Arts and Entertainment

BGSU actors bring ‘Middletown’ to life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Middletown, the setting and namesake for the new theater production on campus, doesn’t have much to recommend it. Even the indigenous people passed through leaving little mark. A statue of a horse is the only tourist attraction, unless you, like tour guide (Christa Federico), count the air. That air, she says, contains bits of people, dust and objects that went before. That seems pretty heavy philosophizing for a tour guide, but Middletown seems to do that to people. They say things that rise deep from their psyches, and those psyches are often troubled. Eavesdropping, the local car mechanic (Danny Miskell) hears Mary (Mackenzie Baumhower) say she and her husband are starting a family. Don’t have an only child, he blurts out. Whenever you hear childish noises, it’s always that same child. Even the librarian, the sane presence at the heart of this troubled town and the play, is given to disturbing observations. When Mary says she’d like to get a library card, the librarian played by Bessie D. Smith says: “Good for you. Most people think ‘I’m going to die anyway, so why bother.’” That sense of mortality, and the search for some kind of meaning in life pervades “Middletown.” The Will Eno play, directed by Jonathan Chambers, opens tonight at 8 and with shows Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. continuing Feb. 25, 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. Tickets $15 and $5 for students and children in advance from and by calling 419-372-8171. All tickets are $20 on the day of the show. Mary’s visit to the library is what precipitates what stands for a plot here. But the plot like the character’s relationships with each other is as much about missed connections and fleeting interactions as narrative. They are like so many molecules bouncing around within the confines of the stage. Sometimes they even bounce out. The cop (Noah Froelich) is aware as he abuses a man that the audience is witness to his actions. There’s a fake intermission, where we meet five theatergoers (Madison Zavitz, Logan Richardson, Braeden Glenn Tuttle, Janina Koehl Bradshaw, and Paige Dooley) with their own motivations for engaging in this show. Even the most tenuous action can be suspended as with by bit with the tour guide and two tourists. At one point the tourist (Richardson) says to the tour guide: “Let me get quick picture of you being wrong.” Or when the librarian, a nameless archetype, expounds on a recently returned book. She’s as taken with the traces left by a young reader as by the subject of the book. The girl wrote cryptic notes in pink and used a barrette as a bookmark. Awareness that Middletown is just a blur within the cosmos is evident, no more so then in the scene where we meet the town celebrity, the astronaut (Baxter Chambers). From his capsule set dramatically in the middle of the stage, the astronaut expounds of the beauty of the view from space, but also recollects the petty incident in which the mechanic approached him with a rock he believed to be a meteor. Not so, the astronaut said, not the least concerned about the disappointment that judgment causes….

Nightlife ain’t no life without Corner Grill; Howard’s show to benefit displaced workers

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Saturday’s benefit for employees of the Corner Grill should help out Patrick McDermott’s finances. He’s been out of work since an early morning fire destroyed the interior of the landmark Bowling Green eatery on Feb. 1. Still for him the show, which will run from 1 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday, at Howard’s Club H at 210 N. Main St., is about more than money. He’s looking forward to seeing his old customers. McDermott worked the third shift, so he cooked for folks who just got off late night shifts at bars and other restaurants and he cooked for folks just heading to their jobs. “I’d like to reconnect, hang out with them for the day.” Nikki Cordy, a long time employee at Howard’s, said the idea for the benefit got started while the interior of the diner was still smoldering. So she set out to book 12 hours of music. After five hours, the bill was filled. A few acts had to be turned away. Among those performing will be Circle the Sun, Harlow, The Casket Company, Birthquake, Fathom City, Scare Me Green, Adam Rice, Justin Payne, Ginger and the Snaps, Mike Dubose, Tom Vasey, and the Defenders. There will be a $5 cover charge. Cordy said she had “a soft spot in her heart” for the Grill. Sometimes Larry Cain, who owns the Corner Grill, would bring over food when he knew the Howards crew hadn’t had a chance to take a break. The Grill always was able to accommodate her gluten-free diet required by her celiac disease. “It’s about family,” she said. After closing time, the Howard’s staff and other night shift workers to unwind, have breakfast and a cup a tea, after a long night’s work. The workers included musicians. Singer-songwriter Justin Payne, who will play at the benefit, said he “haunted the place for so long.” That included working there. The benefit is “a special opportunity for many segments of the arts community in BG to rally around a local institution and its employees. “Many of us in town are on a first name basis with the cooks and servers at the Corner Grill. It has been a colorful local institution, since 1946, and its workers have been getting our community through their days in their own wonderful ways over those years.” Cain said he’s hoping to be back open in a couple months. McDermott said the impact has been hard on the 10 employees. Some have been picked up extra hours at their second jobs, or temporary jobs. Some like McDermott, who only worked at the Grill, are out of work. For workers, he said, the job could pay well if they could handle some of the silliness involved at serving revelers still not ready to call it a night. Cordy said that the closing of the Grill leaves a big gap. Now workers just head home, and cook for themselves without the camaraderie. “We’re all in withdrawal.” So early Sunday morning when the last act at the benefit packs up, all the fans, workers and musicians will see on the corner to the south will be the shadow of the darkened neon sign.

