Skip to Main Content

Today's hours:

See all library hours »

  • Ask a Librarian
  • FAQ

ModFest 2017



3:30pm Music Words, Dance and Images


 A tradition since 2010, students of the Music, English, and Art Departments come together to present poetry, photography, and chamber music, featuring compositions by David Alpher, Jacques Ibert, and Derecskei Andras.  Villard Room, Main Building.

Internationally acclaimed composer, pianist, and recording artist David Alpher has enjoyed an active musical career for almost four decades. He co-founded, and for its first 10 years co-directed, the Rockport Chamber Music Festival (RCMF) in Massachusetts, now well into its third decade. At Rockport's 20th-anniversary celebration, David received a special citation for "enriching the cultural life of New England." In 2005, he founded The Chamber Arts Festival of Marbletown, where he serves as Artistic Director.

David has had a highly successful career as a pianist, collaborating with such distinguished artists as Marilyn Horne, Dawn Upshaw, Harolyn Blackwell, and Christopheren Nomura. An extended collaboration with Thomas Hampson, Jay Ungar, and Molly Mason produced the perennially popular 1992 CD, American Dreamer: Songs of Stephen Foster (Angel).  David's classical compositions have had multiple performances worldwide - his "listener-friendly" music has been compared to Bernstein's for its melody and "jazzy bite." Land of the Farther Suns, an idiosyncratic journey for narrator, four flutes and piano through ten Stephen Crane poems, has been recorded by Garrison Keillor and Flute Force on the Innova CD Eyewitness, with David at the piano. His compositions are published by Brixton Publications, New Boston Editions, Kripplebush Publishing Company, Michigan State University Press, and Friedrich Hofmeister Musikverlag.

A graduate with of Indiana University School of Music and New York University, David maintains a professional association with Vassar College.

Excerpted from: Accessed 1/5/17.


French composer, Jacques Ibert (François Antoine Marie) (Paris, 15 Aug. 1890; d Paris, 5 Feb 1962) studied at the Paris Conservatoire (1909–13) with Paul Vidal, 

Émile Pessard, and André Gedalge. His early orchestral works, notably the suite Escales (1922), are in a lush Impressionist style, but he was mainly known for pieces that display a witty frivolity, for example the Divertissement for small orchestra (1930) and the Flute Concerto. He also wrote a short operatic farce, Angélique (1927), and collaborated with Honegger on the opera L'Aiglon (1937).

Less well known are such pieces as the String Quartet, which shows a mastery and individuality of harmony and a more serious side to his musical personality. Ibert's professional career included periods as director of the French Academy in Rome (1937–60) and of the Paris Opéra (1955–6).

Paul Griffiths / Richard Langham Smith

Source: Accessed 1/5/17. Photo: Accessed 1/5/17.



András Derecskei was born in 1982 in Budapest in a musician family. In 2006 he gained a Violin degree with honours (Cum Laude) at the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy, Budapest. In 2009 he gained a Composition degree, in 2012 he gained a Conducting degree at the same place.
Since 2006 he was awarded with many prizes as composer and as an active musician as well. He participated a couple of mastercourses where his teachers were Péter Eötvös, Peter Rundel, Christian Wolff among many others.
András Derecskei’s music was played in several countries in the world, for example Austria, Germany, Italy, France, USA, Great Britain, Taiwan, Poland, Croatia, etc.


Source: Accessed 1/5/17.






Image result for image sine wave7:00pm Connecting Voices.


Artist Ann Daly will discuss her ongoing collaboration with Spanish musician Álvaro Marcos. Marcos has been instrumental in connecting Daly with the Madrid punk scene which experienced an explosive shift following Franco’s Death in 1975. The pair will be speaking about the nature of their creative collaboration and the many successes and challenges that come from solidarity building with strangers. This talk will be moderated by Professor of Music Justin Patch and Professor of Political Science Katherine Hite, who is collaborating with the artistic duo in her upcoming seminar, “The Politics of Memory.” Afterwards, workshop members will be invited to find their own collaborative partners for the semester to think about solidarity and collaboration at Vassar. Thinking to campus, community, national, and transnational conflict and movements–we hope this evening will provide insight on how creative activism can look at Vassar.  Old Bookstore, College Center.



