Vassar Modfest Unites Art and Culture in Poughkeepsie

The creative community festival returns to Dutchess County for its 17th season in February.


Come February, the winter blues get ready to hit the road as a kaleidoscope of color takes over Poughkeepsie.

Said rainbow comes in the form of Modfest, the multifaceted arts festival that Vassar College has hosted for the past 16 years. Now, for its 17th anniversary, the Dutchess County college prepares to kick off its most memorable celebration yet.

- Advertisement -

“This year’s theme, ‘In Motion,’ explores movement in its many forms: from simply discovering what moves, to reflecting on the meaning of motion, to actively being present in the moment,” explains Vassar professor and Modfest co-director Christine Howlett, adding that the 2019 celebration spotlights the diverse ways that art reflects and exists in the world.

Beginning yesterday, January 31, Vassar opened its figurative doors to the Hudson Valley community at large for the next two weeks of free artistry that spotlights both local and international talent. On Thursday, visitors were welcome to the Frances Lehman Loeb Arts Center for the opening reception, which featured a performance by the Vassar College Women’s Chorus. From now to February 10, the college campus welcomes one exhibit, performance, and screening after the next. Notably, this year is the first time that Modfest steps off-campus to downtown Poughkeepsie.

“This year’s festival marks the first time Modfest is moving off-campus, and we are excited to present Ensemble Mik Nawooj in the newly-renovated Poughkeepsie Trolley Barn,” enthuses Modfest co-director Tom Pacio. “Formerly storage for horse-drawn and electric trolleys during the 19th and 20th centuries, this historic Main Street building will support music, art, and other cultural programming.”

While there’s so much see and do over the course of the February fest, here are a few of our top picks:


- Partner Content -

Attacca Quartet and Richard Wilson Concert

February 2, 8 p.m.

On Saturday evening, the award-winning Attacca Quartet debuts the world premiere of String Quartet No. 6 by Richard Wilson and Gabriella Smith’s Carrot Revolution. In terms of what the performance will entail, think music influences as diverse as Bach, Joni Mitchell, and bluegrass. Guest performers join the quartet onstage throughout the evening as well.


- Advertisement -


Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre Performance

February 8, 7 p.m.

If you’ve never seen a show by the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre before, prepare for a treat. Led by faculty, student, and guest choreographers, the troop of talented student dancers grace the stage at the Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater to perform works that incorporate traditional ballet, jazz, contemporary, experimental, and more. While the show is free, reservations and tickets are required.


Ensemble Mik Nawooj / Photo provided by Vassar College and Ensemble Mik Nawooj


Ensemble Mik Nawooj at the Trolley Barn

February 9, 8 p.m.

Perhaps one of the coolest performances slated for this year’s lineup is Ensemble Mik Nawooj, the multitalented medley of classically trained performers who specialize in everything from composition and lyrics to drums, piano, and strings. Instead of sticking to classical tunes, the group punches up traditional techniques with hip-hop tunes and original beats. The show is free to attend, although tickets are required. Also worth noting, this is the only performance that happens away from Vassar’s campus at the Poughkeepsie Trolley Barn, the historic building in the heart of the city that once housed horse-drawn and, later, electric trolleys.


JACK Quartet / Photo provided by Vassar College and JACK Quartet


Joshua Roman & JACK Quartet

February 10, 3 p.m.

Talented cellist Joshua Roman Joins forces with the JACK Quartet to perform Roman’s “Tornado Quintet” on Sunday, February 10. Inspired by the natural beauty that surrounded him during his childhood in Oklahoma, Roman draws upon the artistry and destructive power of tornadoes to craft a musical piece that channels the stunning, terrifying power of the natural whirlwinds.

For a full schedule of Vassar College’s Modfest performances, visit the event website.

Related: Poughkeepsie’s Bardavon Celebrates 150 Years

Our Digital Partners

Learn how to become a digital partner ...

Our Excellence in Nursing Awards take place on May 1!

Our Best of Hudson Valley ballot is open through March 31!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.