The arts as we knew it was transformed in March 2020 as theaters and concert halls across the globe began to shut their doors. Nearly a year later, the COVID-19 pandemic is preventing Vassar from staging Modfest, its annual celebration of the arts, in person, but the show will go on as “Radical Imagination,” a series of virtual events available online from January 28 through February 7. Visit music.vassar.edu/concerts for event links.
Tom Pacio, Vassar’s Director of Creative Arts, said that while this year’s Modfest will have fewer events than usual, he was confident that it would provide programming of genuine interest to the Vassar community and beyond. “Modfest 2021 includes honored traditions, new innovations, and bold conversations that we think will resonate with our audience,” Pacio said. “We look forward to the time when we can all be together to listen to live music, to watch dancers perform, and to enjoy the visual arts in person. That said, we are proud to offer these events, not as substitutions for something better, but as creative and important alternatives we hope to integrate in years to come. “
“A Face for Radio Video Series,” with WAMC’s Sarah LaDuke, will be available online from January 28 through February 7 via Instagram live (https://www.instagram.com/wamcradio). LaDuke will interview artists and faculty participating in this year’s Modfest as well as check in with the staff of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center during “Late Night at the Loeb.” And she will give audiences a preview of what is to come and speak with other participants. Those events include:
Chris Burney from New York Stage & Film will preview the Powerhouse Theater event Mexodus, a musical inspired by the estimated 4,000 to 10,000 enslaved people in the Southern part of the United States who pursued a journey into Mexico instead of looking north.
- Drew Minter of Vassar’s Music Department will discuss how imagination has shaped his teaching and practices as an artist during the pandemic as he reflects on the fall semester and his process for preparing for an upcoming virtual cabaret.
- Andre Bouchard of Indigenous Performances Productions will discuss how the Frances Lehman Loeb Art enter will engage with more native artists and host an indigenous artists panel that will take place on February 4, as well as a visit later in the semester by Delanna Studi and her devised play, And So We Walked.
- A representative of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center will discuss the upcoming exhibition, Women Picturing Women: From Personal Spaces to Public Ventures that will run February 6 through June 13.
- On February 6 at 7:00 p.m., the Grammy Award-winning Attacca Quartet will record its performance of “Innovative Textures” at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in downtown Poughkeepsie. The performance may be viewed online and will be followed by a live question-and-answer session in which the performers will talk about their experience as professional musicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With theaters and concert halls closed to the public, we've seen an outpouring of virtual content from modest performances streamed through a cell phone to beautifully crafted films that are often streamed for free,” said Professor of Music Christine Howlett. “Some of the questions we will ask at this event will include: ‘What can we do as musicians and patrons to sustain the arts in this country? How will this pandemic change how we experience art going forward? What have we learned that we may keep long term? What changes will performers make to ensure their careers are sustainable? Will audiences feel comfortable coming back to traditional concert and theater venues? Or will this encourage new, unfamiliar performance venues?”
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