Bard College

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2015 President’s Commencement Address

Read Leon Botstein’s address to Bard College’s Class of 2015 here.

Bard College Named Among Top Ten Colleges for Best Professors

Bard College has been chosen as one of the top 10 colleges by the Princeton Review with the best professors!  Read the story here.


Longy School of Music of Bard College Announces a New Kind of Training Orchestra

Cambridge, Mass. Longy School of Music of Bard College today announced the formation of a unique training orchestra that provides a Master of Music degree, newly approved by the State of New York and is designed to prepare them for the mounting challenges facing today’s orchestra players. The training orchestra, recruited from the finest postgraduate musicians, will offer advanced orchestral and leadership training and grant a Master of Music degree in Curatorial, Critical and Performance Studies. All applicants accepted into the three-year degree program will receive a fellowship, which includes the full expense of tuition as well as an annual stipend. Applications are now being accepted. The orchestra will begin performing during the 2015-16 academic year.

The orchestrawill be based at Bard College and will have a roster of conductors that includes James Conlon, Music Director of the Los Angeles Opera; JoAnn Falletta, Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Adam Fischer, Music Director of the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra and the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; and James Bagwell, Principal Guest Conductor of The American Symphony Orchestra. Bard College President Leon Botstein, Music Director of The American Symphony Orchestra, will assume artistic leadership. The faculty will consist of professors and teachers from Bard College and Longy School of Music as well as eminent guest instructors.

Maestro Botstein compares the idea of a training orchestra with the tradition of medical education, in which doctors earn real-life experience before assuming a permanent post or practice. “As in medicine,”he said, “this is a partnership between a professional discipline and the university and can be a viable model for a sustainable future for the American orchestra.”

The participants in the program will experience the full range of the orchestra musician’s life and work, including concerts in and around New York City and Boston, as well as touring and recording. In addition, they will design community engagement projects and partner with El Sistema-inspired music programs in the New York metropolitan area. The curriculum is designed to encourage program participants to grapple with today’s changing musical landscape and think critically about the role of orchestras and musicians in society.


Read the article from The New York Times:

Orchestra and College Enter Each Other’s Turf

Bard College and New York Philharmonic in New Ventures


A music school is entering the orchestra business, forming a new training ensemble in New York whose players will get master’s degrees. The New York Philharmonic, meanwhile, is expanding its teaching role, starting an academy to train students all over the world.

There was a whiff of “Freaky Friday,” or perhaps “Trading Places,” about this pair of unrelated, yet oddly symmetrical developments that were announced on Wednesday, with a school behaving like an orchestra, and an orchestra behaving like a school. But both initiatives underscored the extent to which the difficulties facing classical music in the 21st century are forcing venerable institutions to adapt, if not reinvent themselves.

The new training orchestra, which is being formed next year by the Longy School of Music of Bard College, in Cambridge, Mass., and Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., will offer a three-year master’s degree program, with the musicians paid stipends to play concerts with respected conductors and tour. Leon Botstein, the president of Bard, said that he envisioned it as the equivalent of a medical residency for postgraduate musicians.

“If it’s successful, then we will have a new training model for the professional musician,” Mr. Botstein said, as he disclosed his plans for the orchestra in an interview.

Mr. Botstein added that he hoped the program would not only prepare students for a working musician’s life, but also give them chances to experiment with different approaches for connecting modern audiences with serious music. “You’ll have a route, one very powerful route, to revitalizing the orchestra experience for both the player and for the audience,” he said.

As he announced plans for the new orchestra, which does not yet have a name, the New York Philharmonic announced the next phase of its plans to expand its educational activities.

The orchestra said that it would start the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, an umbrella group to build on the partnerships that it began this year with the Shanghai Orchestra Academy and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Calif., with plans to add more partners to the program by the end of the year.

“We want to send a signal to New York, but also outside of New York, that we have a lot of talent and a lot of expertise to offer, and sometimes that happens on the main stage in performance, but it can also happen in an educational context,” Matthew VanBesien, the Philharmonic’s president and executive director, said in an interview.

Philharmonic musicians will continue to travel to Shanghai and Santa Barbara to play and teach, and students from both places will be brought to New York to train and play at Avery Fisher Hall. The first 10 visiting students, from the Music Academy of the West, will arrive in New York in January. Students from the Shanghai Orchestra Academy are due next season.

The orchestra’s expanded international educational offerings, which will be paid for both through fees and contributions from donors, will complement its traditional touring activity, Mr. VanBesien said. But where master classes were once thought of as extras that musicians could squeeze in during free time while on tours, they will now play a more central role.

The Philharmonic also sees the long-term relationships — the Santa Barbara and Shanghai partnerships are each to last four years — as chances to meet donors far from Lincoln Center. And the orchestra said that it was establishing a 12-person international advisory board with members in Europe, Asia and South America to help it support the orchestra’s activities abroad, including tours, educational ventures and other projects. The creation of the Longy-Bard orchestra and the Philharmonic’s Global Academy both point to a curious fact of life in the classical music world: Talented young players continue to want to hone their art even as orchestras struggle financially. So schools are looking for ways to prepare their students for the changed landscape, and orchestras are looking for ways to tap into the enthusiasm — and funding — for educational programs as they try to survive.

Mr. Botstein of Bard, who is also the music director of the American Symphony Orcestra, said that he hoped that the new training orchestra, which he said was inspired in part by Michael Tilson Thomas’s New World Symphony, would also perhaps give the musicians the tools to change the landscape with new community engagement projects and smart programs.

One idea he is considering: performing a complete cycle of Haydn symphonies over several years, with each concert including works from multiple periods. He said that he wants the orchestra to work with conductors such as James Conlon, JoAnn Falletta and Adam Fischer. The training orchestra, Mr. Botstein said, is “a completely, I think, fresh approach to equipping the musician of the future with a set of skills, and knowledge, and perspective of how to really generate a vital performing life.”