MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music

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 harmony with the trumpet.  Jeff Herriott’s “eyes, sewn, await the sun” started life as a duo for percussion and piano. The composer integrated the trumpet into the work at SPLICE’s request. “It’s very slow and with a lush sound and really gorgeous atmosphere in electronics,” Kirchoff said. The trio came worked with Iranian composer Bahar Royaee at the institute. “Kücha-lar” explores an Iranian folk song in meditative fashion with Kirchoff plays inside the piano. Robert…


Composer Harold Budd comes to call on his area fans

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Composer Harold Budd is a humble sort of icon. During his visit to Northwest Ohio, he was surrounded by fans. When Scott Boberg of the Toledo Museum of Art, asked those gathered Saturday night in the Peristyle to hear his pre-concert talk, how many owned more than five Budd albums, scores of hands went up. And not the least of those fans was Boberg himself, who coordinated the visit. He knew exactly where and when as a teenager he purchased his copy of Budd’s seminal work, “Pavilion of Dreams.”  Kurt Doles, the director of the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at Bowling Green State University, also started to listen to the California composer’s work in his teens. In a telephone interview with BG Independent,  and then in public conversations with Boberg and Doles at separate events, Budd leaves the impression that they listen to his music far more than he does. When asked at BGSU about the state of music and what it bodes for the future, Budd allowed he doesn’t really listen to much music.  Asked about issues of his own compositions — how he develops his music from titles, or the music’s relationship painting, or how pieces grow from improvisations — he didn’t elaborate much. Talking about improvisation, he said: “What you hear is what I ended up getting. I didn’t plan on it.” Still, he said, it is what he “intended,” and then “I worked hard at it.” At the Peristyle on Saturday, he premiered a new piece, “Petits Souffles.” He was asked before the performance what inspired it. Well, he explained, his companion, an artist, was busy painting, upstairs in the home in the Mojave Desert where they were staying. Downstairs “I was just sitting on my ass,” he said. So he decided to compose the piece. It was inspired mostly by 20th century paintings he admired, created by artists too little admired by others. Then for the final movement, he turned to a contemporary American artist. In a telephone interview with BG Independent, he said: “It doesn’t fit with my initial idea. Big deal. Just do it.” This was a beloved composer who during conversation with Doles at BGSU referred to himself as an idiot, a chump, a snob, and “the boringest man in the world.” Yet this comes across not as someone who doesn’t take himself seriously but as a deep seriousness that can’t accommodate itself to puffery. He speaks softly and doesn’t have much of a schtick. Budd, 82, started off his musical life as a percussionist. Growing up in Los Angeles during World War II, he witnessed many military parades. He was taken by the Scottish drummers. So he took percussion lessons and learned his rudiments. His great musical epiphany came when as a teenager he heard the bebop  of Charlie Parker and his jazz contemporaries. “What I really wanted to be was Max Roach,” he said, referencing Parker’s long-time drummer. “But I didn’t have that kind of skill.” He still reveres bebop, but “I can’t play it, and I can’t listen to it.” Later he was living in an African-American neighborhood, and he went to a bar that featured the band of pianist Paul Bley — his sidemen would all become legends, Ornette Coleman, saxophone,…


