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Festival Season: A Summer Walk at Bard

Summer means festival season for music-lovers, and thoughts turn to listening to stirring music in a place with clean air, surrounded by picnic baskets and leafy lawns. New Yorkers have plenty of opportunities to enjoy music in the city and to many different types of music. Classical music fans like the relaxed atmosphere of the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park or Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, a festival mostly held indoors.

Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on the Bard College campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Sometimes, the heat of the city in summer makes us long for places like Tanglewood in the Berkshires or the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico. In New York State, the most celebrated festivals include the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, Caramoor in Ketonah, and Bard College’s Summerscape and Music Festival in Annandale-on-Hudson.

Let’s talk about Bard.

Trees on the Bard College campus near the Fisher Center offer shade for a pre-performance picnic.

For select performances, the Bard Summerscape Festival and Bard Music Festival offers round-trip coach service ($40 round trip) from a spot near Lincoln Center to the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on the Bard College campus. That’s the most important information in this story, because otherwise Bard College, stretching over 1,000 acres along the Hudson River, is 100 miles north of the city and is somewhat complicated to access without a car. On a recent Sunday trip to see Leonard Bernstein’s PETER PAN, part of the worldwide celebration of the composer's 100th birthday, the bus ride up took just two hours. The return trip took an extra hour because of typical New York traffic.

The 2018 season at the Fisher Center

The Bard College campus is richly blessed with cultural centers and inspiring natural landscapes, including the backdrop of the Catskills to the west. Bard’s summer festival takes place on the north end of campus, mostly at the Fisher Center with its two stages, the Sosnoff Theater (900 seat) and Luma Theater (200 seat). Opened in 2003, the building was designed by architect Frank Gehry. While not the scale of his Guggenheim Bilbao or Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the venue is one of the finest small concert halls around.

Olafur Eliasson’s outdoor artwork, The Parliament of Reality, at Bard College.

The bus should arrive well ahead of curtain time, enough time to take a stroll about the north campus. Nearby is Olafur Eliasson’s outdoor artwork, The Parliament of Reality. Completed in the spring of 2009 for Bard College, the work was inspired by the Icelandic Parliament, the oldest national democratic institution in the world. The installation invites the viewer through a bridge to an island surrounded by a circular koi pond.

’Stargon' by Robert Perless (1987) with the Catskill Mountains in the distance

A short stroll west of the Fisher Center to a farm behind Ward Manor opens into a wide-open vista of the Hudson Valley. The sculpture ’Stargon' by Robert Perless (1987) reaches to the sky with the Catskills in the distance.

Food and drink are available before and after performances at the Spiegeltent, a most fanciful structure inspired by traveling magic shows. The tent also hosts cabaret and jazz performances. Travelers by coach from New York have the option of ordering in advance a fresh box meal for the return trip. That about covers all bases.



Learn more about the two Bard festivals at the Fisher Center website. Look for the select performances that offer round-trip transportation from NYC.

View of the Hudson River from the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. The coach traveled north from NYC up the west side of the river and then crossed the bridge east for the remaining trip to Bard. See map for details. 

Bard Summerscape Festival and Bard Music Festival
June 28–August 19, 2018
https://fishercenter.bard.edu

The 2018 Bard Music Festival will feature composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.


Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Sunday, July 8, 2018.

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