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Bard Music Festival “Saint-Saëns and His World” Weekend One opens Fri, Aug 10

The 23rd annual Bard Music Festival – an exploration of “Saint-Saëns and His World” – opens Friday, August 10 with Weekend One: Paris and the Culture of Cosmopolitanism. The first of the weekend’s six themed concerts is Program 1: “Saint-Saëns and the Cultivation of Taste,” an intimate chamber evening that offers fresh hearings of some of the great French composer’s best-loved works, including the haunting Danse macabre (“Dance of Death”), in its rarely-heard original arrangement for baritone and piano, and the travel-inspired piano fantasy Africa. The New York Times has praised Bard’s “track record of presenting fine young performers and some good veterans,” and this opening event is no exception, featuring an outstanding line-up including violinist/violist Miranda Cuckson, baritone John Hancock, pianists Anna Polonsky, Gilles Vonsattel, and Orion Weiss, and the Horszowski Trio. Their performance follows the Opening Night Dinner in Bard’s beloved Spiegeltent and an illuminating pre-concert talk by festival co-artistic director and distinguished scholar Leon Botstein.
Through the prism of Saint-Saëns’s life and career, this year’s Bard Music Festival explores the music of the Belle Époque that set the stage for modernism’s subsequent upheavals. With its recognized gift for thematic programming, Bard achieves a depth and breadth of musical and cultural discovery that is truly unique, offering an immersion in French late-Romanticism, with its trademark opulence and emotional richness, while also contextualizing Saint-Saëns within the wider musical world. Five of Weekend One’s six programs are augmented with pre-concert talks by eminent academics – Geoffrey Burleson, Christopher H. Gibbs, and Mitchell Morris among them – while Program Four, which examines Saint-Saëns’s prowess as an organ virtuoso, is accompanied by commentary. Botstein leads the American Symphony Orchestra in Program Three, an all-Saint-Saëns orchestral tour de force that showcases the “excellent” (New York Times) Kent Tritle as soloist in the monumental “Organ Symphony.” The weekend’s impressive roster of performers also includes singers Paul Appleby, Lori Guilbeau, Yulia Van Doren, Jamie Van Eyck, and Teresa Buchholz; pianists Danny Driver, Rieko Aizawa, Lucille Chung, and Pei-Yao Wang; violinists Jesse Mills and Giora Schmidt; and cellists Sophie Shao, Zuill Bailey and Edward Arron.
During this first weekend (a second follows on August 17–19), additional events shed further light on “Paris and the Culture of Cosmopolitanism,” situating Saint-Saëns within his native city, which, as the new musical capital of Europe, was attracting a young generation of composers from abroad. Program Two offers an evocative snapshot of the Parisian music world and Program Five investigates Saint-Saëns’s co-founding of the Société Nationale de Musique, one of his most valuable contributions to French musical life. The first festival weekend concludes by showcasing the work he tried hardest to suppress, undertaking a radical reconsideration of Carnival of the Animals in Program Six.
A complex and many-sided figure, Saint-Saëns started out as a child prodigy and went on to become not only a consummate and exceptionally versatile musician, but a conductor, critic, essayist, and editor besides. While initially a musical pioneer, instrumental in introducing German innovations to France, he came to resist music’s more radical developments. Weekend One audiences have the chance to unravel these contradictions in a panel discussion titled “Prodigy, Polymath, Globetrotter, and Reactionary.”
Critical acclaim:
The Wall Street Journal has observed that the Bard Music Festival “has long been one of the most intellectually stimulating of all American summer festivals and frequently is one of the most musically satisfying.”  Reviewing a previous season of the festival, a critic for the New York Times reported, “As impressive as many of the festival performances were, they were matched by the audience’s engagement: strangers met and conversed, analyzing the music they’d heard with sophistication, and a Sunday-morning panel discussion of gender issues in 19th-century culture drew a nearly full house.  All told, it was a model for an enlightened society.”
Complete programs for Weekend One of the 2012 Bard Music Festival follow.
Program details of Bard Music Festival, “Saint-Saëns and His World”
Weekend One, August 10—12: Paris and the Culture of Cosmopolitanism
Friday, August 10, 2012 at 5 pm
Fisher Center, Spiegeltent
Opening Night Dinner tickets include a 5 pm pre-performance dinner in the Spiegeltent and a premium seat for the evening’s concert. For further information or to purchase tickets to the Opening Night Dinner, please contact the Box Office at 845-758-7900 or [email protected].
BMF PROGRAM ONE: Saint-Saëns and the Cultivation of Taste
Friday, August 10, 2012 at 8 pm
Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater
7:30 pm     Preconcert Talk: Leon Botstein
8 pm          Performance: John Hancock, baritone; Horszowski Trio; Miranda Cuckson, viola; Anna Polonsky, piano; Gilles Vonsattel, piano; Orion Weiss, piano; Bard Festival Chamber Players
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
   Trio No. 1 in F, Op. 18 (1864)
   From Mélodies persanes, Op. 26 (1870)
   Danse macabre, for baritone and piano (1873)
   Variations on a Theme of Beethoven, Op. 35 (1874)
   Caprice-Valse, “Wedding Cake”, Op. 76 (1885)
   Quartet, for piano and strings, Op. 41 (1875)
   Africa, (Chamber arrangement) Op. 89 (1891)
Tickets: $25, 35, 45, 55
BMF PANEL ONE: Prodigy, Polymath, Globetrotter, and Reactionary
Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 10 am – noon
Olin Hall
Christopher H. Gibbs, moderator; Leon Botstein; Yves Gérard; Jann Pasler
Free and open to the public
BMF PROGRAM TWO: Performing, Composing, and Arranging for Concert Life
Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm
Olin Hall
1 pm          Preconcert Talk: Geoffrey Burleson
1:30 pm     Performance: Rieko Aizawa, piano; Edward Arron, cello; Geoffrey Burleson, piano; Lori Guilbeau, soprano; Jesse Mills, violin; Giora Schmidt, violin; Gilles Vonsattel, piano; Jamie Van Eyck, mezzo-soprano; Pei-Yao Wang, piano
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921)
   Sonata No. 1 for Cello and Piano in C Minor, Op. 32 (1872)
Arrangements and transcriptions of works by Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714–87); Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91); Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49); and Georges Bizet (1838–75)
Pablo de Sarasate (1844–1908)
   Concert Fantasies on Carmen, for violin and piano, Op. 25 (1883)
Franz Liszt (1811–86)
   From Two Legends, for piano, S175 (1862–63)
Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829–69)
   Bamboula, Op. 2 (1844–45)
Songs and arias by Anton Rubinstein (1829–94); Leo Delibes
   (1836–91); and Jules Massenet (1842–1912)
Tickets: $35

