Charles Loring Elliott, Portrait of Matthew Vassar, 1861

In the News

Eighth annual Modfest at Vassar College celebrates the arts of the 20th and 21st centuries, January 21 - February 7, 2010.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—The eighth annual Modfest, a celebration of new music, dance, drama, film, literature, poetry, and the visual arts at Vassar College, will feature 30 events at various locations across the Poughkeepsie campus from January 21 through February 7, 2010. Programs and events will be open to the public without charge.
“The events this year have been devised to explore all aspects of the creative process,” noted Modfest founders and directors Richard Wilson and Adene Wilson ’69. This year’s events will span creative ages – throughout the arts – with the opening program featuring area high school students and the closing program featuring Vassar alumnae/i. The Modfest performers will include Vassar student vocal and instrumental ensembles, dancers, poets, filmmakers; Vassar faculty and guest artists; as well as high school student artists, poets, and musicians from the Poughkeepsie community.
Among the many highlights this year will be a concert featuring music by Milton Babbitt who, at age 93, is one of the pivotal figures in American classical music of the 20th century. Babbitt’s many compositions include six string quartets, two piano concertos, and works combining voice with synthesized sound and instruments. “A pioneer in the field of electronic music, Milton is equally innovative in his extensions of the twelve-tone technique to non-pitch aspects of music,” noted Modfest director Richard Wilson.

Please note that the public conversation with Babbitt and Wilson will not take place. In a 19 January email statement, Wilson advised: "With great regret Milton Babbitt has informed us that he will not be able to make the trip to Vassar on Sunday, January 24.  Consequently, the public conversation at 2:00pm is cancelled.  The concert by Argento Ensemble, which includes three of Mr. Babbitt’s works, will take place at 3:00pm as scheduled."

The avant-garde jazz virtuoso and a Poughkeepsie resident since his childhood, Joe McPhee will have an evening devoted to his artistry. In demand across Europe and America, he has for 37 years, and on more than 60 recordings, made exciting, expressive, and explosive sounds on sax, trumpet, pocket trumpet, valve trombone, piano, and electronics. Electronics virtuoso Richard Teitelbaum and percussionist Thurman Barker will join McPhee in a concert "Six Improvisation 1-23-10," that will feature dedications to Anthony Braxton, Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, Nikola Tesla, Conlon Nancarrow, and Alton Pickens, among others.
A mini film festival will be held throughout Modfest with screenings of foreign films with commentary by representatives from the foreign language departments and programs at the college. In addition, films by two recent graduates from the class of 2009 will be screened, with commentary by Vassar professor James Steerman.
There will be several events at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center – including special concerts offered during the Late Night at the Lehman Loeb program, an informal luncheon lecture in the galleries, and the first Art Center and Modfest Poetry Invitational. Some of the events will be held in conjunction with the installation Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall, including recitals by violist and composer Adrienne Elisha of her new work Circle Voices.
The Department of Music will present faculty and student ensemble concerts – as well as those by guest artists McPhee; the Biava Quartet, an exciting young ensemble performing the premiere of Richard Wilson’s String Quartet No. 5; and the Argento Ensemble, who will perform works by Babbitt and Vassar composers Harold Meltzer and Jonathan Chenette.
New choreography will be featured in the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre’s performance of selections from Stephen Rooks’ The Griot Dance. This extended dance work, informed by the culture and music of Africa, will feature music by Vassar adjunct artist Howard Kilik. A new dramatic work (title to be announced) will be performed by the student-run Woodshed Ensemble.

Several authors will read from and discuss their recent works, including Vassar alumna Dorothy Lamb Crawford ’54 whose A Windfall of Musicians: Hitler's Émigrés and Exiles in Southern California is an “engaging study, based in the main on survivor interviews and documentary archives.” Norman Lebrecht in his Wall Street Journal review of the book went on to say that Crawford “brings a physical familiarity to her narrative and a keen eye for poignant detail, the shock of the new.”
The final program will spotlight the work of Vassar alumnae/i from the fields of fiction, poetry, painting, sculpture, film, music composition who are W. K. Rose Fellows, and will mark the beginning of an annual series of events at Modfest. The W. K. Rose Fellowship has been awarded each year since 1970 to a creative artist — now numbering 47 recipients. Each year during Modfest, selected past fellowship recipients will discuss and present their work, through exhibitions, readings, and recitals.
“Our goal in establishing Modfest was to highlight and celebrate the modern and contemporary arts,” noted the Wilsons. “Each year, we’ve been able to add to the programs and participation across the campus. We are quite pleased to have so many alumnae/i returning this year to the annual celebration. Our goal has been to offer the campus and the greater Hudson Valley community a chance to sample a variety of programs and performers each year.”

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. The programming 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.
This year Modfest 2010 is organized by 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 and Self-Instructional Language, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, and the Vassar College Bookstore.
As Modfest is a campus-wide celebration, 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, Students’ Building, and the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film. A detailed schedule of the 30 events is 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
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Detailed Schedule of Modfest Events

All events are open to the public without charge.

