Arts and Entertainment

Top BGSU musicians put their heart into concerto performances

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Long before the winners of the Competitions in Musical Performance step on stage in front of the Bowling Green Philharmonia, they need to strike up a relationship with the composition to which they want to devote a chunk of their lives. That means hundreds of hours of practice, then additional hours rehearsing with an accompanist before the December competition where they have their short time on stage during the semifinal and finals rounds until they hear the full force of an orchestra at their back. On Sunday at 3 p.m. that work will come to fruition on the Kobacker Hall stage during the annual Concerto Concert. Four musicians, two graduate students and two undergraduates, were selected from a field of 87 competitors back in December. Pianist Zhanglin Hu will open the concert with one of the war horses of classical literature. The sophomore piano performance major will perform the first movement of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. Hu said he and his teacher, Robert Satterlee, selected the piece because its grandeur and majesty fit Hu’s style. Having the support of the orchestra only accentuates those qualities, he said. “With the orchestra you can hear a lot of different voices,” he said. “The orchestra produces a richer sound.” That means as a soloist he must invest “more and more energy into his playing.” Hu said that he enjoyed working with the conductor Robert Jay Garza III, who brought his own ideas to the table. “The concerto is the story between the orchestra and piano,” Hu said. Saxophonist Andrew Hosler has a much smaller ensemble behind him for Walter Mays’ “Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Chamber Ensemble.” The ensemble has a dozen winds, strings, percussion, and organ. Hosler said some string parts can be doubled to make the orchestra larger but he and conductor by Alexander Popovici opted to stay with the original, spare orchestration. The piece, the sophomore explained, requires great interplay between the ensemble and the soloist. It does not have an actual meter, instead the…

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Baby, it’s cold outside, so why not celebrate?

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News During a season when the temptation is stay bundled up at home, Bowling Green’s Winterfest BG Chillabration gives folks a reason to brave the cold. On Saturday afternoon, visitors could alternate between experiencing the chill as they strolled through the ice sculpture garden or ride around the downtown in an open horse-drawn trolley. They could warm up in the heated Chillabration tent where bands had started performing mid-afternoon, or view high school art work on display in the Four Corners Center. Another option was to stop for a bite to eat at a local restaurant or do some shopping. Aaron and Molli Blachuta had done a bit of all of that. The event gave the couple and their 19-month-old son Blaiden “a change to get out of the house and give the little man a walk,” the dad said. Molli Blachuta had seen an announcement on Facebook. “It’s always nice to find something we can take him to.” That’s harder to do in the winter. They also ate lunch at Sam B’s before taking the carriage ride. They were going to stop into Ben Franklin before heading home. Jayan Karunarathna, a doctoral student in photochemical sciences from Sri Lanka, said he likes coming downtown for any of the events, whether Winterfest or Black Swamp Arts Festival. Winter events are especially appreciated. He checked out the ice sculptures created to advertise local businesses and services. He said he was going to go back to campus and bring friends down to hear more of the music in the Chillabration tent. “I think it’s good to have things like this … so people can hang around and meet new people,” he said. Earlier in the day the tent had featured about 10 vendor tables. The fair was an innovation in Winterfest’s 10th year. By 4 p.m. it had been transformed into a music venue with Ginger and the Snaps the opening act for a lineup that would run until 11. Up front, beer and wine were being…