Image result for image sine wave7:00pm Concert by the Vassar Ensembles.


The Vassar College Orchestra performs A Child’s London by Professor Emeritus Richard Wilson. The Madrigal Singers perform settings of Ubi caritas by Duruflé, Mealor, and GjeiloThere are some men by Philip Glass with text by Leonard Cohen, and Ysaye Barnwell’s Wanting Memories. Eduardo Navega, Drew Minter, conductors. Skinner Hall of Music. 



Philip Glass  (b Baltimore, 31 Jan 1937). American composer and performer. Along with Reich, Riley and Young, he was a principal figure in the establishment of minimalism in the 1960s. He has since become one of the most commercially successful, and critically reviled, composers of his generation.Excerpted from:>

Photo:  Accessed 1/22/2017.








Maurice Duruflé (b Louviers, 11 Jan 1902; d Paris, 16 June 1986). French composer and organist. Introspective and enormously self-critical, Duruflé was not a prolific composer. His output nonetheless manifests an evenness of quality and a distinctive voice in the 20th-century French repertory. Plainsong is the life-blood of most of his works but its use proves liberating rather than restrictive, inspiring modal harmonies, polyphonic structures and, often, changes of mood ranging from the ethereal to the powerfully foreboding.

Excerpted from: Photo: Accessed 1/22/2017.


Ola Gjeilo (pronounced Yay-lo) is one of the most frequently performed composers in the choral world. An accomplished pianist, improvisations over his own published choral pieces have become a trademark of his collaborations across the world. Ola Gjeilo was born in Norway in 1978, and moved to the United States in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York City. He is currently composer-in-residence with Voces8 and DCINY.  Although Norwegian by birth, it is perhaps Ola’s adopted country of America that has influenced the composer’s distinctive soundworld the most, evolving a style that is both contemporary and familiar; thick harmonies and rich textures recall film score – music that forms a major part of the composer’s inspiration.

Excerpted from :  Photo: Accessed 1/22/2017.


The music of Paul Mealor has rapidly entered the repertoire of choirs and singers around the world; his music has been described as having, ‘serene beauty, fastidious craftsmanship and architectural assuredness… Music of deep spiritual searching that always asks questions, offers answers and fills the listener with hope…’. Mealor was catapulted to international attention when 2.5 billion people heard his motet, Ubi caritas, performed at the Royal Wedding Ceremony of His Royal Highness Prince William and Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey, 29th April 2011. Mealor studied composition privately from an early age with John Pickard, at the University of York with Nicola LeFanu (1994-2002) and in Copenhagen with Hans Abrahamsen (1998-99). Since 2003 he has taught at the University of Aberdeen, where he is currently Professor in Composition, and has held visiting professorships in composition at institutions in Scandinavia and the United States.

Excerpted from: Accessed 1/22/2017.




Ysaye M. Barnwell, Ph.D. MSPH, is a commissioned composer, arranger, author, actress and former member of the African American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock. She is a vocalist with a range of over three octaves and appears on more than twenty-five recordings with Sweet Honey as well as other artists.


For almost thirty years, and on three continents, Barnwell has led the workshop Building a Vocal Community - Singing In the African American Tradition, which utilizes oral tradition, an African world view and African American history, values, cultural and vocal traditions to build communities of song among singers and non-singers alike. Her pedagogy is highly respected among musicians, educators, health workers, activists, organizers, and members of the corporate and non-profit sectors.

Excerpted from: Accessed 1/22/2017.






Image result for image sine wave8:30pm Cabaret Night.


Students from the Music Department perform classics from the American Songbook. An intimate exploration of songs by the Gershwins, Ellington, Porter, Sondheim, Berlin, Bolcom, Ahrens and Flaherty, Stephen Schwartz, and more. David Alpher, piano and Jennie Litt, director.  Skinner Hall of Music.