Thursday, January 21            
Modfest Exhibition and Presentation: Teen Visions, Words, and Sounds
Teen Visions ’10, an exhibit of original artwork followed by performances of music and original poetry (on view through February 3). Features high school students from Mill Street Loft's Art Institute and girls empowerment program, as well as the Cappella Festiva Treble Choir and Stringendo ensemble.
James W. Palmer III Gallery and the North Atrium, Main Building, College Center
Modfest Music Library Exhibition
The Vassar College Music Library presents an exhibition highlighting Modfest 2010 activities and musicians, curated by Sarah Canino, music librarian. On view through February 7. Open daily.
First floor, Skinner Hall of Music
Art Center and Modfest Poetry Invitational
Selected works in the Art Center's Twentieth Century Galleries are accompanied by poems inspired by them and written for the first Art Center and Modfest Poetry Invitational. On view through February 7. Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00am to 5:00pm; Thursday from 10:00am to 9:00pm; and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00pm.
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
Friday, January 22
Modfest Concert: Biava Quartet
The Biava Quartet, an exciting young ensemble, performs music of Ginastera, Schoenberg and the premiere of Richard Wilson’s String Quartet No. 5.
Skinner Hall of Music
Saturday, January 23
Modfest Discussion: Sound Design for Theater
Sound designer and alumnus Fitz Patton ’88 discusses the process of matching sound and music to dramatic purpose.
Thekla Hall, Room 400, Skinner Hall of Music
Modfest Alumni Film Screening
Three films by two Vassar alumni from the class of 2009: Till the Cows Come Home, directed by Ben Rutkowski; Baller Education and Dot, both directed by Eliot Weisberg. Presented with commentary by James Steerman, playwright and professor of drama and film at Vassar College.
Rosenwald Film Theater, Room 109, Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film
Modfest Concert: Jazz with Joe McPhee and Friends
Noted saxophone and trumpet virtuoso Joe McPhee performs with Richard Teitelbaum, electronics and piano, and Thurman Barker, percussion.
Skinner Hall of Music
Sunday, January 24
Modfest Concert: Argento Ensemble
The Argento Ensemble, a six-member chamber group, performs music of Milton Babbitt and of Vassar music faculty members Harold Meltzer and Jonathan Chenette.
Skinner Hall of Music
Monday, January 25
Modfest Foreign Film Screening
Toto the Hero, Jaco Van Dormael, director (1991). A Belgian film (co-producers from France and Germany), presented with commentary by Kathleen Hart, chair of the Department of French and Francophone Studies.
Foreign Language Resource Center, Chicago Hall
Tuesday, January 26
Modfest Foreign Film Screening
Zerkalo / The Mirror, Andrei Tarkovsky, director (1974). This Russian film never had an official premiere and had only a limited, second category release with just 73 copies. Its complex yet simultaneously simple structure makes The Mirror one of Tarkovsky's most difficult films, as well as his most personal. Presented with commentary by Daria Kuznetsova, language fellow for Russian Studies.
Foreign Language Resource Center, Chicago Hall
Wednesday, January 27
Modfest Readings: Translation as an Art
Readings of Arabic, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish poems in their original tongue and of their translations made by Vassar students. Includes performance of music by the Mahagonny Choral Ensemble, a student-run contemporary group, Catherine O’Kelly ’11, conductor. Hosted by Kathleen Hart, chair of the Department of French and Francophone Studies. Presented by the departments and programs of foreign language study at Vassar.
Villard Room, Main Building
Thursday, January 28
Modfest Vassar Bookstore Writers Circle
Individuals from the community share their writings. Please sign up in advance at the bookstore or call (845) 437-5870 to secure a spot to read your work-in-progress during this "open mic" session.
Vassar College Bookstore, Main Building, College Center
Modfest: Art and Music for Late Night at the Lehman Loeb
Recital featuring “Why Patterns?” for flute, piano, and glockenspiel (1978) by Morton Feldman, and “Ursonate” for speaker (1922-32) by Kurt Schwitters, with Vassar faculty members John Solum, speaker and flute, and Todd Crow, piano, as well as Alex Goldberg ’11, percussion.
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
Friday, January 29

