Arts and Entertainment

Mike Stern headlines Orchard Guitar Festival at BGSU

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Acclaimed jazz guitarist Mike Stern, who first made his mark in the early 1980s playing with Miles Davis, will headline the 2018 Orchard Guitar Festival at Bowling Green State University. The festival will take place Sept. 28 and 29 at the Moore Musical Arts Center, and also features guitarists Adam Schlenker and Jack Petersen. To contemporary jazz guitar aficionados, Stern is regarded as one of the true guitar greats of his generation. He is a player of remarkable facility whose searing lines are informed mainly by bebop and the blues while also carrying a rock-tinged intensity. Stern launched his solo career in 1985, and has released 17 recordings as a band leader, including six Grammy-nominated albums. “I love to meet with music students,” Stern said. “It’s really fun, especially at BGSU. I’ve been there a couple of times over the years, back when (retired professor of jazz guitar) Chris Buzzelli was still teaching there. Usually, I learn more from the students, but I love doing whatever I can do in terms of helping them out. “I’ll probably play a little bit at the teaching clinic, but do more talking because I like to keep it kind of loose so everyone is comfortable and can ask questions. I’ll try to get everybody involved as much as possible. It’s fun and I hope, certainly, informative for other guitar players.” Stern suffered a serious accident in the summer of 2016 that left him with two broken arms and nerve damage in his right hand that prevented him from even holding a pick without some extra support. “I had a bad fall in New York and broke both of my humerus bones and I developed some nerve damage in my right hand,” he said. “I found a way to keep playing within a couple months because I wanted to keep going, which I recommend to everybody. No matter what brings them down, to try to fight it and keep going.” His latest album, “Trip” (2017), is his first since recovering from his accident. Stern is back on top of his game, playing with typical authority and prodigious chops on this all-star outing, which features longtime colleagues trumpeters Randy Brecker and Wallace Roney, saxophonists Bob Franceschini and Bill Evans, bassists Victor Wooten and Tom Kennedy and drummers Dave Weckl, Dennis Chambers and Lenny White. Stern said he had a difficult time trying find a way to play after the accident. “I wrestled with a few different methods but now I use glue to hold the pick because I had a couple of surgeries on my hand, including some tendon transfers, and was able to support the pick, but not enough without this glue I use,” he said. “I had some ulnar nerve damage so my hand is kind of crunched or bent a little bit, but you find ways of getting through stuff. It’s improved since then and I feel much more comfortable now in terms of playing.” Through all of his struggles, Stern has been able to keep his sense of humor as well as his world-class talents. “I called my latest album ‘Trip,’” he said, laughing. “The first half-year after the accident was hard, but I still went on the road and did what I had…


BGSU library will host talk on efforts to censor comics

From UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES Charles Coletta will speak on Seduction of the Innocent: The Anti-Comic Books Crusade of the 1950s & Beyond Thursday, September 27, at  1 p.m. in Pallister Conference Room, Jerome Library This presentation highlights the backlash against comic books during the 1950s following the publication of Dr. Frederic Wertham’s book The Seduction of the Innocent: The Influence of Comic Books on Today’s Youth. The presentation includes a discussion of efforts to ban comics today. Wertham’s text fueled widespread fears that comic books were a leading cause of juvenile delinquency, sexual perversion, and rising crime rates. He even claimed heroes like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were promoting immorality. His anti-comics crusade led to Congressional hearings, book burnings and the rise of the Comics Code Authority, an industry self-censorship board that lasted until the early 21st century.   About the presenter Dr. Charles Coletta is a lecturer in BGSU’s Department of Popular Culture, teaching a variety of courses related to comics and popular culture. He has served as a contributing writer to several academic texts on comics. In 2006, he assisted BGSU alumna Eva Marie Saint in preparation for her role as Martha Kent in Superman Returns. He is co-chair of the 2019 BGSU Batman Conference at BGSU.


