Charles Loring Elliott, Portrait of Matthew Vassar, 1861

In the News

The 9th annual Modfest - a celebration of the arts of the 20th and 21st centuries - will be presented on Vassar's campus, January 20 - February 5, 2011.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—In its ninth year, Modfest is Vassar College’s exploration of the arts of the 20th and 21st centuries. This year’s program will celebrate the visual arts, dance, drama, film, literature, poetry, and music in a series of events that will take place across the Vassar campus from January 20 through February 5, 2011. 

Among the many highlights of Modfest 2011 will be the first fully-staged production of Richard Wilson’s comic opera, Æthelred the Unready, presented in conjunction with Vassar's sesquicentennial observance. The work, which will be performed twice on campus and once in New York City at Symphony Space, tells of a henpecked Anglo-Saxon king ill-treated by history.

Directed by Drew Minter with Richard Wilson conductor, Æthelred is a short, whimsical work lasting about 80 minutes. The American Record Guide noted that the opera is: “A droll meditation on failure . . . witty and oddly touching.”

Wilson, Professor of Music on the Mary Conover Mellon Chair at Vassar College, noted that the libretto he wrote for Æthelred “does draw on history, presenting three characters who actually existed - Æthelred the Second (965 - 1016) who was King of England for 38 of those years; Emma, his wife who was the sister of Richard II, duke of Normandy; and William of Malmesbury (1096 - 1143), whose greatest work was Gesta regime Anglorum (The Deeds of the English Kings).”

The opera will feature Vassar’s entire vocal faculty: Robert Osborne as Æthelred; Rachel Rosales as his nagging wife, Emma; Mary Nessinger as Clio, the muse of history; James Ruff as her boyfriend, William of Malmesbury; and Christine Howlett as the La Musica –  the spirit of music and Clio’s assistant. Also in the cast are Nathan Carlisle as the publicist and Curtis Streetman as the hypnotist.

Both performances of Æthelred the Unready at Vassar College—on January 22 at 8:00pm and January 23 at 3:00pm—will be held in the Martel Theater of the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film. Reservations are requested; however, these performances are free and open to the public. Tickets will be available at the College Center’s Information Desk in Main Building beginning January 3 or by emailing adwilson@vassar.edu. The January 25 performance at Symphony Space in New York City will begin at 8:00pm with admission charged. Tickets: $30; $20 for Symphony Space members, seniors, students, children. See the website, http://www.symphonyspace.org/. Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Symphony Space, New York City.

For the second year, Modfest will present a program that honors past recipients of the W. K. Rose Fellowship in the creative arts on January 26 at 4:00pm in the Villard Room of Main Building. One of Ireland’s leading composers, alumna Jane O’Leary ’68, one of the first Rose fellowship recipients, will return to the college. The program will include a première of a piano work by O’Leary, featuring guest pianist Isabelle O’Connell along with Vassar music faculty member, cellist Sophie Shao. In addition, O’Leary will be joined by two alumnae/i writers. Forty-eight Vassar graduates have received this generous fellowship, established upon the death of Professor William K. Rose in 1969 as a bequest from his estate.

Music by composers associated with Vassar College will be performed by the Cygnus Ensemble—Tara Helen O'Connor, flute; Robert Ingliss, oboe;  William Anderson and Oren Fader, classical and electric guitars/mandolin/banjo; Calvin Wiersma, violin; and Susannah Chapman, violoncello—on January 28 at 8:00pm in the Skinner Hall of Music. The ensemble will perform chamber works by Ernst Krenek, Robert Middleton, Annea Lockwood, Harold Meltzer, Richard Wilson, and Jonathan Chenette. In addition, there will be a performance of a new work of electronic music by faculty member Peter McCulloch. Fanfare noted that the members of Cygnus are “virtuosos in their own right, and together produce chamber music proper . . . close observance of each other`s actions . . . a very tight performance.”

Following on last year's successful program of poetry in translation, fellows from the foreign language studies departments will present a modernized version of a popular folktale in Tower of Babel on Sunday, January 30 at 3:00pm in Rose Parlor of Main Building. Performers will speak in their native languages, with students providing translations.

In addition Modfest programs will include exhibition openings in both the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center and the James W. Palmer III Gallery; a special exhibition presented by the music library in the Skinner Hall of Music; dance performances by the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre; a foreign film series; poetry and drama readings, as well as other varied events.

Participants in Modfest 2011 will include Vassar students, faculty, alumnae/i, and guest artists as well as students from the Poughkeepsie area schools. All events are free and open to the public, except as noted.

About Modfest

Modfest was the idea of Vassar alumna Adene Wilson ’69 who founded it with her husband Richard Wilson in 2003 in order to foster a better coordination among the many artistic activities on the Vassar campus, placing special emphasis on contemporary arts. Adene Wilson continues to serve as Modfest coordinator.

