BGSU College of Musical Arts

Stars align at BGSU as College of Music welcomes famed guest artists

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts has some special acts in the wings. Lindsay Gross, the college’s manager of public-community relations, can’t help but show her own enthusiasm for what’s in store for the coming academic year – five internationally acclaimed artists who will share their gifts with the community. And all the events related to these residencies are open to public for free. Why wouldn’t Gross be excited? She’s a jazz bass trombonist, and the first guest in September is the American Brass Quintet, a pioneering ensemble that uses bass trombone, not tuba, as its lowest voice. And closing run of guest artists during Jazz Week in late March will be Maria Schneider, the most esteemed living composer for large jazz ensemble. Schneider has won Grammys not only for her jazz work but also for her arrangement on David Bowie’s song “Sue.” And for her collaboration with soprano Dawn Upshaw, who will visit BGSU a week before she arrives. Visits scheduled are: American Brass Quintet, residency Sept.20-22, with a concert Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. Jazz guitarist John Scofield, Sept. 30, a master class and concert at 8 p.m. as part of the two-day Orchard Guitar Festival that starts Sept.29. Opera composer Jake Heggie, keynote lecture at 8 p.m. on Oct. 22 and residency Oct. 23-24, as part of the Edwin H. Simmons Creative Mind Series. Vocal superstar Dawn Upshaw, recital March 18 at 8 p.m. and residency March 19-20, as the Helen McMaster Professorship in Vocal and Choral Arts. Maria Schneider, residency from March 28-30, with a concert March…


New music tribe gathers for sounds & support at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Kelly Rehearsal Hall was alive with 100 conversations Friday noontime. In two concentric circles composers sat on the outside and performers, producers and presenters on the inside. Each pair locked in conversation, often those inside with headphones had clamped on their ears. Those outside brandishied laptops, or scores. And then at four minute intervals a gong would sound, and those on the inside would shift down to their left. This is New Music Speed Dating, and this the New Music Gathering. The three-day gathering began in Bowling Green State University’s Moore Musical Arts Center the morning of Thursday and will continue until the early morning hours of Sunday (For schedule of events including concerts Friday featuring featured artist percussionist Steven Schick and Saturday at 8 p.m. visit: http://www.newmusicgathering.org/schedule-of-events.html.) Attendees will discuss innovative techniques, musical philosophy, funding, and ways to reach new audiences. About 400 people contemporary music devotees are expected to attend. New Music Speed Dating embodies the spirit of the event, whimsical and a bit theatrical in its construct, yet practical. The event is a signature feature of the Gatherings. This is the third. The first was in San Francisco Conservatory and the second at Peabody Conservatory Baltimore. Coming to Bowling Green, said Danny Felsenfeld, one of the founders, was natural. “This is the first time we went to a school that’s known for being a center of new music,” he said. “That’s why you come to Bowling Green to learn to compose and perform new music.” The vision for the gathering was for something “simple, stripped down, and inexpensive,” Felsenfeld said. The…


Pelletier to revisit old friend, Mozart’s fourth horn concerto, with BG Philharmonia

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For French horn players, there’s no escaping the four Mozart concertos. Andrew Pelletier, professor of horn at the College of Musical Arts, has played the fourth Horn Concerto as many as nine times with full orchestra, and he doesn’t know how many times with just piano. And it is a staple of the repertoire for his students. They know whenever they go out for auditions, whether for scholarships, competitions, graduate school admission or orchestral work, movements from the second and fourth will be required. Their soaring melodies, flourishes and ebullient calls serve as the foundation of the instrument’s literature. Pelletier will perform Mozart’s Horn Concerto in E-Flat Major with the Bowling Green Philharmonia Sunday, April23, at 3 p.m. in Kobacker Hall on the Bowling Green State University campus. The orchestra also will perform Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 and Stravinsky’s “Firebird” Suite. The fourth of Mozart’s horn concertos is “the most involved” of the set, Pelletier said, with two cadenzas. In Mozart’s time, Pelletier said, horn was the most featured wind instrument. The instrument had not long before come in from the field. The hunting horn made its first orchestral appearance in opera, whenever a hunting scene was involved. Horn players of the time developed techniques to allow them to play more notes than the natural bugle-like overtone series. This enabled the horn to play virtuosic passages “and “beautiful singing melodies,” Pelletier said. “It’s the sound of the horn that captures so many different emotions that caught me.” Mozart made full use of the instruments resources and associations. “Whenever I play Mozart I feel I’m…