Deeply moving ‘Considering Matthew Shepard’ leaves BGSU audience at a loss for applause

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News “Considering Matthew Shepard” ended in silence. A packed Kobacker Hall went quiet as the C-triad softly hummed by the members of the vocal ensemble Conspirare and the 100 singers filling the mezzanine faded out. At first it seemed the usual pause at the end of a concert. But the silence extended in length, and somehow increased in depth. The conductor-composer Craig Hella Johnson stood in front of the stage head bowed. Silence. Then his head rose and his gestured to the performers on stage. The audience erupted. The applause rapturous, as loud as the previous moments were soft. On their feet, the audience called the ensemble out for three curtain calls. The applause did not so much break the silence as let loose the emotions it contained. The listeners and performers had for the past 100 minutes lived the story of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man beaten and left for dead in October 1998 outside of Laramie, Wyoming. When he died several days later he became an icon for those who opposed hate crimes and longed for greater tolerance.  The oratorio was performed Monday by Conspirare at Bowling Green State University. When, a few minutes after the performance ended, about 150 members of the audience assembled in Bryan Recital Hall, members of the panel who were there to discuss the work and the meaning of Matthew Shepard, said it was hard to speak about the experience. Katie Stygles, assistant director for Diversity Education and LGBTQ+ Programs at Bowling Green State University, said she was still processing the experience. “I still have tears flowing over. It’s just so beautiful.” She sees the students she serves in Matthew Shepard. Susana Pena, director, School of Cultural and Critical Studies, said that when the news of Shepard’s death came, the nation had reached a point where it was open to hearing this tragic story, and acting on it. Olivia Behm, a graduate student, said she grew up in the world shaped by Shepard’s death. “Considering Matthew Shepard,” she said, was more than research into the facts, but allowed her to be emotionally absorbed in the story. The oratorio had plenty of facts, drawn from court documents and news reports. It included Shepard’s own words from journals and childhood jottings. It also had long passages of reflection. Johnson composed the piece over a long period of time, drawing on various texts, and in several instances collaborating with poet Michael Dennis Browne, credited as co-librettist. Johnson’s discovery of another poet’s work gave him the guiding image for the piece. Leslea Newman wrote a series of poems from the point of view of the fence on which Shepard was tied and left to die. He hung there for 18 hours barely alive before he was discovered. The man who found him at first thought he was a scarecrow. Those pieces form the skeleton of “Considering Matthew Shepard.” The first poem “The Fence (before),’ a robust bass solo, prefigures Shepard’s fate. “Will I always be out here exposed and alone?” Later in the oratorio, we hear the speech Shepard’s father gave in court. His son, the father said, was not alone. He had the stars and moon, which he’d studied as a child. He had the wind from the plains. The…


Symphony & ballet step into new partnership

The Toledo Symphony Orchestra and The Toledo Ballet have announced they will merge. The merger, announced Tuesday, Sept.  18, becomes official on Jan. 1, 2019. The new Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts though will be celebrated this weekend when Alain Trudel makes his debut as the orchestra’s music director. The performances Friday, Sept. 21 and Saturday, Sept. 22, both at 8 p.m. in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle will feature dancers from the ballet performing selections from “Swan Lake” with the orchestra. Zak Vassar, the orchestra’s CEO, said that the merger came about through a study conducted with funding from the Toledo Community Foundation’s Strategic Alliance Partnership. Originally he said that study looked at a three-way merger with the orchestra, ballet, and Toledo Opera. In the end the opera decided to remain independent, though its extensive collaborations with the symphony will continue. Vassar said the merger between the 78-year-old ballet and the 75-year-old symphony are three-fold. Primary is the fostering and expanding on the long history of collaborations, including the annual “Nutcracker,” and other productions that have included Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and Stravinsky’s “Firebird.” The merger also brings together the two educational wings of their operations. Vassar said this may be the only educational organization in the country with certification from the American Ballet Theatre and the Suzuki Association of the Americas. The symphony’s educational mission, including its youth orchestras, has 350 students, and the ballet teaches 300 students. Vassar also said that the new organization will mean administrative efficiencies, resulting in financial savings. The goal, he said, is “optimizing” the saving in he back end while “maximizing” what’s presented to the public. Trudel said celebrating this collaboration has long been part of how this weekend’s concerts, which also mark the beginning the orchestra’s 75th anniversary festivities, were programmed. He said he wanted to open with a major statement, so he programmed Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. He wanted to recognize the area’s musical culture by presenting “Caldera” by Christopher Dietz, who teaches composition at Bowling Green State University, and then celebrate the community with Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” with dancers from the Toledo Ballet.


