Toledo museum concerts feature Larry Fuller’s jazz trio, tubas & Messiaen’s reflections on the Infant Jesus

From TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART The Toledo Museum of Art will present three music programs this weekend. Jazz pianist Larry Fuller will return to his hometown with his trio for an evening of jazz Friday, Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m., in the GlasSalon as part of It’ Friday activities. A free Merry TubaChristmas performance will be held Sunday, Dec. 9 at 1 p.m., in the Peristyle Theater. TubaChristmas is a music concert held in cities worldwide that celebrates those who play, teach and compose music for instruments in the tuba family. Merry TubaChristmas is presented by The University of Toledo Department of Music and Toledo Museum of Art. Four pianist will present Olivier Messiaen’s “Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus, “also Sunday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m., in the GlasSalon. The concert is part of the museum’s Great Performances series. Organized by pianist Isabelle O’Connell (Grand Band), this concert features O’Connell, Blair McMillen, Laura Melton, and Stephanie Titus performing Olivier Messiaen’s complete “Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus (Twenty Contemplations on the infant Jesus)” a two-hour, 20-movement work that Messiaen completed in 1944. Tickets are  $15 and $10 for museum members.  

Polka runs in the veins of BGSU guest Alex Meixner

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Though Alex Meixner has degrees in jazz and classical trumpet performance from Ithaca College and Penn State, accordion is the instrument that’s closest to his heart and polka is the music he’s devoted to performing.  Meixner will visit Bowling Green State University Sunday, Dec. 9, for A Celebration of Polish-American Polka, from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom in Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Tickets are  $25 for dinner and music and $10 for BGSU students. The university libraries has what may be the largest collection of polka sheet music in the world, Meixner said. That’s thanks to BGSU grad Steve Harris who two years ago donated the library of the Vitak-Elsnic company to the library. Meixner is adding to the stash with a donation of his library. Meixner, who turns 42 the day before the BGSU event, can trace his ties to polka back three generations. His love of music started early. Growing up in the Austrian enclave of Copley, Pennsylvania, he was surrounded by ethnic sounds. His father, who was born in the US but taken care of by his grandparents, didn’t speak English until he was 5. The Austrians were just one of several ethnic groups from central and Eastern Europe to populate the area, and each had its particular twist on polka music. While Meixner was surrounded by music he was never pushed to play. Not that his parents could have stopped him. “I was never forced to do this,” he said in a recent telephone interview.  “I’d drum on anything, from the kitchen table or myself. I was just following in my father’s footsteps and my grandfather’s as well. It resonates with me,” he said. “I’ve been really blessed to have had the opportunity to study and perform in so many different contexts.  There’s just something about that 2/4 beat of the polka that created its own heartbeat for me.” At 3, he started piano lessons, before moving to accordion. By the time he was 6 he was on stage, and hasn’t left since. A track he recorded with his father was included on a Grammy-winning album. He collaborated with Jack Black on the soundtrack for the movie “The Polka King.”  Jan Lewan, the subject of that film, will be a guest Sunday at BGSU. To the extent Meixner made a name for himself, he said, it is for bringing a pop sensibility to polka by covering unlikely tunes by Lady Gaga and others. Still he is devoted to the tradition. The continuum is evident in the musicians he’ll perform with in Bowling Green.  They include guest vocalist Joe Oberaitis. Meixner’s father recorded with the singer.  “My dad came home from that taping in time for me to be born,” Meixner said. Jimmy Meyer,  on guitar and banjo, started off playing with Meixner’s father. “We…