Student-run benefit intends to keep the jazz coming to BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Jeff Bouck was looking around for places to get a master’s degree in jazz studies, Bowling Green State University stuck out in part because of the number of guest artists it featured. More than a chance to hear these master musicians, the program offered plenty of time with them to learn the craft first hand. At the end of his first year here, Bouck and fellow jazz graduate student Mitchell Borchardt have organized a benefit for the Student Jazz Association to help ensure that continues. The SJA is a BGSU campus organization which promotes jazz in the community, primarily by bringing in guest artists. Those have included recently vocalist Kim Nazarian, drummer Carl Allen, trombonist and composer Alan Ferber, pianist Jon Cowherd, and many others over the years. These artists provide lessons, master classes as well as rehearsing and performing with students. This means students get to experience playing music with the guidance of the composer. The benefit for the Student Jazz Association will be held Thursday, April 27, starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Clazel in downtown Bowling Green. The event will feature a show by the BGSU Lab Band I giving the premier performance of pieces by Borchardt and Bouck as well as performing work by Duke Ellington, Sammy Nestico, and others. They along with Ian Palmer will conduct the band, BGSU’s premier jazz ensemble. In addition to the music there will be card games and raffle baskets. A $2 cover charge will be collected at the door. The student composers penned their charts specifically for this show. Bouck’s is a…


Young conductor brings Mahler masterwork to BGSU stage

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In “Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth)” the composer Gustav Mahler tried to trick fate. Diagnosed with a health ailment, and emotionally reeling from the death of his eldest daughter, he didn’t want to write what would be his Ninth Symphony. For other composers the ninth symphony was their last. So he wrote “The Song of the Earth,” a six movement work of symphonic proportions, but didn’t call it a symphony, said Bowling Green State University musicologist Eftychia Papanikolaou. The piece also called for a large orchestra so was difficult to perform. But in the early 20th century a group of Viennese musicians including Arnold Schoenberg decided this work should be performed more often. So a reduction of the score for 14 musicians was created. Conductor Mercedes Diaz Garcia, a doctoral student at the College of Musical Arts, was drawn to the piece and decided that she wanted to present it to the Bowling Green community. So she recruited the musicians and the two vocal soloists. They’ve been rehearsing the difficult hour-long work for weeks and will present it Wednesday, April 19, at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall on campus. The project is an act of love for all concerned. Diaz Garcia can’t pay anyone, and the project is not part of her doctoral studies. “‘The Song of the Earth’ is not about the physical earth but about the inner world, it’s about the depth of the human soul. So it’s very deep, it’s very exhausting,” the conductor said. For all its challenges she found musicians who are up to…


Bill Mathis ready to move arts at BGSU into a new era as music dean

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News William Mathis takes charge as dean of the College of Musical Arts at a crucial time for arts education. Focusing on the traditional paths of performance and music education will not be enough for higher education music programs. “It’s a different arts and musical landscape then when I was coming up,” said Mathis, 56. While making sure students continue to achieve “technical and musical mastery,” the college needs to broaden its offerings. “We talk a lot about musical entrepreneurship, and I’ve been thinking about citizenship in the arts, arts advocacy and the connection to communities, and how the arts can impact the life of society in our local community,” he said. “The skills that requires are not part of a traditional music curriculum. How can we give that to them? I’ve been thinking about this a lot this year.” Music programs, and arts programs in general, need to prepare their student for a new entrepreneurial environment. “Twenty years from now the schools of music adapting to this will be around,” Mathis said. The fate of those sticking to the more traditional approach is less certain. Mathis wants BGSU to in the forefront of those that survive. Mathis stepped into the role of interim dean last July after Jeff Showell announced his retirement. After a national search, he was named dean in February. Mathis said he felt his administrative background made him a prime internal candidate for the permanent position. He’s served as chair of the Department of Performance Studies and as the college’s graduate coordinator. “I have a disposition that lends itself to this…