Toledo Symphony, Toledo Ballet to merge

From TOLEDO ALLIANCE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS The Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet today announced plans to merge the area’s oldest performing arts institutions. The Toledo Symphony, celebrating its 75th anniversary, is recognized as one of the finest regional orchestras in the country. The Toledo Ballet, celebrating its 78th season, is recognized as one of America’s finest pre-professional dance programs. By joining forces, the Symphony and Ballet will build on an accumulated 153 years of performing arts history to present the finest performing arts in the region and reaffirm their shared focus upon education. The merged organization will be known as the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts, or T.A.P.A. The new non-profit is expected to form effective January 1, 2019. The Symphony and Ballet will continue to operate as sibling brands under the T.A.P.A. umbrella. Zak Vassar, President & CEO of the Toledo Symphony will become CEO of the combined organization. The Toledo Ballet has operated for several months without an Executive Director. “This partnership is a natural one,” says Vassar, “The Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet have worked together for over 70 years, with the Symphony serving as the Ballet’s pit orchestra. Our archives are rich with collaborations, and we have a great history of working together to entertain and inspire this community.” The Toledo Symphony first performed with the Toledo Ballet in the 1949 performance of the Nutcracker. The orchestra has supported the Ballet in every Nutcrackersince, celebrating the nation’s longest-running production of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet. Additionally, the Symphony has presented dancers from Toledo Ballet in many of its series performances, including the Rite of Springin 2015. “Marie Vogt choreographed several special performances for the Toledo Symphony in the 1950s under then-Music Director Wolfgang Streseman,” recalls Robert Bell, President Emeritus of the Toledo Symphony. “There were special performances of music by Copland and Enescu at the Paramount and Rivoli theaters, too. The Ballet’s dancers beautifully enhanced each program with fresh choreography.” During this formative period of the Toledo Ballet under Marie’s passionate and unwavering commitment to the art, the Symphony retained the Ballet for a variety of educational concerts as well imaginatively staged productions of the Nutcracker Suite. Besides presenting memorable performances, the Symphony and Ballet have common roots in education. The Toledo Symphony, through the Toledo Symphony School of Music and three Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestras, provides music instruction to nearly 350 student performers each year. The Toledo Ballet School presents a comprehensive instruction program, including classical ballet, ballroom, jazz, tap, and hip hop. The Ballet School carries certification from the American Ballet Theatre and welcomes 300 students annually. “The Toledo Ballet and Toledo Symphony Orchestra have been collaborating for approximately 78 years,” said Lisa Mayer-Lang, Artistic Director of the Toledo Ballet. “The merging of the two organizations solidifies what has been a wonderful and long-running relationship between us. We are thrilled to take these two organizations into a new direction of collaboration not only for the arts community, but also the entire Toledo region.” The Toledo Symphony School of Music, Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestras, and Toledo Ballet School will maintain their separate instruction spaces. “In time, I expect that our education activities will come together under one roof,” says Vassar. In 2017, the Symphony and Ballet experimented with a shared service model, which ultimately led…


Dietz finds a place among the masters on Toledo Symphony program

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Alain Trudel debuts as conductor of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Sept. 21 and 22, (http://bgindependentmedia.org/toledo-symphony-welcomes-trudel-as-music-director-kicks-off-75th-anniversary-season/) he’ll call on some heavy hitters in classical music to help with the introductions. The concerts will open with Beethoven’s iconic Fifth Symphony and its majestic four-note clarion call. The second half will be devoted to the music from Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake” with dancers from the Toledo Ballet.  And then tucked in between Beethoven and the intermission will be “Caldera” by Christopher Dietz, a professor of composition at Bowling Green State University. Dietz said he’s delighted to be on the program. “It’s a little weird seeing my name in the middle between those two,” he said. While his fellow composers on the program are represented by mature work, “Caldera” was actually Dietz’ first successful orchestral piece. He composed it in 2004 while he was studying for his doctorate at the University of Michigan. The title means a large volcanic crater, but that came well after the piece was composed Dietz said. “I just wanted to write 11 to 12 minutes of robust, energetic, intense orchestral music.” This was not his first try. “The first one was so big and grotesque and impossible to play,” he said. The second was a chamber symphony that “lacked chutzpah.” “Caldera” hit the Goldilocks spot. The piece has a churning, forward momentum full of sparkling instrumental touches. Every instrument in the orchestra gets a chance to shine. Dietz said in this instance he “had a better sense of what an orchestra can do given the rehearsal time they have.” This is the second time the orchestra will perform “Caldera.” Back in 2007, then Resident Conductor Chelsea Tipton put the piece on a Classics Concert he was leading. Dietz knew Tipton through his wife, Emily Price Dietz, who has played French horn in the orchestra since 2000. Dietz said he showed the piece to the conductor and was surprised he programmed it. “Caldera” resurfaced during conversations between Dietz and the orchestra’s CEO Zak Vassar at the Toledo Symphony Student Composer Reading Sessions. Dietz initiated that program when he came to BGSU in 2010.  Vassar was interested in having a new orchestral work from the composer, and that was arranged, and will be performed next season by the symphony. Dietz, 41, on sabbatical is now working on the piece at his home in Perrysburg where he lives with his wife and their two children. In the meantime, they agreed that “Caldera” could be performed this season. Dietz said he’s been reviewing the work recently as he prepares to meet with Trudel to discuss its performance. He’s overall pleased, though he sees sections he would handle differently. The structure of the program reflects the new conductor’s sense of adventure. Symphony concerts do not typically begin with a major work, and certainly not one with the gravitas and familiarity of the Fifth.   “He’s an unconventional thinker” with a “fluid sense of programming,” Dietz said, yet someone well grounded in orchestra culture. He made his debut as a solo trombonist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra at 18. Dietz was not such a prodigy. Growing up in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, just outside Milwaukee,  he was an average trumpet player, he said. His father was an FBI agent,…