Mantra sextet to perform new work for percussion at BGSU concert

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Percussion sextet Mantra Percussion returns to Bowling Green State University for a concert at 8 p.m. Feb. 19 in Kobacker Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. The group’s performance is part of the Music at the Forefront series sponsored by the University’s MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, and is free and open to the public. Committed to honoring the past and expanding the future of percussion music, Mantra Percussion brings to life new works for percussion by living composers, collaborates with artists from diverse genres and styles, and questions what it means to communicate music with percussion instruments. The group engages new audiences by challenging the standard concert format through evening-length events that look toward a grander artistic vision. Their BGSU performance will feature new works by Aaron Siegel, Lesley Flanigan, Tristan Perich and Michael Fiday. After co-commissioning Michael Gordon’s evening-length percussion sextet “Timber,” they gave the work’s United States premiere in October 2011 at BGSU and subsequently toured the work internationally. They also gave the New York premiere of “Timber” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival in December 2012. Since forming as an ensemble in 2009, Mantra Percussion has been featured throughout North America, Europe and Asia, including the Bang on a Can Marathon, Duke Performances, the Redcat Theater in Los Angeles, National Public Radio, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the Drogheda Festival in Ireland, the Ecstatic Music Festival and the Ecstatic Summer Festival, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Right Now Festival in South Korea, Vancouver New Music and numerous others. Over the past eight years, Mantra Percussion has commissioned and/or premiered more than 40 new works for percussion ensemble. Mantra Percussion has been hailed by the New York Times as “finely polished . . . a fresh source of energy” and by TimeOut New York as “forward thinking.” The group was praised by The New Yorker and TimeOut New York for presenting one of the 10 best classical performances of 2012. They recorded one of Time Out New York’s Ten Best Classical Albums of 2011,  Siegel’s “Science Is Only a Sometimes Friend,” on Lockstep Records,” Fiday’s “Hands On!” on Innova Records, and in 2016 released a double CD album, “Timber Remixed/Timber Live,” on Cantaloupe Music with 12 remixes of the piece by some of the leading electronica artists today, including  Squarepusher, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Tim Hecker, Fennesz, Oneohtrix Point Never, Hauschka and more. Music at the Forefront is an annual concert series featuring performances by accomplished and innovative performers of contemporary music.


Transient Canvas takes contemporary music to unexpected places

Transient Canvas should feel right at home when the contemporary music duo shows up in Bowling Green to play a show at the Clazel Monday, Nov. 20. Amy Advocat on bass clarinet and Matt Sharrock on marimba have played all manner of venues, including being featured on a series of concerts at microbreweries in their home-base Boston where brewers concocted a special beer to serve with the music. “One of the things we love about this group is so we’re so mobile,” Advocat said in a recent telephone interview. “We want to reach people in unexpected places.” Transient Canvas will perform at 8 p.m. Nov. 20 in a free Music at the Forefront concert presented by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at Bowling Green State University. On Sunday, Nov. 19 at 3 p.m., the duo will perform in the Toledo Museum of Art’s Great Gallery. Advocat said the programs for the two shows are tailored for the different venues. The museum concert will featured “a thoughtful program, more classically oriented.” On the program “Looking Forward, Looking Back,” the program notes state: “The composers featured … have created something new and fresh by evoking the past, acknowledging their influences without directly emulating them.” At the Clazel, Transient Canvas will turn up the volume, and play a set of electro-acoustic works, that draw on a range of influences including pop and acid rock. All the pieces on both programs have been written expressly for Transient Canvas. Advocat and Sharrock first got together to play a piece he had performed at conservatory. They also read through other pieces, hardly a handful, written for clarinet and marimba. They liked the sound and working together. “We found the bass clarinet has just a remarkable blend and balance with the marimba, so recently we’ve been sticking with that,” Advocat said. “If it work, it works.” Sharrock said that having two instruments in the same range makes the partnership a more equal one. Whenever Advocat would play a higher pitched horn, it would always feel like he was the accompanist and she the soloist. Having the lowest octave on his five-octave marimba also adds more heft to the sound. They approached their composer friends to write pieces, and have since extended their circle of collaborators. In the past six years, Transient Canvas, which made its concert debut in April, 2012, has commissioned more than 75 compositions. And they haven’t stopped. They have created a fellowship program aimed specifically at encouraging younger composers. They work closely with composers. In person, or using email and Skype as needed. At the Clazel they will premiere Dan VanHassel’s “Epidermis.” Their work with VanHassel represents the “optimal” way of working with a composer. Before he started writing, the composer told Sharrock and Advocat that he needed to spend a couple days with them recording sounds. So they invited him up to the house they shared during a short residency in New Hampshire. VanHassel recorded them playing all manner of sounds, some they’d never attempted before. He then programmed those sounds into his keyboard. The resulting piece, Advocat said, pushed the duo’s limits almost to the point of being “unplayable.” But they worked more with him, noting where something that can be executed on a keyboard may not be possible on a…


