Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia

Arts beat: VIVE! has right stuff in performance of orchestral masterpieces

Ed.  Note: This is the first is a series of commentary and observations on area arts events. This will supplement, not replace, the coverage BG Independent news already provides. By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Usually when Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” or Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” are performed, the size of the orchestra approaches 100. On Sunday (Oct. 8) VIVE! Ensemble conducted by Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia took on those early 20th Century masterworks with a dozen musicians on each. The performance in the Toledo Museum of Art’s Great Gallery, was stellar. What the pieces might have missed in orchestral heft they gained in translucent textures with subtleties of voicing ringing out through the ensemble. Diaz, a student in Bowling Green State University’s Doctorate in Contemporary Music program as are a number of the other musicians in the ensemble, shaped these pieces with clarity and a sure sense of form. As the “Rite” roared to a finish, two sets of timpani and a bass drum provided enough boom to drive the piece home. But the three percussionists on the “Rite” never overwhelmed the rest of the ensemble. Instead it was the audience that was overwhelmed and moved by the performance. A few more observations: * Both pieces open with signature solos, and Kenneth Cox on flute on “Prelude” and Joshua Hart on bassoon on “Rite” did justice to their solos. The smaller ensemble meant that all the solo parts stood in greater relief. The ensemble benefits from having such strong musicianship throughout its ranks. * The picturesque “Prelude” seemed perfect for an art museum, almost like…


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…