Arts and Entertainment

Traditional Irish music knows no season for Toraigh an Sonas

With St. Patrick’s Day just days away Toraigh an Sonas has a busy week ahead. On Saturday, the group of musicians, under the direction of Bob Midden and Mary Dennis, will perform at The Blarney Pub, 601 Monroe St. in downtown Toledo from 2 to 5 p.m. Then on Sunday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. the party moves to Dzia’s Irish Pub, 5131 Heatherdowns Blvd., Toledo. On Wednesday, the eve of the saint’s day itself, Toraigh an Sonas will hold forth at Logan’s Irish Pub, 414 S. Main St., Findlay. These are the musicians’ regular haunts, as is Stone’s Throw in Bowling Green, where they have played from time to time. St.Patrick’s Day also marks the anniversary of the 1993 debut of the Bowling Green Band Paddy’s Night Out, the forbearer of Toraigh an Sonas. Midden said that after members of that band moved away he and Dennis formed the band Toraigh. Midden, who says he has some Irish blood, took traditional Irish music to heart. It’s not just the lilting melodies and toe-tapping rhythms that captivate him. “It’s more based on a sense of community and bringing people together,” he said. “The tradition isn’t based so much on performance as much as an entertaining yourself. It rose from people entertaining each other based on what they could do.” So when he and Dennis found fewer musicians interested in playing the music, they decided to act. They started teaching others to play. They held “slow sessions” so those who only know a few tunes could get a chance to play with other musicians. Midden said probably 30 or 40 folks…


Music of now intersects with classics in Spektral Quartet concert

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News No matter the venue, the Spektral Quartet can always be found at the intersection of contemporary music and the storied sounds of the string quartet tradition. On Monday at 8 p.m. the Chicago-based string quartet will play a Music at the Forefront Concert, presented by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at Bowling Green State University. The concert will be in Bryan Recital Hall on the campus. The quartet, said violinist Clara Lyon, is interested in “creative ways of programming traditional repertoire at the same time as being part of the conversation about what’s next.” In some instances that means they will play a string quartet by Beethoven or another classical master on the same program as a newly minted composition. At Bowling Green, however, Spektral Quartet – Lyon and Austin Wulliman, violins, Doyle Armbrust, viola, and Russell Rolen, cello –is performing two contemporary pieces by Hans Thomalla and Beat Furrer. Both composers, Lyon said, are “heavily influenced by what people would call more traditional classical music, western art music of the 19th and 20th centuries. Both have an encyclopedic knowledge of that musical material, borrow from it occasionally and are very aware of their place in that quartet tradition.” Still the sound worlds they create are strikingly different. Thomalla in his Bagatellen, written for Spektral, creates nine short movements out of material culled from classical string quartets. He borrowed what he considered “unremarkable material,” a bit of a viola part from a Haydn quartet or a second violin line from a Mozart quartet. Lyon said the composer was “reticent” to tell even the…


BG High welcomes area bands for adjudicated event this weekend

About 1,800 musicians from around Northwest Ohio will gather Friday and Saturday at Bowling Green High School to test their mettle in the Ohio Music Education Association’s band contest. So in addition to making sure they’re all tuned up and ready to perform their best, band director Bruce Corrigan, colleague Jeremy Sison and their charges as well as their parents, will also be on duty playing host to their counterparts from 34 bands in a six county area. It’s a big job, Corrigan said. Each band has to have a home room assigned. And then six spaces have to be set up to accommodate full bands – two rooms for warm up, two rooms for sight reading, and two spaces for performance. All those spaces must be fitted out with music stands, percussion instruments, and chairs. The high school borrowed music stands and percussion equipment from the Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts, which is conveniently on break this week. Corrigan said other area band directors offered to help, but he said he didn’t want to inconvenience them when they were preparing for the event. The host band, Corrigan said, is responsible for handling all the paperwork involving the bands and adjudicators. Arrangements for hotel rooms for those judges must also be made. And then there’s all that traffic to direct. All this and more takes an army of volunteers, both adults and students. It’s been about 25 years, he said, since Bowling Green has hosted the Large Ensemble Adjudicated Event. For most of that time, Sylvania Southview has been the host. Corrigan said the school’s new Performing…


