Arts and Entertainment

Pressure is on for top teen pianists at Dubois competition at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News This weekend a couple dozen of the best teenage pianists in the country will converge on Kobacker Hall on the Bowling Green State University campus for the David D. Dubois Piano Festival and Competition. They will perform music for solo piano for a small audience panel of judges, fellow pianists, and a few anxious family members. Music lovers from the community are welcome as well and will be rewarded by hearing talent akin to what’s heard on the National Public Radio show “From the Top.” There won’t be jokes, and endearing stories though. Just music played in the most rigorous setting a musician can encounter. At stake are cash prizes. The winner receives $3,000, second place $2,000, and third place $1,000. The semifinals will take place Saturday from 9 a.m.to 5 p.m. with the finals Sunday from 9 a.m.to noon. The winners will be announced at 12:30 p.m. This year the guest pianist will be Spencer Myer. (Christopher O’Riley, host of “From the Top” did the honors in 2012). Myer performed in many competitions, especially as he was launching his career. Even when he didn’t get past the first round, he feels he gained from those experiences. He made contacts and was heard. “Things always came from that exposure.” A competition like the Dubois pushes students to learn a number of pieces, most of them memorized. The Dubois participants prepare programs 20 to 30 minutes long. They must select pieces from three of four musical eras, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary, including at least one classical sonata. All music written before 1945 must be…


Reflections on time & space win top prize at BGSU undergraduate exhibit

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent Media Kai Lee Liu has time on her side. The Bowling Green State University art major junior already has had her work included in international exhibits. Sunday at the opening of the Undergraduate Art Exhibit on campus she got some hometown love to go with it. Her video installation won the Medici Circle Best of Show Award and her piece “Time Is Passing Because Of People” won first prize in ceramics. Faculty member Leigh-Ann Pahapill, who Liu said was her “inspiration,” said that the young artist had great prospects. That’s evident from pieces being selected for shows in Dubai and China. Standing near her prize-winning ceramic piece, done under the tutelage of John Balistreri, Liu talked about the concept behind it. Time exists, yet it is people who give it meaning. The two towering sections of the piece evoke a canyon. The viewer feels small next to them. The piece opens up on one side, with a narrower opening on the other. Nearby is a small companion piece. This play on scale changes the way the viewer perceives their sense of scale and time, Liu said. The installation has an 18-minute video of nature scenes, including a looming moon and cascading waves, marking the passage of a day that is viewed through a thicket of glass tubes. Liu said the idea was to animate the glass as it catches the reflections of light from the video. University music student Nicholas Taylor provided the ambient score for the piece. He noted that his collaborator had submitted five pieces for inclusion in the show. Four were accepted….


Globe trotting pianist Spencer Myer visits familiar ground in Bowling Green

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Pianist Spencer Myer is no stranger to Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts. Growing up in North Ridgefield, he traveled to BGSU for a workshop with the Men’s Choir and a couple master classes with Jerome Rose. When he returns next weekend guest artist for the David D. Dubois Piano Competition, he’ll be the one presenting the master class. The master class will be Friday at 2:30 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall in the Moore Musical Arts Center. Myer will present a recital in Kobacker Hall Saturday Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children, and BGSU music majors are free with student ID. He will then serve on the jury for the finals of the piano competition on Sunday morning starting at 9 a.m. Two of the pieces on his recital program may well be played by Dubois competitors. Myer will open his Saturday concert with Mozart’s Sonata in G Major, which he said is common for students to play but often neglected by professionals. He’ll also perform Maurice Ravel’s “Jeux D’Eau.” A technically difficult piece that has been played in past Dubois events. The centerpiece of his concert will be Robert Schumann’s “Fantasie.” It’s been in his concert repertoire for two years. “I’ve just adored the piece for so long and how poignant it is. It’s been hard to let go of it.” The piece “is so deep and so sincere. … It’s clearly a statement of love from Schumann to Clara. It has so many special moments. “It’s a piece I’ve held on…


