All posts by shoekst

BGSU’s Black History Month celebration to include the American Spiritual Ensemble

BOWLING GREEN, O.—February is officially national Black History Month, but at Bowling Green State University commemorative events will begin in January and continue through mid-March, including the appearance of the American Spiritual Ensemble on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall.

Bridging the University and the city, Dr. Jack Taylor, a professor emeritus of ethnic studies, will deliver the keynote address for the city of Bowling Green’s 24th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Tribute on Jan 18. Hosted by the city’s Human Relations Commission, the talk will be held at 1:30 p.m. in the Wood County District Public Library, 251 N. Main St., and will feature musical selections by the Shades of Brown Singers.

Once again, BGSU students, faculty, staff and alumni will make Martin Luther King Jr. Day “a day on, not a day off,” by spending it in service to the community. The University expects nearly 500 participants on Jan. 21 to give about 4,000 combined hours helping a number of Bowling Green and Toledo agencies and organizations. The event is coordinated by the Civic Action Leaders in the Office of Service-Learning.

This year’s event will also honor former Undergraduate Student Government President Johnnie Lewis, a student leader at BGSU who passed away in July 2012.

“A Taste of February” on Feb. 1 will kick off the month with the theme “E Pluribis Unum: Out of Many, One.” The diversity event celebrates cultural awareness through educational entertainment, food and conversation. Sponsored by the Office of Residence Life, the SMART Program and the Black Graduate Student Organization, the event takes place from 6-8:30 p.m. in the ballroom and is free for BGSU students with ID, $15 for BGSU faculty and staff and $25 for community members. Register online at or contact Ana Brown at

An annual highlight of Black History Month at the University, the Black Issues Conference will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 2 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union’s Lenhart Grand Ballroom. The title of this year’s conference is “The Power of One: Building a Commitment to Constructive Cooperation.” Attorney Kathryn A. Williams, an educator and activist, will give the keynote address. The event provides an opportunity to learn about and address key issues that affect the African-American/black community in the U.S. and provides a forum for discussion, dialogue and research presentation. The conference is free for BGSU students with ID, $15 for BGSU faculty and staff, and $25 for community members. Register online at conference is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Black Graduate Student Organization. For more information, contact Sheila Brown at

The BGSU Festival Series celebrates the Negro spiritual on Feb. 23 when the American Spiritual Ensemble comes to Kobacker Hall in Moore Musical Arts Center. Featuring some of the finest classically trained singers in the United States, the ensemble’s mission is to keep the American Negro spiritual alive. Since its inception by Dr. Everett McCorvey in 1995, its vocalists have thrilled audiences around the world with their dynamic repertoire ranging from spirituals to classical to jazz and Broadway numbers highlighting the black experience.

Tickets range from $12 to $38. For information, visit or call 419-372-8171. The series is sponsored by the College of Musical Arts.

Black History events culminate in March with the annual Africana Studies Conference, “Catalysts for Change in the Africana World,” on March 15, hosted by the Africana Studies Program, and the 17th annual State of the State Conference on March 21, “Creating an Inclusive Environment for Many Voices,” sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

For a complete list of events, visit

Duo pianists Anderson and Roe perform on BGSU Festival Series

BOWLING GREEN, O.–The duo piano team of Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe will present the next performance in Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts Festival Series at 8 p.m. Feb. 9 in Kobacker Hall of Moore Musical Arts Center.
Known for their adrenalized performances, inventive programming, original compositions and refined artistry, Anderson and Roe have been described as “Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers transposed from the dance floor to the keyboard” (Southampton Press). They bring a fresh and visionary approach to the concert stage, impressing audiences around the world as a four-hand and two-piano team.
The BGSU program will feature Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos in D major” and “Part 1: The Adoration of the Earth” from the Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Special arrangements by Anderson and Roe of Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14,” Piazzolla’s “Libertango,” Radiohead and even Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” fill out the concert.
The two Steinway Artists reached popularity through their interactive website,, which has generated great enthusiasm among fans and Internet bloggers. The duo responds regularly to user questions and comments, and their wildly creative, self-produced music videos have been viewed millions of times on YouTube alone.
Their debut album, “Reimagine,” was released in 2008, and their second album, “When Words Fade” was released in 2012 to high acclaim, rising quickly to the top of Billboard’s chart. In the 2012-13 season the duo makes its first Asian tour, performing in China, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore as well as with several American symphony orchestras.
Anderson and Roe’s Bowling Green visit will also include a master class for BGSU piano students, and the duo will be judges for the final round of the David D. Dubois Piano Competition for high school students. The final round of the competition is free and open to the public and will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 10 in Kobacker Hall.

To purchase tickets online for the performance, visit Tickets can also be purchased by calling 419-372-8171.

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BGSU Faculty Lillios and Mitchell exhibit collaborative media installation at Techfest in India

Collaborative team Elainie Lillios (musical arts) and Bonnie Mitchell (digital arts) will exhibit an interactive audio/visual installation piece at Techfest 2012-13, 3-5 January 2013, in Mumbai, India. Now in its 15th year, Techfest is Asia’s largest Science and Technology festival, hosting over 92,000 attendees and reaching an international audience of scientists, technicians, and artists. Their project Inhabitants, explores the concept of influence, employing abstract 3D visuals and electroacoustic sound to metaphorically examine how our lives shift direction based on people with whom we come in contact. While abstract visuals surround the viewer, poetic text pours from the ceiling into mid air and participants must catch the “meaning” of the piece onto hand-held projection screens. Accompanying electroacoustic music intensifies and enhances the immersive experience. Elainie Lillios is Associate Professor of Composition, and Bonnie Mitchell is Professor of Digital Arts. They have been collaborating for over 10 years, creating abstract sonic/visual environments and animations.