BGSU art exhibit celebrates legacy of Bernie Casey & other African-American artists

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATION Bernie Casey’s death in September 2017 was the impetus for creating an art exhibition in his honor at his alma mater. The Bowling Green State University School of Art is hosting “So Much More … Ohio’s African-American Artists” now through Oct. 21 in the Fine Arts Center’s Willard Wankelman Gallery. Though Casey was best known to the world as an actor and professional football player, he also was remarkably talented as an artist. He attended BGSU on a football scholarship and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts in 1961 and 1966, respectively. According to Charlie Kanwischer, director of the School of Art, the exhibition evolved from a tribute to the legacy of athlete, actor and visual artist Bernie Casey and other African-American alumni to a broader, intergenerational conversation among alumni, current students and invited African-American artists from Ohio and beyond, addressing the intersection of racial identity and personal experience. “This conversation recognizes that the experience of African-American students in the School of Art has sometimes been fraught, that it has been and continues to be marked by the same fitful and incomplete progress toward equity and inclusiveness too long symptomatic of race relations in our country,” Kanwischer said. “Yet, approaching the exhibition only through the lens of race risks essentializing the participating artists and their work. “‘So Much More’ is fundamentally a celebration of the deeply personal and particular vision of the artists who gently but forcefully remind us that we’re all ‘so much more’ than our racial and ethnic identities, that the sense of agency arising out of a committed studio practice is a powerful means to push back against the injustice of stereotypical assumptions.” Work by 15 alumni and current students is included in the exhibition. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Thursday, 6-9 p.m., and Sunday, 1-4 p.m. “The exhibition features (Casey’s) work and that of African-American artists with ties to him, to BGSU and to the state of Ohio,” said Jacqueline Nathan, gallery director. Casey’s art was loaned from the collections of the Thelma Harris Art Gallery in Oakland, California; Barbara DuMetz; Vicken J. Festekjian CPA Inc., and Vicki McMillan. Nathan acknowledged three BGSU alumni who helped shape the exhibition’s direction: Col. John Moore Jr., Class of 1966; Edward Sewell, Class of 1968; and attorney Vivian Moore, Class of 1967 and 1968. “I would like to thank them for all of their energy and enthusiasm in helping to organize this show,” she said. Sponsors of the exhibition include the Ohio Arts Council and the College of Arts and Sciences Ethnic Cultural Arts Program.