Concerto concert puts spotlight on top BGSU musicians

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The annual Concerto Concert at the Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts puts students in the spotlight. The soloists are students who won their chance in the spotlight in a competition in December. The conductors are students. And the Bowling Green Philharmonia is a student orchestra. Listeners should expect, however, nothing less than a top quality in the performance. Graduate student Zachary Nyce’s performance in the dress rehearsal of Witold Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Piano was proof of that. The notes had hardly stopped reverberating in Kobacker Hall when Emily Freeman Brown, director of orchestral studies at BGSU, strode onto the stage. “There are very few university situations where this could be done,” she told the assembled musicians including conductor Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia. The concerto composed in 1988 will conclude the concert Saturday at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall on campus. Tickets are $10, $5 for students and free for BGSU music majors (and minors enrolled in MUS 99) with stickers on their IDs. Also on the program will be: • Undergraduate division winner Brianna Buck, saxophone, playing Elergie and Rondo by Karl Husa, conducted by Robert Ragoonanan. • Undergraduate division winner Yuefeng Liu, piano, playing Piano Concerto in G minor by Camille Saint-Saens, conducted by Santiago Piñeros-Serrano. • Graduate division winner, Benjamin Crook, piano, playing Piano Concerto in C minor by Ludwig von Beethoven, conducted by Evan Meccarello. Nyce was well aware of the challenge the Lutoslawski piece posed for his fellow musicians. “It’s a real challenge. I picked a very difficult piece. It’s something that needs to be heard and…


Graduate brass quintet to perform Feb. 11

The Bowling Green State University Graduate Brass Quintet will perform Thursday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall in the Moore Musical Arts Center on campus. The quintet is made up of five graduate assistants at BGSU chosen by audition. Members are: Jon Britt and Christina Komosinski, trumpets, Luke Dickow, horn, Drew Wolgemuth, trombone, and Diego Flores, tuba. The five are all working towards master’s degrees in performance. On the program will be: “Scherzo” by John Cheetham; “Rounds and Dances” by Jan Bach; Brass Quintet No. 3 by Victor Ewald; and Brass Quintet No. 1 by Arthur Frackenpohl.


Chris Buzzelli still in tune with jazz

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Chris Buzzelli didn’t change his tune when he retired. A guitar professor and director of the Bowling Green State University Jazz Vocal Group, Buzzelli retired from the university last May after teaching there since 1984. While he keeps active as a guitarist, he’s also wanted to maintain a hand in vocal music. So this summer he got together a few former students for a concert at the Hayes Home in Fremont. This Saturday, the group billed as Chris Buzzelli and Friends will perform at the Pemberville Opera House at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Live in the House series. Tickets are $12 at the door or at Beeker’s General Store in Pemberville or by calling Carol Bailey at 419-287-4848. Joining Buzzelli, who sings and plays guitar, for the show will be vocalists Samantha Ulrich, Emily Holsoe and David Breen with instrumental support from Ariel Kasler, piano, and Kevin Eikum, bass. “This is kind of my ideal group,” Buzzelli said. “I get to play, to sing, to write. It contains all my interests.” Buzzelli didn’t seek out the job of directing the jazz vocal group. Paul Hunt had done it for a number of years and when he left there were a couple short-term directors. When one of them stepped aside on short notice, Dean Richard Kennell asked Buzzelli to take over. “I said I would until he found someone else.” It became a long-term commitment. “I loved doing the group at the school and I’ve gotten into a lot of arranging and getting my arrangements published. It became an unexpected part of my…