BGSU School of Art sees new role for itself

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The School of Art at Bowling Green State University is changing by degrees. Last week the faculty senate gave unanimous approval to a change in the school’s core degree, the Bachelor of Fine Arts. Until now students have received their BFA in either two-dimensional art – drawing, painting, photography and printmaking – or three-dimensional art – sculpture, glass and ceramics. If approved by the university’s Board of Trustees later this spring, the school will offer just one BFA, regardless of discipline. That is just one change of several that marks a shift in philosophy in the school, said interim director Charles Kanwischer. “This is a big step for the school.” “We are a collection of disciplines. … We’ve been pretty good about maintaining the autonomy of those disciplines and giving students and faculty a lot of independence within them.” But forces are pushing them together, he said. For one, the media are blending together. Kai Lee Liu, the student who won best of show honors at the recent Undergraduate Exhibit, won the top prize with an installation that employed video with glass sculptures. Another of her pieces, which was also honored, was a sculpture made of ceramics that included a recording of the artist reading a poem. The disciplines “are bleeding together,” Kanwischer said. Enrollment in the traditional disciplines is declining, a trend seen nationwide. At the same time more students were enrolling to study digital art and graphic design. The changes do not affect the BFA in Graphic Design nor BFA in Digital Arts. The enrollment in the school is actually up. The…


Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head take up residence at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Mr. Potato Head has had a storied career. The pop culture icon has been a beloved toy, a movie star, a “Spokes-spud” for physical fitness and the Great American Smokeout. He’s encouraged consumers to buy Burger King fries and citizens to vote. Now, Mr. Potato Head and his wife, Mrs. Potato Head, have become Bowling Green State University Falcons. Thanks to a donation by Matthew Wilson, of Michigan, a collection Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head toys have taken up residence in the Popular Culture Library on campus. In February, Nancy Down, head of the Popular Culture Library, and Alissa Butler, a doctoral student in American Culture Studies, gave a talk at the Women’s Center on campus to discuss the history of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and their roles in popular culture. Mr. Potato Head was born, the brainchild of inventor George Lerner, fully formed with bushy mustache in 1952. “Mr. Potato Head is the best friend a boy or girl could have,” the original ads promised, Down said. Mr. Potato Head was the first toy advertised on television. His wife arrived a year later followed by offspring, Spud and Yam. At first they were sold as disembodied features, noses, eyes, mustaches, hair, and shoes. Kids had to supply their own potatoes or other vegetable of their choice. The plastic body was introduced in 1964. The spud couple were epitomes of 1950s consumer culture. They had two cars – his with a boat trailer, hers with a shopping cart. They had a boat and a plane. They even had a train. “How many couples…


BGSU Lively Arts Calendar, March 2-16

Thursday —The Visiting Writer Series features BGSU graduate and award-winning writer George Looney, author of “Animals Housed in the Pleasure of Flesh,” “The Precarious Rhetoric of Angels,” “Open Between Us” and “Structures the Wind Sings Through.” The reading begins at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Thursday —College of Musical Arts students in the New Music Ensemble will perform as part of the Small Ensemble series. The performance begins at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free March 14—TheMusic at the Forefront Series presents the award-winning Spektral Quartet. The string quartet will perform in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center at 8 p.m. Free March 15—As a part of Jazz Week, student vocal jazz groups will perform at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free March 15—Tuesdays at the Gish continues with “The Kids Are All Right” (2010), directed by Lisa Cholodenko. Cholodenko’s film focuses on the challenges of the married suburban life of a lesbian couple and their children’s search for the identity of their biological father. This is a touching and realistic film that shows how relationships change over time and how they can often surprise us. The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. Free March 16—Jazz week continues with a performance by the BGSU College of Musical Arts Jazz faculty. The performance begins at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free