St. John Passion in its element as Good Friday offering

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Liturgy and drama are one in Bach’s St. John Passion. The theatrical elements – a narrator, dialogue, and the evocative underscoring for small orchestra—are undeniable. Yet the message and the story almost demand the setting of a church. Yes, it is presented in a concert hall, but that’s akin to a staged reading of a play as opposed to a fully staged production. The St. John Passion was fully in its element on Palm Sunday afternoon in Hope Lutheran Church in Toledo. The Passion, one of two that have come down to us from Bach, the other being the monumental St. Matthew, was presented by musicians from Bowling Green State University. The performance brought together the Early Music Ensemble, directed by Arne Spohr, the University Choral Society directed by Mark Munson, who also conducted the work, organist Michael Gartz, and voice faculty taking on the principal roles and solos. Munson said he’s been waiting for Easter to fall late enough in the semester to be able to prepare the Passion for presentation during Holy Week. So on Good Friday, April 14, the St. John Passion will be presented at 7 p.m. in First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green as the community commemoration of the day. The Passion was first performed in 1724, revised over time, though the final version reverted to much the same as it was originally performed. As presented in Bach’s time, a sermon would be preached between parts one and two. Those in attendance Sunday were advised not to applaud between the two movements. Spohr read several verses of the…


Beautiful singing takes precedence over competition in BGSU’s Conrad Art Song event

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Yes, the final round of the Conrad Art Song Competition at Bowling Green State University was, as the name makes clear, a competition. More than that it was a night of beautiful singing. That was the assessment of Kevin Bylsma, the coordinator of opera activities at the College of Musical Arts. The 18th annual competition featured 11 duos of vocalists and pianists in the undergraduate division and 12 duos in the graduate division. (The division is determined by the singer.) Honors go equally to the singer and the pianist. They must prepare a program of a half a dozen songs from different periods, including at least one selection from a living composer, with one song each in English, German, Italian and French. Regardless of the language, the 10 duos, five in each division, selected for the finals delivered emotion-packed performances, sometimes touching, sometimes coquettish, sometimes even funny. The power of drama was demonstrated in the first set by soprano Hannah Stroh with pianist Xiaohui Ma singing “He is Dead and Gone” in Russian. Even Russian wasn’t up to the task of expressing anguish, as Stroh leaned back against the piano, and began humming. The sound of her voice disembodied, as if emanating from the air itself. Then the song’s emotion swerved, ending with a demonic laugh. You didn’t need to speak Russian to be taken aback. A few hesitant claps were heard, then full blown applause. The decorum of the night – applause are usually reserved for the end of a duo’s performance – was disrupted, not to be regained. And Stroth had set…


Visiting musician Doug Yeo brings ancient sound of the serpent alive at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News After two hours of discussing the fine points of trombone playing – articulation, dynamics and the like, Doug Yeo left the student trombonists at Bowling Green State University with message. “We live in a messed up world,” the visiting artist said. All they had to do was look out the door to see that. “What you do with trombones … matters.” When people come to a concert, whether a student recital or a performance by a major symphony orchestra, the performer doesn’t know what brings them to listen. They may have just lost their job or a loved one. They might have just gotten engaged. “You don’t know what their story is, but you’re playing for them and what you play can change their lives. They’re giving you something they’ll never have back, their time.” And it’s up to the musician to make that time they spend together worthwhile. “What you do,” Yeo said, “really, really, really matters.  … I’ve been to concerts, and my life has changed.” That’s not just hearing star soloists, sometimes it has been a recital by one of his own students. Yeo has been making a difference for listeners for decades. That included 27 years as the bass trombonist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Since 1994, though, he has also performed on the serpent, a musical instrument dating by to the 16th century, and prominent through the 19th in military bands. His visit to BGSU s to mark the donation and renovation of a serpent given to the College of Musical Arts by Glenn Varney, a professor emeritus of…