BGSU Arts Events through Oct. 3

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATION Through Oct. 21 – Bowling Green State University’s School of Art announces the opening of “So Much More: Ohio’s African-American Artists.” Over the course of its planning, the exhibition has evolved from a tribute to the legacy of athlete, actor, visual artist and BGSU alumnus Bernie Casey, and other African-American alumni to a broader intergenerational conversation among alumni, current students and invited African-American artists from Ohio addressing the intersection of racial identity and personal expression.  The exhibition, in the Willard Wankelman Gallery in the Fine Arts Center, runs through Oct. 21. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free Through Sept. 29 – BGSU is part of the collaborative “ScupltureX – Igniting Change: Teaching Artists and Social Practice” with the University of Toledo, Owens Community College, Toledo Museum of Art, and Contemporary Art Toledo. The BGSU exhibition, sponsored by David and Myrna Bryan and curated by Saul Ostrow, features the work of regional sculpture faculty. BGSU also will host a series of presentations, including talks by Ostrow and Mel Chin, on campus Sept. 29.  Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free Sept. 17 – The Grammy-winning choral ensemble Conspirare presents “Considering Matthew Shepard” as part of the McMaster Residency in the College of Musical Arts. Under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson, the group will perform the three-part oratorio, an evocative and compassionate musical response to the murder of Matthew Shepard. Shepard was a young, gay college student at the University of Wyoming who in October 1998 was kidnapped, severely beaten, tied to a fence and left to die in a lonely field under a blanket of stars. The performance begins at 7 p.m. in Kobacker Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center. A talkback with BGSU panelists and Johnson will follow the performance at 9 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall. Admission is free for all BGSU faculty, staff and students with ID at the door. Advance tickets for community members are $7 for adults and $3 for students and children. All tickets are $10 the day of the performance. Call the BGSU Arts Box Office at 419-372-8171 or purchase online at www.bgsu.edu/arts. Sept. 18 – Tuesdays at the Gish presents “The Florida Project” (2017, U.S., 115 minutes, directed by Sean Baker), with an introduction by Britt Rhuart, doctoral student in American culture studies. This independent film starring Willem Dafoe as a caring motel manager introduces Brooklyn Prince as a six-year-old girl who lives with her brash young mother (Bria Vinaite) in a cheap motel near Disney World. The film follows her adventures and misadventures with her raging band of friends throughout a summer. The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. in 206 Bowen-Thompson Student Union (Theater). Free Sept. 19 – The Faculty Artist Series presents saxophonist David Bixler. Bixler, associate professor and director of Jazz Activities Ensembles, is a composer and educator who has steadily garnered attention for his unique playing and writing. Joining Bixler for this performance are Jon Cowherd, piano; Ike Sturm, bass; and Rogerio Boccato, percussion. The recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Sept. 20 – The Edwin H. Simmons Creative Minds…


Toledo Symphony welcomes Trudel as music director, kicks off 75th anniversary season

From TOLEDO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA The Toledo Symphony Orchestra welcomes new Music Director Alain Trudel to Toledo for its first ProMedica Masterworks series concert for a community celebration featuring local composer Christopher Dietz from Bowling Green State University and dancers from Toledo Ballet. Two performances of Trudel’s Debut will take place Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 8 p.m. at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Peristyle Theater. “This weekend kicks off our 75th Birthday celebration. It was September 1943 when what is now the Toledo Symphony gave its inaugural performance,” said Zak Vassar, President and CEO of the Toledo Symphony. “We will spend a lot of this season looking back over the past 75 years and where the orchestra has been in our community. With Alain’s arrival, this season represents a great moment of artistic change for our organization, but it also represents a great opportunity to raise a glass to where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.” “I am so excited for our season opener and my official debut as Toledo Symphony Music Director. I’m looking forward to bringing some of my new ideas to the table in the 2018-2019 season. Each concert will feature music you know and love and something new for audiences to discover. We hope you can join us to experience the power of live music,” said Alain Trudel, Music Director of the Toledo Symphony. The programs on Friday and Saturday evening open with one of the most recognizable themes in all of music from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The opening four-note motif has been featured in movies, television commercials, and popular culture for decades, such as The Breakfast Club (1985), Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), and The PeanutsThe Toledo Symphony Orchestra welcomes new Music Director Alain Trudel to Toledo for its first ProMedica Masterworks series concert for a community celebration featuring local composer Christopher Dietz from Bowling Green State University and dancers from Toledo Ballet. Two performances of Trudel’s Debut will take place Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 8 PM at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Peristyle Theater. “This weekend kicks off our 75th Birthday celebration. It was September 1943 when what is now the Toledo Symphony gave its inaugural performance,” said Zak Vassar, President & CEO of the Toledo Symphony. “We will spend a lot of this season looking back over the past 75 years and where the orchestra has been in our community. With Alain’s arrival, this season represents a great moment of artistic change for our organization, but it also represents a great opportunity to raise a glass to where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.” “I am so excited for our season opener and my official debut as Toledo Symphony Music Director. I’m looking forward to bringing some of my new ideas to the table in the 2018-2019 season. Each concert will feature music you know and love and something new for audiences to discover. We hope you can join us to experience the power of live music,” said Alain Trudel, Music Director of the Toledo Symphony. The programs on Friday and Saturday evening open with one of the most recognizable themes in all of music from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The opening four-note motif has been featured in movies, television commercials, and popular…