New music trio Bearthoven rocks to a different beat

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The ClaZel hosted a Music at the Forefront concert Monday night. It might as well have been a rock show. The new music trio Bearthoven vaulted the divide between avant art music and progressive rock. Ditch the expanse of scores on the music stands and the Brooklyn-based trio could perform at a rock festival. Bearthoven – Karl Larson, piano, Pat Swoboda, bass, and Matt Evans, percussion – arrived in Bowling Green (where Larson earned his doctorate) at the tail end of a short Ohio tour. The tour, which included a concert in Columbus, a house concert in Cleveland, and residency at Otterbein College, was to showcase the most recent additions to the trio’s repertoire, three works commissioned by the Johnstone Fund for New Music. Those filled out half the six-piece program. Each set was organized like the side of an LP with a soft, atmospheric soundscape, sandwiched between louder, more rhythmically insistent blasts. Bearthoven’s show opened with Ken Thomson’s aptly titled “Grizzly.” With its antic pulse and reiterated song-of-the-circuitry figures, it evoked a more urban predator. Fjola Evans’ “Shoaling” took listeners to another place altogether. Swoboda’s arco bass summoned the image of a whale rising from an icy sea. The piece opens extremely quietly, builds in tension, and complexity, and volume, then rolls back to near silence. It moves at a near geologic pace. In the end it fades into the silence of the venue’s ventilation and a car whooshing past outside. As if to answer the car’s roar, Charles Wilmoth’s “Silver Eye” opens with a bash, a complaint, even? Evans pounded the driving hard…


Austrian Writer Peter Rosei Looks Back at Europe From Perch in Bowling Green

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Austrian writer Peter Rosei is no stranger to Bowling Green State University. He has visited here four times over the past 20 years. Ohio can thank Geoff Howes, recently retired professor of German, for planting the idea that led to one of Austria’s leading writers and intellectuals boasting of his ties to Ohio. The two met in California, and the usual small talk about family and jobs led to an invitation to visit BGSU. Rosei already knew the state from a previous residency at Oberlin College. “I’m kind of a Buckeye boy,” he said. Rosei is currently a visiting professor at BGSU. He and Howes teach a weekly seminar on his novel “Wien Metropolis,” translated by Howes as “Metropolis Vienna.” On Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Grounds for Thought, they will give a joint reading of selections from the book. Rosei will read in German, and Howes will read the same selection in English. The novel is a sprawling tale featuring a host of characters. “It’s about the social and political background of the post war period,” Rosei said. The novel takes the reader from the days just after World War II ended to the current day. And the discussions in class, conducted both in German and English, touch on parallels between what has occurred in Europe and what is happening in the United States. The political shift to the right, Rosei said, is occurring in Austria as well. He finds the prospect of those on the extreme right winning “absolutely terrifying.” He attributes this rightward swing to the lingering effects, financial and emotional,…


Bearthoven Set to Upend Musical Expectations at ClaZel Show

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bearthoven is not what it seems. First of all, there are no bears. Second, though the name evokes that of a classical composer immortalized in busts that decorate piano teachers’ studios, the trio is not dedicated to playing centuries-old, or even decades-old, music. Third, though the instrumentation, piano, bass and percussion, may call to mind the classic jazz piano trio, this is not a jazz group. The pianist allows he’s not much of a jazz player. Bearthoven is a trio ready to upend expectations, even those it sets for itself. The Brooklyn based trio of Karl Larson, piano, Pat Swoboda, bass, and Matt Evans, percussion, will perform a “Music at the Forefront” concert Monday at 8 p.m. at the ClaZel in downtown Bowling Green. The free concert is sponsored by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at Bowling Green State University. “Our music is a weird split between very loud and very soft. We have this strange dichotomy of pieces,” Larson said in a recent telephone interview. Some work is akin to rock ‘n’ roll. Other pieces are minimalist, even ethereal. Larson, who received his doctorate in contemporary music from BGSU in 2012, said the members all met through the Bang On A Can Summer Institute in North Adams, Massachusetts. Though they played in different ensembles together, the trio itself first performed in December, 2013. All three live on the same corner in Brooklyn, New York. “We knew we wanted to do this thing, and we knew there weren’t pieces that existed for this instrumentation. So we put the word out,” he said. Since they…