Visitors see arts in action at annual BGSU showcase & sale

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Song and dance  and more spilled into the corridors, classrooms, corners and stages of the Fine Arts Center and the Wolfe Center for the Arts Saturday during the 14th ArtsX. The gala showcases the creativity of all the arts on campus. This year ArtsX invited special guests Verb Ballets, a Cleveland-based company. The company adopted the name Verb Ballets because it evoked action, said Richard Dickinson, associate artistic director. The company’s performances at ArtsX showed how fitting that name was. In the second of the Verb’s two performances Saturday evening, it blended humor and sensuality to the music of Mozart in K281. That sensuality was evident throughout, whether on the contemporary “Between the Machine” with a pulsating score that mixed jazz with industrial sounds, to the climatic setting of Ravel’s “Bolero,” where European and Indian classical dance moves blended with flamenco. Verb didn’t restrict its action to the stage. It also presented classes for community and university dance students earlier in the day and performed and worked with middle and high school students on Friday. Dickinson said the company particularly enjoyed the middle school, where a two-hour delay on a Friday meant the energy level was particularly high. The company’s performances Saturday had people buzzing in the halls of the Wolfe Center and Fine Arts Center as they perused the jewelry, ceramics, glass, prints, and more on sale.  Artists also demonstrated their techniques. Music suffused the event from traditional sounds from Beethoven to taiko drums to the experimental work of doctoral students. As usual there was far more going on than any one visitor could take in. While the crowd attending seemed smaller than in the past, the energy of the participants was still high.        

Band director from Stoneman Douglas High talks about the healing power of music

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Last Valentine’s Day, the Douglas Stoneman High School Wind Symphony was rehearsing Vaclav Nelhybel’s “Symphonic Movement” when the killing started. A gunman had entered the ninth grade building across from the band room and was shooting. The code red lockdown was in place. The band students put away their instruments, left the music on their stands, and guided by the SWAT team left the building. Before that moment, what the band had on its mind was performing that piece in just a few weeks in Carnegie Hall during the New York Wind Band Festival. Now an expelled student had returned to the Parkland, Florida school and killed 17 staff and students, including two involved in the band program. The music stopped, but not for long. Alex Kaminsky, the band director at Douglas Stoneman High, visited Bowling Green State University Thursday to talk about his experience in the aftermath of the tragedy and to hear the premier performance of a composition written in response to the attack. In the afternoon, he spoke with the students in Lisa Martin’s Band Methods class. Bruce Moss, the director of band activities, arranged the visit. He called Kaminsky one of the best high school band directors in the country. While most directors would be happy to be asked to perform at the prestigious Midwest Clinic once, Kaminsky will be bringing the Stoneman Douglas Band there for his fourth appearance, an engagement secured before the shooting. Moss noted Kaminsky has taken bands from three different schools to the clinic. On Thursday Kaminsky told the class of future band directors that the day after the shooting, his pastor told him: “‘None of us understand this. … You are here for such a time as this.’” That statement weighed on Kaminsky. “I realized at that moment that everything I did or would do would affect the trajectory of the students with whom I had been entrusted. …  My role in their lives has been heightened to a level I’d never had to experience in the past.”  Among the victims were two ninth graders Alex Schachter, 14, a trombonist, and Gina Montalto, 14, a member of the color guard. Kaminsky’s son, Ethan, also a ninth grader, was not in the building where the shooting occurred. A trumpet player, he was the only freshman in the elite Wind Symphony. So he was with his father. That helped Kaminsky focus on all the students. The band director decided after the memorial service that he needed to bring the band members and families together. So they arranged to gather at their usual off-campus hangout. As he and his wife were getting ready to leave for the meeting, Ethan was blowing his horn. Nothing special, a few jazz licks, his father recalled. His parents had to wait to leave until he was…

