (Musical America). 

Photo by Peter Aaron'68/Esto

Long recognized as “a hotbed of intellectual and aesthetic adventure” (New York Times), Bard SummerScape returns this summer with a full season of live music, dance, opera, and performance, culminating in the 31st annual Bard Music Festival, “Nadia Boulanger and Her World.” Productions will be staged for limited in-person audiences both indoors and outdoors across Bard’s idyllic 1,000-acre campus, July 8 - August 22. Adhering to rigorous health and safety protocols, Bard SummerScape 2021 will celebrate the joys of live performance and the beauty of the Hudson Valley.

Gideon Lester, Artistic Director of the Fisher Center at Bard, said, “SummerScape has adapted to current circumstances without downsizing the breadth of its programming. This is an ambitious festival, as our audiences have come to expect. From the Fisher Center’s main stage to the parkland of our Montgomery Place campus, this year the festival extends from traditional performance spaces to the stunning landscape of the Hudson Valley.”

SummerScape 2021 opens with the world premiere of I was waiting for the echo of a better day, a new commission from Bard’s Fisher Center Choreographer-in-Residence, Pam Tanowitz, and Bernstein Award-winning composer Jessie Montgomery. Performed outdoors with live music before an audience at Montgomery Place, this large-scale dance work marks Tanowitz’s return to SummerScape after the resounding success of her Four Quartets, a Fisher Center commission that premiered at the 2018 festival. The Bard Music Festival returns for its 31st season with an exploration of the life and work of Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979), the pioneering Parisian pedagogue, composer, conductor, pianist, organist and indomitable personality who shaped more than a generation of American musicians. Through a series of themed concert programs, lectures and panel discussions, “Nadia Boulanger and Her World” pays tribute to one of the most important female figures in classical music history. Complementing the music festival is the first fully staged North American production of King Arthur (Le roi Arthus), the only opera by Boulanger’s compatriot and near-contemporary Ernest Chausson, conducted at the Fisher Center by festival founder and co-artistic director Leon Botstein.

Photo by Peter Aaron'68/Esto

The 2021 festival marks the first time that selected SummerScape events will take place at Bard’s Montgomery Place campus, a designated National Historic Landmark set amid rolling lawns, woodlands and gardens against the spectacular backdrop of the Catskill Mountains and adjacent to the college’s main campus. Besides the dance premiere, programming at Montgomery Place will include a series of live concerts.

The full SummerScape 2021 program will be announced in April, complete with details of all health and safety protocols.

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