BGSU College of Musical Arts

Library concert offers great piano music from BGSU studios

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Some of the greatest music written for piano will be performed in the atrium of the Wood County Library, Monday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. Performing on the library’s Steinway concert grand will be piano students from the Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts. Masterworks from German and French composers, from J.S. Bach to Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy will be the focus of the program. The performance continues a series of recitals by BGSU piano students, who hail from around the world. “It has been such a pleasure to have our beautiful piano in use,” said Michele Raine, the library’s assistant director. “The students give excellent performances, and I appreciate that they are so willing to share their talents with the community.” Thomas Rosenkranz of the BGSU faculty coordinates the programs. “These kind of community concerts are important for our piano majors because it allows them to get out of campus and share their music with people who might not normally be exposed to classical music,” he said. “Too often in academia, things are quite insulated and these kind of concerts allow for a more real life experience for our piano majors.” The concert will feature 10 pianists performing music by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Chopin, Debussy and Ravel. College of Musical Arts attracts musicians from around the world. Among those performing on Monday will be Mengqian Lin, from China. Lin is working on a one-year piano performance certificate from BGSU. In selecting a piece to perform at the library, she reflected on hearing a friend…


Toledo Symphony gives voice to BGSU student composers work

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Before Tuesday, this music was just a complicated series of marks on score paper, residing on computer hard drives and in the composers’ heads. Then the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and conductor Michael Lewanski rolled into Kobacker Hall, and it all came to life in vivid orchestral colors. It filled the hall with brass chorales, tuba solos, swirling clarinets, flute melodies, the drone of double basses, harp glissandi, and swelling waves of strings. Sometimes the music was barely a whisper with the violins scraping their strings tonelessly and the brass players breathing through their horns. The music of future had arrived. Tuesday the sixth Toledo Symphony Student Composer Reading Session was held at Bowling Green State University. Each year five student composers, undergraduates and graduates, are selected to have their short orchestral pieces performed by the symphony. The five composers this year were: Kory Reeder, Graeme Materne, Adam Kennaugh, Chuanhao Zhang, and Ashlin Hunter. “For students to really hear these sounds played by high level professionals is quite exceptional. It’s really quite unusual,” said guest composer Andrew Norman, who would later meet with the composers to discuss their work. The Los Angeles-based composer said when he was asked to come to BGSU, “I expected to hear fabulous new music. “This university is known all over the country for being a center of really interesting progressive new music, and I wasn’t disappointed,” he said. “There was so many different kinds of music being made, such a wide diversity of approaches to the orchestra, and each composer…


Toledo Symphony establishes $10,000 scholarship for BGSU composition students

From TOLEDO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA The Toledo Symphony Orchestra is pleased to announce an exciting new scholarship opportunity for Bowling Green State University students. Each year, two Toledo Symphony Composition Scholarships will be awarded to incoming students in the Master of Music in Composition degree program at BGSU. To be considered for this award, composition applicants must include a previously written work for orchestra and/or a large instrumental ensemble in their application portfolio.  A jury of composition faculty members reviews the candidates’ work based on an evaluation of their current abilities as well as the prospect of their continuing development as a composer of orchestral music. Scholarship recipients are awarded $10,000 for demonstrating such musical excellence in their program. During the second year of their degree, each scholarship recipient is guaranteed a spot in the annual Toledo Symphony BGSU Student Composition Reading Session. The annual TSO Readings at BGSU are a unique opportunity for students to hear their work read by a professional orchestra along with gaining knowledge and insight from guest composers. Once the scholarship recipients are chosen, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra has the ability to request exclusive performance rights for the newly composed works. Zak Vassar, President & CEO of the Toledo Symphony, considers the scholarship program an investment in the future of classical music and the Toledo community. “BGSU’s College of Musical Arts has cultivated many wonderful composers, and writing new music has become a major point of differentiation for the College. I am proud to further the relationship between our organizations by helping BGSU to attract the…