Prof. Bruce Moss conducts Wheaton Municipal Band at Midwest Conference

The Wheaton Municipal Band, under the direction of BGSU professor, Dr. Bruce Moss, will perform for the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic on Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 8:30 McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.”This is a huge honor” says maestro Dr. Bruce Moss. “We are one of only two adult/community bands to have been invited to perform at this prestigious event.”

The Midwest Clinic – the world’s largest instrumental music conference – attracts thousands of instrumental music directors and performers from around the world. The invitation to perform is determined through a rigorous screening process. Acceptance to perform is a distinct honor at the highest level.

BGSU alumnus performs with Johnny Mathis on The Tonight Show Dec. 20

For 1975 BGSU alumnus Scott Lavender, his career has been a series of connections that has led to his musical success.

One of his most enduring connections was made in 1990, when Johnny Mathis’s librarian/copyist, whom he had met during a gig in the late 1970s in Wichita, Kansas, suggested Lavender audition to play with the popular music singer. He was hired, started in January 1991 and has worked with him ever since.

“It’s the best job of its kind,” Lavender said. “He (Mathis) carries four of us with him for his shows; we play all over the country, always with an orchestra.

“No one carries people around with them any more, not even Tony Bennett.” Lavender added.

And this week on Thursday night, Mathis is bringing his team along when he performs holiday tunes on The Tonight Show. It’s not the first time Lavender has been on The Tonight Show with Mathis, but he always enjoys the opportunity.

In addition to working with Mathis, Lavender has made a name for himself as a conductor in the world of symphony pops concerts. He has conducted nationally and internationally and offers pops programs to orchestras and audiences across North America.

Lavender grew up in Findlay, Ohio, in a house where music was the norm. His parents appreciated music ranging from classical to country. “If it was good music, they played it,” Lavender recalled. At the age of 7, he started playing piano, but like many children he was bored with practicing, so he gave up the piano when he was 11.

That didn’t end his musical career; instead, he joined a rock and roll band in junior high, and then discovered jazz in college at BGSU. His musical prowess caught the attention of then-musical arts faculty member David Melle, who recruited him as a sophomore to play trombone in the jazz lab band. For the next three years, while earning a bachelor’s degree in piano performance, he was in the jazz lab band performing everything from jazz to pop music.

Following graduation, he followed up on a jazz band connection that landed him at the University of North Texas in their prestigious jazz studies master’s program. He found the studies a bit confining, so instead opted to go on the road with Jesse Lopez, a buddy he met in Dallas and brother to Trini Lopez. “Three hundred dollars a week seemed like a good thing at the time,” Lavender said with a laugh.

While touring with Lopez, a job in Wichita also made a forever connection for him- it’s where he met Carolyn, his wife-to-be, in 1976. Two years later, they married and moved to L.A. in search of work with $500 in their pockets. Shortly after the move, he was contacted by another Texas connection – Marlene Ricci – who asked if he wanted to go to Las Vegas and perform, opening for Sinatra at the Palace. After one week there, he and his wife moved to Vegas, where they stayed for three years. “I worked there doing all kinds of production shows, small groups and gaining an understanding of the profession.

A Las Vegas connection then hooked him up with folk singer Glenn Yarbrough (and the Limelighters), which afforded him the opportunity to move back to L.A., where his wife could study communicative disorders, and he eventually earned a master’s in instrumental conducting.

The only time he did not have a connection for that next gig was in 1984. “I had put my name into a musician’s contact service, where anyone can pay a fee to look for available musicians.” Lavender said.

“One night I had been playing in a smoky bar and came home to a message on my machine of a guy looking for a keyboard player,” he recalled. It turned out to be Daryl Dragon of the musical duo Captain and Tennille.

He has kept in touch with people who are particularly talented, he admits, which has helped pave the way for his successful career. ‘The biggest success is lasting this long and being able to make a living in this business,” he said.

“I’ve been able to do what I love, support and family and do OK. And I’m still at it,” he said. If anyone had told 35 years ago that he would realize this kind of success, he would have been surprised.

“If I had jumped from the starting point to this, it would have been surprising, but as you go along, over the years, it’s a different perspective,” he said. “I liken it to looking at a painting up close: you only see the dots when you are up close, but when you step back and get perspective, you see the whole picture.”

Recently, they decided to get out of the big city. He and his family moved to his hometown to start a new phase of life. “I hoped at some point to have the opportunity to teach,” he said. And by chance, he was watching a BGSU basketball game when Jeffrey Showell, dean of the College of Musical Arts, introduced himself and asked if Lavender would be interested in teaching at BGSU. “It’s another case of perfect timing,” he said.

For the first time this fall, he taught a conducting course on campus, and plans to continue in the spring, as well. “The students here are so focused and take their studies so seriously,” he said. “Most of them have no idea who Johnny Mathis is, but when I told them I would be on the Tonight Show, that’s what they wanted to talk about.”