Before she became artistic director of Da Camera of Houston in 1994, pianist Sarah Rothenberg was a founding co-director of the Bard Music Festival, dedicated to the rediscovery of neglected musical masterpieces and reexamining the works of great composers within the broader cultural, historical and political contexts of their times and places. It’s a winning formula that has made the Bard campus an A-list summer destination for the intelligentsia of the Hudson Valley, the New York City metro area and way beyond.
Nowadays, in addition to her international touring as a concert and chamber pianist (she’s a former member of the renowned Da Capo Chamber Players), Rothenberg is known for taking the same sort of cross-disciplinary approach to the works of underappreciated composers in Houston. She has given premières of more than 75 works by such contemporary composers as Nicholas Maw, George Perle, Joan Tower, Shulamit Ran, Gunther Schuller, George Tsontakis and Charles Wuorinen, as well as reintroduced works by Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, Alexander Mosolov, Nikolai Roslavetz, Arthur Lourié and early piano pieces by Arnold Schoenberg, either in concert or on recordings. As she was at Bard, Rothenberg is still committed to pairing musical compositions with works of literature, dance and/or the visual arts from the composer’s own country and era, such as a concert interspersing works by Chopin with readings from Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil.
The latest of her multidisciplinary undertakings is called the Marcel Proust Project, which combines performances of music by Fauré, Franck, Saint-Saëns, Reynaldo Hahn, Leon Delafosse, Debussy, Chopin and Ravel with readings from Proust’s masterpiece, À la recherche du temps perdu and the memoirs of his housekeeper, Celeste Albaret; video projections, stage and costume designs are inspired by paintings from fin-de-siècle Paris. The Marcel Proust Project will receive its official world premiere in Houston this February. But first it’s being workshopped in New York this month: at 3 Legged Dog in lower Manhattan and, this Sunday, at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on the Bard campus in Annandale-on-Hudson.
The performance of this work-in-progress, beginning at 12 noon on Sunday, January 24 in the LUMA Theater, will feature tenor Nicholas Phan, violinist Boson Mo and actor Henry Stram. Rothenberg directs, with set and costume design by Marina Draghici, lighting design by Jennifer Tipton and projection and video design by Hannah Wasileski. Admission is free, but reservations are required. Tickets can be reserved by contacting the Fisher Center box office at (845) 758-7900 or visiting https://fishercenter.bard.edu.