BMF PROGRAM THREE: Saint-Saëns, a French Beethoven?
Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 8 pm
Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater
7 pm          Preconcert Talk: Christopher H. Gibbs
8 pm          Performance: Miranda Cuckson, violin; Danny Driver, piano; Sophie Shao, cello; Kent Tritle, organ; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921)
   Symphony in A (ca. 1850)
   Le rouet d’Omphale, symphonic poem, Op. 31 (1872)
   Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, “Organ,” Op. 78 (1886)
   Piano Concerto No. 5 in F, “Egyptian,” Op. 103 (1896) 
   La muse et le poète, for violin, cello, and orchestra, Op. 132 (1910)
Tickets: $30, 50, 60, 75
BMF PROGRAM FOUR: The Organ, King of Instruments
Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 10 am
Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater
10 am        Performance with Commentary; with Kent Tritle, organ; Yulia Van Doren, soprano; Jonathan Spitz, cello
Works for organ by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921); Adolphe Adam (1803–56); Charles Gounod (1818–93); César Franck (1822–90); Charles-Marie Widor (1844–1937); Louis Vierne (1870–1937)
Tickets: $35
BMF PROGRAM FIVE: Ars Gallica and French National Sentiment
Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm
Olin Hall
1 pm          Preconcert Talk
1:30 pm     Performance: Paul Appleby, tenor; Zuill Bailey, cello; Teresa Buchholz, mezzo-soprano; Lucille Chung, piano; Nicholas Cords, viola; Min-Young Kim, violin; Anna Polonsky, piano; Giora Schmidt, violin; Bard Festival Chamber Players
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921)
   Piano Quintet, Op. 14 (1855)
Edouard Lalo (1823–92)
   Two Aubades (1872)
Marie Jaëll (1846–1925)
   Valses mélancoliques and Valses mignonnes (1888)
Ernest Chausson (1855–99)
   Chanson perpétuelle, Op. 37, for soprano and piano quintet (1898)
Albéric Magnard (1865–1914)
   Cello Sonata in A, Op. 20 (1908–10)
Songs by Augusta Holmès (1847–1903) and Henri Duparc (1848–1933)
Tickets: $35
BMF PROGRAM SIX: Zoological Fantasies: Carnival of the Animals Revisited
Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm
Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater
5 pm          Preconcert Talk: Mitchell Morris
5:30 pm     Performance: Randolph Bowman, flute; Lucille Chung, piano; Diana Cohen, violin; Miranda Cuckson, violin; Laura Flax, clarinet; Jordan Frazier, double bass; Lori Guilbeau, soprano; John Hancock, baritone; Anna Polonsky, piano; Sophie Shao, cello; Pei-Yao Wang, piano; Orion Weiss, piano; and others
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921)
   Le carnaval des animaux (1886)
Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924)
   Dolly Suite, Op. 56 (1894–96)
Maurice Ravel (1875–1937)
   Histoires naturelles, for baritone and piano (1907)
Songs by Emmanuel Chabrier (1841–94); Erik Satie (1866–1925); Francis Poulenc (1899–1963)
Works by Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764); Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868); Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91); Jacques Offenbach (1819–80); and others
Tickets $25, 35, 45, 55
All programs subject to change.
Weekend Two of “Saint-Saëns and His World” takes place at Bard on August 17-19.
SummerScape 2012: other key performance dates by genre
Emmanuel Chabrier: The King in Spite of Himself 
Sosnoff Theater
July 27*  and August 3 at 7 p.m.
July 29*  and August 1 and 5*  at 3 p.m.
Tickets: $30, $60, $70, $90
Molière: The Imaginary Invalid
Theater Two
July 13*, 14+, 19, 20, and 21† at 8:00pm
July 14, 15*, 18, 21, and 22* at 3:00pm
Tickets: $45
Compagnie Fêtes galantes
July 6* and 7† at 8:00pm
July 8* at 3:00pm
Sosnoff Theater
Tickets: $25, $40, $45, $55
* Round-trip transportation from Manhattan to Bard is available for this performance. The round-trip fare is $30 and reservations are required.
† Round-trip shuttle between the MetroNorth train station in Poughkeepsie and Bard is available for this performance. The round-trip fare is $20 and reservations are required.
+SummerScape Gala Benefit dinner and post-performance party.
“France and the Colonial Imagination”
Thursdays and Sundays, July 12 – August 12 at 2:00pm or 7:00pm
Ottaway Film Center
Tickets: $8
Cabaret, Family Fare, and SpiegelClub
Cabaret $25; Family Fare $15 ($5 for child under 18); SpiegelClub $5
Bard SummerScape Ticket Information
For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit

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