Mantra sextet to perform new work for percussion at BGSU concert

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Percussion sextet Mantra Percussion returns to Bowling Green State University for a concert at 8 p.m. Feb. 19 in Kobacker Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. The group’s performance is part of the Music at the Forefront series sponsored by the University’s MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, and is free and open to the public. Committed to honoring the past and expanding the future of percussion music, Mantra Percussion brings to life new works for percussion by living composers, collaborates with artists from diverse genres and styles, and questions what it means to communicate music with percussion instruments. The group engages new audiences by challenging the standard concert format through evening-length events that look toward a grander artistic vision. Their BGSU performance will feature new works by Aaron Siegel, Lesley Flanigan, Tristan Perich and Michael Fiday. After co-commissioning Michael Gordon’s evening-length percussion sextet “Timber,” they gave the work’s United States premiere in October 2011 at BGSU and subsequently toured the work internationally. They also gave the New York premiere of “Timber” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival in December 2012. Since forming as an ensemble in 2009, Mantra Percussion has been featured throughout North America, Europe and Asia, including the Bang on a Can Marathon, Duke Performances, the Redcat Theater in Los Angeles, National Public Radio, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the Drogheda Festival in Ireland, the Ecstatic Music Festival and the Ecstatic Summer Festival, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Right Now Festival in South Korea, Vancouver New Music and numerous others. Over the past eight years, Mantra Percussion has commissioned and/or premiered more than 40 new works for percussion ensemble. Mantra Percussion has been hailed by the New York Times as “finely polished . . . a fresh source of energy” and by TimeOut New York as “forward thinking.” The group was praised by The New Yorker and TimeOut New York for presenting one of the 10 best classical performances of 2012. They recorded one of Time Out New York’s Ten Best Classical Albums of 2011,  Siegel’s “Science Is Only a Sometimes Friend,” on Lockstep Records,”…


Symphony’s North Star Festival celebrates music of African Americans

From the TOLEDO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Toledo has a rich history as a safe haven along the Underground Railroad, a 19th century network that helped many slaves escape to freedom. Toledo Symphony’s new North Star Festival highlights this local connection and celebrates the musical contribution of Black Americans throughout history. The Toledo Symphony Orchestra will present this North Star Festival from February through April in a series of concerts and collaborations, presenting music by Black American composers and about Black American history—from songs brought over to America during times of slavery to more contemporary music that pays tribute to the brave men and women of the Civil Rights Movement. “Lift Ev’ry Voice: The Musical Legacy of the Underground Railroad” will take place February 15, for two performances at 9:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle Theater. The Toledo Symphony Orchestra along with additional community organizations will come together to explore Toledo’s Underground Railroad history through music. Special friends from the Lathrop House will be on hand to narrate and make history come to life. This program features a screening of the word-less storybook “Unspoken” by Henry Cole and a sing-along of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” This event is sold out. A Preschool Storytime will take place February 22, at 10:30 a.m. at the Sanger branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. This Preschool Storytime will feature musical guest, members of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. Free and open to the public. Registration required. Reaching for Our Stars will take place February 25, at 5:00 p.m. at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. The Toledo Symphony Orchestra will perform a neighborhood concert in celebration of Black History Month. Tickets at St. Martin de Porres, 419-241-4544. An Instrument Petting Zoo will take place February 27, at 4:30 p.m. at the Kent branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. Children will see, hear, and play a variety of orchestral instruments. Members of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the Toledo Symphony Youth Quartet will present music inspired by…


CD relives memorable night that bluesman Luther Allison put Howard’s on the map

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Back before Howard’s was Howard’s Club H. Back when it was on the west side of North Main Street. Back when it served liquor, beer, wine, and sandwiches prepared upstairs, and it also served a lot of colorful characters, some of whom lived in the rooms out back. What it didn’t offer was live music. That is except for when a college professor assembled friends and guitars for an impromptu hootenanny singing folk songs, some with decidedly blue lyrics. When the Wood County District Public Library bought the property in the late 1960s as a site for its new facility, the bar was displaced across the street to the former Modern Heating storefront, and then to the room next door. For Charlie Davis the long-time manager this was an opportunity. Yes, the place that opened Feb. 14, 1973, was nicer. The floors were level for one thing. “It was supposed to be more of a club atmosphere instead of just a watering hole,” remembers Tom Lambert, who had worked at the bar since returning home from the Army. It also had room for live music. Davis had been wanting to host bands, especially blues bands, for a while, and now he had his chance. He started booking acts including J.B. Hutto, Willie Dixon, and Jimmy Dawkins, as well as locals including Diamond Reo (not the 1980s national act with a slightly different spelling). The music drew decent crowds until about 18 months later when Chicago bluesman Luther Allison came to town for a September weekend in 1974. Lambert was manning the sound booth. He brought along his reel-to-reel tape recorder and jerry-rigged a connection. He caught local history on tape. The first night’s crowd was modest, Lambert remembers. Allison came to party, and the room could hardly contain his energy. Davis remembers Allison getting up on the bar and walking down in true blues fashion, jangling the lights as he went. When he got to the end he didn’t stop. Trailing a long cord…


