Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts Announces 2011-2012 Performance Schedule


This fall, the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College presents a series of events featuring world-class dance, music, and theater programs, from September through December. All programs take place in the acoustically superb Sosnoff Theater.

The fall season begins the weekend of September 9 with the iconic Merce Cunningham Dance Company's "Legacy Tour," September 9-11. On September 18, The Bard College Conservatory of Music kicks off its Conservatory Sundays series with a concert featuring its resident percussion ensemble, the acclaimed S? Percussion. New Albion Records presents a unique concert of mid-20th-century American music, "Works by Lou Harrison," on October 15. The Fisher Center's orchestra-in-residence, the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leon Botstein, music director, begins its 2011-2012 series with a program of major orchestral works on October 28 and 29. The incomparable American Ballet Theatre returns to the Fisher Center for four performances, November 4-6. And the John Cage Trust and New Albion Records present James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet, by John Cage, November 11-12.

Merce Cunningham Dance Company Legacy Tour
Friday, September 9 and Saturday, September 10 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, September 11 at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $55, 45, 35, 25

The legendary Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) returns to the Hudson Valley one last time before it disbands at the conclusion of its final world tour in December. MCDC's engagement at Bard provides an extraordinary opportunity to see Cunningham's choreography performed by the last dancers he personally trained, in a program that illuminates his groundbreaking collaborations with his life partner, John Cage, and artist Robert Rauschenberg.

The iconic Antic Meet (1958) captures the exuberant spirit that existed between Cunningham, Cage, and Rauschenberg for nearly 60 years. In this comedic work, Rauschenberg's witty costumes-a fur coat, parachute dresses, and, famously, a chair strapped to Cunningham's back-come back to life with Cunningham's vaudeville-like choreography and a playful composition by Cage that makes generous use of multiple forms of notation and different types of music making. Suite for Five (1956-58), in contrast, is one of the modernist trio's most beautiful works, remarkable for its sustained solos and serene, sculptural quality. The explosive Sounddance (1975) closes the program, with David Tudor's powerful score in perfect accord with the vigorous, fast-paced dance for the full company.

New Albion Records Presents "Works by Lou Harrison"
Saturday, October 15 at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $45, 35, 25, 15

Lou Harrison (1917-2003) was an American original. Among other artists of the mid 20th century his work was what is now called "outsider art," and he lived a life that was clearly outside the halls of the cultural institutions of the day. He developed a singular body of work that was inspired by studies of early music and tunings, world music, and the influence of other musical mavericks, such as Henry Cowell, Charles Ives, and John Cage. Eventually, he began to receive acknowledgement and acceptance from critics and classical audiences through increasing exposure on the stage. At his death he was traveling to the Midwest to attend a festival in his honor.

The three works on this program offer a generous glimpse of Lou Harrison's musical world. Solo to Anthony Cirone, dedicated to the eponymous percussionist, is a work for tenor bells that was long lost, then found during a New Albion recording project and realized by William Winant; it has since been performed around the world. Suite for Violin and American Gamelan, written with violinist Richard Dee, incorporates medieval dance rhythms, drones, mesmerizing gamelan patterns, and melodic variations in a series of textures that become progressively richer, bringing the work to a grand and solemn conclusion. Finally, La Koro Sutro, a monumental work for large-scale chorus, gamelan, harp, and organ, presents in one huge bundle many of Harrison's musical and personal preoccupations: percussion, the avoidance of functional harmony, Buddhism, and universalism (the title of the work is in Esperanto, and the piece was premiered at an international Esperanto conference in 1972). Presented by New Albion Records and the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts.

New Albion Records was founded in San Francisco in 1984, to explore the world of art music. Its current catalogue includes 138 releases. In recent years, with the onset of the Internet, its focus has moved from recording projects to concert events. This is New Albion's fourth such event with the Richard B. Fisher Center at Bard College. New Albion has partnered with the John Cage Trust and Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

American Symphony Orchestra
Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29
Concerts are at 8 p.m.; preconcert talks at 6:45 p.m.
Tickets: $40, 35, 25

This season the Fisher Center's orchestra-in-residence, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director, performs major orchestral works by Gustav Mahler, Béla Bartók, and Igor Stravinsky (whose life and musical legacy will be the subject of the 2013 Bard Music Festival). Other composers to be featured include Maurice Ravel, Sergey Prokofiev, Witold Lutos?awski, Godfrey Winham, and two contemporaries-Howard Shore, whose Mythic Gardens, a concerto for cello and orchestra, will receive its world premiere, and Christopher Brubeck. Featured soloists include Sophie Shao, cello; Jiazhi Wang, violin; Tamas Markovics, trombone; and a soloist from the Bard Graduate Vocal Arts Program.