Eric Steckel puts the pedal to the metal when he plays the blues

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News If you’re a fan of bluesman Eric Steckel, you can thank his Uncle Dave. Steckel, who grew up in Pennsylvania, didn’t have instruments around this house. He did hear the soundtrack of his parents’ vinyl collection. His mother and father bonded over their taste for Deep Purple and the Allman Brothers. Then on a trip to visit his uncle and aunt in Stowe, Vermont, the family visited music store. Young Steckel lit up. “I completely changed. I was at home,” the now 28-year-old said in a telephone interview this week. So his uncle suggested he and Steckel’s dad split the cost of a Stratocaster for the youngster, a guitar he’s only recently retired. Three years later Speckel recorded his first blues record, music influenced by the records his parents spun around the house. Steckel hasn’t stopped playing or developing since then. He now calls his style blues metal, a term coined in jest, that has stuck, became a hashtag, and serves as an apt description for what listeners hear in his performances. Steckel will appear tonight (Friday, Sept. 14) at 9:30 p.m. Howard’s Club H. Cover is $5. He explained blues metal as a style derived from “my heroes,” the Kings of the blues — Albert, Freddie, and B.B. — with “a big massive sound, almost a heavy metal sonically.” He said it took him years and years of playing to find his own voice within the tradition. “It’s this natural beautiful thing that happens. Every night you’re developing.” Everyone he encounters, everything he hears, everything that comes out of his guitar “comes  together into this big pot stew, and that becomes your recipe.” He said as a young musician he got a lot advice from people who wanted him to stay true to the traditional blues sound. “I had this sound, this vision, in my head that wasn’t translating. At a certain point, I said I was going to throw out the rule book and find what I heard in my head. It took a  lot of trial and error, and I found it.” That was about six years ago. Steckel is buoyed by the sales of his most recent album “Polyphonic Prayer,” which is outpacing any of his previous recordings. Like his other recordings, he financed this one himself. He’s rejected deals from record companies including Universal’s European wing. They offer “360” deals, which means they get a cut of everything he does and has done, regardless of their involvement in the project. Recordings still play a role in his career. “The CD form is a dying medium.” But fans still want new music, and recordings  are “a way showing your public this is where I am; this is what I think; what I’m feeling — what I sound like now.” Older fans still want that physical product. Younger fans are likely to listen through streaming services. He finds his fan base, especially in the US, to be split. He’s popular with blues fans 45 and older, and guitar-heads in their teens. His own generation, he said, grew up more on hip-hop and related styles, and the guitar-based styles got lost. In Europe, though, “it’s a whole different story. It’s very colorful.” That explains why he tours about a third of the…


BGSU plans events around performance of ‘Considering Matthew Shepard’

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS The image of young Matthew Shepard, attacked and left to die alone in a Wyoming field because of his sexual orientation, is a horrific reminder of what intolerance, fear and hatred can wreak. But from his 1998 death have come important national conversations and now, a choral work that explores not only Shepard’s death but also his life and legacy. The award-winning choir Conspirare will perform conductor and composer Craig Hella Johnson’s evocative and compassionate “Considering Matthew Shepard” at Bowling Green State University Sept. 17. Guest choirs from the University of Toledo and area high schools will join BGSU choirs as part of the performance. The concert will be the centerpiece of a series of engaging campus and community events in the choir’s two-day residency at the University, which is supported by the Helen McMaster Endowed Professorship in Vocal and Choral Studies. The 7 p.m. Sept. 17 concert takes place in Kobacker Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. It will be followed by a talk-back session from 9-9:30 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall with Johnson and other panelists. Admission is free for all BGSU faculty, staff and students with ID at the door. Advance tickets for community members are $7 for adults and $3 for students and children. All tickets are $10 the day of the performance. Call the BGSU Arts Box Office at 419-372-8171 or purchase online at www.bgsu.edu/arts. Conspirare is considered today’s leading choir; they and their conductor, Johnson, have each won Grammy awards. “Considering Matthew Shepard” debuted at number four on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart and has also been nominated for a Grammy. “Considering Matthew Shepard” transports listeners through a tapestry of musical textures and idioms in a poignant concert experience inspiring hope, compassion and empowerment. The Washington Post called the three-part oratorio “powerfully cathartic,” and wrote, “Like Bach’s large-scale choral works, this spellbinding piece draws on many styles masterfully juxtaposed, though Johnson’s sources are the American vernacular. A Prologue, Passion and Epilogue … combine spoken text, cowboy song, American hymnody and popular song, spirituals, jazz and dazzling polyphony, all woven into a seamless tapestry. The impact is immediate, profound and, at times, overwhelming.” “Aside from the important topic of the piece and the inspirational message that it will bring, students and members of the community will hear in live performance one of the world’s leading choral ensembles,” said Dr. Mark Munson, BGSU director of choral activities. “Having a group of this caliber on campus offers our music students a model of excellence to which they can aspire. Hearing superb performances helps our students establish goals for their own music making, which is why it is important for them to spend time listening to the finest performances that they can.” The choir will engage across campus during their visit, including discussions and a master class. On Sept. 17, members will visit an Introduction to Women’s Studies class to discuss the performance and a range of gender and sexuality topics. They will also have lunch with faculty and student leaders and discuss how the arts can address diversity and inclusion. On Sept. 18, Johnson will visit a 9:30 a.m. choral repertoire class to lead a discussion on programming ideas. He will also hold a conducting workshop that day. Also Sept. 18, Conspirare technical director Ron…