BGSU opera production brings favorite son Shawn Mathey back to campus

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Operatic tenor Shawn Mathey’s career has taken him to stages around the globe. Now approaching a new stage in that career, he’s circled back home to Bowling Green. Looking to add teaching to his repertoire of skills, he’s treading the same halls his father Professor Emeritus Richard Mathey did for 32 years. That will bring him into the spotlight in the Bowling Green Opera Theater’s production of “Cavalleria Rusticana” by Pietro Mascagni. The one-act opera will be staged Friday, Feb. 26, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 28, at 3 p.m. in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre in the Wolfe Center for the Arts on the Bowling Green State University campus. Since 1998 when Shawn Mathey left BGSU to attend the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, he’s returned frequently. For the past few years he and his wife, Sujin Lee, an adjunct voice professor at BGSU, and their two daughters have made Bowling Green their permanent residence. Mathey’s visits, though, were a respite from a busy international career. Now he looks forward to adding teaching to his resume. He’s back studying at BGSU where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree before starting his musical studies. “Things are cooking,” Mathey said of his operatic schedule. That includes performing in John Adams’ “The Flowering Tree” in Lisbon this spring. “But you start looking ahead for the next phase, looking ahead to when you don’t want to be single handedly funding the suitcase companies.” Lee is the one who encouraged him to start laying the groundwork for an academic position now. Colleges want to hire singers who, as Mathey said, “can still honk.” But even a resume full of international performances and a diploma from a prestigious program is not enough to secure a teaching position in higher education. “The advanced degree is not an option,” Mathey said. So he’s studying to earn a master’s degree in vocal performance. He does what students do, addressing his teachers as “doctor” and “professor,” dreading music theory classes, and performing in an opera.   J “Cavalleria Rusticana” is not an opera usually done by colleges, said Jenny Cresswell, who plays Santuzza opposite Mathey’s Turiddu. “This is the quintessential verismo opera,” she said. The late 19th century Italian style favors earthy, realistic subjects and calls for heavier spinto voices. Like Mathey, Cresswell is a veteran operatic performer returning to earn a graduate degree. Those more mature voices, including as Turiddu’s mother Lucia, Betsy (Reichard) Bellavia, a former choral student of Mathey’s father, give the production the vocal heft it needs. Mathey finds the role “enticing.” “It’s not something I’d normally be hired to do, but I get to do it here and have fun. It’s an opportunity for me to explore and to expand.” For Cresswell, who has performed with the Toledo Opera and other companies nationally, the role of the scorned woman is “a viable role for me professionally.” The mother of two, she said, her voice has gotten “darker and bigger and fuller” since giving birth. “That’s pretty common.” “Cavalleria Rusticana” tells the story of Turiddu, a soldier who returns home to find that his fiancée Lola (Kyle Schreiber) has married another man, Alfio (John Mink). To spite Lola, he seduces Santuzza, and that…

