Author Neil Gaiman to headline Fisher Center celebration at Bard

The Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. (photo by Peter Aaron/Esto)

Can it be that the shiny, much-talked-about, Frank Gehry-designed, acoustically admirable Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, home base of the American Symphony Orchestra and annual host to Bard SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival, is ten years old already? Amazing, but true: So Bard is going to spend the month of April celebrating its decennial with a roster of cultural events ranging from the classical to the cutting-edge.

Featuring special guest artists and Bard students and faculty, the April programs are intended to display how the Fisher Center acts as an incubator for performing artists both young and established, giving them a home in which to create and giving audiences a rare opportunity to witness the birth of some extraordinary works.

At the top of April’s list at Bard is a program by protean author Neil Gaiman and his wife, avant-garde musician/performance artist Amanda Palmer. An English émigré to Minnesota, Gaiman is the darling of startlingly diverse literary audiences, from ComiCon geeks to middle-school librarians. He came to public attention in the 1980s as one of the stars of the new genre known as graphic novels with his now-classic Sandman series.

Gaiman collaborated in 1990 with legendary Discworld series author Terry Pratchett on a satirical novel about the Apocalypse titled Good Omens. His subsequent adult novels, including Neverwhere, Stardust, Anansi Boys and most especially American Gods, garnered rapturous praise from critics and commoners alike. The Graveyard Book won America’s most prestigious prize for children’s literature, the Newbery Medal, in 2009.

Gaiman has also worked as a screenwriter; Neverwhere started out as a series of teleplays for the BBC, and both Stardust and his macabre children’s book Coraline were made into successful feature films. He wrote an episode of Doctor Who that won a Hugo Award, the science fiction realm’s top literary prize, in 2012. Gaiman is also esteemed as a pioneer of the larval artform of blogging, having recognized and embraced the potential of the Internet for reaching new readers early on.

So what would a word nerd like Neil Gaiman do in performance? He’s an excellent live reader of his own works, as anyone who has listened to his audiobooks can attest. So expect a mélange of spoken-word interludes by Gaiman and musical numbers by Palmer, who is known for her work with the Dresden Dolls and the Grand Theft Orchestra. Grab your tickets fast for this event, as it is sure to sell out early. “An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer” will take place in the Fisher Center’s Sosnoff Theater on Saturday, April 6 at 8 p.m.; tickets are priced at $25, $30, $35 and $40.

The tenth anniversary festivities kick off on Wednesday, April 3 with a humorous theatrical double bill titled NOTES!!! and SWAN!!! Live Arts Bard visiting artist Jack Ferver will present his QWAN (Quality without a Name) Company in dramatic readings parodying two well-loved screenplays, Notes from a Scandal and Black Swan. The material is described as “suitable for mature and immature audiences, 15 years and older.” The show begins at 7 p.m. at Sosnoff Theater Stage Right, with tickets going for $20 general admission and $5 for the Bard community.

Later in the month, students in the Bard Theater & Performance Program will present The Bacchae by Euripides, under the direction of Lileana Blain-Cruz, in Theater Two. Performances will begin at 7 p.m. on April 11, 12, 13 and 14, with a 2 p.m. matinée on April 14. Tickets cost $15 to the general public and are free to Bard students.

Another offering from Bard students will follow on April 12 at 8 p.m., this time in the Sosnoff Theater: The College Conservatory of Music’s Sō Percussion ensemble will present its spring concert. Tickets cost $15 general admission, free to Bard students.

On April 19 and 20 at 8 p.m., the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, will perform an all-Wagner program in the Sosnoff Theater, with a preconcert talk at 7 p.m. This program will include the Preludes to Acts I and III from Lohengrin, the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde and Act I of Die Walküre. Ticket prices are $25, $30, $35 and $40.

On April 26, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m., plus a 2 p.m. matinée on April 28, Bard College Dance Program students will perform an evening of choreography by the program’s faculty members in Theater Two. As with the other student productions, admission is free to Bardians, while everyone else pays $15.

The anniversary month goes out with a bang as members of the American Symphony Orchestra and Bard College Conservatory Orchestra perform Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 2 in the Sosnoff Theater under the baton of Leon Botstein. The concerts will take place on April 26 and 27 beginning at 8 p.m., and ticket prices are $25, $30, $35 and $40.

To purchase tickets for any of these events or find out more, call the Fisher Center box office at (845) 758-7900 or visit https://fishercenter.bard.edu.

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