The husband-and-wife cabaret and songwriting team of David Alpher (pianist/composer) and Jennie Litt (singer/lyricist) started performing together on their very first date, which they spent singing and playing great songs by Gershwin, Berlin, Rodgers, and Porter in a cabin in the New Hampshire woods.

Since then, they have appeared in numerous venues in the northeast and beyond, including the 2005, 2006, and 2007 seasons of The Chamber Arts Festival of Marbletown (with Jay Ungar & Molly MasonPoets of Tin Pan Alley author Philip Furia; and Celtic powerhouse trio Ferintosh, respectively), the Rockport Chamber Music Festival, Bard College, Harvard University, The Albany Institute of History & Art, The People's Voice Café (NYC), The MacDowell Colony, and The Millay Colony.

Recently hailed as "among the premier cabaret acts," and a "perfect musical ensemble," Litt and Alpher have delighted audiences with cabaret shows that offer in-depth explorations of the Great American Songbook.   


Excerpted from: Accessed 1/10/15.



Image result for image sine wave3:00pm Raising Voices: An Afternoon with Audra McDonald.


Audra McDonald, soprano, Mia Mask, Professor of Film on the Mary Riepman Ross ’32 Chair. Broadway superstar Audra McDonald visits Vassar for an afternoon of music and reflection. The versatile National Medal of Arts winner is one of the country’s most decorated performers, and her vast talent, insight, wit, and outspokenness about the human condition make her a beloved figure to a wide audience. Ms. McDonald will perform some of her favorite works with music director, Andy Einhorn, and later sit down with faculty member, Mia Mask, for a conversation on some of her most passionate causes.  Skinner Hall of Music.


Please note: This is a reserved seating program. Online reservations are required. Visit the Music Department website for additional information.


Audra bio photoAudra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry, as both a singer and an actress. With a record six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, and a long list of other accolades to her name, she is among today’s most highly regarded performers. Blessed with a luminous soprano and an incomparable gift for dramatic truth telling, she is as much at home on Broadway and opera stages as she is in roles on film and television. In addition to her theatrical work, she maintains a major career as a concert and recording artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world.

Read more about her remarkable career at:

In addition to her professional obligations, McDonald is a passionate advocate for equal rights, LGBTQ causes, and underprivileged youth. In 2014, she joined the Covenant House International Board of Directors, which oversees programs for homeless young people in 27 cities in six countries across the United States, Canada, and Latin America. McDonald’s outspoken activism for marriage equality helped put the issue on the national agenda. In 2009, she joined Twitter to promote the cause, using the Twitter handle @AudraEqualityMc, and in 2011 she joined Mario Batali and other pro-equality marchers in Albany to lobby New York state senators in the days leading up their groundbreaking vote for legalization. McDonald was featured in marriage equality and anti-bullying campaigns for Freedom to Marry, NOH8, and PFLAG NYC. In 2012, she and her now husband, actor Will Swenson, received PFLAG National’s Straight for Equality Award. A dog lover, she has two canine companions, Butler and Georgia, adopted from Eleventh Hour Rescue, a volunteer-based, non-profit organization that saves dogs from death row. Of all her many roles, her favorites are the ones performed out of the public eye: wife to actor Will Swenson, and mother to their growing family.     

Excerpted from: Accessed 1/17/17.


Leading Broadway music director and conductor, Andy Einhorn, directs concerts in the 16/17 season with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Tucson Symphony and the Fresno Philharmonic. In April 2017 he will conduct Bette Midler in the new Broadway production of Hello Dolly! Einhorn’s Broadway credits include Holiday Inn, Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Evita, Brief Encounter, The Light in the Piazza, and Sondheim on Sondheim. He recently served as music director and conductor for the Châtelet Theatre’s production of Sondheim’s Passion in Paris and in April 2016 Einhorn made his New York Philharmonic debut with world-renowned trumpeter Chris Botti.


Excerpted from: Accessed 1/6/17. Photo: Bill Westmoreland.