October 29, 2014—Longy School of Music of Bard College today announced the formation of a unique training orchestra that provides a Master of Music degree, newly approved by the State of New York and is designed to prepare them for the mounting challenges facing today’s orchestra players. The training orchestra, recruited from the finest postgraduate musicians, will offer advanced orchestral and leadership training and grant a Master of Music degree in Curatorial, Critical and Performance Studies. All applicants accepted into the three-year degree program will receive a fellowship, which includes the full expense of tuition as well as an annual stipend. Applications are now being accepted. The orchestra will begin performing during the 2015-16 academic year.
The orchestra, yet to be named, will be based in New York City and will have a roster of conductors that includes James Conlon, Music Director of the Los Angeles Opera; JoAnn Falletta, Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Adam Fischer, Music Director of the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra and the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; and James Bagwell, Principal Guest Conductor of The American Symphony Orchestra. Bard College President Leon Botstein, Music Director of The American Symphony Orchestra, will assume artistic leadership. The faculty will consist of professors and teachers from Bard College and Longy School of Music as well as eminent guest instructors.
Maestro Botstein compares the idea of a training orchestra with the tradition of medical education, in which doctors earn real-life experience before assuming a permanent post or practice. “As in medicine,” he said, “this is a partnership between a professional discipline and the university and can be a viable model for a sustainable future for the American orchestra.”
The participants in the program will experience the full range of the orchestra musician’s life and work, including concerts in and around New York City and Boston, as well as touring and recording. In addition, they will design community engagement projects and partner with El Sistema-inspired music programs in the New York metropolitan area. The curriculum is designed to encourage program participants to grapple with today’s changing musical landscape and think critically about the role of orchestras and musicians in society.
“The highest artistic standards alone are no longer enough to keep orchestras vibrant. This program will spark new thinking and attract those musicians who see opportunity in these uncertain times,” said Longy President Karen Zorn. “At the heart of our teaching philosophy is student involvement in every aspect of 21st-century orchestral life. Through this training, top-tier musicians can become the entrepreneurs, leaders, and teachers who shape the future of classical music.”