Toledo Symphony begins run of holiday programs

From  TOLEDO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA The Toledo Symphony Orchestra celebrates this holiday season with a variety of festive concerts and special events across Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. From Christmas at the Peristyle and Handel’s Messiah to Toledo Ballet’s 78th Annual Nutcracker, these programs feature a collection of seasonal classics and traditional favorites for all ages. The TSO has a long history of sharing symphonic music outside of its primary locations. Annually, the TSO reaches more than 11,000 individuals at neighborhood churches, schools, performing arts centers, and various community venues. These unique concerts expand the accessibility to arts programming and build lasting relationships with communities throughout the region. “The musicians and production crew of the Toledo Symphony are preparing for the ‘most wonderful time of the year!’” says Rachel Zeithamel, Director of Education & Community Engagement for the Toledo Symphony. “We will perform twenty-five concerts in twenty five days at twenty-one different venues. It is a lot of work but it is well worth the effort. The TSO is able to help communities, families, and organizations celebrate this special time of year. Chances are high that we will be performing at location near you. I hope you will join us and make your own memories!” HOLIDAY PERFORMANCES: November 28, 2018 – St. Joseph Catholic Church (Sylvania, OH) November 29, 2018 – Grace Lutheran Church (Fremont, OH) November 30, 2018 – Clyde High School (Clyde, OH) December 1, 2018 – Christmas at the Peristyle (Toledo, OH) December 2, 2018 – Handel’s Messiah (Toledo, OH) December 4, 2018 – Westgate Chapel (Toledo, OH) December 5, 2018 – Clay High School (Oregon, OH) December 6, 2018 – St. Patrick Catholic Church (Bryan, OH) December 8, 2018 – Toledo Ballet’s 78th Annual Nutcracker (Toledo, OH) December 9, 2018 – Toledo Ballet’s 78th Annual Nutcracker (Toledo, OH) December 11, 2018 – St. Joseph Catholic Church (Maumee, OH) December 12, 2018 – St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (Napoleon, OH) December 13, 2018 – First Lutheran Church (Tiffin, OH) December 14, 2018 – St. Luke’s Lutheran Church (Temperance, MI) December 15, 2018 – First Congregational Church (Toledo, OH) December 16, 2018 – All Saints Catholic Church (Rossford, OH) “As the Toledo Symphony marks its 75th anniversary, we cherish our role as ‘Toledo’s Symphony,’” says Zak Vassar, President & CEO of the Toledo Symphony. “For these 75 years, we have shared the joy of music across our region—from classrooms and community centers to churches and concert halls. It is especially meaningful to do this at the holidays, when music brings us together and helps us to celebrate together.”The Toledo Symphony’s holiday performances begin on Nov. 28 and conclude on December 16. To purchase tickets, visit or call the Toledo Symphony Box Office at 419-246-8000.

BG school orchestras perform Trans Siberian Orchestra music at holiday concert

From BOWLING GREEN HIGH SCHOOL ORCHESTRA The Bowling Green High School Orchestra and Bowling Green 8th Grade Orchestra will present their Holiday Concert on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Bowling Green Schools Performing Arts Center. This concert has become a holiday tradition for the Bowling Green community and features lighting effects designed by Drake Doren which are performed to music of the Trans Siberian Orchestra.   The Trans Siberian Orchestra titles to be performed combined BGHS High School Orchestras are “Christmas Eve Sarejevo 12/24,” “Faith Noel,” “Wizards in Winter” and “First Snow”. In addition to the Trans Siberian Orchestra  selections noted, The 8th Grade orchestra will perform a medley of holiday tunes titled “Songs of Christmas” along with music from Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and “Dance of the Tumblers” by Rimsky-Korsakov. The BGHS Concert orchestra will perform Divertimento No.2 by Mozart and an arrangement of “Jingle Bells” called “Jingle Jazz.” Finally, the BGHS Chamber orchestra will perform the”Overture to the Thieving Magpie” by Rossini and a very touching piece titled “A Solitary Wish” by Brian Balmages. “A Solitary Wish” is piece which tells a story of the holiday season through the eyes of a homeless person.  This piece will be performed with a special mime presentation from members of the BGHS Drama Club. A free will offering will be taken after to concert to cover the expenses of the production.