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 four-year personal music course. At 29, she started studying composition at Yale. Both now are recognized composers whose works are performed around the world. Mackey and Snider, who are married, are on campus as the guest composers for the 38th New Music and Art Festival which continues through Saturday night. For a schedule of performances click. Snyder and Mackey talked about their music and the contemporary music scene in an open conversation with Kurt Doles the director of the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at BGSU. Mackey said that when he and Snider met being older he was more established and already a Princeton professor. “We weren’t fighting for the same scraps.” Sometimes, Mackey said, he wishes he could write music as beautiful as hers and she wishes she could write music as strange as his. “Beautiful is better,” he said. The listen to each other’s work, and seek advice. “We egg each other on.” “It’s really helpful,” Snider said. It’s “good psychological musical help.” In the end, they urge each other to go for the most honest expression. “Lay it all out there,” Mackey said. “Be vulnerable. Nobody cares about some half-revealed truth.” He said he sometimes tells his students that they don’t need composition lessons they need therapy to convince them to have confidence in their work and not worry about what he and others may think. “You don’t want your music to live on my desk,” he said. “You want it to live on the stage.” Mackey recalled getting a commission from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Deciding to trust his instincts, “I wrote this funky piece.” Then he was contacted by the orchestra and told that it had been programmed and that Daniel Barenboim would conduct it….


Contemporary concert music rocks at BGSU’s New Music Festival

From MIDAMERICAN CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY MUSIC The 38th Annual Bowling Green New Music Festival will  showcase the work of more than 30 guest composers and performers October 18-21. The four-day international festival includes concerts, lectures and an art exhibition. This year’s featured guests include composers Steven Mackey and Sarah Kirkland Snider, guest ensemble Latitude 49, and a special performance by vocalist Shara Nova. Organized by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music (MACCM), the College of Musical Arts and the Fine Arts Center Galleries at BGSU, the festival supports the creation of new work and engages both the University and city communities in the process of music appreciation and awareness. Founded in 1980, the New Music Festival has hosted such notable composers as John Adams, Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Chen Yi, John Corigliano, George Crumb, Philip Glass, John Harbison, Lou Harrison, David Lang, Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley, Christopher Rouse, Frederic Rzewski, Joseph Schwantner, Bright Sheng, Steven Stucky, Joan Tower, and more than 400 other guest composers and musicians. Most festival events are free and open to the public. For a complete schedule of events, visit festival.bgsu.edu or contact the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at 419-372-2685. Guest Bios: Deemed “one of the decade’s more gifted, up-and- coming modern classical composers” (Pitchfork), composer Sarah Kirkland Snider writes music of direct expression and vivid narrative that has been hailed as “rapturous”(The New York Times), “haunting” (The Los Angeles Times), and “strikingly beautiful” (Time Out New York). With an ear for both the structural and poetic, Snider’s music draws upon a variety of influences to render a nuanced command of immersive storytelling. Snider’s works have been commissioned and performed by some of the most prestigious orchestras, ensembles, and soloists throughout the world, including the San Francisco, Detroit, Indianapolis, and North Carolina Symphonies, the Residentie Orkest Den Haag, and the American Composers Orchestra; violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, percussionist Colin Currie, and vocalist Shara Nova (formerly Worden); Ensemble Signal, The Knights, yMusic, and Roomful of Teeth, among many others. Her music has been heard at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and at festivals including BAM Next Wave, Aspen, Ecstatic, Sundance, NY Festival of Song, and Zurich’s Apples & Olives. Penelope, her song cycle for mezzo and orchestra (or chamber ensemble), has been performed over forty times in the United States and Europe. Steven Mackey was born in 1956, to American parents stationed in Frankfurt, Germany.  He is regarded as one of the leading composers of his generation and has composed for orchestra, chamber ensembles, dance and opera. He has received numerous awards including a Grammy in 2012. His first musical passion was playing the electric guitar in rock bands based in northern California.  He blazed a trail in the 1980’sand 90’s by including the electric guitar and vernacular music influence in his concert music and he regularly performs his own work, including two electric guitar concertos and numerous solo and chamber works. He is also active as an improvising musician and performs with his band Big Farm. Latitude 49 is a Chicago based mixed-chamber group blending the finesse of a classical ensemble with the drive and precision of a finely tuned rock band. With members coming together from across the United States and Canada, L49 epitomizes a diverse, unconventional family of sounds,…


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 innovative performers of contemporary music.  