Owner Wants to Keep ClaZel in the Heart of BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The old gal can’t keep up with those late nights the way she once could, which is the situation the ClaZel now finds itself in. As someone who considers himself the beloved venue’s caretaker as much as its owner, Ammar Mufleh decided late last year that the late night dance parties had to stop. The late night dance club that was in the venue on weekends ended last December. The venue now concentrates on special events – wedding receptions, corporate meetings, fundraisers, and concerts. “College students put a little more wear and tear on a facility,” Mufleh said. “I take a lot of pride in the time, talent, and treasure it took to rebuild and renovate it.” It wasn’t only the theater that was strained. “I have a very talented staff,” he said, and their energies would be sapped on Friday nights when at 2:30 a.m. they’d have to scrub, do some repairs, and transform the space into the setting for a wedding reception on Saturday. After the reception, the staff would be back at it, transforming the ClaZel again into dance club for that night. The new focus will be “less taxing on the staff,” Mufleh said. “I’m excited to focus on a demographic that really appreciates the allure, the aesthetic the history of the theater,” he said. Mufleh, who grew up in a family of entrepreneurs in the Toledo area, can count himself in that demographic. As a student at the University of Toledo, he recalls driving down to Bowling Green to see movies at the ClaZel. He admired the structure then, even if, as he recalls, he had to pick his seat to avoid the plaster falling from the ceiling. He sees the ClaZel as more than a movie house and certainly not a bar. Since he purchased it, he’s acted on that vision. “It is an edifice created as an interesting environment for community engagement,” Mufleh said. He said that goes back into the theater’s history. It was a gathering place during World War II where people learned the latest news. He’s tried to maintain the venue at the heart of the community. There’s been fundraisers to help cancer patients raise money to defray the costs of treatment, theater performances, or political events for the Libertarians and Democrats. “It’s been a place, since it opened, that embraces its sense of community.” The ClaZel has a memorandum of understanding with the College of Music to host concerts there, such as the recent performance by internationally known pianist Vicky Chow, who performed a piece for piano and electronics. He’s also hoping to work out an arrangement to bring back Jazz Night with the university jazz faculty that was suspended a few weeks ago. This weekend the ClaZel hosted a Falcon Flame event for those who met their life partners at BGSU and then on Friday the Red Cross Fire and Ice. Mufleh sees his market for the wedding and corporate business is within a 120-mile radius from Bowling Green. The city, he said, is well located for business meetings for corporations with satellite offices throughout the region. The ClaZel has also hosted weddings where the bride may come from Ann Arbor and the groom from Columbus. The collaboration with the university is about…