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ serves up large helping of musical comedy

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A house plant. Not the most original present. Unless as is the case with the newest gift from the Bowing Green State University Department of Theatre the plant happens to be the flesh eating kind and expresses its appetite in such soulful dulcet tones. “Little House of Horrors” opens tonight (Thursday, Nov. 15) at 8 p.m. and continues  with shows Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Donnell Theatre in the Wolfe Center for the Arts on campus. Click for tickets. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, known for their later work on Disney musical animated films, turned a grade B horror film into a delightful romp on Skid Row with tuneful, Motown inspired melodies and a story that revels in its campy roots. This is a love story, and a weird celebration of neighborhood. “Downtown (Skid Row)” paints the scene, a place people want to flee, yet there’s a cheerfulness to the despair.  That neighborhood spirit is embodied by the three urchins, essentially a girl group from the 1960s. They are one of the show’s most inspired touches. Chiffon (Zayion Hyman), Crystal (Sherry White), and Ronnette (Gabriyel Thomas) are always on hand, a soulful Greek chorus, belting out reflections and advice, all in robust harmony and rousing rhythm. They are played as ageless sprites, always observing, and amused, but never intervening. Seymour (played by Michael Cuschieri at the dress rehearsal I saw and on Thursday and Saturday, and played by Noah Estep on Friday and Sunday) is a child of Skid Row, a hopeless kind of nerd. An orphan he was taken in by Mushnik (Isaac Batty) who owns a flower shop. As Seymour recounts he has lived in the shop since he was a child, sleeping under a counter and eating scraps. Even God isn’t sure what to make of him. But he loves plants and finds a peculiar species he can’t identify and brings it to the shop to nurture. He names it Audrey II after the shop’s clerk Audrey (Anna Randazzo) whom he has a crush on.  Audrey slut-shames herself and thinks all she deserves for a boyfriend is the sadistic dentist Orin (Noah Froelich). Orin’s treatment of Audrey is hard to stomach even in a comedy.  He’s a one-dimensional villian, but packed with all the minerals and vitamins a carnivorous plant needs. Audrey has her dreams of living in a tract housing development somewhere green, in an arch bit of foreshadowing. The song really sounds like a parody of a Disney heroine — think Ariel singing “Part of Your World” — except this came first. Randazzo invests the song with longing for Pine-Sol scented air, which makes it all the funnier. Once Seymour discovers what Audrey II (voiced with sinister relish by Michel Carder) needs for nourishment,…

Composer Sam Adler experienced Kristallnact as child, commemorates it in cantata to be performed Sunday

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In the early morning hours of Nov. 11, 1938 Samuel Adler’s family heard an explosion nearby their home in Mannheim, Germany. The 10-year-old later learned that it was the chapel at the Jewish Cemetery being bombed. This was the night that would come to be known as Kristallnacht — the night of broken glass, when the Nazis launched their full scale their persecution of Jews, moving beyond harassment to state violence. Adler’s father, Hugo Adler, a noted cantor, was caught up in the arrests, but released.  He tried to leave the country but couldn’t. A few days after Kristallnacht he and his son went to the central synagogue, which had been destroyed, where they climbed to the loft to collect and rescue as many of the music books, which contained the musical legacy of the congregation. Nazis moved around below where the two worked. Later the family was able to flee Germany “on the last train,” Adler remembers. “We were scared to death until we left for America.” A half century after those traumatic events, Adler, now an internationally renowned composer, commemorated Kristallnacht in “Stars in the Dust” with a libretto by the late Samuel Rosenbaum, one of the chief cantors in conservative Judaism. To commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, “Stars in the Dust” will be performed Sunday, Nov. 18 at 4 p.m., at Temple Shomer Emunim, 6453 Sylvania Ave, Sylvania. The performance will feature Cantor Andrea Rae Markowicz, soloists Christopher Scholl, tenor, and Lance Ashmore, baritone, from Bowling Green State University as well as the university’s Collegiate Chorale, conducted by Richard Schnipke, and orchestra, conducted by Emily Freeman Brown, Adler’s wife. The award-winning actress and singer Michelle Azar, the composer’s niece, will narrate.  Adler, who is retired from the faculties of the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School, now lives in Perrysburg. The libretto, Adler said, chronicles what happened drawing on contemporary accounts, including that  of a cantor who sang Kaddish, the traditional prayer of mourning, after seeing the damage wrought on his community. “It ends in conviction that it must never happen again,” Adler said.  But given anti-Semitism dates back 2000 years, vigilance will always be necessary. “We have to work at it so it doesn’t happen,” the composer said. Adler, who turned 90 in March, is in the midst of a year-long celebration. He and Brown have just gotten back from a trip to Europe where his violin concerto and a new choral work “To Speak to Our Time” were performed in his native Germany. That choral work’s four movements each use a different language beginning with German poet Nelly Sachs’ “Chorus of the Wanderers.” That poem speaks to the plight of refugees who have “stars pinned to our hats,” a reference to the Nazis’ rule that Jews wear a Star of David…

