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Audra McDonald headlines Modfest at Vassar College

Dutchess County , Hudson Valley | Arts & Culture , Entertainment , Festivals & Annual Events

Broadway’s Audra McDonald headlines Modfest, Vassar College’s annual exploration of 20th & 21st century arts from Jan. 26-Feb. 5. It features music, exhibitions, dance, and spoken word (all free). The culminating event, “An Afternoon with Audra McDonald,” will take place on Sunday, February 5, 3:00pm. The internationally renowned singer and Broadway superstar will perform at Skinner Hall. Following her performance, a moderated talk discussing her work both on and offstage will be led by Mia Mask, Professor of Film on the Mary Riepma Ross ’32 Chair.  McDonald has won a record six Tony Awards (most recently for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill), two Grammy awards, and an Emmy Award. Among her numerous honors, McDonald was also recently recognized for her contribution to the fields of arts and humanities by receiving the National Medal of Arts, presented by President Barack Obama in September 2016.

To quote the event website, Modfest will run January 26-February 5 and will feature music, exhibitions, dance and spoken word. All events are free and open to the public.

Modfest 2017 is centered around the theme “Raising Voices.” Vassar students and faculty will be joined by guest artists in various fields of creative accomplishment, including,  Decoda, the first Affiliate Chamber Ensemble of Carnegie Hall (January 28), and visual artist Ann Daly (February 2).

This year Modfest will also honor the retirements of both Adene and Richard Wilson, co-founders of Modfest.  Adene (Dee) Wilson, a Vassar alumna who served as director of Modfest, saw the festival through fourteen seasons of outstanding events. “We celebrate their legacy by continuing this important festival and programming a concert in their names. The Music Department is indebted to Dee and Richard for their tireless work in championing contemporary music,” says Christine Howlett, Co-Director of this year’s Modfest and Chair of the Music Department.

Two exhibitions, Engage: The Artist’s Voice and The World After January 20, 2017, will anchor the series. “These exhibitions reflect the perspectives of faculty, students, and staff across campus in response to recent events,” says Tom Pacio, Modfest Co-Director and Interdisciplinary Arts Coordinator. “Modfest offers an opportunity to showcase the artistic voices of the Vassar College community which honors the spirit of the festival Richard and Dee Wilson created and also highlights the more current need for a greater reach of the arts on our campus and in the community.”

Tickets are free, but online reservations are required. 845-437-7294. 124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie. Reservations for the February 5 event will open on January 16; tickets are free, but online reservations are required.


Under the auspices of the Music Department at Vassar College, Adene and Richard Wilson co-founded Modfest in 2003 to explore and celebrate the arts of the 20th and 21st centuries. Adene (Dee) Wilson '69, Modfest’s director for the last fourteen seasons, was responsible for bringing some of the finest composers and musicians to speak and perform in Skinner Hall of Music. Composers-in-residence have included Pulitzer-prize winners Yehudi Wyner, Steve Reich, and David del Tredici.  Leading contemporary ensembles have also been featured including the Jack Quartet, Decoda, Attacca Quartet, the Mannes Trio, and many others. A primary strength of Dee Wilson’s conception of Modfest has been its engagement with the arts across the college, involving students and faculty of the Art, Dance, Drama, English, Film, Music, and language departments in creative projects and performances.

Event Details

    Jan. 26, 2017 - Feb. 5, 2017
    03:00 PM - 07:00 PM