Cosmic sounds of ‘Surface Image’ transform ClaZel

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Pianist Vicky Chow and composer Tristan Perich lifted the roof off the ClaZel Monday night. Together with an ensemble 40 loudspeakers emitting digital signals, they transformed the movie house turned nightclub into cosmic atmosphere, a vision of deep space. And what were those sounds coming from the loudspeakers? Cosmic peepers? Chow performed Perich’s “Surface Image” as part of the Music at the Forefront Series, sponsored by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at Bowling Green State University. The expansive piece unfolds then folds back onto itself over more than an hour. Chow articulates layers of simple figures, the musical equivalent of haiku, while buzzes, bleeps, clicks provide a counterpoint. Those lines of the counterpoint never meet. The pianist is showered by signals that demand translation; the piano expresses a longing to translate. Yet the electronics remain on another plane, emanating from deep space, heard in a darkened room. Still a mystery. The effect is at once something grand and marvelous, but also lonesome. Chow’s performance was at once virtuosic in its relentlessness. Yet remains intimate and meditative. The music flirts with monotony, and with its subdued colors actually would work well in the background, a suitable soundtrack for that state between wakefulness and sleep. Yet its profundity demands concentration as the figures shift, rise in volume, fade. A simple figure will assert itself in the middle, dropping at odd places over the steady pulse that undergirds the piece. Usually concerts at the ClaZel have a more informal air – that’s the appeal. People gather, chat at the bar, and serious listeners sit in the…


Teaching & performing linked in music of Charles Saenz

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Charles Saenz has gotten a lot of mileage out of Charles Chaynes’ Concerto for Trumpet. In 1994 when he was a junior at New Mexico State University, Saenz played the concerto in the International Trumpet Guild Solo Competition. He came away with first prize and a dream. Then 20 years later Saenz recorded the concerto. It serves as the centerpiece for his first CD, “Eloquentia,” which was released in December by Beauport Classical. The concerto, Saenz, 44, said, has been “a signature piece” that he has been studying and performing for over 20 years. “I’ll put it away for a few years and then bring it back and perform it when I’m at a different point in my playing.” He’ll find some things easier, and other aspects just as difficult. “It really challenges, in different ways, my physical abilities on the instrument,” he said. “But along with that it’s very challenging harmonically. His language is one that takes time to understand.” Saenz’ winning performance in the college competition set the trajectory for his career. He had been planning to follow his father’s footsteps and become a band director. After winning the major competition, he realized he wanted to be a performer and college professor. That meant putting “blinders on,” and concentrating on the performance, and committing to getting a graduate degree. “You start seeing little benchmarks along the way. It kind of propelled my career in a direction that led here.” Saenz has been a professor of trumpet at Bowling Green State University for 15 years. During that time he’s remained an active performer….


Clazel will be buzzing with new piano concerto Monday

The Clazel in downtown Bowling Green is not the place you’d expect to hear a piano concerto. On Monday night at 8, though, pianist Vicky Chow will perform a recently minted concerto. Instead of strings and winds, Chow will be flanked by banks of small loudspeakers. Her performance of Tristan Perich’s “Surface Image” for piano and 40 channel 1-bit electronics is part of the Bowling Green State University MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music’s Music at the Forefront series. Chow gave the premier performance of “Surface Image” in February, 2013 in Brooklyn, New York. When it was released on New Amsterdam records the following year, it landed a multiple best-of-the-year lists. According to the label’s website: “Chow’s dynamic performance is swept up in a sublime flurry of dazzling 1-bit sounds, simultaneously entangling and unraveling over the hour long journey. The line between electric and organic is artistically blurred, as the simple hand-wired electronics fuse with the individual notes of the piano on the same, expansive plane.” A native of Vancouver, Canada, Chow was invited at 9 to perform at the International Gilmore Music Keyboard Festival and the next year performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. She has made a name as a performer of contemporary works giving the premier performances and recording works by Steve Reich, Michael Gordon, John Zorn and others. She is the pianist with the Bang on a Can All Stars, Grand Band, New Music Detroit and The Virgil Moorefield Pocket Orchestra. On Sunday at 3 p.m., Chow will perform a solo recital of favorite contemporary pieces in the Great Gallery of the Toledo Museum of Art.


