Arts and Entertainment

String music of Robert Schumann featured at St. Tim’s concert

From  ST. TIM’S DISCOVERS Musicians from the Toledo Symphony are featured in the next St. Tim’s Discovers Series event, scheduled for Sunday February 18 at 3 p.m.  in the sanctuary of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 871 East Boundary Street, Perrysburg. Pianist Valrie Kantorski and the Zin Quartet will present music of German composer Robert Schumann in both duet and quintet forms. Opening with the Three Fantasy Pieces, Op.73, Ms. Kantorski will perform each movement with different combinations of the quartet personnel. Movement one features violinist Cheryl Trace, movement two pairs cellist Renee Goubeaux with Kantorski and the finale is a viola/piano duo with Kantorski and Kalindi Bellach. During the second portion of the recital, Ms. Kantorski and the quartet, including TSO principal second violinist Merwin Siu, will perform the Schumann Piano Quintet, Op. 44 in its entirety. The Quintet, composed in 1842 for Schumann’s wife, Clara Wieck, was considered ground breaking for its use of cello rather than double bass in a string quartet. The piece is majestic in scope and emotional range, an elegant showpiece for the ensemble. Valrie Kantorski is a Steinway Ensemble Artist and has been the primary keyboard musician for the Toledo Symphony for more than 30 years. Currently, she holds the Jonathan F. Orser Chair for keyboard. As a member of the Kantorski-Pope Piano Duo, Ms. Kantorski is a three-time recipient of the First Prize in the Graves Duo Piano Competition. She has an extensive career as a piano soloist, accompanist and ensemble performer. The Zin Quartet has performed previously on the St. Tim’s Discovers Series, most notably in two performances of Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ. Valrie Kantorski also is a veteran of the St. Tim’s Series. With her duo partner Ann Pope, the two were the artists selected for the dedication of the St. Timothy’s Steinway piano in 2016. St. Tim’s Discovers is dedicated to bringing classical music to communities throughout Northwest Ohio. The performance is free and open to the public; doors open to the public at 2:30 PM. St. Timothy’s…


Toledo Museum unveils master plan that integrates its campus with the community

From TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) announces today (Feb. 6)  a comprehensive Master Plan for the institution, its buildings and surrounding campus, to be carried out over approximately 20 years. The first phase of the Master Plan, which developed out of TMA’s recent, long-range strategic planning process, focuses on TMA’s grounds as an urban park and oasis within the city of Toledo. Plans call for creating new green space, unifying the architectural and visitor experience and enhancing the existing gardens and grounds. TMA began developing the Master Plan in late 2016 with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, an internationally renowned architectural and planning firm based in New York City. Among Beyer Blinder Belle’s specializations are museums, campus planning, historic preservation and parks and gardens. The firm has collaborated with some of the most influential cultural institutions in the U.S., including: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution, New York Public Library, Frick Collection, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Ellis Island and Longwood Gardens. “Through this dynamic Master Plan, the Toledo Museum of Art is poised to capitalize on our institutional strengths of outreach and education and to better engage with our many communities and constituencies for generations to come,” said Brian Kennedy, Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey Director of the Toledo Museum of Art. “We look forward to realizing this vision through our work with Beyer Blinder Belle by supporting the citizens and leadership of the city of Toledo, a city that is in the midst of an exciting urban revitalization.” The team at Beyer Blinder Belle has completed a full assessment and analysis of TMA’s site, developed a range of options and consulted with theMuseum’s leadership to act on the Master Plan announced today. The Master Plan is designed to considerably increase the Museum’s accessibility and visibility by unifying the twelve buildings across its 40-acre park-like setting and weaving the site into the broader urban fabric of downtownToledo. The Master Plan is being developed, founded on established community relationships, and will dovetail with goals for the surrounding neighborhood and greater Toledo area. The Master Plan includes a significant evaluation…