Musical serpent to be celebrated at BGSU

There’s a serpent in the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University. Not of the reptilian variety, but rather the musical type. The college will host a residency on the snakelike historical horn featuring Douglas Yeo, the leading scholar on the instrument. The event takes place April 4-6 at Moore Musical Arts Center and includes a free public concert, a seminar and a lesson on playing the serpent, plus master classes with college students and faculty members on the serpent and the trombone. The serpent master class, led by faculty member David Saltzman, will take place from 9:30-10:20 a.m. April 5 in 2002 Moore Musical Arts Center and is open to the public. The seminar will be held from 2-3:15 p.m. April 6 in 2117 Moore. “The Ruth P. Varney Serpent: A Conversation and Concert Led by Douglas Yeo” will begin at 8 p.m. that evening in Bryan Recital Hall in the Moore Center, with a reception following in the Kennedy Green Room. The program includes marches written by Christopher Eley, Samuel Wesley and Josef Haydn for the Duke of York, the Prince of Wales and the Derbyshire Cavalry Regiment, plus a divertimento in four movements attributed to Haydn. Yeo’s performance will be accompanied by students and faculty from the College of Musical Arts. The idea for the BGSU serpent conference came about when the college received the donation of a serpent from Dr. Glenn Varney, professor emeritus of marketing. The instrument had belonged to his late wife, Ruth, whose grandparents had purchased it for her mother. “It is an English military serpent with four keys by an anonymous maker, likely constructed in the mid to late 1830s…


Pro Musica, Naslada Bistro team up to raise funds for music student enrichment

From PRO MUSICA Naslada Bistro, in downtown Bowling Green, will be hosting a fundraiser for Pro Musica from March 27 (Monday) – April 1 (Saturday). A portion of each bill will be donated to Pro Musica during the weeklong event. All monies raised will be use to fund student travel grants for students in the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University. Patrons need to mention Pro Musica when they order. Located at 1820 S. Main Street in Bowling Green, the bistros name mean “lingering over excellent food and sipping quality wine in the company of good friends” in Bulgarian. It is known for its authentic European and American cuisine prepared with the freshest of ingredients. Pro Musica, funded by nearly 250 dedicated alumni, friends, parents and members of the Bowling Green community, sponsors a wide variety of musical events and provides financial to music students for educational travel projects. In addition, the organization provides funding for scholarships and various awards at Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts. The organization supports raises funds to support student-initiated educational travel projects to attend workshops, festivals, competitions or master classes, both domestically and internationally. Every dollar Pro Musica raises goes to help students. As a bonus, diners may wish to pair their meal with concerts being offered during the college’s annual Jazz Week events. Concerts include: Tuesday (March 28), Vocal Jazz Ensemble featuring jazz vocalist Kim Nazarian, 8 p.m., Bryan Recital Hall; Wednesday (March 29), Jazz Faculty Group, 8 p.m., Bryan Recital Hall; Thursday (March 30), Jazz Lab Band I with guest trombonist Alan Ferber, 8 p.m., Kobacker Hall,…


Small ensembles shine in big way in Wayland Chamber Music Competition

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In a serious competition among groups of some of the best musicians in the College of Musical Arts, what set the winners apart is they seemed to be having fun. The Douglas Wayland Chamber Music Competition was held this weekend in the Moore Musical Arts Center on the Bowling Green State University campus. Lydia Qiu, a pianist from the University Michigan, was one of three judges on the panel for the finals held Sunday. “These two groups really enjoyed playing together,” she said of the Epsilon Quartet, the undergraduate winners, and Pitnix, a trio that won the graduate division. Pitnix was a repeat winner. Two of the members of the trio – Samantha Tartamella, flute, and Stephen Dubetz, clarinet – were in the ensemble when it won the undergraduate division. This year with another pianist, Emily Morin, they had to compete in the graduate division because Morin is a graduate student. Still the result was the same. Dubetz also won the undergraduate division in December’s Competitions in Musical Performance. The Epsilon Quartet, a saxophone foursome of Jacob Braslawsce, soprano, Nicole Grimone, alto, Tess Marjanovic, tenor, and Andrew Hosler, baritone, is the newest in a line of saxophone quartets to do well in the event. At least one saxophone quartet has been among the winners in all but one competition since its start in 2007. Second place in the graduate division went to Landlocked Percussion – Henrique Batista, Scott Charvet, Nicholas Fox, and Felix Reyes. Second place in the undergraduate went to the Derevo Quintet – Thomas Morris, oboe, Hayden Giesseman, clarinet, Brianna Buck, saxophone,…


