Bard’s Young Composers on the Radio

by Rob Saffer

Rob Saffer is the host of Overlooked, a radio show that focuses on overlooked and under-heard jazz, improvisational, and other fringe music, from early roots to contemporary experiments. As an LLI member, he got to know Asher B. Edelman Professor of Music Joan Tower and the music of Bard composition students in Professor Tower’s classes.


A few years ago, the composer and Bard Conservatory of Music Professor Joan Tower brought some young composers into our LLI class so we could hear their music. The music sounded alive and fresh, and I thought it’d be a perfect focus for my radio WGXC show, Overlooked. I asked Joan about playing their music on the radio, and she loved the idea. I wasn’t sure if undergraduate students today had any idea what a “radio show” was but they were as enthusiastic as Joan.

Creating the Show

With the help of Joan and Bard Conservatory of Music Production Coordinator Marc Mancus, I have compiled recordings of these young composers from their year-end Bard Da Capo Spring Concert, in which professional musicians play student works. The students were taught composition by many of Bard Conservatory’s esteemed faculty, including Joan Tower, Sarah Hennies, Angelica Sanchez, Missy Mazzoli, Jessie Montgomery, Erica Lindsay, George Tsontakis, Kyle Gann, and Matt Sargent. Many of the compositions are these young composers’ earliest pieces and this was the first public performance of their music.

The show, which was broadcast on June 11, 2024, on WGXC-90.7 FM and, features 11 student compositions and three compositions by Bard faculty previously performed at the second Bard Music Alive! Dynamic Women concert this April. It also included music by Joan (who curated the concerts) as well as by Hennies, Sanchez, Mazzoli, Montgomery, and Lindsay, which was played by Bard Conservatory and Music Department student performers.

Listening to the Music

The two-hour show can be streamed or downloaded at Wave Farm | Overlooked: Bard College Young Composers. To stream the program, click the “Play” button immediately below the “Overlooked Playlist Archive” (about three-quarters down the page). Or download the MP3 to your device by selecting “Download” and right-click (or Ctrl+). One caveat: the first 10-minute segment of the recording does not include music from Bard—it was not part of the original live broadcast. 

Because of the positive feedback we’ve received, I hope to continue highlighting young composers from Bard and make it an annual feature of Overlooked.

Headphones and sheet music