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 speed dating addresses members of the new music communities need to reach out and make connections. It’s “a distilled, quintessential version” of that process he said. “The chaos is part of the charm. They’re having strangely intimate conversations in a very noisy room.” Brianna Buck, a saxophonist who is heading into her senior year at BGSU, exited the room clutching 10 business cards. She found encountering so many people while still on the brink of her career exciting. Chris Dietz, who teaches composition at the university, said he was fascinated by “how people consume information in a very short period of time.” He came prepared to make his pitch with a two-minute video montage of a half-dozen of his pieces on a laptop and noise canceling headphones. They were a mixed bag, including people just finishing their doctoral programs and others who ran record labels  About half those he encountered were people he’d not ordinarily see. A few were his former students. Nick Zoulek, a BGSU doctoral candidate on leave to teach at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, said he found possibilities in all the people he met during the speed dating as well as the others he met after the event was over and people lingered inside Kelly Hall. He said that coming in he expected the gathering would be another conference. “Just immediately walking in the door you see the warm inviting environment,” Zoulek said. “It’s a community. It’s really nice to feel that support from everyone who is gunning for the same thing, making music that’s relevant and expressive today.” In his key note address percussionist Steven Schick spoke of the importance of having an “externally facing artistic…


Alarm Will Sound to perform “Ten Thousand Birds” in sculpture garden

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Area residents will have the opportunity to experience new music in a new way when acclaimed new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound gives a special performance of “Ten Thousand Birds,” a work commissioned from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams. The performance will follow the cycle of a day, starting with bird songs heard in the morning, then afternoon, evening, night and returning to morning. The audience is encouraged to walk around to experience the music from multiple perspectives. The performance will begin at dusk (approximately 7 p.m.) April 21 in and around the sculpture gardens at the Toledo Museum of Art. The event is sponsored by Bowling Green State University’s MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music and the Toledo Museum of Art. Both Alarm Will Sound and John Luther Adams have appeared on BGSU’s annual New Music Festival at the College of Musical Arts. Alarm Will Sound is a 20-member band committed to innovative performances and recordings of today’s music. It has established a reputation for performing demanding music with energetic skill. Its performances have been described as “equal parts exuberance, nonchalance, and virtuosity” by the Financial Times of London and as “a triumph of ensemble playing” by the San Francisco Chronicle. The New York Times says that Alarm Will Sound is “one of the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene.” The versatility of Alarm Will Sound allows it to take on music from a wide variety of styles. Its repertoire ranges from European to American works, from the arch-modernist to the pop-influenced. Alarm Will Sound has been associated since its inception with composers at the forefront of contemporary music, premiering pieces by John Adams, Steve Reich, David Lang, Augusta Read Thomas, Derek Bermel, Benedict Mason, and Wolfgang Rihm, among others. The group itself includes many composer-performers, which allows for an unusual degree of insight into the creation and performance of new work. For more information about this concert, contact the Toledo Museum of Art, 419-255-8000 or visit http://www.toledomuseum.org/.


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 were able to pinpoint spots where a student singer needed help, and then suggest simple techniques to address the issue with immediate results. I expect we’ll hear some of these songs in a few weeks during the Conrad Art Song Competition on April 8. All of the ensemble singers who traveled to Bowling Green – Shaw and founder and conductor Brad Wells were not able to make the residency – answered questions from students and faculty. They offered advice about preparing for performances – as contradictory as one would expect from a group of individuals with different experience – and the necessity of solid theoretical grounding, on which there was unanimity. Learn to sight sing. They talked about life on the road and the intersection of early and new music, and why so many singers gravitate to both genres. Then on Thursday night, they performed a free concert in Kobacker, which was as full as I’ve seen in years. They performed the Partita in the first half, and then in second half sang five pieces that demonstrated the range of global vocal techniques they command. “Cesca’s View” by Rinde Eckert (who visited Bowling Green last September) featured some amazing yodeling. And this was just the start. Saturday night was the 50th Annual Concerto Concert featuring the four winners of the Competition in Music Performance, held last December. And this being Bowling Green, three of the four pieces performed were written in the last 40 years. Stephen Dubetz played Stephen Hartke’s Clarinet Concerto “Landscape in Blue,” a kaleidoscopic jazz-scape. This like the other three pieces on the program made full use of the colors of the orchestra. On John Corigliano’s “The…