SPLICE Ensemble brings heart & soul to electroacoustic music

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even music that relies on circuitry needs the human touch.  “It’s really that live concert that can make music live and breathe and survive the test of time,” said Keith Kirchoff, of the SPLICE Ensemble. “It’s the performer that’s going to take this music into the next generation.  We still need to go to concerts, and it’s this concert experience that’s driven by a compelling performer … that makes it an immediately relatable art form.” The SPLICE Ensemble will headline the SPLICE Festival  this week at Bowling Green State University. The festival convenes Thursday, Nov. 8 on the Bowling Green State University, and continues through Saturday, Nov. 10. SPLICE will perform a free concert on the last night at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall. The festival is devoted to electroacoustic music. Kirchoff defines electroacoustic music as classical music using electronics that’s “designed for the concert stage, for concentrated listening, intentional listening as opposed to being in the background or for dancing.” The festival, Kirchoff said, is a mix of performances and workshops. “We wanted to create a ground where  the education is an intrinsic part of the festival.” The festival is one branch of the umbrella SPLICE organization. It started as a one-week summer institute, branched out into the festival, and soon will have an academy program. The ensemble grew out of the institute, Kirchoff said. SPLICE was launched about five years ago by composer Christopher Biggs and Kirchoff, a pianist. “I felt there weren’t very many, if any, opportunities for performers to become comfortable integrating electronics into their performances,” Kirchoff said. The ensemble is an outgrowth of the festival. Kirchoff and Biggs  “wanted to have a performance faculty that was really good at their instruments and really good at electronics.” That, Kirchoff said, turned out to be himself, Kirchoff and fellow institute faculty, Adam Vidiksis, percussion, and  Sam Wells, trumpet.  “We really enjoyed working together,” the pianist said. They realized that they had a distinctive sound. Only one composition existed for their particular instrumentation.They set about soliciting composers to write for them. That process was facilitated by the institute and the festival. The SPLICE Festival is in its second year. Last year it was presented at Western Michigan University where Biggs teaches. Bringing it to BGSU was a natural. Elainie Lillios, of the BGSU composition faculty, teaches at the SPLICE Institute. She’s been “the boots on the ground” to coordinate the event. “BGSU is fertile ground for a lot of new music,” Kirchoff said. “It’s awesome to me that there’s so much going on.” Thanks to the Fromm Foundation, Lillios will be writing a major piece for the SPLICE Ensemble. The trio will perform six pieces on its Saturday recital. Most of them were commissioned specifically for the festival. Flannery Cunningham’s “Eh/k/oh” has the percussionist and pianist singing in…

