Classical Instrumental Performance
Performance has been a longstanding emphasis of the BA music major at Bard College. Students who wish to concentrate their musical studies in performance areas of piano, strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion receive world-class guidance and teaching within the context of a liberal arts education. Additionally, while students may pursue training in solo, orchestral, and chamber music skills, the program is home to musicians who engage in a broad spectrum of styles, from the Baroque to the contemporary — including notated, aural, and improvisatory, together with the genres of jazz, rock, experimental, and electronic music.
The requirements for classical instrumental performance majors are:
- Lessons: a minimum of two semesters prior to Moderation, and each semester through completion of the Senior Project
- Workshops and Ensembles: two semesters prior to Moderation, and each semester thereafter—to include orchestra, as well as chamber music where applicable to the instrument
- Performances: Moderation and Senior Project
Moderation should consist of a 25-to-40-minute concert that presents a variety of the student’s musical strengths, together with program notes and an explanation of the student’s proposed plan for further study. The Senior Project should consist of two parts: two substantial concert programs (60 minutes of music), supported by program notes and brief introductions from the stage; or one such concert and one lecture recital. Additionally, a substantial (60–80 pages) research or analytical paper on an approved topic, overseen by an adviser, may be substituted for one of the two concerts.
Course work: By the time of graduation, all music majors are expected to have successfully completed three semesters of music theory and three semesters of music history, including at least one course at the 300 level or above. In addition, music majors are required to complete one class in composition or, with the approval of the Music Program director, 4 credits in an equivalent course involving musical creativity.
Classical Instrumental Performance Faculty
Luis Garcia-Renart is professor emeritus and visiting professor of music at Bard College. He has also served on the faculties of Vassar College, the Piatigorsky seminars at the University of Southern California, and Yale University’s summer programs in chamber music. Garcia-Renart’s “supreme gift as conductor is his ability to inspire and elicit depth of expression from all his musicians, whatever level of technical ability,” writes music critic Kitty Montgomery in the Daily Freeman. He was born in Barcelona, Spain, and studied at the Music School of the National University and the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico. From 1951 until 1956, his cello studies were supervised by Pablo Casals. He also studied directly with Casals in France and in Puerto Rico until 1960, when he won a scholarship to study at the Conservatory of Moscow with Rostropovich and Khachaturian. Garcia-Renart attended the conservatories of Bern and Basel, Switzerland, and Trossingen, Germany, where he was a pupil of Sándor Veress and Sándor Vegh. Prizes awarded Garcia-Renart include the Casals International Contests in Paris in 1956, Xalpa in 1959, and Israel in 1961. He also received the Harriet Cohen Cello Prize in London in 1959. He is the former music director of the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra (1962–2004). In addition to conducting, Garcia-Renart has performed as a soloist in recitals and chamber concerts nationally and abroad. He joined the Bard faculty in 1962.
A dedicated chamber musician, violist Marka Gustavsson has performed internationally in the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, the Philippines, China, and Japan. She has been a guest artist at the Bard Music Festival, Mostly Mozart, Vancouver’s Music in the Morning, the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, WQXR’s Showcase Concerts, Yale Faculty Artists’ Series, and Banff. Marka has premiered and recorded solo and chamber music of composers John Halle, Joan Tower, Kyle Gann, George Tsontakis, Yinam Leef, Martin Bresnick, Richard Wernick, Tania Leon, and Tan Dun. From 1999 through 2014, Marka served as violist of the Colorado Quartet, an award-winning string quartet, with whom she performed and recorded traditional and contemporary repertoire, from Beethoven’s Complete Quartets for Parnassus, to Laura Kaminsky’s Transformations. As a teacher, Gustavsson has given master classes at Yale, Eastman, Hartt, and Oberlin, and adjudicated competitions at Juilliard, Hartt, Yale, Astral Artists, and Banff. She has taught for several summers at the Yellow Barn YAP in Putney, Vermont. A graduate of Indiana University, Mannes College, and CUNY, her formative teachers include Joseph Gingold, Mimi Zweig, Felix Galimir, and Daniel Phillips. Gustavsson holds a position on the music faculty at Bard College and the Bard Conservatory of Music.