Choral ensemble brings contemporary Passion inspired by the murder of ‘the boy next door’ to BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Craig Hella Johnson first heard the story of Matthew Shepard, he knew he wanted to compose a piece of music about it. Maybe, he thought,  a song. Johnson, the music director and founder of the chamber choir Conspirare, ended up writing a three-movement oratorio. Conspirare will perform “Considering Matthew Shepard” at Bowling Green State University Monday Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. in Kobacker Hall. The performance is part of a two-day residency by Johnson and Conspirare. (See details of residency here.) The performance will be followed by a talk back in Bryan Recital Hall. Advance tickets for community members are $7 and $3 for students and children. All tickets are $10 the day of the performance. Call 419-372-8171 or purchase online at www.bgsu.edu/arts. Johnson remembers it was a singer in the ensemble who first told him about Shepard’s death. The story of the young gay man’s torture and death in Laramie, Wyoming, outraged the nation. It captivated Johnson for the same reason.  “He just looked like the boy next door,” Johnson said.  “It was quite extraordinary that this could happen to him. … It could have been me.” One section of “Considering Matthew Shepard” is “Ordinary Boy.” “That’s the crux of it,” the composer said.  People hear about hate crimes, but “he put a face on it.” He added: “Hate crimes are spiking again, I’m sad to report. We don’t hear about most of them.” And the way Shepard died, tortured and left tied to a fence barely alive had symbolic resonance.  Coming up with a musical response to Shepard’s death took a long period to germinate.  “It grew over time,” Johnson said. He has often performed Bach’s Passions and realized this was the form he needed to use. From “maybe a song” the idea bloomed into more than 100 minutes of music. In an age of listening to music on shuffle, few people are composing long-form works. Johnson said: “I know we have the capacity for these larger arcs, and I’m interested in continuing to experience that.” Johnson didn’t want to compose something that only appealed to classical music lovers. “I wanted a broad range of people to come and appreciate it,” he said. Bach used chorales based on familiar hymn tunes as a way of connecting his audience to the story. Johnson aspired “to have a lot of friendly entry points.” “Certainly this project is to honor the memory of Matthew,  so that we wouldn’t forget … and people would learn about Matt and what happened and what happens when some of the language we use then can become permeated in our culture.” Those hateful words give license to some act in the most extreme, violent ways. Taking on such a profound theme is why Johnson formed Conspirare in 1991 in Austin, Texas. “I just loved the idea of envisioning  a professional vocal ensemble that could have world class musical artistic standards and be a conduit for our larger selves,” he said.  “We believe music has the power to change lives, and we’re dedicated to that in our organization.” University singers both from BGSU and the University of Toledo as well as members of other community choirs will join Conspirare for one movement of “Considering Matthew Shepard.” Since its formation as a…


Beth Genson exhibits nature paintings at Marathon Center

From MARATHON CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS The Fisher/Wall Art Gallery, located in Marathon Center for the Performing Arts, welcomes encaustic artist, Beth Genson, whose exhibition, “Exploring Nature in Paint and Wax,” is now on display through Thursday, September 27, 2018. Trained in fine art and education at Bowling Green State University, Genson has spent the majority of her career as an art instructor for middle school through college-age students. She has also studied at France’s Grenoble University. Genson refers to herself as an artistic explorer which has led her to creating works in the ancient art of encaustic. This method of art uses a hot paint mixture of beeswax, damar resin and oil pigments. She finds encaustic is a medium particularly suited to her exploration of water as a subject matter thus rivers and ponds are the focal point of many her paintings. An advocate for access to potable drinking water, a portion of her sales is donated to Charity: Water, an organization that utilizes 100 percent of its donations to fund water projects. The Fisher/Wall Art Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 pm. and there is no admission fee to view the exhibit. An artist’s reception will be held on Wednesday, September 19 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.  