BGSU Arts Events through Nov. 28

At the galleries – “The Shodo Way of Writing: Calligraphy Scrolls from the BGSU Asian Studies Collection” exhibition continues through Nov. 18 in the Willard Wankelman Gallery at the Fine Arts Center. Presented by the BGSU Galleries, the exhibition includes 30 calligraphy scrolls by contemporary Japanese masters of these traditional arts.  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 Nov. 7 – Award-winning documentary filmmaker Dr. Matthew Donahue, a lecturer in popular culture, will present and screen “The Amsterdam T-Shirt Project,” highlighting the artists, vendors and creators of souvenir T-shirts in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the souvenir T-shirt capital of the world. The presentation and screening will begin at 1 p.m. in the Pallister Conference Room, Jerome Library. Nov. 7 – The Faculty Artist Series presents Caroline Chin on violin. She is an assistant professor and has been described by the Chicago Sun Times as “riveting and insightful, who lights up in passages of violin pyrotechnics.” She has performed throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia. The recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Nov. 8 – The Prout Reading Series presents readings by MFA students Erin Carlyle and Katy Cesarotti. Carlyle, a poet, and Cesarotti, a fiction writer, are MFA students in the creative writing program. The reading will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Nov. 8 – The BGSU Early Music Ensemble and Graduate String Quartet will present a recital at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Nov. 8 – The College of Musical Arts hosts the SPLICE Festival 2018, featuring music written for instruments and electronics. The first concert is at 8 p.m. in the Cla-zel Theatre, 127 N. Main St., Bowling Green. The festival runs through Nov. 10. For a complete listing of events, visit Nov. 9 – The SPLICE Festival 2018 continues with a concert at 10:30 a.m. and a talk at 1:30 p.m., both in Bryan Recital Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center; a workshop at 3:30 p.m. in 0108 Moore Center, and a concert at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall. Free Nov. 10 – The SPLICE Festival will present its final day of events in Moore Musical Arts Center starting with a concert at 10:30 a.m. and a talk at 1:30 p.m., both in Bryan Recital Hall; a workshop at 3:30 p.m. in Room 0108, and ending with a Music at the Forefront concert by the SPLICE Ensemble at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall, sponsored by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music. Free Nov. 11 – The Student Reed Quintet, with students Andrew Hosler, Ava Wirth, Kendra Sachs, Nicole Grimone and Jennifer Bouck, will give a recital at 4 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall at Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Nov….

‘Most Happy Fella’ at BGSU is a most wonderful show

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Frank Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella” is a tricky devil of a musical. Or is it an opera? Loesser said it was a musical, and yet it is filled with soaring operatic moments to go along with the toe-tapping numbers.  The Bowling Green Opera Theatre has the talent to do justice to both genres. That will be on display this weekend when “The Most Happy Fella” is performed Friday, Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 4 at 3 p.m. in Kobacker Hall in the Moore Musical Arts Center at Bowling Green State University. For tickets click here. .Directed by Geoffrey Stephenson, the musical compresses the original three acts into two with the elimination of dance numbers. That puts the focus even more on the singing, and the cast comes through, which is no surprise to anyone who follows the sounds emanating from the College of Musical Arts. Leading the cast are Caroline Kouma as Rosabella and Nick Kottman as Tony.  They are an unlikely pair of lovers. The elderly vineyard owner sees her waiting table in a restaurant in San Francisco and falls in love. He leaves a note and keepsake indicating he’d like to develop a relationship. They correspond, and when she asks for a photo he’s afraid she’ll reject him because of his age, instead he sends a photo of the handsome itinerant foreman Joe (Luke Serrano). And when Rosabella — the name given her by Tony — finally  arrives at the Napa Valley vineyard, she finds the wedding feast all spread out and Joe waiting for her. Only then do Joe and Rosabella discover the deception. But not before a couple of the exuberant production numbers that make the show so enjoyable. This leads up the revelation that takes both Joe and Rosabella by surprised. She’s about to leave, despite Joe’s protestations that Tony may be a “grampa,” he’s a nice guy as shown by all his friends gathered to greet his bride. Then Tony arrives, on a stretcher, after his truck overturned. Knowing she has few options in life, Rosabella goes through what may be a deathbed wedding anyway, only to follow it up with an intimate indiscretion with Joe. Rosabella is at a loss and Joe only wants to help, yet they are carried away on waves of emotional confusion. Now in most musicals the old guy, would be the barrier to overcome for the young lovers to be reunited. But “Most Happy Fella” is not just any musical, and not just because of its lush, romantic score. With the mediation of the doctor (Salem Abad) Tony and Rosabella grow closer, as she helps nurse him.  Kottman has to negotiate between his character’s impatience with the rate of his healing, and his genuinely generous spirit. He’s nagged bu concerns, fueled by his…

