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BGSU to host nearly 300 saxophonists

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Nearly 300 saxophonists will converge on Bowling Green State University this weekend for the regional meeting of the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA). A first for BGSU, the convention is the equivalent of a major medical research convention, representing the five-state region of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, said Dr. John Sampen, BGSU Distinguished Artist Professor and internationally known saxophonist. Attending the event will be performers and composers from all over the United States and Canada.

The conference is arguably the national hotbed for the concert saxophone in America. “This is our research,” Sampen said. “We’ve been working on this all year.”

Nearly 75 performances, lectures and world premieres will take place at the College of Musical Arts. New works will premiere, and rising stars will be discovered, Sampen said. Events begin with a concert at 8 p.m. Friday, March 1, and continue through the closing concert Sunday afternoon, March 3.

Special guests include Dr. Frederick Hemke, a professor emeritus of saxophone from Northwestern University, and Donald Sinta, the Arthur F. Thurnau and Earl V. Moore Professor of Saxophone at the University of Michigan. Both are internationally known performing artists and teachers. Also featured will be the famous Capitol Saxophone Quartet with Christopher Creviston, Joseph Lulloff , David Stambler and Andrew Dahlke.

Sampen and his 20-piece student saxophone choir will premiere the saxophone version of John Luther Adams’ “Strange Birds Passing” at the opening Friday concert. Sampen will also perform a saxophone premiere of György Kurtág’s “In Nomine all’ongherese” at the 4 p.m. Saturday concert.

For ticket information and a schedule for the regional convention, check the NASA website at


Big Robot performs in Bowling Green February 25th

BOWLING GREEN, O. – Big Robot, a computer-acoustic ensemble, will perform in Bowling Green on Monday, February 25 at the Clazel Theatre (127 N. Main St., Bowling Green). This performance is part of the Music at the Forefront concert series sponsored by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music in collaboration with BGSU Electroacoustics.

Big Robot is a computer-acoustic trio that creates live media-enriched art and music, interweaving aesthetic expression with computer interactivity and networked technology. With integration of audio/video design, live percussion, and electronics, the group creates a multi-dimensional performance that explores the cross points of virtual and physical gesture, sound, and space. Big Robot employs interactive processes such as motion tracking, acoustic instrument sampling, audio processing, integration of real-time video, and the use of telecommunications software/devices. The group performs in live venues as well as telematically over research-grade, high-bandwidth internet from their studio. Big Robot has presented concerts and residencies throughout the United States since 2009.

Music at the Forefront is an annual concert series featuring performances by accomplished and innovative performers of contemporary music. For more information contact Kurt Doles at the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music (419/372-2685 –

BGSU Festival Series hosts American Spiritual Ensemble

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts Festival Series celebrates Black History Month with a special performance by the American Spiritual Ensemble at 8 p.m. on Feb. 23 in Kobacker Hall of Moore Musical Arts Center.

Directed by Dr. Everett McCorvey and founded in 1995, the ensemble’s mission is to keep the American Negro spiritual alive. The group has entertained audiences around the world with its dynamic renditions of classic spirituals, jazz and Broadway numbers highlighting the black experience.

On the Festival Series program are classic spirituals such as “Walk Together Children,” “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel,” “I Wanna Be Ready,” “Ezekiel Saw de Wheel,” “Is There Anybody Here” and “His Name Is So Sweet.” A musical arrangement of poems from American Negro folk sermons and James Weldon Johnson titled “God’s Trombones” will be featured, along with “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The ensemble will also perform a special Duke Ellington medley and the perennial favorite “Old Time Religion.”

A native of Montgomery, Ala., McCorvey received degrees from the University of Alabama, including a Doctorate of Musical Arts. As a tenor soloist, he has performed in major venues including the Kennedy Center, Metropolitan Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Radio City Music Hall and in England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, China, Hungary, Poland and the Czech and Slovak republics. During the summers, he serves on the artist faculty of the American Institute of Musical Study in Graz, Austria, and the Intermezzo Opera Program. He also holds an endowed chair in opera studies and is director of opera at the University of Kentucky. McCorvey was the executive producer of the opening and closing ceremonies for the Alltech 2010 World Equestrian Games, the largest equestrian event held in the United States.

For the American Spiritual Ensemble, McCorvey has assembled a talented group of soloists and members who have sung in theaters and opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera and Houston Grand Opera, and abroad in Italy, Germany, Scotland, Spain, China and Japan.

To purchase tickets online for the performance, visit Tickets can also be purchased by calling 419-372-8171. BGSU students can get a free ticket to the performance at the BGSU Student Union Information desk, courtesy of the Office of Student Affairs.