BGSU Opera Theater Gives Voice to Tragic Tale of Love

Seldom does an opera arrive on the stage at Bowling Green State University with such high expectations. “Cavalerria Rusticana,” which opens Friday at 8 p.m. with a matinee Sunday at 3 p.m. in Donnell Theatre, features native son Shawn Mathey who has already made his mark on international stages. And opposite his Turiddu as Santuzza is Jennifer Cresswell, who also has impressive professional stage credits, perfectly cast as the woman scorned. The leads deliver, not just through voices that have the Donnell vibrating with their passion, but also through their acting, which brings their characters to life. It’s worth looking over at Cresswell during the scene in which her heart-to-heart talk with Turiddu is interrupted by Lola (Kyle Schreiber). Mathey’s character immediately abandons Santuzza as he dotes on the woman he had hoped to marry. Without a word, Cresswell expresses disdain both for her rival and her lover as well as self-pity for herself. Santuzza had slept with Turiddu when he arrived back in his village to find Lola had married the teamster Alfio (John Mink). That dalliance had its desired effect, making Lola jealous, and she and Turiddu reunited. Tragedy ensues, all played out in full-throated singing. Director Jesse Koza is able to place this sordid tale within the context of the village, albeit a village populated solely with young, good looking people. Central to village life is the trattoria run by Turiddu’s mother Lucia (Betsy Bellavia). With a few spare strokes, Koza sketches the sense of a community at once earthy and devout. The play takes place at Easter, which sets the characters’ sins in stark relief. Santuzza,…


Skip McDonald Sings the Blues and So Much More

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Skip McDonald may be the featured artist at “The Blues, The Hines Farm Blues Club and Beyond and 21st Century Blues with Skip McDonald AKA Little Axe” on campus, just don’t pin him down to performing what you may consider “the blues.” When he walks on stage listeners can “expect blues, expect some funk, expect some gospel, expect some jazz, expect a good time,” he said. McDonald will play during the event which will run Thursday from 4 to 5:15 p.m. at Bowling Green State University’s Student Union Theater and then Friday 7 to 10 p.m. at Oak Openings Metropark Lodge, 5230 Wilkins Road, Whitehouse. “I’m an in-the-moment kind of guy,” he said. He doesn’t decide what to wear until the last minute, or what to play until he hits the stage. “That makes it exciting for me.” Otherwise it just becomes “run of the mill.” He wants to be true to himself and the moment. “I don’t want to be the person who imitates me, I want to be me.” McDonald doesn’t care much for labels. All these different genres, he said, are just for marketing. “You call it something so you can sell it.” At various times he’s been  a folk musician and a jazz musician. He was a session player for Sugarhill Records and played on early rap records, including those by Grandmaster Flash. Disco, rock, house, folk, blues, jazz, the labels don’t matter. ”When it comes down to it, there are only two kinds of music – music you like, and music you don’t.” Growing up in Dayton, McDonald, 67,…


Friends serve up support at benefit for Corner Grill staff (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Howard’s Club H got to rocking a little early Saturday. At 2 p.m. the Mechanical Cat was on stage rapping about other worlds against a psychedelic background. The business at hand though was a centered on a very real world cause – helping the 10 or so employees of the Corner Grill, who have lost work because of the Feb. 1 fire. The Grill is a beloved part of the downtown scene, whether for folks people heading to work at dawn, the employees from the county courthouse down the block, or the late night revelers and the workers who serve them. It’s been that for decades. So Howard’s, another venerable downtown establishment, opened its doors to host the benefit that ran from early afternoon to early the next morning with a full slate of bands, as well as a buffet of home cooked food and raffle items. Howard’s employee Nikki Cordy who organized the benefit reported: “It was absolutely amazing. It certainly exceeded my expectations. We had perfect weather,everyone was in such a positive and fun mood,we ran on time,all the bands showed up & kicked ass,we raised over $4,000. I couldn’t possibly be happier.” Larry Cain, the owner of the Grill, said he was glad to see the turnout to help his employees. They’re a team, he said. He now expects the Grill will take three to four months to open its doors. A glance inside the diner shows a gutted interior. The linoleum counter, Cain said, has been saved. That’s good, given he wants to preserve as much of the eatery’s classic…