BGSU professor helps young people find their voice to protest gun violence

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Young people singing their original songs about the impact of gun violence and the desperate need for a change took the stage at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco recently. Their songs and others’ are part of a new album called “Raise Your Voice: The Sound of Student Protest.” The 11 tracks came from students across the United States, performing as soloists or in groups, from hip-hop to rock to spoken word to voice and piano. They are united in their insistence that gun violence has to stop. The impetus for the album came from Dr. Katherine Meizel, an associate professor of musicology in the Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts. With the help of the Little Village Foundation, she found a way to preserve those voices and share the students’ message. “The project has two goals: to encourage young people to vote and to raise money for gun safety,” Meizel said. Proceeds from the album will be donated to the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety organization, which works to end gun violence, create safer communities and assist victims of gun violence. “Raise Your Voice: The Sound of Student Protest” is available at Grounds For Thought, for a discounted price of $16.50. For each album sold, $15 will go to Everytown for Gun Safety ( The album is available for download and streaming on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. “It’s important for young people to feel they can make a difference, and these students are demonstrating that in a really powerful, beautiful way,” Meizel said. “One of the reasons I’m so impressed with this movement is that they don’t imagine they can’t make a difference; it’s absolutely clear to them they can make a difference, and they are doing it. They don’t sit back and say, ‘My voice doesn’t count.’ They are making it count. “The students have different ideas about what reform should look like, but they all want to be safe in school and they all want to help heal people who have been harmed. They want to tell their representatives to care more about young people than about the gun lobby. Some want to tell policymakers they will soon be able to vote and will be making an impact politically. The want to encourage other young people to use their voices the way they have, and vote.” Last spring, as the country reeled from yet another school shooting, this time in Parkland, Florida, students organized a walkout on March 14, 2018, memorializing the 17 students and teachers who were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It was the first of a series of rallies organized by students calling for an end to gun violence. The first walkout was followed on March 24 by the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., and other cities…

Toledo Symphony conductor Alain Trudel embraces his new community

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Alain Trudel came to Toledo to conduct an orchestra,  and to become part of a community. The Montreal native, who in September began his tenure as  Toledo Symphony Orchestra music director, said that he knew this was a place he wanted to be when he saw a poster in the orchestra’s office that spoke to its mission. It addressed, he said, the pillars that he also believes are essential. The first is artistic excellence — “to try to play the best version you can at any given time.” That’s essential, but not to his mind sufficient. Just as important, Trudel said, is being connected to the community. “Do you teach? Do you have a youth orchestra? Do you play chamber music in different houses?” And he was pleased to find “the orchestra does that.” That shows the organization “understands what it means to be relevant in your own community,” Trudel said. “If you are not relevant in your own community, you are in mortal danger.” The education part is the third pillar. The orchestra should be passing along the love of music to a young generation. Trudel has already attended and conducted a couple Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestra rehearsals. He thinks of the members of those ensembles as his “younger colleagues.” Trudel will conduct his third concert as music director Saturday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m. in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle.  The concert includes classics of the symphonic repertoire by Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, and Stravinsky and a world premiere of a tuba concerto by Samuel Adler. Adler, a Perrysburg resident, is world renowned as a composer and educator. But he’s part of the regional music family, the conductor said. The solo part will be performed by the symphony’s tubist David Saltzman, who teaches at Bowling Green State University. During Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite,” artist Holly Carr will be on stage creating a panoramic silk painting. Trudel’s debut concert on the Classics series gave a clear indication of his direction. He opened with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony that spotlighted the orchestra. Then the symphony played a composition by Christopher Dietz, of the BGSU faculty. The concert closed with dancers from the Toledo Ballet  performing excerpts from “Swan Lake.” This was arranged, Trudel said, before the merger of the ballet and the orchestra was even being considered. “I didn’t want it to be all about me,” he said of the program. “I didn’t want it to be all about the orchestra. I wanted it to be about connecting.” For Trudel that includes conducting at least one concert on all the symphony’s series, be it Pops, Family, or the Neighborhood concerts in venues throughout the region. “The public doesn’t migrate,” Trudel said. Those who go to hear the orchestra play the “West Side Story” soundtrack live will not for the most part come to hear Mahler.  “If…