Hard work & inspiration on display at BGSU undergrad art exhibit

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Laura Dirksen was 7 years old, she went digging for clay. She’d just learned about the material and was intrigued that it could be found in her back yard. She was so intent on her search and digging the hole that she almost got stuck. Her father had to come out to get her. In truth, Dirksen admits now, mostly she found mud. She rediscovered clay about a dozen years later in her second year studying art at Bowling Green State University.  She started as a painting major. “I fell into the ceramics program my sophomore year,” she said, “and things really shot up from there.” And it made her feel her nostalgic for her childhood adventure. Dirksen’s ceramic sculpture “Degrade” won the Medici Circle Best of Show Award at the Undergraduate Art Exhibition, which opened Sunday in the University Galleries in the Fine Arts Center. The show continues through Feb. 19. “Degrade” is her reflection on the tendency to denigrate people, especially women. The form reflects her own shape, and features the admonition: “Why do you always degrade Tom?” “Tom,” she explained, is a stand in for society. While “a lot of people tear things down … I try to bring out the best.” Dirksen, who grew up in Maria Stein in Mercer County near the Indiana border, wasn’t sure she’d ever make it to college. “In high school my academic level wasn’t exactly the best, but my art stuff was always what kept me going.” After high school she ended up working two jobs and realized that’s not what she wanted. Dirksen recommitted herself to her art. She came to BGSU as a painting major. In her sophomore year, she was introduced to ceramics. Working with clay heightened her sense of touch. “It’s really intense. You’re always working. It’s humbling,” she said. “You work constantly at something, and you’re not going to get your best results unless it’s something you’ve done 1,000 times over.” Seeing a completed piece is “a reminder…


Evie Van Vorhis to compete in Ohio Has Talent, Feb. 24

From OHIO HAS TALENT Evie Van Vorhis, an eight-year-old, third grade student at Conneaut Elementary School, will sing at a regional talent show in Van Wert on Feb. 24 called, Ohio Has Talent! Van Vorhis is one of 18 performers selected from the nearly 60 acts that auditioned for the show in November. Contestants will compete for $1,000, $500 and $250 cash-prizes, with winners determined by audience votes. Van Vorhis began singing at age four and recently had the honor of singing the national anthem at a Martina McBride concert and was a feature soloist with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. She is the daughter of Beth Van Vorhis. Ohio Has Talent! is a benefit show for CHP Hospice, a nonprofit organization. It will be held at 7 p.m. at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, 10700 St. Rte. 118, Van Wert. Tickets for the show are available online at www.npacvw.org or by calling 419-238-6722. (Click for feature story on Evie.)


BG Winterfest celebrates 10th year

From WINTERFEST BG CHILLABRATION  Bowling Green invites you to the Coolest Weekend of the Year during the 10th Annual Winterfest BG Chillabration full of winter themed activities for everyone. We will kick things off downtown with the merchants Chocolate Crawl Fundraiser for the United Way on February 9th. The Frozen Swamp Tent will be a Winter Market by day and host live music, beer, wine and refreshments by night on February 10th on the corner of S. Main St. and Clough. Also on the 10th downtown the Ice Garden will highlight ice sculptures and carving demonstrations with Mascots of all kinds on hand to greet the kids. This three-day fun-filled community event also features Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides, 1BookBG Trivia, Chili & Soup Cook-Off, Frostbite Fun Run, Cookie Creations, Youth Dodge Ball, the new Black Swamp Curling Center Learn to Curl, Window Youth Art Exhibition, Four Corners Gallery BGHS Art Exhibit and WC Library events to include Solar over Smores and I Heart Ohio Scavenger Hunt. The Slater Family Ice Arena will be hosting Bobcat hockey and public skating. FRIDAY • 10 a.m. -7 p.m. BGHS Art Show, Four Corners Gallery • 3:45 – 6 p.m. Youth Dodgeball, Grades 3-8th, BG Community Center • 5-9 p.m. Chocolate Crawl Fundraiser, participating merchants downtown funds going to United Way (tickets available at Downtown BG, Merchants and United Way) • 6 p.m. BGHS Bobcat Hockey vs. St. Johns, Slater Family Ice Arena (ticket required) • 7-8:50 p.m. Public Skate, Slater Family Ice Arena (skate rental available) SATURDAY • 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. I Heart Ohio Scavenger Hunt, WC Public Library Second Floor • 10 a.m. -2 p.m. Winter Market in the Frozen Swamp Tent offering vendors of all kinds, BIGGBY coffee & hot cocoa, Huntington Bank Parking Lot • 11 a..m 1 mile Frostbite Fun Run, City Park (pre-registration & fee) 10 a.m. -4 p.m. Ice Carving Demonstrations by Ice Creations, Huntington Bank Parking Lot • 10 a.m. -4 p.m. Mascots in Ice, meet & greet the mascots while they model for sculptures,…