Walk of life: Noted bassist Robert Hurst offers straight talk to BGSU jazz students

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jazz performance comes down to conversation. On the stage that means the bass player communicating with the drummer, and both communicating with the saxophonist, explained award-winning bassist and composer Robert Hurst. Off the stand it means listening to records together, and talking about the music. When he traveled with singer Dianne Krall’s band, the musicians would take turns assembling playlists to listen to during long bus trips. It’s about the hang, said Jeff Halsey, the director of Jazz Studies at Bowling Green State University. Hurst, who has played with a who’s who of the jazz world, in the Tonight Show Band and composed for movies, was on campus last week. He performed with the university’s top student big band, and then on Friday held a master class with a couple student jazz combos. Communication also means being clear with yourself, Hurst, 51, said. “Two things I try to ask myself,” he said: “How can I make this groove better? … Are you being a drag?” That applies not just to the bandstand, he said, but life in general. Hurst carries his prominence lightly, not afraid to crack a joke. When saxophonist David Mirarchi said the trio was going to play the standard tune “I Hear a Rhapsody,” Hurst came back at him with “I hear a Rap CD?” He praised the group he heard, but also offered some advice based on his decades as a musician. A solo, he said, should have a theme, a rhythmic fragment or motif. His approach is to work with whatever he plays first in a solo. He also…


“The Butler” Author Serves Up History From the Basement

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Reporter Wil Haygood had to watch two episodes of “The Price Is Right” before he could start interviewing Eugene Allen and his wife, Helene. Haygood had come to the Allen home because he was interested in hearing about Allen’s experience as an African-American butler in the White House. In the living room there was little sign of his former employment. A single photo with Nancy Reagan. Only after two hours of talking did Helene Allen turn to her husband and say. “You can take him down now.” That’s when Haygood went down with Allen into the basement. Walking gingerly in the dark, Allen clung to the reporter’s arm, until they found the light switch. When the light went on, Haygood saw what looked “like the most gorgeous room in the Smithsonian Museum.” The writer related all this to an audience last week at Bowling Green State University’s commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Allen’s basement walls were lined with photos and memorabilia from decades of service in the White House. There were presidents and royalty – Duke Ellington for one. There were gifts, including a Stetson hat given to him by Lyndon Johnson, given to Allen by the presidents he had served. Among the items were 20 photo albums. Here was history in all its glory, in the basement of a modest Washington house. Haygood asked Allen if anyone ever written about him. “If you think I’m worthy you would be the first,” Allen replied. “That hurt to hear that,” Haygood said. Here was someone who had served his country faithfully. Here was…


Suitcase Junket delivers bone-rattling sounds at Grounds for Thought

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The suitcases for musical act The Suitcase Junket are mostly empty. Matt Lorenz, the sole human member of the ensemble, doesn’t need that much luggage to haul his personal belongings. He does share the stage with two old suitcases. A large one that he beats with a pedal operated by his right heel serves as his bass. Another smaller valise props up an old gas can which he strikes with another pedal with a baby shoe attached. Lorenz told the audience at Grounds for Thought Friday night that he’d worn that baby shoe, and his sister had as well. Sharing this familial detail is intended to make the device less creepy. Doesn’t really though. The creepy and the wistful, the otherworldly and mundane, meet in the music of The Suitcase Junket. Among the other members of the band (as Lorenz thinks of them) are a circular saw blade, a bones and bottle caps shaker, a hi-hat cymbal. He plays a guitar that he found on the river bank. It was moldy, he said. No good reason to throw out a guitar. He’s fitted out his musical set up with rescues from the junk shop and dump. And they repay his devotion though during one number Lorenz said his guitar acts up sometimes just to remind him it was “garbage.” Still that acting up, the odd, incidental vibrations and buzzes, all contribute to the “Swamp Yankee” textures of The Suitcase Junket. Lorenz is just as resourceful with his voice, he growls, even croons, on occasion. He does a version of Tibetan throat singing, where he…