Hub New Music gets down to business at New Music Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Flutist Michael Avitabile’s musical career has developed in a way he never anticipated. As he pursued his classical music studies, he had his sights set on landing a job in a symphony orchestra. Then a couple sour audition experiences, and call to action from fellow flutist and MacArthur Fellowship winner Claire Chase helped change his tune. “The speech was a call to arms for the graduating class students  (at Northwestern University) to start their own organizations,  build their own projects, essentially be their own employers in an industry that wasn’t employing the entire graduating work force,”  Avitabile said in a recent telephone interview. At the time he encountered Chase’s call, the University of Michigan alumnus was pursuing graduate studies in Boston at the New England Conservatory. From Ann Arbor, he’d brought with him a love of new music — something he disliked when he was in high school. So in 2013 he pulled together some fellow conservatory students and started staging concerts in churches, galleries, any place that wouldn’t charge him to use the space. The instrumentation varied at first, but soon settled on the unusual mix of flute, clarinet, violin, and cello. There was a practical element to this — the venues tended not to have pianos and it’s difficult to haul around percussion. But also, Avitabile  said, the blend of strings and winds was attractive. The musicians also discovered a “treasure trove” of pieces written for this instrumentation. “Just getting these pieces ready we found we really enjoyed playing with this combination of instruments, learning the techniques of the other instruments, and exploring the very large color palette.” Some of those compositions, Avitabile said, are still in the ensemble’s repertoire. They started reaching out to composer friends to write pieces for them. In 2015 Hub New Music started touring. “So what started as a school project turned into my full-time job,” Avitabile said. Hub New Music — Avitabile, clarinetist David Dzardziel, violinist Zenas Hsu, and cellist Jessie Christenson — will visit Bowling Green State University this week as guest ensemble for the New Music Festival. The quartet will perform Friday at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall on campus. Avitabile is the ensemble’s executive director. The members handled all management duties until this summer when they contracted with Stuart Wolferman  of Unfinished Side Productions. But even that relationship is highly collaborative with the musicians still handling many administrative duties. Avitabile’s musical education, he said, did not prepare him for this business side. So he took on as many internships and jobs as he could in Boston and New York to learn how to book concerts, set up tours, and commission music. Those are now essential skills for musicians wanting to launch independent careers. The ensemble is devoted to new music, working closely with a widening circle of composers….

Community bands to scare up seasonal sounds

From BG AREA COMMUNITY BANDS The BG Area Community Bands present the annual Fall  “family concert,” Halloween Hi-Jinks,  Sunday, Oct. 21, 4 p.m. at the Bowling Green Schools Performing Arts Center.  The afternoon program will include familiar seasonal selections with a focus on “family friendly” music.  Children of all ages are most welcome to attend, and are encouraged to wear “non scary” costumes. The Concert Band, conducted by Thomas Headley, will feature “76 Trombones” by Meredith Willson, John Philip Sousa’s delightful setting of “Yankee Doodle,” a Pixar salute to the movie “UP!” and a medley of a number of Disney favorites skillfully arranged by John Higgins. BiG Band BG, the Bowling Green Area Jazz Band directed by William E. Lake, will feature Jazz vocalist Elizabeth Green on “Cry Me a River” and Tenor Saxophonist Dan VanVorhis on Louis Prima’s “Jump, Jive, and Wail.” The family-friendly one-hour concert is free, and the public cordially invited to attend.  The Performing Arts Center is easily accessed from nearby parking at the 530 West Poe Road school campus.  Free-will donations will be gratefully accepted, along with information about the Patron program.