Ice bar & garden gives BG a place to chill

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Winterfest BG Chillabration is back for 2018 even bigger and better than last year. The Saturday evening of live bands, incredible ice bar and amazing ice garden met with rave reviews.  This year the heated Frozen Swamp Tent will not only provide shelter for live music from 4 – 11 pm, it will also present the first ever Winter Market from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  All this happens in the Huntington parking lot on the corner of Clough and S. Main Streets. This is also the location for our beautiful ice garden and live ice carving demonstrations.  The ice garden officially opens at 10 am. This year we will host mascots from 10 am – 6 pm and they will be the models for our extremely talented ice carvers from Ice Creations.  This is sure to be a hit with every age group.  The schedule of these live sculptures and appearances are:  10 am – Bobby and Betty Bobcat, Noon – Walleyes’ Spike and Cat Trick, 2 pm – Freddie and Frieda Falcon, 4 pm – Mario, Sonic and Crash Bandicoot.  Many thanks to the sponsors of these live demonstrations; Almar Property Management, Greenbriar Inc., Thayer Honda and Walmart and to those that made it possible for us to have all these great mascots at our event; The Mud Hens, BGSU Athletics, Bowling Green City Schools and Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Retro.   There will be Mud Hens tickets given away as a part of the Walleyes sculpture demonstration and Thayer Honda will have giveaways including a $100 Visa Card during the last demonstration of the day.  BGSU Athletics will be on hand to let us know about the special programs they have going on too! Our incredible 6 foot ice bar that will be unveiled at 4 p.m. was sponsored by Nate and Wally’s Fish Bowl, Everyday People and Uptown/Downtown. They are all businesses in Downtown Bowling Green.   The design is under wraps and is sure to be one of the “coolest” sculptures of this…


Conrad competition brings out the best in BGSU singers

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The audience at the Conrad Art Song Competition finals Saturday night did a good job following instructions to hold their applause until the performers had completed all their songs. Holding their laughter was another matter. Several of the competitors offered up light hearted songs, and even if they were in a foreign language they managed in their gestures and facial expressions to draw a reaction. Soprano Caroline Kouma enlivened her performance of Leo Deliebes’ “Les filles de Cadix” with a coquettish manner. Pianist Rhys Burgess served as her musical straight man, punctuating her acting. That kind of interplay won the duo first place in the graduate division of the 19th Conrad competition. Winners in the undergraduate division were baritone Luke Serrano and pianist Yuefeng Liu. The event was created with a gift two decades ago by Conrad, a local doctor who resumed her vocal studies later in life. She passed away at 92 in 2014. Her spirit lives on through the competition, said Christopher Scholl, who coordinates the event. “She would be extremely proud of you tonight,” Scholl told the performers Saturday. Dean Southern, a vocal coach from the Cleveland Institute of Music, was one of the three outside professionals adjudicating the performances. BGSU “should be very proud,” of the competition, he said. “It’s definitely unusual and unique and to be celebrated.” Southern said he was impressed by the emphasis on the singer and pianist as a team, not just a singer with a pianist assisting. “That’s part of my DNA,” he said, noting that he studied piano before turning to voice. “The song will never be complete if those two parts are not there together.” Southern was also impressed that the duos were required to perform at least one song by a living composer. “That’s really important.” Adam O’Dell, who recently received his master’s in composition from BGSU, agreed. As an undergraduate, he said, the vocalists focused on Mozart, Schumann, and the like. But at BGSU he could have a singer, Luke Schmidt,…


Toledo Museum exhibit puts mummies in a new light

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Mummies have had many uses over the millennia – fertilizer, being ground for medicine, starring in horror films and kids cartoons, being the centerpiece for art museum collections. The Toledo Museum of Art’s mummies were among its most popular attractions, and until now last viewed by the public in 2010. The mummies, though, are not objects, said Brian Kennedy, the museum director. They are human remains. In all the hype surrounding ancient Egypt, that gets lost. A new exhibit “The Mummies: From Egypt to Toledo” aims to put that humanity at the center. The mummies – the remains of a Young Priest and an Old Man – are not treated as objects but on view in a darkened room, reminiscent of a wake. The exhibit continues through May 6. (Click for details o related events.) The museum’s exhibition designer, Claude Fixler said the remains are treated with “a much greater sense of reverence than in the past to bring home the point that these were someone’s child. “They deserve the solitude of this space, a sense of quietude and meditation on their lives relating to our own in many ways.” This is the third time Fixler has designed an exhibit featuring the remains. Kennedy had just arrived in Toledo when that 2010 exhibit was about to be staged. Coming from Dartmouth College, an institution founded to educate Native Americans, and before that from the Australian National Museum where issues of the display of human remains were acute, he was bothered by some aspects of the exhibit. He decided they would not be shown except in an exhibit where they can be put in context. Young Priest and Old Man had not been on exhibit other than special shows since 1997. Curators Adam Levine, associate curator of ancient art, and Mike Deetsch, the director of education and engagement, were charged with providing that context. Egypt had long fascinated Western culture. The goddess Isis was adopted by the Romans. When Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1795, he…