BGSU Arts Events through Sept. 29

Sept. 5-29 – BGSU is part of the collaborative “ScupltureX – Igniting Change: Teaching Artists and Social Practice” with the University of Toledo, Owens Community College, Toledo Museum of Art, and Contemporary Art Toledo. The BGSU exhibition, sponsored by David and Myrna Bryan and curated by Saul Ostrow, features the work of regional sculpture faculty. BGSU also will host a series of presentations, including talks by Ostrow and Mel Chin, on campus Sept. 29.  Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free Sept. 5 – The Faculty Artist Series presents Charles Saenz on trumpet. As a professor and coordinator of the College of Musical Arts’ brass area, Saenz has performed with numerous ensembles, released a solo recording, “Eloquentia,” in 2015 and is a member of the Tower Brass Quintet. His recital starts at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center. The performance will also be livestreamed at https://www.youtube.com/user/bgsumusic/live. Free Sept. 6 – The Prout Chapel Reading Series, hosted by the BGSU Creative Writing program, presents poet Tony Lograsso, a teaching associate in the Department of English, and fiction writer Anne Carney. The readings will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Sept. 11 – Tuesdays at the Gish presents “The Glass Castle” (2017, U.S., 127 minutes, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton), with an introduction by Mariia Spirina (cq), doctoral student in American culture studies. The film follows Jeannette (Brie Larson) and her wildly eccentric parents (Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts). Based on journalist Jeannette Wall’s bestselling memoir, the film intertwines events from her unpredictable nomadic childhood with scenes of Wall as a young writer who comes to terms with her parents. The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. in 206 Bowen-Thompson Student Union (Theater). Free Sept. 11 – The Guest Artist Series presents pianist Heather Lanners. Lanners, a Canadian pianist, has performed extensively throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe as an active soloist and chamber musician. Her recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Sept. 12 – The Faculty Artist Series presents horn soloist Andrew Pelletier. Pelletier is a brass/percussion professor, a Grammy Award-winning chamber musician and president of the International Horn Society. His recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Sept. 12 – “So Much More: Ohio’s African-American Artists” opens, presented by Bowling Green State University’s School of Art. Over the course of its planning, the exhibition has evolved from a tribute to the legacy of athlete, actor, visual artist and BGSU alumnus Bernie Casey along with other African-American alumni to a broader, intergenerational conversation among alumni, current students and invited African-American artists from Ohio addressing the intersection of racial identity and personal expression.  The exhibition, in the Willard Wankelman Gallery in the Fine Arts Center, runs through Oct. 21. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free Sept. 13 – Author Clifford Chase will present “The Art and Craft of Fiction” as part of the Creative Writing program’s weekly reading series. Chase is author of “Winkie,” a novel about a sentient teddy bear accused of terrorism. His talk will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Thomas…


Toledo Symphony celebrates Bernstein by playing ‘West Side Story’ soundtrack live with film

From TOLEDO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA On Saturday, September 29, 2018 at 8 P.M. at the Stranahan Theater, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) opens its 2018-2019 KeyBank Pops series with West Side Story: Film with Live Orchestra. The TSO joins the worldwide celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday to perform his electrifying score to West Side Story while the Oscar®-winning film is shown in high definition on the big screen above the stage. The film will be projected on a large screen above the orchestra, taking the audience through a captivating journey of musical storytelling. Music Director Alain Trudel will not only lead the orchestra, but he will follow a series of synchronized cues from a click track to stay in coordination with the film on stage. “It’s a classic movie with a fun and entertaining story,” said Alain Trudel, Music Director of the Toledo Symphony. “The score is challenging, and so is coordinating the music to the film, which only adds to the fun.” Toledo Symphony President & CEO, Zak Vassar, is a particular admirer of West Side Story and its creator, Leonard Bernstein. “West Side Story is about as iconic as Broadway gets,” said Vassar. “With music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics from Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins, this show was bound to succeed. Its melodies are so catchy, its words so sincere, and the dancing so vivid. Now, as the music world celebrates Bernstein’s centennial, I’m excited for the TSO to bring this great music back to life and provide us a space to reconsider this fantastic film.” Orchestras around the world are joining together for the two year global celebration of the life and career of legendary composer and conductor, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). Bernstein transformed the way Americans and people everywhere hear and appreciate music. His successes as a composer ranged from the Broadway stage—West Side Story, On the Town, Wonderful Town, and Candide—to concert halls all over the world, where his orchestral and choral music continues to thrive.