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Bard Music Festival, “Nadia Boulanger and Her World,” Opens Friday, Aug 6

SBO Staff • News • July 29, 2021

Nadia Boulanger

Opening on Friday, August 6, the 31st Bard Music Festival explores “Nadia Boulanger and Her World.” Over two weekends, twelve themed concert programs examine and contextualize the life and career of Nadia Boulanger, “arguably … the most important woman in the history of classical music” (BBC Music). Enriched by a wealth of compositions by Boulanger, her predecessors, her contemporaries and her unparalleled roster of students, Weekend One explores Music in Paris in the first half of the 20th century (Aug 6–8), and Weekend Two addresses The 20th-Century Legacy of Nadia Boulanger (Aug 12–15). In light of recent New York State guidance, these performances will not only be available for livestreaming, but will now all take place before full-capacity audiences in the stunning Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and other venues on Bard College’s idyllic Hudson River campus.

Festival founder and co-artistic director Leon Botstein – “one of the most remarkable figures in the worlds of arts and culture” (NYC Arts, THIRTEEN/WNET) – serves as music director, both of The Orchestra Now (TŌN), the unique graduate training orchestra heard in Programs One, Five and Seven, and of the American Symphony Orchestra (ASO), which anchors Programs Nine and Twelve. The Bard Festival Chorale takes part in all choral works under the baton of James Bagwell, and this year’s chamber and vocal programs boast a comparably impressive lineup. Guest artists includemezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, known for her “rich, dark, exciting sound” (Opera News); soprano Andrea Carroll, winner of a Richard Tucker Career Grant; pianist Simone Dinnerstein, “an artist of strikingly original ideas and irrefutable integrity” (Washington Post); tenor Joshua Guerrero, whose honors include a Grammy Award; baritone Joshua Hopkins, winner of a 2021 Juno Award; Renée Anne Louprette, “one of New York’s finest organists” (New York Times); and tenor Nicholas Phan, “one of the world’s most remarkable singers” (Boston Globe), whose recording of songs by Boulanger and her sister, fellow composer Lili Boulanger, was nominated for a 2021 Grammy Award.

“Nadia Boulanger and Her World” will feature music by both sisters, including Nadia’s Mussorgskian piano piece Vers la vie nouvelle; her post-Impressionist Three Pieces for Cello and Piano; and Lux aeterna, her brief tribute to her sister; and Lili’s award-winning cantata Faust et Hélène, orchestrations of eight songs from her innovative cycle Clairières dans le ciel, and her hypnotic Vieille prière bouddhique for tenor, choir and orchestra. Other featured works include the consummately orchestrated Symphony in C by Paul Dukas, Nadia’s accompaniment teacher; the Third Symphony for Organ and Orchestra by Charles-Marie Widor, who became one of her key supporters; the Concerto for Organ, Timpani and Strings by Francis Poulenc, which premiered under her direction; the “Dumbarton Oaks” Concerto by Igor Stravinsky, of which she led the first performance; and excerpts from Visions de l’Amen, a shimmering wartime masterpiece by Olivier Messiaen, who succeeded her as one of France’s foremost music teachers.

Works by Boulanger’s illustrious students will include Walter Piston’s Fourth Symphony; Aaron Copland’s beloved Lincoln Portrait; a piano sonata by George Walker, the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music; songs by Marc Blitzstein, Thea Musgrave and David Conte; the posthumously rediscovered Adagio, by Roger Sessions; Roy Harris’s rhapsodic, improvisatory Toccata for piano; Philip Glass’s Third String Quartet, “Mishima,” originally written for Paul Schrader’s film of the same name; a solo flute tango study by Astor Piazzolla, master of Argentina’s tango nuevo; the Prelude for a Pensive Pupil by Australian-born Peggy Glanville-Hicks; and the harmonically adventurous Fifth Violin Concerto by Grażyna Bacewicz, a revered figure in Poland who merits wider recognition worldwide. Other works by women composers will include excerpts from a mass by Cécile Chaminade, the first female winner of the Légion d’Honneur, and Fête Galante by Dame Ethel Smyth, the Victorian-born English suffragist whose grand opera The Wreckers received its first fully staged American production at SummerScape 2015. From “L’esprit de Paris,” which explores French music’s lighter side, to “The Catholic Tradition in France,” Bard’s twelve concert programs are detailed in full below.