University dancers put emotion into motion

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A dance concert is like an art gallery come to life. The art on display at the Winter Dance Concert bursts with energy at times while offering deep reflection at other moments. The University Dance Program concert will be presented Friday, Feb. 1, and Saturday, Feb. 2, at 8 p.m. in the Donnell Theatre at Bowling Green State University. Tickets are $10 and sold at the door. “Hello Blackbird, Bye Bye” opens the show on an exuberant note. Sarah Drummer belts out the standard “Bye, Bye Blackbird:” as she and a quartet of dancers (Shannon Cleary, Kaela Kahl, Autumn White, and Lindsey Williams), all donning top hats and tails, execute the tap choreography of Tracy Wilson. It’s a nice showcase for Drummer, who has graced BGSU stages for the past four years, and will be saying goodbye to BG as she heads to New York. More tapping from Cleary, Elizabeth Halsey, Alyssa Hulthen, and Jenna Streffon follows only to a more contemporary beat, “Grown Woman,” by Beyonce, choreographed by Colleen Murphy. The mood shifts to the confessional in “it’s okay to be human,” as the dancers, in voice overs, express misgivings, fears, and uncertainties about life. Student choreographer Adrienne Ansel  has the dancers (Alec Batton, Cleary, Leigh Denick, Courtney Gee, Kahl, Alexa Piccirillo, Courtney Slabaugh, and Sarah Thomas) moving together, apart, sometimes drifting, sometimes clashing to Rag’n’Bone Man’s soulful “Human.” There’s a sense of daring in the performers’ willingness to expose themselves. In the end, one by one, the dancers come to some resolution and come together at the front of the stage. Guest dancer and choreographer Tammy Starr performed solo on “Posthumous” to a Chopin piano piece. Starr work relies on a delicacy of gesture. They express a sense of wonder and a sense of fragility, balanced by the certainty of her movement. The first half of the show ends with Starr’s piece “Seabirds.’ Here the dancers (Batton, Cleary, Denick, Gee, Kahl, Piccirillo, Slabaugh, and Thomas) cavort to the string music of Vivaldi….


Issues Conferences highlights Black History Month at BGSU

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS With the start of February, Bowling Green State University’s Beyond ‘The Dream’ series focuses on Black History Month. From movies at the Gish Film Theater to guest speakers and musicians and an academic conference, the month provides a variety of opportunities to share in the African American experience. Highlighting the month is the 18th annual Black Issues Conference on Feb. 17 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. To begin the day, the University will welcome area high school students to a 10 a.m.workshop that consists of a panel discussion of first-year experiences and personal development workshops. PJ Jones, a 2010 BGSU alumna and assistant director of multicultural and diversity affairs at the University of Florida, will give the keynote address, “Art Is Power,” during the conference luncheon, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. in 228 Union. Jones is also the co-founder of Fearlessly Fierce LLC and the co-creator and personality behind the “Educated and Melanted” podcast. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and the Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy Alumni Society. Concurrent research sessions throughout the day will cover topics such as Black Popular Music and Its Cultural Influences, The Importance of Social Justice to African Americans, Black Art and the Black Art Movement, Dealing with Aggression toward Black Females, LGBT Identity and Representation, African American College Experiences, Black Elementary Education, and Food Struggles in American and African American Culture. The conference is free for BGSU students, $15 for BGSU faculty and high school students, and $20 for others. The deadline to register is midnight Feb. 8. Click to register. Tuesdays at the Gish presents “Creed,” a sequel in the “Rocky” franchise, on Feb. 6; the Oscar-winning “Moonlight” on Feb. 13; “The Fits,” a coming-of-age story focused on dancing, on Feb. 20; and “Short Term 12,” about a group home for kids, starring Brie Larson, on Feb. 27. Screenings begin at 7:30 p.m. in Hanna Hall and each film in the series will be introduced by a BGSU doctoral student or faculty member. Admission is free. Other events during February include “The Black Art…