Scholar helps guide BGSU musicians toward Holy Week presentations of St. John Passion

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Mark Munson has been waiting for the academic and liturgical calendars to align. The director of choral studies at Bowling Green State University wanted a year when Good Friday fell late enough in the semester to allow time to prepare and present J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion on Good Friday. This is the year, and this past week the singers and musicians started the final phase of preparation. The passion oratorio, originally presented on Good Friday, 1724, is a large undertaking that involves soloists, the University Choral Ensemble, and the Early Music Ensemble, directed by Arne Spohr. To help this large contingent of students, faculty and community members prepare, a leading scholar and tenor Christopher Cock, of the Bach Institute at Valparaiso University in Indiana, visited campus. In the passion, Bach relates the story of Jesus’ trial and execution using the text from the Gospel of John, with reflections by soloists and the choir. Cock has sung the role of the evangelist in the St. John Passion 50 times as well as conducted it on several other occasions. His choir has been in residence at St. Thomas in Leipzig where the piece was first presented, a rare honor for an American choir. He was at BGSU as the Helen McMaster Endowed Professor in Vocal and Choral Studies. For many of the students involved this will their first time playing it. “I’m getting chills just thinking about you’re experiencing this work for the first time,” he told them. Cock spoke about how Bach brought the theology to life in the music. “The debasement of being…


Bach expert to help prep BGSU musicians for Passion

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Renowned Bach expert and premier lyric tenor Dr. Christopher M. Cock will share his knowledge and love of the composer with students in the College of Musical Arts and local audiences March 13-15 as the 2017 Helen McMaster Endowed Professor in Vocal and Choral Studies at Bowling Green State University. Cock holds the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Lutheran Music at Valparaiso University and is director of its Bach Institute. During his residency, he will give a public lecture and work with the BGSU Collegiate Chorale, voice and conducting students and the Early Music Ensemble as they prepare to perform Bach’s “St. John Passion” in April during the Easter season. All events and activities are free and open to the public. Cock will discuss his life’s work in a public presentation titled “J.S. Bach and the St. John Passion: A Lifelong Pursuit” at 10:30 a.m. March 14 in 1040 Moore Musical Arts Center. In addition, audiences may hear the ensembles in performance, beginning with the Early Music Ensemble with soloists at 8 p.m. March 13 in the First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster St. in Bowling Green. On March 14, he will lead the University Choral Society at 7:30 p.m. in 1040 Moore Musical Arts Center. On March 15, he will again lead the Early Music Ensemble with soloists, at 8 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church. His visit will also include a voice master class and work with undergraduate choral conducting students. Through his activities as a choral music educator and distinguished solo artist, Cock has forged a unique career path…


Contemporary music is at center stage at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When the New Music Gathering arrives at Bowling Green State University next May 11-13, it will be further confirmation that the College of Musical Arts has become a Midwestern center of contemporary music. That reputation is grounded in the New Music Festival, which started in 1980 and staged every October. The university is also one of only two that offers a doctorate with a specialty in contemporary music. That gives it a foothold with the younger generation of performers, composers and impresarios A series of performances by visiting and resident performers in the past week has demonstrated the extent to which contemporary music has been infused into the culture of the College of Musical Arts. A series of in-house concerts this week further elaborates on the theme. This activity testifies to contemporary music’s place at center stage at BGSU. The opening act for this un-festival was the biggest name, Roomful of Teeth. The voice ensemble arrived Wednesday as the guest artist for the Dorothy E. and DuWayne H. Hansen series. The ensemble has won a Grammy, and its signature piece “Partita for 8 Voices,” composed by one of its members Caroline Shaw, won a Pulitzer. The ensemble was the epitome how the Hansens envisioned for the series. They want to bring inspirational artists to campus to share their skills and artistic philosophies with students and the broader community. The ensemble worked with students on campus and made an appearance at Bowling Green High School, sharing the joy and immediacy of new music wherever they went. At a master class for voice students, ensemble members…