All posts by shoekst

Jon Cowherd brings his Mercy Project to Festival Series stage


BOWLING GREEN, O.—Bowling Green State University’s Festival Series concludes its 2014-15 season on a high note with renowned jazz artist Jon Cowherd and his Mercy Project. The concert takes place at 8 p.m. April 11 in Kobacker Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center, home to the College of Musical Arts.

The performance will feature Brian Blade on drums, Steve Cardenas on guitar, and Tony Scherr on bass in music from Cowherd’s recent album, “Mercy,” which features 11 original compositions.

Cowherd’s impressive resume dates back many years to when Cowherd, a Kentucky native, formed a performing and composing partnership with Loyola classmate Brian Blade, featuring Cowherd on piano and Blade on drums. They formed the Brian Blade Fellowship, which went on to release several albums. Cowherd has gained fame through his exceptional keyboard and compositional skills, which have catapulted him to success and established him as one of jazz’s most accomplished and in-demand musicians.

Though his recent decision to release a solo album was difficult, he said, he attributes his confidence to Jeff Goldstein, with whom he studied classical piano with from 2001-09.

In addition to creating his own music, Cowherd has been featured as a producer on a wide variety of projects with artists including Lizz Wright, Alyssa Graham and The Local NYC. Artists such as Rosanne Cash, Iggy Pop, Marc Cohn, Mark Olson and Victoria Williams have featured Cowherd’s instrumental work on their albums. Cowherd recently served as a co-musical director and keyboardist for the all-star Joni Jazz Concert at the Hollywood Bowl, in honor of Joni Mitchell.

Tickets for the Festival Series performance are $20 for the public and $5 for BGSU students and can be purchased online at or by calling the Arts Box Office at 419-372-8171.

New Music from Bowling Green performs in Detroit at Trinsophes


BOWLING GREEN, O. – Faculty and graduate students from Bowling Green State University’s renowned contemporary music program will be performing at Trinosophes in Detroit (1464 Gratiot) with a program of new music by Georges Aperghis, John Drumheller, Jonathan Harvey, BGSU faculty composer Mikel Kuehn, Bright Sheng, Toru Takemitsu and Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang. The concert will take place on Saturday, April 18th at 8 p.m.

Home to the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, the renowned Bowling Green New Music Festival (now entering its 36th year), a robust composition program and a vibrant new music-focused Doctor of Musical Arts curriculum, the BGSU College of Musical Arts has been an active contributor to the national and international new music scene for almost four decades.

Participating faculty from the College of Musical Arts include flutist Conor Nelson, pianists Solungga Fang-Tzu Liu and Jeannette Fang, trumpeter Charles Saenz, cellist Alan Smith, and saxophonist John Sampen, along with clarinetist Gunnar Owen Hirthe, pianist Zachary Nyce, violist Kalindi Bellach and saxophonist Matthew Younglove, all of whom are students in the DMA program.

Tickets for the concert are $5, and can be reserved through Trinosophes at 313-737-6606. More information about the venue can be found at

For more information contact the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at 419-372-2685, email, or visit us on the web at

Sentinel Tribune highlights Dialogues of the Carmelites


By DAVID DUPONT, Sentinel News Editor

Though the mob is at the gate even as “Dialogues of the Carmelites” begins, the true enemy is closer still.

Our heroine Blanche, played by recent Conrad Art Song Competition winner Desiree Nicole Johnson, is almost crippled by nagging, inchoate fear. A servant’s shadow sends her into hysterics. For her each night is akin to Christ’s last night on earth, each morning a new Easter.

Blanche seeks safety and spiritual direction in the convent of the Carmelites. But in a time of revolutionary turmoil, no place is safe, especially given the anti-religious tenor of the mob.

This story of faith and trial in the time of the French Revolution is on stage at the Donnell Theatre in Bowling Green State University’s Wolfe Center for the Arts Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. For tickets, visit or call the box office at 419-372-8171.

The dialogues of the title are not between the nuns and the revolutionaries  but among the sisters themselves. The rabble stays offstage until the end of the second act. While the nuns in rousing song ponder the true nature of faith.