Energetic “Newsies” sets a high bar for future productions of Disney show

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Much went into the staging of the pilot edition of the Disney musical “Newsies.” Being among the first high schools to stage the show before it is officially released for production means the production team has to figure a lot out for themselves. There’s not a template to build on. The dress rehearsal staged for local senior citizens Wednesday was a testament to their hard work. That show also demonstrated that the most important element needed to pull the show off is collective energy, a cast that not only sings and dances together, but their hearts beat as one. “Newsies” was powered by more than 60 batteries… dancing, singing, playing, acting batteries on stage and in the orchestra pit, ably abetted by those in the wings. ”Newsies” has the emotional punch that leaves a catch in your throat at the end. That power comes from real ensemble interplay. These teens playing kids their own age capture the spirit of their peers from 120 years ago, and bring it to life on the stage. You believe these youngsters would take on the goons and police. Disney’s “Newsies: The Broadway Musical,” directed by Jo Beth Gonzalez, opens tonight (Feb. 1) at 7 p.m. in the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. It continues with 7 p.m. shows Friday and Saturday and a 3 p.m. matinee Sunday. (Click for ticket information and full cast list http://bgindependentmedia.org/start-spreading-the-news-newsies-opens-feb-1-at-bghs/). The show is the product an esteemed Broadway team with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, and book by Harvey Fierstein. “Newsies” opens with two young men just waking up in the bleak morning hours on a New York City fire escape.   Crutchie (Ethan Brown) is, true to his nickname, hobbled, but still determined to hit the streets to sell the “papes,” Newsies’ slang for newspapers. His best friend encourages him but Jack (Hudson Pendleton) has dreams. He longs to move to Santa Fe where he can “split rails” and “tell tales around the fire.” Such a different world…


Eddie Shaw, favorite of BG blues fans, dies at 80

Bluesman Eddie Shaw, who made frequent appearances in Bowling Green, died Monday (Jan. 29, 2018). His passing was confirmed by his booking agent Jay Reil. Shaw, vocalist, saxophonist, and band leader, played many shows over the past several decades in Bowling Green. Those included shows at Howard’s Cub H, and later Grounds for Thought, and the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Grounds proprietor Kelly Wicks, who booked him in his shop and at the festival, said Shaw was like Bowling Green’s resident bluesman. The feeling was mutual. Before a 2013 at Grounds, Shaw said Bowling Green was like a home away from home for him. He had a lot of friends in the area, he said. Shaw, 80, started playing the blues as a teenager in Mississippi. In 1972 he joined blues legend Howlin’ Wolf’s band, the Wolf Pack, and when the leader died in 1976, Shaw took the helm and continued to lead the group until his death. Shaw most recently performed in Bowling Green as the closing act of the 2014 Black Swamp Arts Festival.


Visiting photographer Osamu James Nakagawa captures intimate images of life & death within his family

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For Osamu James Nakagawa photography is a matter of life and death. Nakagawa bookended his Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Lecture on campus last week with two images. One showed him still a baby being greeted by exuberant relatives on his family’s arrival back in Tokyo. It was the first time, they’d seen either him or his older brother, both of whom were born in New York City. He closed with a video of his mother on her death bed, close up images of her last breaths. This autobiographical streak runs through the photography he showed to the audience gathered in the Fine Arts Center at Bowling Green State University. It does not totally define him though. Nakagawa has won acclaimed for his series of photos of the cliffs and caves on Okinawa where people go to commit suicide. The cave shots are so dark that they barely registered on the screen. He shot them he said at a very slow shutter speed with a flashlight as the only illumination. Also, he photographed the areas around the U.S. military bases on the Japanese island. They are stark representations of an unwanted military presence that brings crime, including rape, to the province. Nakagawa studied painting and sculpture in Houston, and then returned to Japan to work as an unpaid assistant to his uncle who was a photographer. To earn some money, he worked with American photographers helping them find the subjects and locations their editors wanted. The lists of requests were always the same – geishas strolling down the street and Mount Fuji. He knew he wanted to photograph what they were missing. He returned to Houston to get a master of fine arts in photography. In 1998, Nakagawa said his life was a whirlwind. At the time his daughter was born, his father was diagnosed with cancer. The photographer was living in Indiana, where’d he’d just taken a position at the University of Indiana. “All these things were happening,” he said, “and I was…


