For Immediate Release

Bard Music West Announces Inaugural Festival
"The World of György Ligeti"


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Three programs and a talk on March 17 and 18 at San Francisco’s Noe Valley Ministry offer an in-depth exploration of Hungarian composer György Ligeti (19232006), including his music, influences, and legacy.

Bard Music West is a project of the Bard Music Festival, the critically-acclaimed Hudson Valley summer festival of Bard College which has examined the life, influences, and music of a single composer each year since 1990.

January 20, 2017 (San Francisco) — On March 17 and 18, Bard Music West presents its inaugural festival, The World of György Ligeti, a thrilling sonic exploration of the brilliant Hungarian composer whose works became most widely known through the films of Stanley Kubrick.

Listeners will encounter some of Ligeti’s most stunning compositions—including his dazzling Piano Études, Lux aeterna for a capella chorus, Poéme Symphonique for 100 metronomes, and his late Sonata for Viola—alongside Transylvanian folk tunes, music by the composer’s son Lukas Ligeti and his student Roberto Sierra, and a world premiere commission from Luna Pearl Woolf set to Beckett’s absurdist play Act Without Words I. The festival will include three concerts and a talk, connecting the world of Ligeti to our world of today.

Bard Music West is a project of the Bard Music Festival, the summer classical music destination at Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley, which has examined the life, influences, and music of a single composer each year since 1990. Bard Music West, which takes place this year at the Noe Valley Ministry in San Francisco, will explore the music and influences of 20th-century and contemporary composers—a modern twist on the Bard Music Festival concept for the Bay Area.

San Francisco-based pianist and Bard College alumna Allegra Chapman is the artistic and executive director of Bard Music West. “My co-founder Laura Gaynon and I are thrilled to launch Bard Music West, delving into the mind of the incredible composer György Ligeti,” said Chapman. “We created this festival out of a desire to explore modern music in context as part of a continuum connecting past, present, and future. There aren’t many places that look at the music and influences of contemporary and recent composers in depth. For our first annual festival, we’re offering many different ways into Ligeti’s music and we can’t wait to join our audience in discovering his wild and vital world.”

Performers for the 2017 festival include Lucille Chung, whose recording of Ligeti’s complete piano music was described by Gramophone as an “outstanding recording of Ligeti’s artistic evolution … to dazzle, provoke, and delight.” Other artists include rising star violinist and violist Luosha Fang, as well as Volti, San Francisco’s premiere new music chorus. Mark Streshinsky, general director of West Edge Opera, will stage Beckett’s Act Without Words I—a mime play that fascinated Ligeti—with a newly commissioned score by Woolf. The festival audience will also perform in a participatory adaptation of Ligeti’s Poéme Symphonique for 100 mobile phone metronomes.

György Ligeti was born in 1923 to a Hungarian Jewish family in Transylvania and became one of the leading composers of the late 20th century. Upon his death in 2006, he was eulogized in the international press as a pioneering, innovative composer of indisputable importance. He was one of few late 20th-century composers who pushed the boundaries of classical music while also being of genuine interest to the general public. In the increasingly academicized compositional landscape of postwar Europe, Ligeti was a singular figure: a composer with a voice and an evolving style across a lifetime, a man alone, beholden to no school or “-ism.”

But Ligeti was also an artistic omnivore, drawing inspiration from other composers—from Karlheinz Stockhausen in Darmstadt to the California minimalism of Steve Reich and Terry Riley—as well as from folk and indigenous music from around the world. He loved the Beatles. He listened to jazz. He read Kafka, Ionesco, and Beckett, and studied fractal geometry and chaos theory.

His music, in turn, was picked up by the popular culture—most recognizably in the films of Stanley Kubrick. The eerie textures of Lux aeterna, Atmosphères, and the Requiem join the “Blue Danube” waltz and Also sprach Zarathustra in the soundtrack for 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the stark piano pings of Musica ricercata accompany Tom Cruise through the dreamscape of his dangerous sexual adventure in Eyes Wide Shut.

All this is part of Ligeti’s world, and the three programs of Bard Music West’s inaugural festival investigate his influences, output, and legacy. The breadth of programming weaves Ligeti’s world—from pre-war central Europe, to the Holocaust, to the Hungarian Revolution, to West Germany, to ‘70s California—directly into the world of our own.

Ticket Information

Full Festival (3 concerts, 1 events): $70
Marathon Saturday (2 performances, 1 event): $50
Individual Concerts:  $25 general/$15 student (advance purchase) | $30 general/$20 student (at door); Talk: $5

Buy tickets at or by phone at 415-857-1632.