Francis Poulenc wrote “Dialogues of the Carmelites” in the throes of his own rediscovered Catholicism and personal tragedy. He sets these inner reflections to soaring melody set over an orchestra that gives full voice to the uncertainties and terror.

The cast dramatizes this in full voice. Johnson’s Blanche is physically cramped by fear. The contrast between her and the lighthearted Constance (Elizabeth Hood) is notable. Hood is almost flighty, providing the few minutes of anything approaching humor in script. Her very good humor grates on Johnson, who masks her anxiety with piety. Johnson seems to be struggling to hold this within, even as her voice rings out.

Jane Schoonmaker Rodgers brings the dismay of the old prioress, whose faith wavers as she faces death. Her death scene is wrenching as she questions all she’s devoted her life to, flinging aside her rosary.

The new prioress (Esther Darmahkasih) brings the light of faith informed by steadfast leadership in the face of crisis. She would have her sisters avoid martyrdom, but never wavers as they journey toward it. Her rallying aria in the prison is stunning, tender yet firm.

The true guide of the nuns is Mother Marie (Lauren Cornwell). She is the one who brings the sisters together in a vow of martyrdom.

Blanche joins them in that vow only to recoil.

In the end, she realizes the only way to overcome what she fears is to confront it, and finds in the end the resolution she has been seeking.

The orchestra, directed by Emily Freeman Brown, is heavy on the winds. The score uses brass chorales to undergird professions of faith, laced through with dissonance. A particularly lovely clarinet melody floats through a couple scenes, speaking with unspoken eloquence. Percussion startles at points, punctuating the action.

The conflict plays out on a set of large, dark geometric shapes that has the nuns almost glowing as they move about stage.

The production, directed by guest Nicholas Wuehrmann, expands the scope of the drama by evoking 20th and 21st century terror to express the timelessness of collective violence. In each scene the time setting shifts forward, bringing on Nazis, ending with terrorists and an evocation of the killing of the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo. “Je Suis Charlie” is emblazoned behind the steps leading to the guillotine.

This makes for an ideological mess. The cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo are nothing if not children of the French Revolution, especially its anti-clerical beliefs.

But listeners do not go to opera for philosophical clarity. They go for spectacle, melody and music fueled by passion. BGSU’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites” delivers on all fronts.

Sentinel Tribune: Standing tall among BGSU’s small ensembles


By DAVID DUPONT, Sentinel News Editor
The Max Trio broke the mold at the Douglas Wayland Chamber Music Competition at Bowling Green State University this weekend. Since the competition for groups of three to six student musicians was started in 2007, contemporary music has ruled the roost. The Max Trio – Kyle Kostenko, clarinet, Caleb Georges, viola, and Xiaohui Ma, piano – went with more traditional fare a trio in E-flat Major by W.A. Mozart and two movements from Eight Pieces by German Romantic composer Max Bruch. The repertoire worked.  The Max Trio won first in the competition’s undergraduate division.Top in the graduate division was the JAMKOZ Sextet playing more typical fare for the competition, music by living composers Brooke Joyce and BGSU graduate Jennifer Higdon.Members of the sextet are: Octavian Moldovean, flute, Kostenko, clarinet, Yi Chieh Anita Chiu, violin, Josh Williams, cello, Michael Keller, percussion, and Zachary Nyce, piano.Moldovean said bringing all the players together to rehearse proved a challenge. His original idea for an ensemble, a traditional wind quintet, fell apart when the musicians he wanted to collaborate with had already committed to another ensemble.He set about picking other top musicians in the college, which means they tend to be the busiest.The two compositions made full use of the ensemble’s kaleidoscopic palette, especially the Higdon piece, which had the clarinetist tapping the open barrel of his horn or the violinist and cellist playing lightly drumming on their strings with batons. Getting a rich tone colors, Kostenko said, was important for the Max Trio playing the more traditional pieces as well.He and George had competed in the same format last year, coming in third. The new pianist Ma helped the group to victory, he said. The two ensembles will perform March 31 at 7:30 p.m. in the Manor House in Toledo’s Wildwood Metropark and April 12 at 3 p.m. at the  Toledo Museum of Art. Placing second in the undergraduate division was Blues 151, Julia Kuhlman, soprano saxophone, Chi-Him Chik, alto saxophone, Cody Greenwell, tenor saxophone, and Hiroki Kato, baritone saxophone.Second place in the graduate division was the BGSU Graduate Flute Quartet, Eun Hae Oh, Jory King,  Chappy Gibb and Jayde Weide.Sponsored by Pro Musica, the first round was held Saturday with the finalists performing Sunday. In all seven undergraduate ensembles and 11 graduate ensembles competed.