Start spreading the news, “Newsies” opens Feb. 1 at BGHS

From BGHS ALL-SCHOOL MUSICAL The musical Newsies will be on stage at Bowling Green School’s Performing Arts Center February 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at 7 pm and February 4th at 3 pm. Newsies is based on the 1992 Disney film about the true newsboy strike of 1899 which was precipitated by a rise in cost from .50¢ to .60¢ per 100 papers for the already struggling newsies by owners of the two largest papers in New York William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. The musical condenses the publishers down to just Pulitzer and his paper The World. Bowling Green High School is one of about six schools in the nation producing this pilot for Disney Theatricals. To pilot a show means that after producing the show, the musical’s directors send suggestions to the licensing agency in NYC for refining the production prior to the release of staging rights to all high school groups. BGHS has also piloted Disney’s Mary Poppins and Peter and the Starcatcher. The show is earlier this year because Disney wants the feedback earlier to make licensing available in the spring. Jack Kelly is play by junior Hudson Pendleton. Katherine Plumber is played by senior Sarah Kerr, Joseph Pulitzer is played by senior Justin McKenzie, Medda Larkin is played by junior Olivia Strang, and Davey is played by senior Joseph Kalmar. Sophomore Ethan Brown plays Crutchie and sophomore Kaitlyn Dorman plays Spot Collins. The cast includes other standout performances by Kelli Amburgey, Madison Barbour, Chloe Beeker, Stephanie Bell, Sophia Bird, Cole Boswell,  Abraham Brockway, Kathy Bui, Alyssa Clemens,  Megan Clifford, Leela Cromwell, Maddy Depinet, Gracen Dixon, Isaac Douglass, James Eddington, Sophi Hachtel, Sarah Kelly, Luke Kobylski, Anita Kukeli, Dea Kukeli, Thomas Long, Jadyn Lundquest, Brianna Marovich, Abbey Matthews, Breanna Matney, Emma Matney, Sasha Meade, Jessica Miller, Darryl Moorhead, Cole Nemeth, Allison Nonnemaker, Manita Ojha, Charlotte Perez, Natalia Pollock-O’Dorisio, Alexis Roehl, Liam Rogel, Mary Shilling, Terra Sloane, Jason Trimpey, Abigail Utz, Bob Walters, Anne Weaver, Nina Zhu, Ashlee Ziegler, Kaleigh Ziegler, Olivia Zmarzly The play is directed by…


Arts beat: Miguel Zenon’s lessons go beyond music

By DAVID DUPONT BGSU Independent News Jazz composer and saxophonist Miguel Zenon had a lot to teach students during his residency this week at the College of Musical Arts. He had technical lessons about chord substitutions and keeping time. The biggest lesson, though, students may have come away with is how to be humble. Zenon was never less than gracious and appreciative whether dealing with a local writer or the audience that attended the Thursday night concert that culminated his two-day visit. He thanked the audience for coming, appearing genuinely touched by their interest in his work. And this from an artist who has been, informally at least, designated a genius. Back in 2008, Zenon received an early morning call informing him that he’d been named a MacArthur Fellow, known in the press as the “genius award.” The award bestows more than an honorific for the Puerto Rican native, but a generous annual grant intended to allow the recipients to pursue their passions without strictures. Zenon said the person who called to inform him of the prize said this would probably be the last time he’d hear from the foundation. And what Zenon has chosen to do with part of his fellowship also imparts an important lesson. He has founded Caravan Cultural. Zenon spoke of the project and his life to a class in Hispanic Culture taught by Francisco Cabanillas. His lecture was in Spanish but he switched to English to answer questions in deference to jazz students who joined midway through. Caravan Cultural presents jazz concerts in locales throughout Puerto Rico. In one location the locals restored a hall that had been home to the local concert band specifically for the visit. Zenon brings a band. The musicians teach local youngsters who then have a chance to join them on stage. These are youngsters like himself. He grew up with little money, but was able to attend a performing arts school starting when he was 11. There he learned alto saxophone. It wasn’t until he was a teenager that…