The concerts will be supplemented by panel discussions and pre-concert talks, all pre-recorded and available online prior to the event. Bard SummerScape also presents the first fully staged American production of King Arthur (Le roi Arthus, 1886–95), the only opera by Boulanger’s compatriot Ernest Chausson (remaining dates: July 30 & Aug 1).

About Nadia Boulanger
The first woman to come into Bard’s festival spotlight, Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979) was a true musical polymath who remains of incalculable importance to 20th-century composition, scholarship and performance. As a composer, she took second place at the 1908 Prix de Rome; as a scholar and performer, she spearheaded the Renaissance and Baroque performance revivals, single-handedly ensured that Lili Boulanger’s work survived the latter’s untimely death at age 24, and was the first woman to conduct the Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. Best remembered as a teacher, however, her stylistically diverse students include such key figures as George Antheil, Grażyna Bacewicz, Daniel Barenboim, Lennox Berkeley, Marc Blitzstein, Donald Byrd, Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland, John Eliot Gardiner, Philip Glass, Roy Harris, Quincy Jones, Dinu Lipatti, Gian Carlo Menotti, Thea Musgrave, Per Nørgård, Astor Piazzolla, Walter Piston, Louise Talma and Virgil Thomson.

The Bard Music Festival’s companion volume, Nadia Boulanger and Her World, is edited by 2021 Scholar-in-Residence Jeanice Brooks, whose previous publications include The Musical Work of Nadia Boulanger, and is published by the University of Chicago Press.

SummerScape tickets
All tickets are now on sale. The Box Office can be reached by telephone at (845) 758-7900, on Mondays through Fridays at 11am–4pm EDT, or by email at boxoffice@bard.edu. Tickets are also available 24/7 on Bard’s website at fishercenter.bard.edu. All programs will also be livestreamed at UPSTREAMING, the Fisher Center’s virtual stage.

Health and Safety at the Bard Music Festival
The health and safety of Bard’s audiences, artists and staff are of paramount importance. All Bard Music Festival performances will be presented in adherence with strict COVID protocols and in accordance with NY State guidance and Bard College’s safety regulations. Learn more about SummerScape 2021 health and safety protocols here.

Program details of Bard Music Festival, “Nadia Boulanger and Her World”

WEEKEND ONE: Music in Paris – Friday, Aug 6

PROGRAM ONE
The Exemplary Musician

Sosnoff Theater – 5pm Performance: J’Nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano; Fei-Fei, piano; Joshua Guerrero, tenor; Samantha Hankey, mezzo-soprano; Joélle Harvey, soprano; Joshua Hopkins, baritone; Renée Anne Louprette, organ; Nicholas Phan, tenor; Erika Switzer, piano; Orion Weiss, piano; Bard Festival Chamber Players; The Orchestra Now, conducted by Rebecca Miller and Leon Botstein, music director

Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979)
Vers la vie nouvelle (1915)

Songs

 Lux aeterna (1909; arr. 1920)

Lili Boulanger (1893–1918)

 Faust et Hélène (1913)

 Pie Jesu (1918)

Priaulx Rainier (1903–86)

 Reminiscence (1935)

Louise Talma (1906–96)

 Alleluia in the Form of a Toccata (1947)

Grażyna Bacewicz (1909–69)

Music for Strings, Trumpet, and Percussion (1958)

Julia Perry (1924–79)

 Stabat mater (1951)

Includes an Opening Night Reception

Saturday, Aug 7

PROGRAM TWO

Contemporaries and Colleagues
1pm Performance: Allegra Chapman, piano; Caroline Davis, alto saxophone; Tyler Duncan, baritone; Samantha Martin, soprano; Neave Trio; Alex Sopp, flute; Arnaud Sussmann, violin; Erika Switzer, piano; Orion Weiss, piano

Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979)

Songs

Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979) / Raoul Pugno (1852–1914)

From Les heures claires (1909)

Lili Boulanger (1893–1918)

Songs

Florent Schmitt (1870-1958)

Andantino, Op. 30/1 (1906)

Claude Debussy (1862–1918)

 Trois Chansons de France (1904)

Charles Koechlin (1867–1950)

 Épitaphe de Jean Harlow, Op. 164 (1937)

Maurice Ravel (1875–1937)

Piano Trio in A minor (1914)

Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924)

Barcarolle No. 6 in E-flat, Op. 70 (?1895)

Georges Enescu (1881–1955)

Violin Sonata No. 3, Op. 25 (1926)

Marion Bauer (1882–1955)

Four Pieces, Op. 21 (1930)

PROGRAM THREE

88 x 2: Music for Two Pianos

Sosnoff Theater

7pm Performance: Fei-Fei, piano; Tyler Duncan, baritone; Adam Golka, piano; Joélle Harvey, soprano; Rebecca Ringle Kamarei, mezzo-soprano; Annie Rosen, mezzo-soprano; Orion Weiss, piano; and others

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) / Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979)

   Widerstehe doch der Sünde (1714; arr. 1933)

Johannes Brahms (1833–97)

   From Liebeslieder Waltzes, Op. 52 (1868)

Emmanuel Chabrier (1841–94)

Trois valses romantiques (1883)

Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)

Sonata for Two Pianos (1944)

Marcelle de Manziarly (1899–1989)

Sonata for Two Pianos (1946)

Olivier Messiaen (1908–92)

From Visions de l’Amen (1943)

Jean Françaix (1912–97)

Concertino (1932)

Sunday, Aug 8

PROGRAM FOUR

Parisian Elegance: Music Between the Wars

1pm Performance: Tyler Duncan, baritone; Kayo Iwama, piano; Bridget Kibbey, harp; Neave Trio; Alexis Seminario, soprano; Zohar Schondorf, horn; Alex Sopp, flute; Bard Festival Chamber Players; and others

Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979)

Songs

Lili Boulanger (1893–1918)

Cortège (1914)

Erik Satie (1866–1925)

Passacaille (1906)

Pierre Menu (1896–1919)

Sonatine (1916)

Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983)

Trio, for violin, cello, and piano (1916–17, rev. 1978)

Georges Auric (1899–1983)

Three Interludes (1918)

Elsa Barraine (1910–99)

   Crépuscules et Fanfare (1936)

Albert Roussel (1869–1937)

Sérénade, Op. 30 (1925)

PROGRAM FIVE

Teachers, Mentors and Friends of the Boulanger Sisters

Sosnoff Theater

5pm Performance: Renée Anne Louprette, organ; Nicholas Phan, tenor; The Orchestra Now, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director 

Lili Boulanger (1893–1918)

From Clairières dans le ciel (1913–14; orch. 1915–16) (U.S. premiere of orchestral version)

   D’un matin de printemps (1918)

Charles-Marie Widor (1844–1937)

Symphony No. 3, Op. 69 (1895–96)

Paul Dukas (1865–1935)

Symphony in C (1895–96)

Francis Poulenc (1899–1963)

Concerto for Organ, Timpani, and Strings in G minor (1934–38)

WEEKEND TWO: The 20th-Century Legacy of Nadia Boulanger

Thursday, Aug 12

PROGRAM SIX

L’esprit de Paris

7pm Performance with commentary by Jeanice Brooks and Mark Everist; with Tyler Duncan, baritone; Rebecca Ringle Kamarei, mezzo-soprano; Sarah Joy Miller, soprano; Nicholas Phan, tenor; Erika Switzer, piano; and others

Arias, songs, and piano works by François-Adrien Boieldieu (1775–1834), Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848), Ernest Boulanger (1815–1900), Raoul Pugno (1852–1914), Claude Debussy (1862–1918), Erik Satie (1866–1925), Maurice Ravel (1875–1937), Francis Poulenc (1899–1963), Marguerite Monnot (1903–61) and Mireille Hartuch (1906–96)

Friday, Aug 13

PROGRAM SEVEN

Crosscurrents: Salon and Concert Hall

Sosnoff Theater

7pm Performance: Simone Dinnerstein, piano; Anna Polonsky, piano; Tony Rymer, cello; The Orchestra Now, conducted by Rebecca Miller and Leon Botstein, music director

Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979)

   Three Pieces, for cello and piano (1911–14)

Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)

Concerto in E-flat, “Dumbarton Oaks” (1937–38)

Arthur Honegger (1892–1955)

Symphony No. 2 (1940–41)

Peggy Glanville-Hicks (1912–90)

Prelude for a Pensive Pupil (1932)

Dinu Lipatti (1917–50)