BGSU student composers offer opera in a nutshell

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent Media If you want to know how daunting writing an opera is, just ask Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon. Speaking last October as the guest composer at the New Music and Art Festival at Bowling Green State University, she said writing her first opera “Cold Mountain” was an all-consuming project that occupied her full time 28 months. With casting and orchestra and staging, an opera is a massive undertaking beyond what a young composer can wrangle. BGSU has an answer though. For several years it has invited student composers to submit proposals to write micro-operas, 20 minutes or less. They use small casts and just a few instrumentalists, and can be staged in a recital hall. Four micro-operas will make their debuts Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall in Moore Musical Arts Center. Admission is free. On the program will be: * Respectable Woman by Kristi Fullerton with libretto by Jennifer Creswell who directs and Evan Mecarello, conductor. * Sensations by Robert Hosier, Ellen Scholl, director and Maria Mercedes Diaz-Garcia, conductor. * Black Earth by Jacob Sandridge, Jeanne Bruggeman-Kurp, director and Robert Ragoonanan, conductor. * The Lighthouse by Dalen Wuest, Hillary LaBonte, director, and Santiago Serrano, conductor. Writing an opera, said Hosier, “is the kind of thing I’d considered before. I actually started writing one but the forces required for a full opera, for one thing … I couldn’t get ahold of them. And it’s a lot to write for.” So he set aside the project aside. Then late last spring semester the call went out from the…


Warm up your ear drums this weekend

  If you love music then you’ll have your love to keep you warm this coming weekend. Several performances are scheduled that will beat the ear drums to a variety of beats. On Thursday and Friday the Bowling Green State University Jazz Program will host bassist Robert Hurst. A master of all media, he has Emmy, Grammys and even an Oscar nod on his resume. He first emerged on the scene as he helped set the pace for early Wynton Marsalis groups. Since then he’s played with Barbra Streisand, Yo Y o Ma and Sir Paul McCartney as well a host of jazz luminaries. He joinied Brandford Marsalis as a member of band for Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He now teaches at the University of Michigan. He’ll share the lessons of his career with students in master classes rehearsals and a concert with the university’s Lab Band I directed by Jeff Halsey Thursday at 8 p.m.in Kobacker Hall. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 on the day of the concert. On Friday Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St. Bowling Green, will host The Suitcase Junket, the one-man band of Matt Lorenz, musician, sculptor and writer. That Lorenz hails from Amherst in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley is telling. His music is full of ghosts revived in Lorenz’ dark, rough voice, that nonetheless is very much of our time. His work is a kind of spectral scholarship. At www.makingwhatiwant.com, he explains what he means by “Giving Life to Dead Things for 25 Years.” “I see it as an overriding theme in most of the work that I do. When writing…


Trombone takes center stage at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Trombone takes the spotlight in two upcoming Bowling Green State University recitals. Sunday at 3 p.m. Brass from Bowling Green State University will be presented in the Great Gallery of the Toledo Museum of Arts as part of the museum’s Sundayconcert series. The concert features trombonists William Mathis, chair of BGSU’s Department of Music Performance, and Garth Simmons, principal trombone with the Toledo Symphony and adjunct professor at BGSU. The trombonists will open the program going slide to slide on Cindy McTee’s Fanfare for Trombone in two parts. Mathis with pianist Cole Burger will perform Sonata for Trombone and Piano by James M. Stephenson. Simmons will close the program with “Arrows of Time” by Richard Peaslee  with pianist Robert Satterlee. Also on the museum program will be the Graduate Brass Quintet performing the classic brass Quintet No. 3 by Victor Ewald. Members of the quintet are: Jonathan Britt and Christina Komosinski, trumpets, Lucas Dickow, horn, Drew Wolgemuth, trombone, and Diego Flores, tuba. On Wednesday as part of the Faculty Artists Series Mathis and Simmons will reprise their duo and solo pieces in a recital with Burger and Satterlee at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall in the Moore Musical rts Center. Mathis will also perform electro-acoustic piece “Can You Crack It?” by Benjamin Taylor, who did his graduate study at Bowling Green State University. Simmons will also perform Fantasy for Trombone and Piano in E Major by Sigismond Stojowski. The concert is free as are all Faculty Artist Series events.