Modfest Documentary Film Screening
A discussion by the artist about his new installation, Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall, precedes a screening of  Woven Walls: The Movie, a documentary by Katie Hickman '08 about the artist’s 2008 work.
Taylor Hall, Room 102
Modfest: Performance and Exhibition Opening Reception
Adrienne Elisha, composer and violist, debuts her new musical composition, Circle Voices, inspired by Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall.
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
Saturday, January 30
Modfest Open Rehearsal: Mahagonny Ensemble
Alumnus composer Nathan Hall ’04 coaches the student-run contemporary group Mahagonny Ensemble, in the preparation of Hall’s new work, "Dark Interval." 
Skinner Hall of Music
Modfest Drama: Woodshed Theater Ensemble
Staged dramatic reading by the Woodshed Theater Ensemble, a Vassar student-run performance group.
Rose Parlor, Main Building
Modfest Concert: Orchestral and Vocal Ensembles
The Vassar College Orchestra, Mahagonny Ensemble, Vassar College Women's Chorus, and the Vassar College Choir, accompanied by the Botticelli Chamber Orchestra, perform music of Nathan Hall '04, Tarik O'Regan, and the world premiere of “Free, Fearless, and Female” for Women's Chorus by Libby Larsen. Music faculty Christine R. Howlett and Eduardo Navega, as well as Mark Van Hare '10, conductors.
Skinner Hall of Music
Sunday, January 31
Modfest Presentation: Art, Music, and Poetry
Recital and poetry readings by students of the Music and English Departments, with an exhibition of art and photography by students of the Department of Art. Hosted by Jonathan Chenette, dean of the faculty.
Villard Room, Main Building

Monday, February 1
Modfest Foreign Film Screening
Meghe Dhaka Tara / The Cloud-Capped Star, Ritwik Ghatak, director (1960). This Indian film about a refugee family is set in Calcutta in the late 1950s and deals with the effects of the India-Pakistan Partition. Presented with commentary by film professor Sophia Siddique Harvey.
Foreign Language Resource Center, Chicago Hall
Tuesday, February 2
Modfest at The Artful Dodger: A Lunchtime Lecture Series
A relaxed and informal presentation by Jonathan Chenette, dean of the faculty, who shares his personal experience and interpretation of a specific work from the Art Center’s permanent collection.
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
Modfest Foreign Film Screening
Hangmen Also Die, directed by Fritz Lang, story by Bertholt Brecht and Lang, music by Hanns Eisler (1943). The creative team was part of a group of German exiles and émigrés who lived in southern California in the 1940s. With commentary by music professor Michael Pisani and German Studies professor Elliott Schreiber.
Taylor Hall, Room 203
Wednesday, February 3
Modfest Alumna Author Talk
Dorothy Lamb Crawford ’54 discusses her recent book A Windfall of Musicians: Hitler's Émigrés and Exiles in Southern California. [Note February 2 screening of Hangmen Also Die.] Jointly sponsored by the Departments of Music and German Studies.
Thekla Hall, Room 400, Skinner Hall of Music
Thursday, February 4
Modfest Art and Music for Late Night at the Lehman Loeb
Performance by composer and violist Adrienne Elisha of “Circle Voices,” a work inspired by Harry Roseman: Hole in the Wall.
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
Friday, February 5
Modfest Vassar Bookstore Faculty Author Series
Russian Studies professor Alexis Klimoff discusses his recent book, The Soul and Barbed Wire: An Introduction to Solzhenitzyn, about the famous Russian novelist, historian, and essayist.
Vassar College Bookstore, Main Building, College Center
Modfest VRDT Dance Performance
The Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre, John Meehan, director. Performance features selections from The Griot Dance, choreographed by Department of Dance chair Stephen Rooks, with music by Vassar adjunct artist Howard Kilik. For reservations, email
Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater, Kenyon Hall
Saturday, February 6
Modfest Open Rehearsal: Mahagonny Ensemble
Features new works by student composers, Will Healy ’12, Toru Momii ’11, and Cooper Troxell ’11.  Mark Van Hare ’10, conductor.
Thekla Hall, Room 400, Skinner Hall of Music
Modfest Vassar Bookstore Alumnae/i Author Series
Vanessa Camilleri ’95, editor of the book Healing the Inner City Child: Creative Arts Therapies with At-Risk Youth, discusses her work.
Vassar College Bookstore, Main Building, College Center                          
Concert: Vassar Jazz Ensemble
The Vassar Jazz Ensemble, Jim Osborn, conductor, showcase a colorful variety of sub-genres of jazz music.
Second Floor, Students’ Building
Sunday, February 7
Modfest Alumnae/i Music, Art, and Writing: W. K. Rose Fellowship Winners
Featuring the work of composer Jonathan Elliott ’84; painters Eleanor Daniels ’66 and Katherine Mangiardi ’04, the earliest and most recent recipients in visual art; and writers Ralph Sassone ‘83 and Kate Brattin ‘07. This combined concert, reading, discussion, and presentation of spotlight past winners of the W.K. Rose Fellowship, awarded annually to a Vassar graduate in the creative arts since 1970.
Villard Room, Main Building
Modfest W. K. Rose Exhibition Opening Reception
An exhibition celebrating the artwork of Eleanor Daniels ’66 and Katherine Mangiardi ’04—the earliest and most recent recipients in visual art. The exhibition is on view through February 20.
James W. Palmer III Gallery, Main Building, College Center

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Mon Closed
Tue 10am-5pm
Wed 10am-5pm
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Fri 10am-5pm
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Sun 1pm-5pm

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Print Room - Students & Public

Wed 3pm-5pm
Fri 2pm-4pm

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The Art Center stays open late Thursdays 5-9pm. Enjoy extended gallery hours in an enlivened atmosphere with creative happenings every week.


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The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

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Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
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