Teen pianist Eric Lin rises to the top of Dubois field

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In a field called the best ever, Eric Lin, a 15-year-old from Falls Church, Virginia, easily came out on top of the David D. Dubois Piano Competition Sunday at Bowling Green State University. Internationally known pianist Spencer Myer, the guest artist and juror, praised the maturity of Lin’s work. “It was extremely grown up playing,” Myer said. “You can tell he’s a serious thinker. Lin was also “the most technically refined,” he said. “The technical refinement contributes to how easily he can express himself.” All the judges, Myer said, were in agreement that Lin merited the top prize. That top prize carries a cash award of $3,000. Other prize winners selected by Myer and fellow jurors, guest judge James Giles, of Northwestern University, and BGSU faculty member Robert Satterlee, were: • Heather Gu, Troy, Michigan, second prize, $2,000. • Shuheng Zhang, Canton, Michigan, third prize, $1,000. • Henry Tang, Brooklyn, NY, honorable mention. Lin said he came to the Dubois competition on the advice of a couple older friends who have competed in the event. “They said it was an excellent experience.” That proved to be the case, Lin said. “A lot of competitions are very serious, here it’s very relaxed. You can really just express yourself here.” Myer noted that as well. “There seems to be a very collegial atmosphere.” Lin said he and his teacher, Marjorie Lee, work together selecting pieces. She will choose pieces for him to play, and he decides whether he likes them or not. This year, he said, he had more input into the process. Together they strive to have a broad stylistic range in their repertoire. At the Dubois Lin performed Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor, as his required Classical Era sonata, and Frederic Chopin’s Scherzo No.3 as well as two 20th century works, a Bela Bartok etude and, Lin’s favorite of the program, a movement from Samuel Barber’s Sonata in E-flat Major. Lin loves music because it can reach across borders. “It’s very powerful, sometimes even more powerful than words. You can communicate with all cultures, all cultures have music. If you do it right it can reach into everyone’s soul.” He’s devoted to classical music. Though he may sometimes play a pop tune, he finds that music “lacks depth.” A sophomore at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, he is uncertain what career he will pursue. Robert Swinehart, a trustee of the David D. Dubois Trust, said that the event is thriving in its sixth year. The trust funds the competition and festival, which includes a master class and recital by the guest artist. “Dr. (Laura) Melton wrote the proposal that’s what really established it here in Bowling Green, and it’s really blossomed.” He said the university’s piano faculty has supported the effort and been able to reach out to piano teachers and programs around the country to establish this as an event teenage pianists want to participate in. And every year, he said, the field gets stronger. “The consistency and the level of artistry was really impressive,” Myer said. Pianists must submit a recording, and the field of semifinalists is selected. Of the 24 semifinalists who performed Saturday, the judges narrowed the field to 11. That large number pushed the starting…

Soul & beauty of Native American art on display in Indigenous Beauty at Toledo Museum of Art

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The many peoples of what came to be known as North America were creating art well before the people of Rembrandt and Michelangelo arrived on these shores. Even as disease, war and dislocation took a horrendous toll on the native cultures, their urge to create beauty did not diminish, rather it took new turns and proved a path to survival. Individuals found a way to support themselves by creating, and their cultures found a way to perpetuate themselves through art, even in the face of oppression. Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection, an exhibit of art collected Charles and Valerie Diker, opens to the public Friday and continues through May 8. The exhibit contains about 120 works collected over 40 years by the Dikers. The couple, said Valerie Diker during the press preview, consider themselves “custodians” of these treasures. Their mission is to use their collection to educate the public about the richness of the cultures of Native Americans. “This came from their hearts and souls,” she said. “There was much more depth to the Native American than most people understand. More than we first understood when we started collecting.” “By exposing the non-Indian public to this work,” Charles Diker said, “they begin to understand the spirituality behind it, that there’s more to the pieces. It’s a way to educate the public about this art.” The Dikers started collecting contemporary art more than 50 years ago. They then added pre-Columbian art to their purchases. It was when they first visited New Mexico, and later moved there, that their collection of “historical” indigenous work began. This work from the 17th century on, is dynamic and innovative, while the pre-Columbian is more classical, he said. These were the first artists on the continent. Their influence resonating through the centuries influencing those contemporary artists the Dikers also collect. The Dikers set about finding the best examples of work from throughout the continent. They were not satisfied with dolls, baskets or pottery from one particular region. “We’d look for the best pieces, the best objects from each area so we’d have an encyclopedic collection,” Charles Diker said. Though native languages didn’t have words for “beauty,” the pursuit of beauty pervaded their cultures, Charles Diker said. “It was part of their DNA.” People are losing that appreciation of beauty in the digital age, he fears. The exhibit is a reminder of its enduring power. Halona Norton-Westbrook, the museum’s director of collections, noted that the work is displayed in the Canaday Gallery according to geographic regions, from Alaska back to the Eastern seaboard. David Penney, the curator of the show, said three themes run through the exhibit. The first is the beauty of the work and the “fastidious” craftsmanship. That aesthetic sense, he said, provived a way for Native Americans to build a bridge to other cultures. The baskets by Louisa Keyser (also known as Datsolalee) of the Washoe people of Nevada, exemplifies how Native Americans used their craft to support themselves and reach out to non-natives. Her baskets were impeccably crafted, using traditional techniques to create her own distinctive designs. A Carson City business owner saw her work and helped her to market it. Penney said that the exhibit demonstrates the diversity of the…