The programming for Modfest is designed each year to showcase various departments of the college and the interrelationships between music, dance, film, literature, poetry, and visual arts in the 20th and 21st centuries.

“Each year we find that Modfest provides a special opportunity for students in each of the disciplines to share their work with one another,” noted Adene Wilson.

This year Modfest 2011 is organized by the the Vassar College Department of Music in collaboration with the Departments of Art, Chinese and Japanese, Dance, Drama, English, Film, French and Francophone Studies, German Studies, Hispanic Studies, Russian Studies, and the programs in Africana Studies, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, and the Vassar College Bookstore.

A campus-wide celebration, Modfest events will be held at the Chicago Hall, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Kenyon Hall, Main Building, James W. Palmer III Gallery, Skinner Hall of Music, and the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film. [A detailed schedule of the 21 events is available below.]

People with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

MODFEST 2011
Schedule of Events
January 20 – February 6, 2011
The ninth annual festival of the contemporary arts at Vassar College will celebrate art, dance, drama, film, literature, prose and poetry, and music of the 20th and 21st centuries.

All events are free and open to the public without charge (unless noted). No reservations are necessary, unless otherwise noted. All seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Note that all events are subject to change.

For additional information, call (845) 437-5370 or visit http://arts.vassar.edu.
January
Thursday, January 20
5:00pm   
Exhibition Opening and Presentation: Teen Visions, Words and Sounds
The opening reception for the annual exhibition of original artwork by over 50 students from the Mill Street Loft's Art Institute. Performance of music and original poetry follows and features high school students from Mill Street Loft's Art Institute and girls' empowerment programs, as well as Chaconne from the Stringendo Orchestra School of the Hudson Valley. Teen Visions ’11 is on view in the Palmer Gallery through February 3. Monday through Saturday, 9:00am to 6:00pm.
Main Building, College Center, James W. Palmer III Gallery and the North Atrium

Music Library Exhibition: Modfest 2011
The Vassar College Music Library presents an exhibition highlighting Modfest activities and musicians, curated by Sarah Canino, music librarian. On view through February 7. Open daily.
Skinner Hall of Music, first floor

Modfest at Late Night at the Lehman Loeb
Celebrate the re-opening of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center after a seven-month closure for roof repairs. The permanent collection has been re-installed in restored and reconfigured galleries designed to give the viewer a more complete picture of the Art Center’s holdings. Curators offer tours of the galleries at 6:00pm and 7:00pm.
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

Friday, January 21
8:00pm
Concert: Jazz and Rock
Vassar Jazz Combos and the Body Electric Afrofunk Band showcase a colorful variety of sub-genres of jazz and rock music. James Osborn, director for the jazz groups, and Luke Leavitt ’12, band leader.
Main Building, College Center, Villard Room

Saturday, January 22
8:00pm
Opera: Æthelred the Unready 
Richard Wilson's whimsical opera Æthelred The Unready tells of a blundering, henpecked Anglo-Saxon king ill-treated by history. “A droll meditation on failure . . . witty and oddly touching” (American Record Guide) “Joyously recommended” (New Music Connoisseur). Featuring Vassar's entire vocal faculty: Robert Osborne as Æthelred; Rachel Rosales, his nagging wife Emma; Mary Nessinger, Clio the Muse of History; James Ruff, her boyfriend - William of Malmesbury; and Christine Howlett as La Musica – the Spirit of Music and Clio’s assistant. Also in the cast are Nathan Carlisle and Curtis Streetman. Drew Minter directs; Richard Wilson conducts. Reservations requested. Tickets available at the the Campus Activities Information Desk beginning January 3. Visit the desk located in the College Center, Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 4:00pm, or email adwilson@vassar.edu
Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, Martel Theater

Sunday, January 23
3:00pm
Opera: Æthelred the Unready
Richard Wilson's comic opera with Drew Minter, director, and Richard Wilson, conductor. See January 22 for full description.
Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, Martel Theater

Monday, January 24
7:00pm
Drama: Der Jasager und der Neinsager / He Said Yes and He Said No
Two of Bertolt Brecht’s early short plays presented in German and in English by students in the German Studies class “Introduction to German Theater” taught by German studies professor Jeffrey Schneider.
Rose Parlor, Main Building

Tuesday, January 25
8:00pm
Opera: Æthelred the Unready 
Richard Wilson’s comic opera with Drew Minter, director, and Richard Wilson, conductor. See January 22 for full description. Admission charged. Tickets: $30; $20 for members, seniors, students, children. See the website, http://www.symphonyspace.org.
Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Symphony Space, New York City

