If William Shakespeare had to pick a college, chances are that Bard would be at the top of his list.
Bard College, located in Annandale-on-Hudson, is well regarded both in the Hudson Valley and across the country for its enriching curriculum and scenic landscape. Students study everything from fine arts to international policy under professors whose names appear regularly on bestseller lists and as newsworthy sources. In the eyes of the local community, Bard is a resource for the arts. Not only does the college provide top tier art education programs, but it also invites creative leaders to campus to share their experiences and advice with the next generation.
On campus, the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts is Bard’s crowning jewel in its effort to promote the arts. The creative mecca has a larger than life presence at the school, thanks to its widespread reputation and its eye-catching architecture. The edifice itself is hard to miss, with a massive stainless steel roof that appears to ebb and flow on top of the building. The design is courtesy of famed architect Frank Gehry, the mastermind behind the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California. When Gehry undertook the project, he first consulted with acoustics and theater professionals on the design before turning his blueprint into a reality.
Three years and $62 million dollars later, the center opened its doors in April 2003. With more than 100,000 square feet to its name, the imaginative hub houses the larger Sosnoff Theater and the smaller LUMA Theater, along with dance and theater studios. Impressively, the building steers clear of fossil fuels, operating instead on geothermal heat.
When describing the project, Gehry explained how “the front facade of the building can be interpreted as a theatrical mask that covers the raw face of the performance space.” Indeed, the metallic waves that define the exterior do achieve their theatrical goal. Passersby cannot help noticing the grandeur of the structure, even if they have no clue as to the talent that hides inside of it.
“The Fisher Center’s unique programming and location on the Bard College campus make it an extraordinary community resource,” says Mark Primoff, Associate Vice President for Communications at Bard. “While patrons come from throughout the northeast to see our productions, we’re centrally located in the mid-Hudson Valley, making for easy access to world-class productions for anyone living between New York City and Albany.”
Named after Bard’s former Board of Trustees chair Richard B. Fisher, the eponymous center is beloved by students, professionals, and the creative community at large. Classes meet in the Lynda Resnick Theater Studio during the day, while locals pack the Sosnoff Theater for music performances and dance exhibits at night. During the year, attractions of all genres grace the stages. Orchestras play, jazz musicians make a beat, authors tell their stories, and actors play make believe.
“As a producing center affiliated with a college that focuses on the arts, we offer performances and productions that won’t be found anywhere else,” Primoff explains.
In 2018, the center has an impressive lineup scheduled. On February 9, the Catskill Jazz Factory visits for the first of three winter concerts, led by powerhouse musician Damien Sneed. The following month, on March 9 and 11, spectators can enjoy “An Opera Triple Bill,” a trifecta of operatic performances that center around the ceremony of marriage. A few days later, American Gods author and Bard Professor in the Arts Neil Gaiman and A Series of Unfortunate Events author Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, will host a discussion and Q&A session on March 16.
On top of such a full calendar of events, Bard and the Fisher Center also host one of the grandest creative festivals around. Every summer, the school pulls out all the stops for SummerScape, the eight week celebration that honors the arts in its various forms. From film and opera to dance and theater, there is something for everyone. Around this time, the school also hosts its music festival to honor and educate about a selected artist from years past. Last year’s event celebrated Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
Perhaps the most anticipated of all of the Fisher Center’s warm weather attractions is Spiegeltent, a magical tent that sets the scene for cabaret, dancing, and jazz during the dog days of summer in the Hudson Valley. Anyone who loves the arts will not want to miss an evening at Spiegeltent.
With an ever expanding lineup of performances and musical offerings, the Fisher Center is an invaluable treasure for art lovers. New tickets and events are added to the website regularly, so do yourself a favor and bookmark it on your computer now so you have it ready at hand later. At that point, the dilemma won’t be “Which show should I see?” but “Which show should I see first?”
The Bard would approve.
VISIT The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at 60 Manor Avenue, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
LEARN MORE at FisherCenter.Bard.edu; or call (845) 758-7900