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 5 p.m. with the finals Sunday from 9 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 memorized. “Also I gained a lot of performance experience under very high level of pressure,” Myer said. More tension than a normal performance. “Just having that jury adds that huge element of pressure.” His experience as a juror has also been “revealing in terms of how one musician to the next can really have the absolute opposite opinion.” An interpretation that’s blatantly wrong for one juror may be just what makes a performance special for another, he said. As in football, competitions have an element of “any given Sunday.” As BGSU Professor Laura Melton, who has coordinated the festival since its inception, has said, on another day any of the best competitors could come out on top. “That’s what makes art wonderful,” Myer said, “that it is subjective.” Not that makes it any easier on the competitors or their families. “It is hard on the parent,” Myer said. He suspects his mother is still bitter that he wasn’t named the winner of the Cleveland International Piano Competition, though, Myer said, “I’ve long gotten over it.” Competitions “have proven to be a great vehicle for giving young people performance opportunities.” For listeners they’re a way to discover new talent and hear great piano playing. Also as part of his residency Myer will perform a concert Saturday at 8 p.m., also in Kobacker. Tickets are $10. (See story And he will give a master class with BGSU students on Friday at 2:30 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall. “I always try to bring a balance of the musical aspect and the technical aspect,” said Myer. “I find that the student always reacts very positively if you make some technical change that really…

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. Liu also has another ceramic piece and a video also on display. In introducing the awards, faculty member Charles Kanwischer said that for all 89 exhibitors inclusion in the show was a mark of success. “It’s a validation of all that work you’ve produced.” Exhibiting in the show should “fill you with confidence on that journey from student to artist.” Among the dozens of awards announced Sunday were those selected by the external jurors Brian Spolans, of Eastern Michigan, and Sophia Brueckner, of the University of Michigan. In addition to the best of show, the jurors honored: • Madison Walsh and Mark Cooper, Alumni Association Award • Cara Taylor, Main Street Photo Award • Anatasia Baker, Marietta Kirschner Wigg Print Award. • Madison Walsh, Ringholz Art Supply Award 2D. • Alexis Hartel, Ringholz Art Supply Award 3D. See complete list of winners at:

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 a pedestal for so long, and I waited to learn it until I was grown up. … That’s why I’ve held onto it for so long.” Myer also will perform Ravel’s Sonatine and close with four rags by William Bolcom. Myer has recorded 16 of the contemporary composer’s rags – “they’re so inventive and clever.” That recording will be released later this year. Myer said he strives for a balance of styles within a program. He also strives for a balance in his professional life. He performs internationally as a soloist, but also frequently collaborates with other instrumentalists in chamber ensembles and with singers. Myer credits his undergraduate education at Oberlin with his discovery of collaboration especially with vocalists. Oberlin wasn’t his first choice of conservatories. He wanted to go to the Juilliard School in New York City. He auditioned at Oberlin because it was close to home and would be good practice. Despite its proximity, he said, he really didn’t know much about the school. But he didn’t get into Juilliard. “It was the best thing that could have happened to me because Oberlin was an unforgettable place” that gave him a well-rounded education. Undergraduates could blossom there without being overshadowed by graduate students, he said. “Juilliard for me was a much more appropriate place for me as a graduate student.” He’s remained in New York, but his love of collaborative piano fostered at Oberlin has played an important part in his career. “It forces you to listen in a different way,” he said of accompanying. “It allows you to explore different coloristic capabilities because you have to expand the lower end, the softer end, of the color spectrum…