New Music Festival guest composers embrace the weird & beautiful in their work

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Steve Mackey and Sarah Kirkland Snider came into contemporary music through back doors. A rock musician in the mid-1970s Mackey was majoring in physics as his fall back plan if his rock star dream didn’t come true. Growing up Snider studied cello, piano and attended choir camp in the summer “Music was my favorite thing to do,” she said. That included writing music which she never showed anyone.  When she went to college she studied psychology and sociology and after graduating ended up working for the Center of Reproductive Justice. To fulfill a requirement in college Mackey took a music history class. Thus exposed him to the world of classical music including Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” which he called “his gateway drug” to new music. At the time, music industry types who heard his band were impressed but said the music was “spacey, weird and undanceable.” Well, Stravinsky’s ballet music was also spacey, weird and famously difficult to dance to. Mackey was impressed that in the “Rite” and other classical pieces “all of human experience was distilled into a listening experience. “ With the rock band he was accompanying beer drinking, flirtation, and fending off requests for Doobie Brothers’ covers. Living in New York, Snider was called on by friends to write music for theatrical productions. She was so involved she was being called on the carpet for missing work to compose. She decided to make the transition into music. Since she had not majored in music at 24, she set about undertaking a…


The arts can save the world, opera composer Jake Heggie believes

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When composer Jake Heggie comes to campus next week, he has a charge for music students – bring back the arts to schools. “This is a critical moment,” he said. “Arts can save the world.” They build empathy and understanding, and without that human beings’ more destructive tendencies take hold. Heggie, composer of the operas “Dead Man Walking,” “Moby-Dick,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and others, will visit Bowling Green State University Sunday, Oct. 22 through Tuesday, Oct. 24 as guest resident for the Edwin H. Simmons Creative Minds Series. He will give a free public lecture on Sunday at 8 p.m. in the Donnell Theatre in the Wolfe Center for the Arts. He will also give talks about his work, present workshops, and offer master classes Monday and Tuesday. Visit for www.bgsu.edu/CreativeMinds the schedule. All events are free. Heggie knows well the power of music to give solace and bring people together. Growing up in Bexley outside of Columbus, he started to study classical piano, and around the house he heard the big band music his father, an avocational saxophonist, loved. His father had dreamed of becoming a musician, but the son of Hungarian immigrants, he went into medicine and became a doctor. He suffered from depression and committed suicide when Heggie was 10. Music helped Heggie deal with the emotional “shrapnel” of his father’s death.  “I found solace in piano and musical theater. That’s where I found strength.” He started about this time to write songs with his idols in mind, Barbra Streisand,…


Master guitarist John Scofield brings street smarts to class at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For jazz guitarist John Scofield was coming up as a teenager in Connecticut in the late 1960s, his classrooms were the Fillmore East, the Village Vanguard and other New York City music hotspots. His teachers were the stars on stage, Jimi Hendrix, Thelonious Monk, B.B. King, and Miles Davis. His school bus was the train into the city and then back where his parents were waiting to pick him up at 1 a.m. the next morning. They were all maybe a little naïve, he conceded. “It was dangerous.” But he’s survived to become part of the scene, and one of the most respected guitarists in music, playing straight-ahead and groove-based jazz. On Saturday he’ll travel to Bowling Green State University to headline the Orchard Guitar Festival. Scofield studied guitar from the time he was 11. He studied all styles. His first love was the blues, but he didn’t see a place for himself in the blues. Instead after his guitar teacher introduced him to jazz, he headed down that path. Yes, there was a stage band back in his high school, but “it was pretty bad.” He only knew one person in his town who played jazz, a teacher who played piano on the side. Unlike now when jazz has become an academic subject, then it was a music of the streets. When it came time for him to go to college, there was only one option to study jazz guitar, Berklee College of Music in Boston. Scofield joined a long line of noted…


American Brass Quintet gets down to business during BGSU residency

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even at the top of their game, the members of the American Brass Quintet still understand the importance of daily practice. John Rojak, the bass trombonist for the ensemble, said he started practicing for four hours a day back when he was an undergraduate, and he’s just now easing off on that routine. Not that it’s easy given the musicians’ heavy workloads as teachers, freelance performers, and members of a pioneering brass ensemble. The American Brass Quintet has been in residence at Bowling Green State University since Wednesday as guests of the Hansen Musical Arts Series. They’ve performed a mini-recital, held instrumental classes, coached, and consulted with student composers. Their visit will culminate tonight (Friday, Sept. 22) with a free concert at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall in the Moore Musical Arts Center. On Thursday afternoon they met with students to talk about the business side of music. While the quintet represents the core of their work artistically, it is just part of how they earn their livings. They all play in a variety of settings, from chamber orchestras such as Orchestra of St. Luke’s or the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra to Broadway shows. Rojak spent years in the pit of “Les Miserables.” Those hours in the practice room at what was then Lowell State College were the bass trombonist’s launching pad. Lowell State was his “safety school” and he was playing so he could get out. He ended up transferring to the Juilliard School of Music. But Rojak said he got the most important…


