Debussy & French Painting: Beyond Realism

Sun, May 20, 2018, 2 PM
Part of the series Sight & Sound

at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium
in NYC

  • Conductor and music historian Leon Botstein explores the parallels between orchestral music and the visual arts
  • On-screen artworks discussed alongside musical excerpts, a full performance, and audience Q&A
  • Debussy’s Nocturnes and the artwork of the French Impressionists
  • With members of the Bard Festival Chorale

More About the Program

The Music: Debussy’s Nocturnes
“This takes me on a colorful journey that travels from wispy to energetic to mysterious.” –Adam Romey, bassoon

The Artwork: Works by French Impressionists
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence, on view at The Met Fifth Avenue March 12–July 29, 2018

Debussy’s Nocturnes have been celebrated for their ability to evoke imagery, light, and color. But is he really music‘s answer to Impressionist painting? His works and those of artists including Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, and Delacroix illuminate how the artistic response to nature differs in music and painting.


Conductor and music historian Leon Botstein discusses the parallels between Debussy’s Nocturnes and the artwork of the French Impressionists & others, with on-screen artworks and musical excerpts performed by The Orchestra Now.
1 hr

20 min

Full performance
Claude Debussy Nocturnes
members of the Bard Festival Chorale
23 min

Audience Q&A
15 min

All timings are approximate.


LEON BOTSTEIN, conductor
Leon Botstein brings a renowned career as both a conductor and educator to his role as music director of The Orchestra Now. He has been music director of the American Symphony Orchestra since 1992, artistic codirector of Bard SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival since their creation, and president of Bard College since 1975.

The Bard Festival Chorale was formed in 2003 as the resident choir of the Bard Music Festival. It consists of the finest ensemble singers from New York City and surrounding areas.

JAMES BAGWELL, choral director
James Bagwell maintains an active international schedule as a conductor of choral, operatic, and orchestral music. He was most recently named associate conductor of The Orchestra Now (TŌN) and in 2009 was appointed principal guest conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. From 2009–15 he served as music director of The Collegiate Chorale.