Modfest at Vassar

Ensemble Mik Nawooj (EMN) (photo by Pat Mazzera)

Vassar’s modern serious music festival Modfest serves up nearly two weeks of thematically connected music, lectures, films and more in venues around the Vassar campus and – for the first time this year – off-campus as well. Now in its 17th year, Modfests’ 2019 theme is “In Motion.” The participating artists will explore movement in its many forms: from simply discovering what moves to reflecting on the meaning of motion to actively being present in the moment. Modfest takes place between January 31 and February 10.

Marquee events include acclaimed cellist Joshua Roman and the JACK Quartet performing Roman’s own Tornado Quartet on Sunday, February 10 at 3 p.m. at the Skinner Hall of Music. In his quartet, the native Oklahoman uses chaotic string textures to conjure the imagery of tornado season. Also in Skinner Hall, on Saturday, February 2 at 8 p.m., the Attacca Quartet premieres Richard Wilson’s String Quartet No.6 and perfroms Gabriella Smith’s Carrot Revolution.

On Saturday, February 4 at 8 p.m., the innovative hip-hop orchestra Ensemble Mik Nawooj (EMN) performs off-campus at the restored Poughkeepsie Trolley Barn at 489 Main Street. Led by classically trained composer/pianist JooWan Kim, EMN features emcees/lyricists Do DAT and Sandman, accompanied by winds, strings, drums and soprano. EMN injects classical compositional techniques into hip-hop favorites and original music.


On Thursday, January 31 at 6:30 p.m., Modfest 2019 opens with a reception in the Frances Lehman Loeb Arts Center and a performance by the Vassar College Women’s Chorus, featuring Its Motion Keeps by Pulitzer Prizewinning composer Caroline Shaw. Other festival events include panel discussions, multimedia installations and film screenings. For the complete schedule of Modfest events, visit