Sentinel Tribune highlights BRAVO CMA celebration

By DAVID DUPONT, Sentinel News Editor
From the time classes convened at Bowling Green Normal School, music was part of the curriculum.Music historian Vincent Corrigan said that, as a normal school, the institution was charged with training elementary school teachers.At the time “musical skills were required of all teachers,” Corrigan said. So music was one of the 10 founding departments. Corrigan has been working on a history of the Bowling Green State University College of Music. Dean Jeffrey Showell asked him to work on the project a year and a half ago, and it was early in his studies that the department’s centenary came to light. Showell said Corrigan has dug into the archives just as he would if he were investigating any arcane subject.Corrigan will unveil his history, which will be available online, at the College of Music’s Bravo celebration of its 100th birthday, Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m. The College’s Bravo event will be held before Bravo BGSU!, the launch of what’s planned as an annual event to raise funds for scholarships in all the arts. The College of Music’s celebration will bring together current faculty and students with graduates and retired faculty members including former deans.From 3 to 5 p.m. receptions and activities for various ensembles and other “affinity groups” will be held throughout the building. Some ensembles may be rehearsing, said Assistant Dean Mary Natvig who is chairing the organizing committee. Old video and photos will also be displayed.The composition area, she said, will offer a make-your-own composition event, a musical buffet that allows visitors to select elements and then have that piece spontaneously composed on the spot by a group of students and faculty. At 5 p.m. Corrigan will present his history, highlighting some of the more unusual facts he’s uncovered. The work, he said, is built on what other former deans including Richard Kennel and Bob Thayer started.This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of what has become the Women’s Chorus, then known as the Treble Clef Club. That the first ensemble was made up of women is not surprising given there were only women on campus. Men arrived on campus when World War I ended.At the celebratory concert that starts at 6 p.m. in Kobacker Hall, the Women’s Chorus will sing a piece by Amy Beach that was on the choir’s very first program.The concert is where Bravo CMA! will overlap with the Bravo BGSU!. Those attending the later event are invited to start their night in Kobacker, Showell said.That the chorus sang a piece by the then-living composer ties to the College’s current reputation as a center for new music. The chorus will also sing the piece commissioned by Libby Larsen to mark its 100th anniversary.Also on the program will be the Wind Ensemble performing a piece by BGSU graduate Ryan Nowland that was commissioned for the university’s Centennial of when the school was first established.The Bowling Green Philharmonia, which traces its roots back to 1917, will also perform.The orchestra, sporting an odd contingent of strings and winds, was the first instrumental ensemble.Corrigan said its fortunes shifted over those early years, and was almost decimated during World War II when its membership dropped to eight members. With the return of veterans, though, the orchestra took full form again and was able to play Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1.That experience is heartening for Corrigan. If the College of Music can weather World War II, it can weather the shifting winds of higher education policy. The college is endowed with, he said: “A whole lot of people with energy and enthusiasm.”The evening will end with an after-party and dance at the Clazel downtown, featuring dancing to the Jazz Lab Band I, the Afro-Caribbean Ensemble and a student rock band Indian Opinion.The cost for Bravo CMA! is $25. Register by visiting

Emily Freeman Brown guest conducts at PMEA Orchestra Festival


Emily Freeman Brown, Director of Orchestral Activities at BGSU, guest conducted at the PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) Region VI (Philadelphia region) Orchestra festival. It took place March 12-14 at Oxford Area High School. The program was Summerstock Overture by Samuel Adler (who met the orchestra and spoke to the audience at the concert); Carmen Suite No. 1 by Georges Bizet, the Scherzo from Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 and the Finale from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.

BGSU alum Erin Kappulia, MM, former trumpet student of George Nowak, teaches at Oxford High School, and was host for the event.