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Alumnus Ryan Nowlin prepares music for inauguration

For many, the opportunity to live their life’s dream takes a backseat to life’s realities, but not so for Ryan Nowlin, BGSU alumnus and staff arranger for the“President’s Own” United States Marine Band. However, daring to believe he could live his dream propelled Nowlin last month into a spotlight he could never have predicted, when he had the“amazing and humbling” opportunity to participate in the Inauguration of President Obama, including arranging pieces for Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé.

Inspired by his pride and love of country, Nowlin sought to create a“lush, orchestral sort of sound’ as he arranged the pieces for the pop stars. According to Nowlin, both Clarkson and Beyoncé wanted to perform with the Marine Band, and each had a vision of her arrangement. Nowlin had just two weeks to arrange the pieces and send the demos on to their music directors. In his first experience with major celebrities, he says, “Everyone was fantastic. Both Ms. Clarkson and Beyonce’asked for a copy of the vocal sheet music to frame for their studios. I was particularly touched by that.”

“Ms. Clarkson had a very evocative take on ‘Tis of Thee’ and how she wanted it to go,”said Nowlin. “We were able to capture her smokey-bluesy quality but still stay true to the song. Beyoncé wanted a presidential and reverential arrangement—one that would have strong emotional pull. It was a true collaboration between us all, and I was given the freedom to make both pieces original and fit the occasion.”

Beginning his musical instruction at age 5 on the piano, moving on to trumpet by age 10 and French horn by 17, Nowlin always knew his future would revolve around music, but not necessarily to the heights he has achieved with the Marine Band.

“I’ve always looked up to, listened to, and was constantly inspired by the Marine Band. I can’t say that I ever imagined being a part of it—seemed out of my reach—and my sights and dreams were always on being a music teacher and running a band program … or being John Williams!”

Reflecting on the opportunity to participate in the Inauguration, Nowlin said,“I found the experience deeply, deeply moving and surreal. To be a part of such an historic event, and to be a part of music that communicates my very personal emotions about our country was simply an experience I will never forget. I was very moved by the way the artists treated the music, and incredibly humbled by the response of the hundreds of thousands of Americans on the National Mall.”

Nowlin earned both a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in music education from BGSU, studying with Herbert Spencer and Bruce Moss. Over the years he has worked as staff arranger for the Bowling Green State University Marching Band, band director at Jackson City Schools, and director of bands for the Brecksville-Broadway Heights School District before joining The Marine Band in 2010.

“It’s true that I am living my dream, but my dream, like many’s, is finding a place where any gifts I have been given can do the most good for the most people. Could I have predicted where I would be today? No—and that’s the beauty of it. I had this dream and through grace, it has led me to where I am today.”

Semi-finalists selected in BGSU’s Dubois Piano Competition

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Semi-finalists have been selected in the third annual David D. Dubois Piano Competition at the Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts. Contest winners will receive $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place. Finalists will also be invited to apply to appear on the National Public Radio show “From the Top” with Christopher O’Riley, which will be broadcast live from BGSU on Sept. 28.

Competing in the next round, to be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 9 in BGSU’s Kobacker Hall, will be:

Vivian Anderson, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Mark Bixel, Bluffton, Ohio; Ariela Bohrod, Interlochen Arts Academy, Mich. (Madison, Wis.); Sasha Bult-Ito, Interlochen Arts Academy (Fairbanks, Alaska);
Menghan Cao, Interlochen Arts Academy (China); Hannah Che, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Jiakung Feng, Hudson, Ohio; April Gao, Sylvania, Ohio; Stephanie Heist, Oberlin, Ohio; Ruyi Jiao, Charlotte, N.C.; Arata Kaku, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Zachary Kleman, Canterbury, N.J.; Geoffrey Kocks, Grand Blanc, Mich.; Sang O Lee, Interlochen Arts Academy (Bangkok, Thailand); Evelyn Mo, Oak Hill, Va.; Charles Oestreich, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Patrick Pan, Houston, Texas; Jiayin Lisa Peng, Shaker Heights, Ohio; Lorenzo Aldrett Ranal, Interlochen Arts Academy (Mexico); Trenton Takaki, Wilmette, Ill.; Kevin Takeda, Interlochen Arts Academy (Indian Wells, Calif.); Athena Tsianos, Glendora, Calif.; Joseph Vaz, Cincinnati, Ohio; Fung Ting Yan, Interlochen Arts Academy (Hong Kong), and Xinyi Michelle Zhao, Interlochen Arts Academy.

Pianists selected from that round will compete in the final round from 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 10. Judges for the competition include piano professors from BGSU along with Dubois Piano Festival and BGSU Festival Series guest artists Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe. The two pianists, who perform as a team, will also be giving a master class for students at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 8 in Kobacker Hall. The master class is free and open to the public.

The piano competition is also part of the Dubois Piano Festival and includes a performance by the piano duo at 8 p.m. Feb. 9 in Kobacker Hall. To purchase tickets online for this performance, visit or call 419-372-8171.