Bent Frequency to perform Elainie Lillios composition at BGSU concert

From the BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Innovative saxophone and percussion duo Bent Frequency will perform at Bowling Green State University Sept. 25 as part of the Music at the Forefront concert series sponsored by BGSU’s MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music. The 8 p.m.concert in Bryan Recital Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center is free and open to the public. The duo of percussionist Stuart Gerber and saxophonist Jan Berry Baker will perform “ Hazy Moonlight” by composer Dr. Elainie Lillios, a professor of music composition in the College of Musical Arts. in Lillios received a highly competitive 2016 Barlow Endowment Commission for Music Composition to write a work specifically for Bent Frequency, and has collaborated closely with Gerber and Baker on the piece. (See a story on the commission here.) The duo are known for cutting-edge new music and have commissioned more than 20 works and given numerous performances of this new repertoire across the United States, Mexico and Europe since 2014. The Lillios composition will not be the first Barlow commission to be performed by Bent Frequency, who have also premiered one by composer Mark Engebretson. Their work is international in scope, including commissions from seven American composers and two European composers. In 2015-16 they premiered a composition by Laurent Durupt funded by a grant from the French American Cultural Exchange, along with works by several others. In addition to the work by Lillios, their 2017-18 agenda features commissions by John Liberatore and Zack Browning. Music at the Forefront is an annual concert series featuring performances by accomplished and…


KEAR here to surround BGSU with electro-acoustic sound

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Joe Klingler didn’t spend a lot of time at Bowling Green State University. He studied composition with Marilyn Shrude for a year, 1990-1991, as well as taking courses with Burton Beerman. He already had several degrees in engineering and music from the University of Toledo and then founded a software company. That pulled him away from his graduate studies in music, and deeper in the world of technology. Now he lives in California and writes thrillers. Not surprisingly, those always have a musician as a character and technology figuring in the plot. He’s still plugged into BGSU. Five years ago, at the suggestion of BGSU composition professor and electro-acoustic composer Elainie Lillios, Klingler funded a residency program for composers of electro-acoustic composers. Once n fall and once in spring, a composer will come and spend two weeks on campus, working in the university’s Multichannel Ambisonic studio and working with composition students. Klingler says he’s a strong believer in the importance of these personal relationships in education. This weekend the BGSU College of Musical Arts is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the founding with performances and workshops. The event culminates tonight (Saturday, Sept. 16) with a concert in Kobacker Hall featuring work by the eight composers who have been residents as part of the Klingler Electro-Acoustic Residency. The composers are: Adam Basanta, Brad Garton, John Young, Jonty Harrison, James Andean, Louise Harris, Adrian Moore, and Robert Normandeau. Most of the compositions, Lillios said, will be multi-channel works. Using speakers arrayed around the hall, the composers…


Trumpeter Kevin Cobb returns to his BG roots with American Brass Quintet

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When trumpeter Kevin Cobb takes the stage with the American Brass Quintet next week it won’t be the first time he’s played brass chamber music in Bowling Green. The Bowling Green native got a chance to play with the Tower Brass as a teenager. His teacher was Marty Porter, a member of the quintet. Now he’s returns as a member of one of the world’s most esteemed brass ensembles. The American Brass will be in residence at Bowling Green State University Wednesday, Sept. 20 through Friday, Sept. 22. The ensemble’s visit will be capped with a free concert in Kobacker Hall Friday at 8 p.m. The visit is part of the Hansen Musical Arts Series. Cobb, 46, joined the 57-year-old ensemble in 1998. The American Brass sets itself off from more popular quintets, the Empire and the Canadian, by its dedication to playing only music written for brass in five voices, Cobb said. Early on, he said, there was “a split” between members who wanted to play ragtime and other accessible forms, and those who wanted to focus exclusively to brass quintet repertoire. The latter faction won. That means it plays early music and contemporary music. From the beginning, the American Brass has been active in commissioning music by new composers. The ensemble also sets itself apart by using a bass trombone, not tuba, as its lowest voice. The founders felt that the bass trombone’s lighter sound was more akin to the sound of a cello in a string quartet and was truer to…


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….


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…


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…


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…


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…