Pro Musica celebrates music students’ travels near & far

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Pro Musica sends university music students around the world so they can learn and perform. Sometimes those trips send them far from home; sometimes they bring them home. That was the case with Chi-Him Chik. Pro Musica help fund the Bowling Green State University student’s attendance at a music festival in his native Hong Kong. While there, the saxophonist said, he met composers and arranged to commission new pieces for saxophone. That will mean more concerts back home both in Hong Kong and in Bowling Green. Chik was one of five students who performed Sunday afternoon in the atrium of the Wood County Public Library in the annual Coffee & Classics concert. He played “The Jungle,” a contemporary piece for solo saxophone by Christian Lauba. Pianist Josh Wang, who performed two preludes by Sergei Rachmaninoff, also used a Pro Musica grant to travel home. In his case, Wisconsin. He put together a concert tour. Not only did it give him a chance to perform his repertoire in concert several times in a compressed period of time but it gave him experience booking and promoting the tour. It went so well, Wang said, that several venues have asked him to return. Singer Suzanne Pergal traveled to Nice, France, for a summer academy. For her, to be taught by French teachers and be surrounded by native French speakers was invaluable. Sunday, though, she sang in English – four selections from “Ten Blake Songs” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, performed with Robert Ragoonanan on oboe. Caleb Georges performed a prelude from a suite by J.S. Bach on viola….


Black Swamp Players bring the marvelous world of Seuss to life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The fantastic world of Dr. Seuss tells of many amazing feats and fanciful places. Is any of that as wondrous as the Black Swamp Players managing to fit his fantastical world onto the small stage at the First United Methodist Church? That stage is bursting with color, melody and dance as the Players, in collaboration with Horizon Youth Theatre, present “Seussical the Musical” Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. returning Feb. 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. in the church at 1526 E. Wooster St. Tickets are $15 and $12 for students and seniors from Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green or online at http://www.blackswampplayers.org/ticket-sales/. The show, by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, shapes a plot around several famous Seuss tales. As fun as it would be, this is not The Complete Works of Dr. Seuss (Abridged). Instead with The Cat in the Hat (Jeff Guion) as the Lord of Misrule, the script focuses on the adventures of JoJo (Maddox Brosius), a thoughtful kid from Who, the smallest planet in the sky, and the dutiful elephant Horton, who discovers Who on a puff ball. Among the three they tap into the key themes of the world of Seuss. Each is his own person at odds with society. The Cat in the Hat celebrates a sense of playful anarchy, and encourages JoJo, a boy whose great fault is he thinks too much, to be true to himself even if it means trouble for others. Horton is thoughtful in another way. Deeply…


BGHS grad Clayton Krueger helped bring ‘Mercy Street’ to TV

Viewers of the PBS Civil War drama “Mercy Street” have been primed for an explosive finale to the limited series. Rebels are planning an attack on President and Mrs. Lincoln when they visit the hospital at the center of the action. The climax to the series will play out Sunday at 10 p.m. on WBGU. Another cliffhanger awaits: Will “Mercy Street” be back for a second run? Among those awaiting final word is Clayton Krueger, a 1999 Bowling Green High School graduate, who is a senior vice president for television at Scott-Free Productions, which worked developing the series for PBS. In a recent telephone interview he said the company was working on scripts for a second season pending the go ahead from top brass at PBS. The production of “Mercy Street” broke from PBS pattern of importing its drama series from BBC in England. And, he said, more may be on the way. The Civil War potboiler didn’t start as a drama series. The creator Lisa Wolfinger was planning a documentary series about medicine during the Civil War, and she brought in writer David Zabel to help with the scripting. Over the course of development the idea of a fictional series emerged. They sought out Scott Free, owned by blockbuster producer Ridley Scott, “to lend some oversight to the production,” Krueger said. They met with Zabel and developed scripts. “PBS incredibly supportive,” Krueger said. “They know their audience so well.” While some networks “can get really prescriptive… PBS never took that approach.” The episodes were filmed on location in Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia. Using two directors, each in charge of…