Quince’s advocacy for a place in new music for female voices bears fruit

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For three members of Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, the concert on Monday at Bowling Green State University is a homecoming. The ensemble got its start here when three members met. Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, Liz Pearse and Kayleigh Butcher studied with Jane Schoonmaker Rodgers in the College of Musical Arts as graduate students. Carrie Henneman Shaw is the fourth member of the ensemble. Fittingly their concert will be devoted to a single work “Love fail” by David Lang. They met the composer when he visited BGSU as the guest composer at the New Music Festival on campus.in 2011. The free Music on the Forefront concert will be Monday, Feb. 27, in Bryan Recital Hall in the Moore Musical Arts Center. The hour-long piece is more than four women singing. They break into duos and trios, said Kayleigh Butcher, and each has a solo. They also are called on to play percussion and she even blows on  a conch shell. “Love fail,” was originally written for the early music group Anonymous 4. Since that venerable ensemble has retired, “we’ve taken up the reins,” Butcher said. The piece with text written by Lydia Davis revisits the myth of doomed lovers Tristan and Isolde. This will be a concert version of the piece, though Quince traveled with Lang to the Kody Festival in Lublin Poland last year to perform a theatrical production. “Love fail” is a haunting, spacious piece full of resonant dissonances and echoes of ancient chant. “Love fail” is one of the rare pieces for women’s voices in contemporary music. The desire to promote chamber music for the female voice inspired the formation of the ensemble at BGSU in 2009. BGSU is known as a Midwest hub music activity. “But we noticed there wasn’t a lot of avenues without starting it ourselves,” Butcher said. “Amanda and I wanted it to be an all-women’s group because there’s not a lot of that in the contemporary music world.” Voice is used as a solo instrument, and in small ensembles with instruments. “We started it as just a way for us to have a contemporary music outlet,” Butcher said. “There’s nothing more fun than a one-on-a-part chamber music setting with all women. Initially the ensemble started with five voices, hence the name Quince. By the time it settled into a quartet it was established enough that the name stuck, and the fruit quince worked as “a branding icon.” Being concerned about branding and other business details are part of starting a contemporary music group. “That means running our own show,” Butcher said. “We are definitely like a lot of new music groups; we are self-run.” Rodgers was not surprised that her former students are running their own ensemble. She remembers them all as strong musicians, and Bartlett in particular as a dynamo, someone who will take charge. Butcher said the ensemble has a board, and those members can provide expertise in taxes, fundraising and grant writing. Pearse is program director, but all the singers have a hand in deciding what music to perform and what composers to commission. With the singers each living in a different city, from New York where Butcher has recently moved to Omaha where Bartlett lives, that means a lot of email and Skype conferences….


BGSU Arts Calendar through Nov. 2

Oct. 19-22 – The 37th annual New Music Festival, a celebration of contemporary arts through concerts, panel discussions, art exhibitions, seminars, master classes and papers, will feature special guests composer Dai Fujikura and Spektral Quartet among more than 30 guest composers and performers. Organized by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music and the BGSU College of Musical Arts, the festival has hosted nearly 400 guest composers and musicians since 1980. Events will take place in the Moore Musical Arts Center and the Clazel Theatre, 127 N. Main St. in downtown Bowling Green. Most events are free. (Schedule and story at: http://bgindependentmedia.org/new-music-festival-showcases-contemporary-music-at-bgsu-oct-19-22/) Oct. 19 – “The Deathworks of May Elizabeth Kramer,” a mixed media installation by The Poyais Group, opens at 7 p.m. in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Center. The exhibit, a collaboration with the New Music Festival, is a recreation by the Poyais Group of outsider artist Kranmer’s (1867-1977) private lifework, a tent version of the town where she lived, with each tent representing someone who had died. Discovered by a team of anthropologists after her death but then lost in a fire, the installation was remade by the Poyais Group (Jesse Ball, Thordis Bjornsdottir, Olivia Robinson and Jesse Stiles) based on notes by one of the original anthropologists. The exhibit will be on view through Nov. 21. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.Tuesday–Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free Oct. 20 – The International Film Series continues with the 2004 Brazilian film “El Abrazo Partido (Lost Embrace),” directed by Daniel Burman. The film is a comedic portrait of a Buenos Aires neighborhood that was once home to the European Jewish immigrants. The story focuses on a young man who abandons his architecture studies and tries to move to Europe. He is tortured by the question of why his father left the family to fight for Israel in 1973. The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Gish Film Theater located in Hanna Hall. Free Oct. 20 – Creative writing M.F.A. students will present their work. The readings will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Oct. 20 – “Evelyn in Purgatory,” by Topher Payne, launches the fall theater season at Bowling Green State University. The dark comedy won the 2012 Essential Theatre playwright award. The performance begins at 8 p.m. in the Eva Marie Saint Theater at the Wolfe Center for the Arts. Tickets can be purchased from the BGSU Arts Box Office at 419-372-8171 or visit www.bgsu.edu/arts. Advance tickets are $15 and $5 for students and children. All tickets the day of the performance are $20. Oct. 21 – A performance of “Evelyn in Purgatory,” by Topher Payne will begin at 8 p.m. in the Eva Marie Saint Theater at the Wolfe Center for the Arts. Tickets can be purchased from the BGSU Arts Box Office at 419-372-8171 or visitwww.bgsu.edu/arts. Advance tickets are $15 and $5 for students and children. All tickets the day of the performance are $20. Oct. 22 – The final concert of the 37th annual New Music Festival will feature orchestral and wind ensemble works by Dai Fujikura, Jonathan Newman, John Mackey, Emily Custer and Leonard Slatkin. The performance begins at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall at Moore Musical Arts Center. Tickets may be purchased…