Haitian musician Mona Augustin battles for justice with his voice, guitar, & imagination

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For the poor of Port au Prince, Haiti, life was always hard. Then came the earthquake in 2010. Mona Augustin was not one of those poor. He is a musician who lived with his bandmates. After the earthquake he went to an open area in the city where people once played soccer. Now it was occupied by a city of rudimentary tents occupied by people driven from their homes by the earthquake. For the next five years, Augustin set aside his music to take on the role of helping this community, which came to be known as Mozayik. Now he’s back making music in the service of the people of Mozayik. The Haitian singer-songwriter is visiting Bowling Green this week with his wife and fellow activist Candice Welsh. Augustin performed Wednesday night at the First Presbyterian Church and will perform another free show tonight (Feb. 8) on the Bowling Green State University campus. The presentation, which includes a performance by Augustin preceded by the screening of a short documentary film by Jon Bougher about Mozayik, will be at 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room (228) of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Life in the makeshift village was hard. The residents barely had the essentials for life. The film shows them trudging through narrow muddy alleys between canvas tents to bathe and fetch water. Yet that subsistence living itself was threatened. A large commercial building was being constructed in the next lot, and the company, Arcotec Haiti owned the land, and working with the government sought to evict the residents, offering them $125 in US dollars to leave. Little of the millions in aid dollars that flowed into Haiti found their way to the poor. Augustin tried to work with the mayor for some reprieve, but in the end the project trumped the interested of the residents. The company sent workers in to destroy the village. Augustin was able to locate land in a development called Canaan outside the city where the government had granted a…


BGSU theater staging ‘The Language Archive’

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s Department of Theatre and Film will present Julia Cho’s award-winning play, “The Language Archive” in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at BGSU’s Wolfe Center for the Arts, Feb. 15-24. Performances are in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts on the BGSU campus, Feb. 15-17 and 22-24 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 17, 18, and 24 at 2 p.m.Tickets purchased in advanced are $5 for students, $10 for seniors, and $15 for adults. All tickets are $20 if purchased on the day of performance. Tickets can be purchased through the BGSU Arts Box Office in the Wolfe Center, online at bgsu.edu/arts, or by calling 419-372-8171. Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for women who have written distinguished works for the English-speaking theatre, “The Language Archive” tells the story of George, a brilliant linguist who has devoted himself to archiving dying languages. When George’s wife leaves him after he fails to decode a series of mysterious notes he receives from her, he struggles to learn the vocabulary of loss as he fights to preserve the Elloway language. Its last known speakers, a bickering elderly couple grappling with their own sense of loss, refuse to speak to each other in their native tongue, making George’s work nearly impossible. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to George, his assistant, Emma, finds herself unable speak in complete sentences as she tries to come to terms with her feelings for him. Inspired by the universal language of Esperanto, which was created with the hope of moving toward a more peaceful and unified world, “The Language Archive” offers a poignant and bittersweet exploration of the insufficiency of language to capture and communicate the human experience. Still, Cho’s play reminds us that language is sometimes an act of faith, and often our only hope for coming to terms with loss. As Cho’s characters discover, we sometimes have to venture further into sadness to find the endings we need – even if they’re not the endings we imagine. Introspective and lightly comic, “The…