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 deserves to be heard.” The pianist said he is dedicated to “enlarging the footprint of new music. … I think largely people have a problem with the dissonance in new music. There’s really no absence of color and intensity and even beauty. You just have to expose yourself to it.” Buck “fell in love with this piece due to the emotion it evokes.” The Elegie was written after the death of the composer’s mother. “In this movement, it is so easy to note the different emotions one goes through when mourning a loss. There are points that reflect sorrow and others that seem to show anger. I enjoy playing this piece because I can give my own interpretation in these moments.” Everyone experiences emotion differently, just as each performer plays this piece slightly different. It has been an insightful experience, playing this piece and experiencing those emotions each time I perform.” The concert gives musicians the rare chance to play in front of an orchestra. “The amount of sound, the amount of color, the amount of timbres, it’s a really a strong presence,” Nyce said. “It has a profound effect.” Crook said the orchestra “really brings the music to life.” “When I hear the orchestra behind me I sometimes get goosebumps,” he said, “It’s really powerful.” Liu said that the experience demands that the soloist work with the conductor. “I cannot play for myself,” she said. As with the other soloists, Liu was drawn to BGSU by a professor. The freshman had heard of Laura Melton before she arrived on campus to audition. “She’s a very nice and patient teacher.” Nyce echoed her assessment of Melton. “I actually enjoy going…

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 career.” He’s also started singing as well. For a while he had a Nat King Cole tribute group with Eikum on lead vocals and bass, and Buzzelli joining the vocal choruses. When he retired Buzzelli decided he’d like to have a group to express that side of his musical personality. To get started he is relying on charts the singers knew from their time with the university’s ensemble, though “everyone had to learn a couple new things.” The program will be a mix of his own arrangements as well as charts from the books of Manhattan Transfer and the New York Voices. During his tenure as director, he helped bring the New York Voices to campus for a summer jazz vocal camp that continued 2009 through 2015. He said he may also mix in a tune or two from Nat King Cole. Among the selections will be “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “Stone Soul Picnic,” “Corner Pocket,” “A Nightingale Sang on Berkeley Square,” “No More Blues” and Buzzelli’s medley of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Lean on Me.” Jazz vocal groups differ from pop a cappella ensembles and show choirs in their more complex harmonies and a focus on the music without choreography and costumes. “If we do a pop tune, it’s a very jazz influenced arrangement,” he said. Right now the group, which has not settled on a name, has one voice on a part. That’s, he said, “a little unnerving … no one else knows the music.” Buzzelli envisions expanding the ensemble and bringing in more voices from the community.

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 chairs in front of the stage. Those chairs were full, the bar area was full, and the audience throughout the venue was hushed, ready to be transported.

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. He’s played with the Toledo Jazz Orchestra, the Toledo Symphony, and Michigan Opera Theater. For the past four years, he’s been a member of the Tower Brass Quintet, an ensemble that draws on his mastery of multiple styles. Saenz says he also enjoys solo recitals. He and frequent collaborator, pianist Solungga Liu, who also is featured on “Eloquentia,” have toured internationally. They will present a Faculty Artist concert Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall at BGSU’s Moore Center for the Musical Arts. The program will feature two pieces from the CD: Sonatina by Bohuslav Martinu and “In the Style of Albeniz” by Rodion Shchedrin, which will end the recital the way it closes the CD – with a flourish. Also on the recital program will be Georg Philipp Telemann’s Concerto in D, Manuel de Falla’s “Suite of Old Spanish Dances,” and Fisher Tull’s Sonata. “I like to keep challenging myself,” Saenz said. “I try to play new pieces.” This will be the first time he and Liu will perform the Tull Sonata. “I play pieces that students may want to perform in the next semester or so,” Saenz added. The same holds true for the selections on “Eloquentia.” “I would hope some of my students who have listened to CD might say ‘I’m really interested in those pieces.’” Two of the compositions, Variations by Henri Challan and Trois Mouvements by Andre Waignein are being recorded for the first time. Two others, the Chaynes concerto and Concertino for Trumpet by Joseph Jongen, are being recorded for the first time with this instrumentation. The previous recording of the Jongen was with organ. The recording of the concerto with piano serves…

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.