New Music Festival showcases contemporary music at BGSU, Oct. 19-22

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS The 37th Annual Bowling Green New Music Festival will showcase the work of more than 30 guest composers and performers Oct. 19-22. The four-day international festival includes concerts, lectures and an art exhibition. This year’s featured guests include composer Dai Fujikura and the Spektral Quartet (See related stories at: http://bgindependentmedia.org/musical-specters-come-to-life-in-string-quartet-concert-on-campus/ and http://bgindependentmedia.org/music-of-now-intersects-with-classics-in-spektral-quartet-concert/) Organized by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music (MACCM), the College of Musical Arts and the Fine Arts Center Galleries at BGSU, the festival supports the creation of new work and engages both the University and city communities in the process of music appreciation and awareness. Most festival events are free and open to the public. FESTIVAL SCHEDULE Wednesday, Oct. 19 7 p.m., Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery, School of Art Exhibition opening: “The Deathworks of May Elizabeth Kramner,” a mixed media installation by The Poyais Group. Thursday, Oct. 20 1 p.m., Bryan Recital Hall Composer Talk: Dai Fujikura 3pm, Bryan Recital Hall Concert 1: chamber works by Dai Fujikura, Peter Eötvös, Marissa DiPronio, and Chin-Ting Chan. 7:30 p.m., Kobacker Hall Concert 2: Ensemble works by Roger Zare, Takuma Itoh, Dai Fujikura, Christopher Dietz and Jason Eckardt. 9:30 p.m., Clazel Theatre (127 N. Main St., downtown Bowling Green) Concert 3: Works by Dai Fujikura, Anthony Donofrio, Dan VanHassel, Alex Temple, Mario Diaz de Leon, and Matt Marks. Friday, Oct. 21 10:30 a.m., Bryan Recital Hall Concert 4: Chamber works by Steven Stucky, Dai Fujikura, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Girard Kratz, Eliza Brown and Joe Dangerfield. 2:30 p.m., Kobacker Hall Concert 5: Works by James Romig, Chun-Wai Wong, Robert Morris, Marilyn Shrude and Dai Fujikura. 8 p.m., Kobacker Hall Concert 6: Spektral Quartet. Music by Samuel Adams, George Lewis, Mikel Kuehn, and Dai Fujikura. Saturday, Oct. 22 10:30 a.m., Conrad Choral Room, Wolfe Center for the Arts Panel Discussion to be announced 2:30 p.m., Bryan Recital Hall Concert 7: Electroacoustic works by Ravi Kittappa, Daniel Pappas, C.R. Kasprzyk, Mara Gibson, Dan VanHassel, and Mario Diaz de Leon. 8pm, Kobacker Hall Concert 8: Orchestral and wind ensemble works by Dai Fujikura, Jonathan Newman, John Mackey, Emily Custer, and Leonard Slatkin.   (Programs subject to change.) Locations: The Moore Musical Arts Center houses Bryan Recital Hall and Kobacker Hall. Saturday concert can be purchased at: www.bgsu.edu/arts. Online tickets will be available up to midnight the night before the concert. To purchase tickets in person or by phone, please call 419-372-8171 or visit the Arts Box Office, located in the Wolfe Center for the Arts, Monday-Friday, noon-5 p.m. The College of Musical Arts Box Office will be open two hours prior to the performance. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.bgsu.edu/newmusic or contact the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at 419-372-2685. DAI FUJIKURA Although Dai Fujikura was born in Osaka, he has now spent more than 20 years in the UK where he studied composition with Edwin Roxburgh, Daryl Runswick and George Benjamin. During the last decade he has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including Kazimierz Serocki International Composers’ Competition 1998 and a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in UK, Internationaler Wiener Composition Prize, the Paul Hindemith Prize in Austria and Germany respectively and both the OTAKA and Akutagawa awards in 2009. A quick glance at his list of commissions and performances reveals he is fast becoming a truly international composer. His music is not…