Described by the New York Times as “prodigiously accomplished and exciting” and as one of the piano’s “brilliant stars,” pianist Blair McMillen leads a life at the forefront of contemporary pianism. He has played concert halls and festivals around the world, and his repertoire spans from medieval manuscripts to today’s generation of up-and-coming composers. He has played concertos with the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and given solo appearances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Albany Symphony. In 2015 he undertook a three-week solo tour of Brazil sponsored by the U.S. State Department. McMillen is cofounder and codirector of the Rite of Summer Music Festival, an “indie-classical” outdoor concert series held on New York City’s Governors Island. He has served on the music faculty at Bard College since 2005, and he joined the faculty of the Mannes School of Music in 2017.
Zachary Schwartzman is a recipient of a career development grant from the Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation, and has conducted around the United States and in Brazil, Mexico, England, and Bosnia. His orchestral performances have been featured on NPR, including a national broadcast on Performance Today. He has served as assistant conductor for the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opera Atelier (Toronto), Berkshire Opera, Opera Français de New York, L’Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Gotham Chamber Opera, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Connecticut Grand Opera, Berkshire Opera, and Opera Omaha, among others. He was associate conductor for two seasons with the New York City Opera, as well as conductor in their VOX series, and has been associate/assistant conductor for 15 productions at Glimmerglass Opera, where he conducted performances of Carmen and Jeanine Tesori’s A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (world premiere). His credits as assistant conductor include recordings for Albany Records, Naxos Records, Bridge Records, Hyperion, and a Grammy-nominated world-premiere recording for Chandos Records. He was music director of the Blue Hill Troupe from 2004 to 2016 and is currently assistant conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. Since 2012 he has appeared as both assistant conductor and conductor at Bard SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival at The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. He was recently appointed resident conductor of The Orchestra Now and music director of the Bard College Community Orchestra.
Patricia Spencer enjoys a career full of historic highlights: her highly acclaimed New York premiere of the Elliott Carter flute concerto; her acclaimed U.S. premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kathinkas Gesang als Luzifers Requiem (staged scene for solo flute and electronic sounds); her Chinese premiere of Ge Gan-ru’s flute concerto, Fairy Lady “Meng Jiang”; her world premiere of Shulamit Ran’s flute concerto, Voices—the list goes on and on. Solo CDs on the Neuma label, and countless chamber music CDs with the Da Capo Chamber Players. Dozens of composers have written flute works for her, and the Da Capo ensemble boasts of more than 150 chamber music pieces written for them. About the Elliott Carter Flute Concerto: “Ms. Spencer’s impressive performance had all the ‘beautiful qualities’ and ‘extraordinary agility’ Mr. Carter could have asked for” (Anthony Tommasini, New York Times).
Erika Switzer is an internationally active pianist, teacher, and arts administrator. Heard on the stages of New York’s Weill Hall (Carnegie), Geffen Hall, Frick Collection, and Bargemusic, at the Kennedy Center, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Spoleto Festival (Charleston), the Bard Music Festival, and Stanford Live, she has also appeared across Canada at festivals including Vancouver’s Music on Main, Toronto’s Canadian Voices, and Ottawa’s ChamberFest. During her seven-year sojourn to Germany, she performed at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden and the Munich Winners & Masters series, and she won numerous awards, including best pianist prizes at the Robert Schumann, Hugo Wolf, and Wigmore Hall International Song Competitions. Devoted to the performance of new music, recent premieres include the 5 Boroughs Music Festival Songbook II (Matthew Aucoin, Jonathan Dawe, Evan Fein, Whitney George, Laura Kaminsky, Missy Mazzoli, Paola Prestini, Kamala Sankaram), the Brooklyn Art Song Society (Andrew Staniland), and Vancouver’s Music on Main (Jocelyn Morlock, Caroline Shaw). An upcoming recording release, English Songs à la Française, features her longstanding duo-partnership with baritone Tyler Duncan. Switzer is on the music faculty at Bard College and the Vocal Arts Program of the Bard Conservatory of Music, where her work centers on diction for singers, vocal coaching, and chamber music. She also has been on the faculty of several summer programs, including the Vancouver International Song Institute, the CoOPERAtive Program at Westminster Choir College, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar at Stanford. She received her doctorate from the Juilliard School. As cofounder of Sparks & Wiry Cries (sparksandwirycries.org), she contributes to the future of art song performance through publication of the Art Song Magazine, presentation of the Casement Fund Song Series in NYC, and the commission of new works.
