Campus

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…


BGSU sheds light on why it’s taking a pass on city solar project (updated)

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS Just because Bowling Green State University is taking a pass on a solar power offer from the city doesn’t mean it’s not pursuing alternative energy options. In a letter sent to the campus environmental activists, university officials explain why they are turning down an offer to place a solar array on campus, and what other efforts are underway to meet the terms spelled out in a national agreement to reduce carbon emissions on college campuses. The letter by Bruce Myer, assistant vice president for campus operations, and Nick Hennessy, sustainability coordinator, was sent to Matthew Cunningham, president of Environmental Action Group, and Lily Murnen, president of the Environmental Service Group, in response to a letter sent by them and signed by dozens of other student leaders, questioning the university position on a city solar project. The city is planning to construct a large solar array and offered to place some solar panels on a plot of land on the campus. On Monday Bowling Green City Council heard from Daryl Stockburger, of the city utilities department, that AMP-Ohio had reached a joint development agreement for Bowling Green’s solar field. Stockburger said the solar array should be ready to construct this year. The agreement, the university’s letter states, would tie up the property, which has frontage on East Poe Road, for 30 years. The university does not have plans for that site, where construction debris was dumped, but using it for a project and equipment not owned by BGSU “was deemed to provide too many restrictions on its potential use.” The letter also states that since the electricity generated…


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…


First-year programs aim to turn high school students into college scholars

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University has been holding onto more students in recent years. Keeping students once they are recruited is as important as recruiting them in the first place. That boost in retention – making sure students who come in as freshman end up leaving as BGSU graduates – is crucial to the university’s financial health. The state funding formula demands it. That increased retention is no accident, Provost Rodney Rogers told faculty senate this week. Much of the credit goes to the first-year initiatives designed to integrate new students into the BGSU academic culture from their earliest days on campus. When Vice Provost for Academic Affairs John Fischer took his turn at the podium to spell out those programs, he said he wished he had the scroll used at this year’s Oscar ceremonies where the names of agents, publicists, hairdressers, and moms that the stars wanted to thank ran at the bottom of the screen. The programs designed to keep freshmen around for the spring semester and beyond are built on a foundation of collaboration with the faculty. Some colleges and universities are opting to take a more economic look at education, for example, by having students take more online courses, Fischer said. BGSU, however, “has put its flag in the sand that we’re going to put the quality of the experience ahead” of those other considerations. “That’s what we are going to measure and count and pay attention to and argue about.” That seems to be working. Students, for example, who take linked courses are more likely to continue at BGSU. Linked…


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…


Black Issues Conference at BGSU Hears Call to Action From Rosa Clemente

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Rosa Clemente is not one for half measures. In her fight for social justice she’ll challenge even those who are her allies. The African American activist who had to speak out to have others recognize that she, a Puerto Rican, was black as well as Latina, delivered the keynote address at Saturday’s Black Issues Conference at Bowling Green State University. In a sprawling speech that was part indictment, incitement and autobiography, Clemente said that eight years after the election of an African American president, nothing has improved. The country is poised to have Donald Trump, “a xenophobic, racist, misogynistic” candidate, win the Republican nomination for president. Yet “he’s treated like a joke,” she said. For her he is a serious threat. But she has little love for either major political party. Mass incarceration started under Ronald Reagan, Clemente said, and was perfected by the Democrats who wanted to show they were moderates. Hillary Clinton was “right there with her husband” supporting the juvenile justice bill that led to an increase in the incarceration of African Americans. “She called us ‘super predators.’” Clinton’s rival for the presidential nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is “better,” but still he voted for that crime bill. Clemente lives with the effects of those policies. Her husband was imprisoned at 19. He grew up in a household with abuse and drugs. He ended up selling drugs at 12. When he was released he was put on parole for the rest of his life – that is, until he and his wife sued. Even now, the only job he can get…


