The Richard B. Fisher Center at Bard College (photo: Noah Sheldon)

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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 more, culminating with the 31st annual Bard Music Festival, “Nadia Boulanger and Her World.” Productions will be staged for limited in-person audiences both indoors and out, across Bard’s idyllic 1,000-acre campus, adhering to rigorous health and safety protocols while celebrating 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.

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.