The Vassar College Music Department, in collaboration with the Creative Arts Across Disciplines, is thrilled to celebrate the 21st season of MODfest, Vassar College’s annual exploration of the arts of the 20th and 21st centuries.

This year’s theme, “Measures and Meanings,” offers clear connections to the musical score: As musicians and listeners, we are constantly considering what music represents and how it makes us feel. Measures or “bars” help define how music is organized, and how music is heard.

“Measures and Meanings” invites us to consider what comes next: Are we trying to get back to something? Are we trying to create something new? Are we able to bring new perspectives and lenses to the work we have been doing for some time? MODfest gives our campus a unique opportunity to experience myriad efforts that are shaping our communities on and off campus. Remarkable efforts have begun in recent years—many of which are doing the hard work of integrating lasting practices into our campus culture. We do a good job of celebrating beginnings, whether they are a new grant, a new position, or a specific campus initiative. But how might we measure and celebrate a new practice that endures, for example by honoring and providing opportunities for artists from marginalized backgrounds to create and display or perform their work?

With these questions in mind, we are honored to host Indigenous Performance Productions on campus for Welcome to Indian Country,  “an evening-length celebration of Native culture through music and storytelling.” We also continue our traditions of honoring the founders of MODfest with a concert, a performance by VRDT welcoming the Heidi Latsky Dance Company as guests, and with the many things to see and do at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center throughout the festival. We hope to see you there!

Christine Howlett & Tom Pacio, MODfest Co-Directors

Past Events

Hailed as a ‘personable polymath’ in the London Times, Bill Barclay ’03 is a director, composer, writer, and producer. He joins us to discuss his work Le Chevalier, a full-length play detailing Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ true friendships with Mozart and Marie Antoinette, and his unknown contribution to the abolishment of slavery.

Welcome to Indian Country is an evening-length celebration of Native culture through music and storytelling. A world-class, five-piece musical ensemble is joined by storyteller and Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest. Together they weave new compositions and songs with witty, wise, and poignant poetry and satire to honor the elders and ancestors.


Heidi Latsky

Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre performs works selected from the current repertory by faculty, students, and guest choreographers, including a special appearance by the Heidi Latsky Dance Company. Tickets are free but must be reserved.

Kate McGloughlin

From Requiem to Solace: Artwork Inspired by the Ashokan Reservoir. Artist Kate McGloughlin will speak about how the devastation endured by her ancestors during the creation of the Ashokan Reservoir influences and inspires her work. Sponsored by Late Night at the Loeb and the Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education.

Indra Spring Flow Tenri Rehearsal

​​Digital scores can change in real time during a performance, allowing for exciting and spontaneous interaction and improvisation. This workshop will explore this emerging performance practice using the software Indra, culminating in a conducted group improvisation. Participants should bring an instrument and a Mac laptop. A student-only event. Registration required.

Modfest word mark

Honoring the founders of MODfest, we celebrate the “meanings and measures” of modern musical works: Richard Wilson’s Avuncularities (2022) for solo trombone and Perplexities (2022) for oboe and English horn, violin, viola, and cello; and Serenity (2021) for solo piano by Jonathan Chenette.

This is an in-person event that will also be streamed live

Vassar College’s Muslim Students Association (MSA) presents excerpts from the new play Wedding Scraps by Arshia Iqbal ’23a senior thesis project that serves as a funny peek into the world of diasporic Desi kids and their collective efforts to find home.

Sketching Loss and Remembrance: An Art Workshop. Work alongside Kate McGloughlin in creating your own original work using India ink. Art supplies provided free of charge. Please email to reserve a spot, space is limited. 

Photo graph of photo collage featuring multiple circular images on a white field
Jan. 27, 2023, 12:00–1:00 p.m.

The Palmer Gallery exhibit Imploding Meaning: Tale-less Tales About Absolutely Nothing and Everything In Between features the work of M. Pettee Olsen, Michael Oatman, Rosanne Walsh, and Monica Church—all of whom will be speaking at this event. 


An abstract canvas filled with thick swirls of paint.
Jan. 26, 2023, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

The Palmer Gallery exhibit Imploding Meaning: Tale-less Tales About Absolutely Nothing and Everything In Between features the work of M. Pettee Olsen, Michael Oatman, Rosanne Walsh, and Monica Church.

Black and white photo collage with an image of an old house and the words: New York Supreme Court and Ashokan Reservoir
Jan. 26 – Feb. 19, 2023

An exhibit of artwork by Kate McGloughlin depicts the beauty and sorrow inherent in the Ashokan Reservoir. Kate’s family lost both land and community to reservoir construction. There will also be an artist talk in the second week of the festival during Late Night at the Loeb. This exhibit is sponsored by the Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education.

Dark blue abstract painting by Nari Ward titled, Breathing Bars Diagonal Left, with radiating gold lines from a diamond shape in the center out
Jan. 21 – Sep. 10, 2023

How do artists help us see or shape the past and future? Works ranging from Matthew Vassar’s initial bequest in 1864 to the Loeb’s most recent gifts and acquisitions will cluster in visual dialogues thematizing past, present, and future as categories in constant states of flux and transformation.

Past MODfests