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,…


BGSU Eyes Possible Cuts of Courses, Programs With Low Enrollment

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University is continuing its state-mandated assessment of courses and programs that have low enrollment. The reporting is required by House Bill 64, which seeks to increase efficiency on college campuses. Trustees approved the report, though because of the state deadline and the timing of trustee meetings, it has already been submitted. BGSU administrators, Provost Rodney Rogers said, identified 24 degree programs that graduate fewer than 20 students over a four year period. Rogers said that 15 of those programs were deemed not to require further action. Several of them were new and already seeing increased growth. Nine programs, however, were identified as possible candidates for major revision or elimination. The administration will work with department chairs and faculty to determine if “it makes sense for us to offer” these programs or whether they need to undergo revisions to make them fit more with societal needs, Rogers said. The six programs on the Bowling Green campus identified were: bachelor of arts degrees in Russian, Latin, classical civilizations and music, and bachelor of science degrees in statistics and electro-mechanical systems technology. Three associate degree programs at Firelands were also identified: electro-mechanical, EMT and manufacturing. “The hard work is just beginning as we work with deans and chairs to make the next step,” Rogers said. He noted that Venu Dasig, interim dean of the College of Technology, is already working with faculty to transition the electro-mechanical systems technology program into one with more emphasis on robotics. The report also identified hundreds of courses deemed to have low enrollment. The administration, Rogers said, identified 581…


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,…


BGSU students advocate for solar array on campus

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS A hill created by construction debris goes mostly unoccupied during the year. Except that is on Independence Day when people gather there to watch the fireworks being launched from the stadium to the southeast. A group of Bowling Green State University students have a different vision for the site – they’d like to see an array of solar panels erected there. Recently the Environmental Action Group and Environmental Service Club drafted a letter and had it signed by a couple dozen other student leaders urging the university to take the city up on its offer to put solar panels on the site. The city’s main solar array will be located on Carter Road, but it offered to also place some on campus. No site was designated. City officials confirmed Monday night that the offer was made, but they’ve yet to hear a response from BGSU. Lily Murnen, president of the Environmental Service Group, said the university hasn’t taken enough action to fulfill its climate action plan that resulted from president Mary Ellen Mazey joining other higher education executives in signing a Climate Commitment calling for campuses to become neutral in their greenhouse gas emissions. That plan, filed in November, 2014, sets out “a vision of the institution as a sustainable campus in the 21st century, operating economically and efficiently, and producing net zero greenhouse gas emissions. This is a vision to be realized by the year 2040.” The solar project would provide “great visibility for the university showing how we are taking some steps to realize our goals,” Murnen said. Matthew Cunningham, the president of the…


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….


Students do the neighborly thing on East Side

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With their rubber gloves and blowing garbage bags, the students scooped up sandwich wrappers, paper plates, and beer cans. But their primary prey was much smaller. “The two big contenders are cigarette butts and Taco Bell sauce packets,” said Sean Herman, who organized Saturday morning’s cleanup of the city’s East Side through The Common Good organization. By 9 a.m. nearly 50 students and a couple full-time residents were crammed into The Common Good house on Crim Street to load up on coffee and bagels before heading out for the neighborhood cleanup. They were given gloves, garbage bags and maps with instructions of streets their teams should cover.   Herman has organized several cleanups, but this one drew more volunteers – from fraternities, a student environmental group and honors students. The work focused in the Wooster Street area on the east side of the city. “This is where the most trash seems to accumulate,” he said. Through The Common Good, Herman has pulled together occasional cleanup crews for the past 18 months. “I just thought there was a need out there and no one was doing anything about it,” he said. Hollie Baker said the cleanups started after the East Side neighborhood group began talking about the negative effects of living in an area so populated by university students. “So this is a way to help the East Side become cleaner and show them that college students acknowledge it’s a problem,” Baker said. Megan Sutherland, director of The Common Good, said BGSU students canvassed the East Side neighborhood to ask how relationships could…