New music lovers to stage gathering at BGSU next spring

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University will host a new music lovefest a year from now. On Thursday, the New Music Gathering announced it would hold its 2017 event on the BGSU campus, May 11-13. The gathering is expected to attract as many as 500 new music lovers, said Kurt Doles, the director of the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, which is housed in the College of Musical Arts. Among the performances, talks, panel discussions, will be speed dating for performers and composers. The event is described on the website as “an annual three-day conference dedicated to the performance, production, promotion, support and creation of new concert music.” The gathering “aims to be both a conference in the traditional sense but also quite literally a collective place for things to grow, improve, solidify and above all get personal.” Doles attended the first New Music Gathering two years ago hosted by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. “I decided within the first 12 hours I was there that we had to do it . … I doggedly pursued it.” First he needed to secure cooperation from officials at the College of Musical Arts, and then show  the organizers that Bowling Green, set among the farm fields of Northwest Ohio, could handle being host. “It took a little bit of convincing on my part,” Doles said. The first two gatherings were held in San Francisco and Baltimore, and organizers were “leaning toward” putting them in another urban center, Doles said. But he was able to assure them that BGSU had the facilities, and he had the experience from the university’s own New Music Festival held each October, to handle the event. “That we were able to secure this says something about Bowling Green as a new music center,” he said. BGSU will handle all the logistics for the event, while the gathering’s team will handle all the programming. The featured guest artist will be percussionist, conductor and author Steven Schick. He is music director of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus and artistic director of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Over the past 40 years, he commissioned or premiered more than 150 new works. Other performers have been booked, Doles said, but not yet announced. He said the gathering is called an “un-conference.” There won’t be vendors or commercial endeavors. “This is more of a community driven event. … More social and grassroots,” he said. “It’s all driven by members of the community.” People can apply to speak or perform. One of the signature features is performer-composer speed dating. Performers or representatives of ensembles sit in a circle. In another circle sit composers. Each composer has five minutes to make a pitch. “All kinds of collaborations and commissions out of that,” he said. Doles plans to have events at the ClaZel and at the public library “not just keep it hermitically sealed on campus.” It’s possible it will even extend to the Toledo Museum of Art if the logistics can be worked out.


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 members of Spektral where the material came from. Thomalla is also interested in “white noise,” particularly as expressed by the German term “rauschen,” which means “breathy and whispery,” Lyon said. “But it also has a different meaning as intoxicating.” All those meanings fit Bagatellen. The composer has the string players produce this white noise with a variety of techniques, changing the bow speed and bow pressure “to create different colors and different frequencies.” As the nine movements – “quick short little things” – start to play out “those musical materials will be much more present. Your ear will be able to identify them as something familiar. Over the course of that he fades out that material. You will hear glimpses of it but it will become more abstract, very fragile.” Lyon said the second piece on the program, Beat Furrer’s String Quartet No.3 is “a monumental work.” The single movement is 52 minutes long with no break. The members of the quartet felt it fit well with Thomalla’s Bagatellen and will give American audiences a chance to hear a piece little performed here. Furrer is “always trying to find new sounds on string instruments and then cataloguing them. … He has this library of sounds that he puts in different combinations like a patchwork quilt. It’s almost like he’s trying to create every possibility of these juxtapositions of sounds,” Lyons said. “It can be an overwhelming undertaking as a performer and listener,” she said. It calls for a different way of listening. “As a listener you are not really living in or participating in it as you are in a Beethoven quartet. As a listener you’re more observing and experiencing…