Wednesday, January 26
4:00pm
Alumnae/i Music and Writing: W. K. Rose Fellowship Winners
Featuring the work of composer Jane Strong O'Leary ’68 and readings by two alumnae/i writers. This combined program—concert, reading, and discussion—spotlights past winners of the W.K. Rose Fellowship, awarded annually since 1970 to a Vassar graduate in the creative arts. With guest pianist Isabelle O’Connell playing a première of a solo piano piece by O’Leary and Vassar music faculty member, cellist Sophie Shao.
Villard Room, Main Building

Thursday, January 27
6:00pm
Modfest at Late Night at the Lehman Loeb
Opening of the exhibition 150 Years Later: New Photography by Tina Barney, Tim Davis, and Katherine Newbegin, curated by Mary-Kay Lombino. The Art Center commissioned the three photographers to create new work. The approximately 40 new works created for this exhibition uncover a side of Vassar that is not often seen by the average visitor to campus. On view through March 27, 2011.
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

Friday, January 28
8:00pm
Concert: Cygnus Ensemble
The New York-based contemporary group performs selections by Vassar composers from the past and the present. Music of previous members of the Vassar music department, Ernst Krenek, Robert Middleton, Annea Lockwood, and of current Vassar music faculty members Harold Meltzer, Jonathan Chenette, Peter McCulloch, and Richard Wilson.
Skinner Hall of Music

Saturday, January 29
11:00am
Open Rehearsal: Mahagonny Ensemble
Alumnus composer Robinson McClellan ’99 coaches the student-run contemporary group Mahagonny Ensemble, in the preparation of his newly composed work “Hudson Running.” Following the rehearsal, there is a lunch with an opportunity to speak with the composer.
Skinner Hall of Music

8:00pm
Concert: Orchestral and Chamber Ensembles
The Vassar College Orchestra, Mahagonny Ensembles, and student chamber music groups perform works by Moore, Muczynski, and Arnold, with a première of “Hudson Running” by Robinson McClellan ’99. Eduardo Navega, Will Healy ’12, Catherine O’Kelly ’11, conductors.
Skinner Hall of Music 

Sunday, January 30
3:00pm
Drama: Tower of Babel
Presentation of a modernized version of a popular folktale by language fellows from the foreign language departments. Performers speak in their native languages, with students providing English translations. Includes a première of a work by Sanger Clark ’11 by the Mahagonny Choir, conductor Catherine O’Kelly ’11. A reception follows. Directed by German studies language fellow Felix Dunker.
Main Building, Rose Parlor

Monday, January 31
8:00pm
Film Screening
Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) Stanley Kubrick director.  An unhinged United States Air Force general orders a first strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. Starring Peter Sellers and George C. Scott. Presented with commentary by film professor Mia Mask.
Chicago Hall, Foreign Language Resource Center
February
Tuesday, February 1
5:00pm
Vassar Bookstore Author Series
Hamid Dabashi discusses his most recent work, The World Is My Home, co-edited by Vassar political science professors Andrew Davison and Himadeep Muppidi. Professors Bush, Davison, and Muppidi join Dabashi in a discussion. Please note location change due to inclement weather.
Villard Room, Main Building, College Center

8:00pm
Foreign Film Screening
Nastroishchik/The Tuner (2004), Kira Muratova, director. A stylish and provocative film by Russia's foremost female director explores the matter-of-fact surrealism of modern life with its sexual obsessions, greed, scheming, and moral indifference, all of this with a delightful Chekhovian twist. With subtitles. Presented with commentary by Russian studies language fellow, Yulia Maltseva.
Foreign Language Resource Center, Chicago Hall

Wednesday, February 2
3:30pm
Presentation: Art, Dance, Music, and Words
Presentation of chamber music, dance, art, poetry and prose by students of the music, dance, art  and English departments. Hosted by music professor and dean of the faculty, Jonathan Chenette.
Main Building, College Center, Villard Room

Friday, February 4
8:00pm
VRDT Dance Performance
The Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre, John Meehan, director. Features selections from Larry Keigwin’s “Caffeinated” to music of Philip Glass; Steve Rook’s “Hidden Folk/Dance” to music of Lou Harrison; Kathy Wildberger’s “Redhawk” to music of Max Hershenow ’10; Miriam Mahdaviani’s “Between the Lines” to music of George Gershwin; Dan Buraczeski’s “Swing Suite” to music of Glenn Miller. For reservations, email dancetix@vassar.edu.
Kenyon Hall, Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater

Saturday, February 5
11:00am
Open Rehearsal: Mahagonny Ensemble
Features readings of new works by student composers Jesse Greenberg ’13, Alex Goldberg ’11, and Ryan Layman ’12. Will Healy ’12, conductor.
Skinner Hall of Music, Thekla Hall

Posted by Office of Communications Wednesday, December 15, 2010

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Print Room - Students & Public

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