Renee Anne Louprette
Hailed by The New York Times as “splendid,” and “one of New York’s finest organists,” Renée Anne Louprette has established an international career as organ recitalist, conductor, and teacher. She is associated with a number of distinguished music programs in the New York City area, having served as Associate Director of Music at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, Associate Director of Music and the Arts at Trinity Wall Street, Organist and Associate Director at the Unitarian Church of All Souls, and Director of Music at the Church of Notre Dame.
Upon receipt of a Master of Music degree in conducting from Bard College in May 2019, Ms. Louprette was appointed Assistant Professor of Music and College Organist at Bard. She continues as coordinator of the organ studio at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, where she has been University Organist since 2013. She is a former member of the organ faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, The Hartt School of the University of Hartford, and the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University.
As conductor, Ms. Louprette was selected as a fellow of the Mostly Modern Festival in 2019, premiering several new works with the New York-based American Modern Ensemble. She was co-conductor with Kent Tritle in the acclaimed U.S. premiere of John Tavener’s Requiem in 2009. In her over 20-year career as choral director, she has led performances by various professional choirs in the greater New York City area accompanied by members of The Orchestra Now, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Trinity Baroque Orchestra, and the American Brass Quintet, among other ensembles.
An active freelance keyboardist, Ms. Louprette has performed with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, Voices of Ascension, Clarion Music Society, American Symphony Orchestra, The Orchestra Now, The Dessoff Choirs, New York Choral Society, Oratorio Society of New York, and Piffaro. In New York City she has appeared in Carnegie, Zankel, Avery Fisher, Alice Tully, and Merkin Halls, and Miller Theatre of Columbia University. In 2015 she collaborated with the Los Angeles Dance Project in a performance of Nico Muhly’s Moving Parts at Verizon Hall of the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. The 2018-2019 season featured Ms. Louprette’s debut with the American Brass Quintet, continuing collaborations with Musica Viva NY and the Victoria Bach Festival under the leadership of conductor Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, and with traditional Irish musician Ivan Goff, including a recital at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles featuring the world premiere of a new work for uilleann pipes and organ by Eve Beglarian, commissioned for the Louprette-Goff duo by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Renée Anne Louprette has performed throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, including at Westminster Abbey and the Temple Church in London, St. Giles Cathedral Edinburgh and Dunblane Cathedral (Scotland), Galway Cathedral and Dún Laoghaire (Ireland). In 2018, she made her solo debuts at the Royal Festival Hall in London and the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.
Additional European festival appearances include Magadino, Switzerland; In Tempore Organi, Italy; Ghent and Hasselt, Belgium; Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark; Bordeaux Cathedral and Toulouse Les Orgues, France. She appeared as organ soloist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in Brisbane, Australia, in a performance of Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony broadcast live on ABC Radio. She regularly performs at regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists and has been featured at two national conventions: the 2010 Convention in Washington, D.C., and the 2014 Convention in Boston where she presented the world premiere of Pamela Decker’s Faneuil Hall. In July 2019, she presented a solo recital for the National Convention of the Organ Historical Society in Dallas, Texas.
Her recording of the “Great Eighteen Chorales” of J. S. Bach on the Metzler Organ in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge, England, was named a classical music Critics’ Choice 2014 by The New York Times. In February 2018, she released a recording of 20th-century French organ repertoire – “Une voix française – A French Voice” – on the Acis Productions label to critical acclaim. Her upcoming recordings include Bach’s Clavier-Übung III on the Acis label, recorded on the Craighead-Saunders organ of Christ Church, Rochester, New York, and a collaborative recording of original compositions and arrangements of traditional Irish repertoire with Ivan Goff, recorded at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City.
Renée Anne Louprette holds a Master’s degree in conducting from Bard College Conservatory where she studied conducting with James Bagwell and composition with Joan Tower, and a Bachelor of Music degree summa cum laude in piano performance and a Graduate Professional Diploma in organ performance from The Hartt School, University of Hartford. She was awarded a Premier Prix – mention très bien from the Conservatoire National de Région de Toulouse, France and a Diplôme Supérieur in organ performance from the Centre d’Études Supérieures de Musique et de Danse de Toulouse, studying with Michel Bouvard and Jan Willem Jansen and improvisation with Philippe Lefebvre. She completed additional studies in organ with Dame Gillian Weir, James David Christie, and Guy Bovet.