Concertino in the Classical Style, Op. 3 (1936; U.S. premiere)

Saturday, Aug 14

PROGRAM EIGHT

Boulanger the Curator

1pm Performance: Bard Festival Vocal Ensemble and Players, conducted by James Bagwell; Anna Polonsky, piano; Erika Switzer, piano; and others

Works by Thomas Tallis (c. 1505–85), Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525–94), Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643), Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924), Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971), Lili Boulanger (1893–1918), Paul Hindemith (1895–1963), Marcelle de Manziarly (1899–1988) and others

PROGRAM NINE

Remembering Ethel Smyth and Boulanger’s Circle at Home and Abroad

Sosnoff Theater

5pm Performance: Ben Bliss, tenor; Andrea Carroll, soprano; Luosha Fang, violin; William Ferguson, tenor; Patrick Gaspard, speaker; Theo Hoffman, baritone; Joshua Hopkins, baritone; Zoie Reams, mezzo-soprano; Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Bagwell and Leon Botstein, music director

Ethel Smyth (1858–1944)

   Fête Galante (1923)

Lili Boulanger (1893–1918)

   Theme and Variations (1911–14; orch R. Wilson, 2021)

Walter Piston (1894–1976)

Symphony No. 4 (1950)

Aaron Copland (1900–90)

   A Lincoln Portrait (1942)

Grazyna Bacewicz (1909–69)

Violin Concerto No. 5 (1954; U.S. premiere)

Sunday, Aug 15

PROGRAM TEN

The Catholic Tradition in France: Clarity and Mysticism

Sosnoff Theater

10am Performance: Renée Anne Louprette, organ; Bard Festival Chorale, conducted by James Bagwell, choral director

Choral and organ works by Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979), Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921), Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924), Cécile Chaminade (1857–1944), Louis Vierne (1870–1937), Marcel Dupré (1886–1971), Jacques Ibert (1890–1962), Francis Poulenc (1899–1963), Olivier Messiaen (1908–92), Jeanne Demessieux (1921–68) and others

PROGRAM ELEVEN

Boulanger’s Legacy: Modernities

1pm Performance: Tyler Duncan, baritone; Chelsea Fingal DeSouza, soprano;

Adam Golka, piano; Kayo Iwama, piano; Hailey McAvoy, mezzo-soprano; Blair McMillen, piano; Parker String Quartet; Alex Sopp, flute

Elliott Carter (1908–2012)

Enchanted Preludes (1988)

Astor Piazzolla (1921–92)

From Tango Etudes (1987)

George Walker (1922–2018)

Sonata No. 2, for piano (1957)

Pierre Boulez (1925–2016)

Notations (1945)

Philip Glass (b. 1937)

String Quartet No. 3, “Mishima” (1985)

Thea Musgrave (b. 1928)

A Suite O’Bairnsangs (1953)

Piano works and songs by Roger Sessions (1896–1985), Roy Harris (1898–1979), Marc Blitzstein (1905–64), Zygmunt Mycielski (1907–87), Karel Husa (1921–2016), Michel LeGrand (1932–2019) and David Conte (b. 1955)

PROGRAM TWELVE

Boulanger’s Credo

Sosnoff Theater

5pm Performance: Ben Bliss, tenor; Andrea Carroll, soprano; Joshua Hopkins, baritone; Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Lili Boulanger (1893–1918)

   Pour les funérailles d’un soldat (1912)

Psalm 24 (1916)

   Vieille prière bouddhique (1917)

Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924)

   Requiem, Op. 48 (1887–1900)

Virgil Thomson (1896–1989)

A Solemn Music (1962)

SummerScape 2021: other remaining key dates

July 30 & Aug 1           Opera: Chausson’s King Arthur (first fully staged American production)

July 29–31                     Concerts on the Stage at Montgomery Place: Black Roots Summer, Weekend Two

Aug 5–7                           Concerts on the Stage at Montgomery Place: Most Happy in Concert

The 2021 SummerScape season is made possible in part through the generous support of Jeanne Donovan Fisher, the Martin and Toni Sosnoff Foundation, the Advisory Boards of the Fisher Center at Bard and Bard Music Festival, and Fisher Center members, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Commissioning and development support for the Stage at Montgomery Place provided by the Fisher Center’s Artistic Innovation Fund, with lead support from Rebecca Gold and S. Asher Gelman.

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