Monthly Archives: January 2012

Jazzed about the Grammys

A Bowling Green State University music faculty member has a hand in a 2012 Grammy-nominated album.

David Bixler, an assistant professor of jazz studies, arranged one of the songs on the album “40 Acres and a Burro” by Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. The album is a contender in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category.

Bixler’s contribution to the album is an arrangement of the traditional Irish song “She Moves Through the Fair.” On the album jacket Bixler is called an “amazing composer, saxophonist. … It is not a stretch that this arrangement of a traditional Irish air is on our record. We believe the music we call jazz belongs to the planet and that beauty knows no borders or genres.” Additionally, Bixler’s arrangement, which starts with a violin solo by his wife, Heather Martin Bixler, is described as “achingly beautiful.” It is the tale of a man whose wife tragically dies and he is constantly seeing her ghost, Bixler explained.

He has been a part of this musical genre for many years, performing with Arturo O’Farrill’s bands and with O’Farrill’s father, the legendary composer and musician Chico O’Farrill.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity,” Bixler said about the album and the Grammy nomination. This is the first year Latin jazz is not a separate category at the Grammy Awards; however, Bixler said the upside is that for the first time this genre of music moves into a mainstream category that is announced during the actual ceremony.

Bixler has also been part of another Grammy nomination. He played saxophone on Bobby Sanabria’s “Big Band Urban Folktales” album, which was up for Best Latin Jazz Recording in 2007.

Bixler joined the BGSU jazz studies faculty in 2008. He graduated from Indiana University in music performance, and after deciding he wanted to teach, he went on to receive a master’s degree in composition from Montclair (N.J.) State University.

The telecast of the Grammy Awards ceremony is at 8 p.m. Feb. 12 on CBS.

Pianist Christopher O’Riley of NPR performs on BGSU Festival Series

Musical boundary-crossing pianist Christopher O’Riley will give a solo performance as the next artist in Bowling Green State University’s Festival Series. Hosted by the College of Musical Arts, his concert begins at 8 p.m. Feb. 11 in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center.

Since the triumphant release in 2003 of “True Love Waits,” O’Riley’s reimagining of works by such performers as Radiohead, Elliott Smith and Nick Drake have garnered critical accolades and international acclaim, including the only four-star review ever given by Rolling Stone magazine to a classical pianist.

His latest White Tie Classics/Mesa-BlueMoon release, “Out Of My Hands,” includes music of R.E.M., Portishead, Cocteau Twins, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, The Bad Plus, The Smiths and Tears for Fears, as well as material from Radiohead and a newly released song by Elliott Smith.

As host of the popular NPR music program “From the Top,” O’Riley is well known for his eloquent and compelling musings on music and popular culture. His most recent performances stretch the piano beyond the classical repertoire and into the rich, uncharted territory of contemporary and alt-rock. Announcing the program from the stage allows him to share musical discoveries, letting the music flow seamlessly from one genre to another, from the familiar to the fresh.

O’Riley is recognized as one of the leading American pianists of his generation, touring extensively as a recitalist and chamber musician and appearing with major orchestras in the U.S. and abroad. The illustrious group of conductors with whom he has collaborated includes Michael Tilson Thomas, Semyon Bychkov, JoAnn Falletta, Krystof Penderecki, Kurt Mazur, Christopher Hogwood and Leonard Bernstein.

O’Riley’s visit will also include a master class for BGSU piano students and his serving as a judge for the final round of the David D. Dubois Piano Competition for talented high school students.

For tickets, call the College of Musical Arts Box Office at 419-372-8171 or email

Dubois Semi-Finalists Announced for 2012

The 2012 Dubois Semi-Finalists are:

Ningjialu Liu
Demi Fang
Michael Lenahan
Cindy Zhao
Vanessa Haynes
Yuanzhe Zhong
Bryan Ho
JiaKung Victor Feng
Arata Kaku
Joseph Vaz
Vivian Anderson
Megan Lee
David Belkovski
Zi Yi Yang
Jeffery Huang
Cathy Li
Meiling Lin
Phoebe Pan
Grace Yi
Albert Wang
Miguel Morrissey

Jennifer Hidgon awarded Koussevitzky Commission

BGSU music alum Jennifer Higdon has received a rare Koussevitzky Commission from the Library of Congress to compose a work for string quartet and soprano, for the Cypress String Quartet and soprano Christine Brandes, on texts by W.S. Merwin (former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer winner). For further information, see:


Champion quartet brings campus more Prestige

Three hours turned into an anxious eternity for the members of Prestige. The barbershop quartet from BGSU had to perform first in a lengthy international competition in Kansas City this past summer . . . and then wait throughout a tension-filled evening while 20 other groups tried to oust them from the lead.

“That part was absolutely terrifying,” said quartet member Nick Gordon. “It was the longest time — I just couldn’t watch.”

When the final singers completed their performance, the judges awarded the gold medal and the distinction as the top college quartet in the world to the group from Bowling Green.

“There was a moment of shock, then a whole lot of extreme joy,” Gordon said. “It was something we had worked very hard for, but you never know what might happen. Sometimes, I still can’t believe it.”

The group — Gordon, Drew Ochoa, Dave Parrett and Gordie Howe — had finished second in 2010 and fourth the previous year. They were close friends prior to arriving at the University, where their singing talents were melded and nurtured within the College of Musical Arts and by Doug Wayland, assistant professor of voice in music performance studies.

“Prestige is a collection of the right individuals,” Wayland said. “They are all fabulous singers, but what’s just as important is they are also very good friends. Barbershop is all about the blend and it’s some of the most difficult harmony singing there is, but they excel at it.”

The Harmony Foundation International Collegiate Barbershop gold medal Prestige won joins a remarkable collection at BGSU. Since retired professor Richard Mathey started the men’s chorus in the 1970s, BGSU’s various singing groups have been awarded nearly 35 gold medals.

“Bowling Green’s got the most, there’s no doubt about it,” Mathey said. “Nobody else in the country is even close. There’s a very strong tradition here in barbershop singing. It’s been a contagious type of thing — it got into the system and it’s never left. And Doug’s done a very good job with this particular quartet.”

The major competitions attract choral directors from colleges and high schools across the country. “People hear the name Bowling Green and associate it with good singing,” Wayland said. “There’s a significant payoff for winning all of these championships.”

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