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Professor Papanikolaou to present pre-performance lectures at Toledo Opera’s April production of Lucia di Lammermoor

Toledo Opera

Eftychia Papanikolaou, Associate Professor of Musicology, has been invited to give the pre-performance lectures at Toledo Opera’s production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, April 24 and 26. The lectures will begin one hour before curtain at the Valentine Theatre’s lobby. For more information about the production visit


Interdisciplinary collaboration with the BG Philharmonia: New look for ‘Pictures’


The Sentinel Tribune writes,

“The classical music staple “Pictures at an Exhibition” is getting a new look when it is paired with moving pictures created by university film students.

When the Bowling Green Philharmonia, directed by Emily Freeman Brown, performs Sunday at 3 p.m. films created by the Visual Imagery in Music class taught by Lucas Ostrowski will be projected above the orchestra.

The concert, which will also feature Richard Strauss’ “Four Last Songs” with solo soprano Sujin lee, and Claude Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun,” will be presented in Kobacker Hall on the Bowling Green State University campus.

The project came after Jeffrey Showell, the dean of the College of Musical Arts, suggested a collaboration between student musicians and student filmmakers.

For his part Ostrowski had been wanting to offer a class looking at the intersection of music and film. His interest while a student at Ohio University was the music in horror films and rockumentaries.

“This gave me a reason to do this class,” he said.

So he taught Visual Imagery in Music. The 17 students in the class listened to the music, and researched some about composer Modest Mussorsky.

Mostly though they reacted to the music. Usually when they work with music, Ostrowski said, it is contemporary. “Pictures at an Exhibition” offered the challenge of dealing with a late 19th century piece.

It’s just one of the ways in which the project “takes students out of their comfort zone,” Ostrowski said.

The project also requires them to work backward, creating images for music, rather than fitting the music to film.

The films are being “created for a client” and work with parameters provided to them.

“Having their films played alongside a live orchestra is probably an experience they’ll never have again,” Ostrowski said.

“Pictures at an Exhibition” was originally written for piano, and later orchestrated a number of times.

It depicts a stroll through an exhibition of works by Mussorsky’s friend Victor Hartmann. The movements, linked by several promenade sections, depict various Hartmann’s paintings.

But the students weren’t tied to the imagery of the titles. Instead they were given free rein to come up with their own cinematic interpretations.

Those varied from abstract images using lights, milk and plexiglass, or short narratives.

One involves a guardian angel-like figure. Another evokes the Frankenstein story.

Brown said: “They are very creative, sometimes personal, sometimes they are in a narrative form and sometimes abstract.”

Seeing all these ideas juxtaposed “is fun,” Ostrowski said.

He plans to record the performance, and have it played at Arts X next December.

He’s also hoping to repeat the experiment next year.”

For tickets visit:

Ten40 in tune with joys of singing


David Dupont of the Sentinel Tribune writes:

“Ten40 Acappella is a Bowling Green State University tradition in the making.

The 17-voice ensemble has been around five years, and traces it roots back four more years to the HeeBeeBGs, an ensemble that sprang from the men’ choir.

As the spring semester nears its end, and almost half the singers will be graduating, Ten40 is confident the ensemble will continue to strike a chord with campus and community audiences.

Ten40 will perform Saturday during Literacy in the Park in the Stroh Center. The event runs 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

At the event they will debut a brand new Disney medley. The number, which lasts more than seven minutes, took Will Baughman, one of the group’s two arrangers, all summer to arrange.

It’s the kind of challenge that Baughman and the group’s other arranger Michael Barlos, also current director, like to take on. And the current batch of singers are more than up for it.

“We know we can arrange the crazy stuff we hear in our heads because we have guys to do it,” Baughman, an Otsego High graduate, said during a recent interview.

“I don’t mind pushing the boundaries,” said Elias Dander, of Gibsonburg, who sings bass. “I like the challenge and the other guys do as well.”

They’re not afraid to employ all 12 voice parts.

The success of the group relies on more than vocal skill.

“The most important component  to having a successful student organization is having a connection that’s deeper than just I’m in a club with this guy,” Baughman said.

“The stronger the bonds are off stage, the stronger the music sounds on stage,” Barlos said.

That was evident with the current edition from the start.

During auditions, “we look at the way they come in and interact with us, how they carry themselves,” Baughman said. “It’s about 60 percent of what we look for.”

That’s fostered by regular meet ups outside of rehearsal time, and dinners after rehearsals.

Dandar said regular socializing pays off when Ten40 gets down to work. “It allows us to have more focused rehearsal time because we know we can go out afterward.”

Ten40 also benefits from another special ingredient, its advisor Pat Pauken.

Pauken got involved with Ten40 after he heard the group perform for BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey.

Baughman relishes giving Pauken’s full name – “Dr. Patrick David Pauken,” then adds “teacher, mentor, coach, friend.”

“He was that extra push we needed,” Barlos said.

Ten40 traces its roots to the HeeBeeBGs, an a cappella ensemble that started as part of the BGSU Men’s Chorus.

As the ensemble’s popularity grew, the members wanted to do more and more independent gigs, Barlos said. So it was suggested the ensemble split off and become its own student-run organization.

This spring Ten40 won the quarterfinals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella held in Bowling Green. Then the group placed third in the semifinals in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That gave them a sliver of a chance to win a wild card spot in the finals held in New York City.

Their repertoire is broad ranging from Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” to current  rock hits by Switchfoot, Foo Fighters  and Mutemath.

“We have to keep up with what’s popular,” Baughman said. “We pride ourselves on being well rounded.”

That will come to the fore when Ten40 hits the road May 18, for a six-day tour that will take them into the Cleveland area and southern Michigan. They will sing in a variety of venues – churches, arts centers, classrooms, school auditoriums and on May 22 the Toledo Mud Hens game.

The ensemble, Barlos said, sees itself as promoting BGSU and the College of Musical Arts, though not all the members are music majors.

The tour also helps the ensemble make contact with potential members. Baughman said he first heard Ten40 at his high school.

Being involved in singing provides joy that extends well beyond the college years.

All three men said they expect to continue singing all their lives.

Dandar said, he’ll keep at it “as long as someone wants to sing with me.”

Jazzman Jon Cowherd to display quality of Mercy Project in BG

Jon Cowherd: Mercy Project

The Sentinel Tribune writes,

“Not surprisingly, catching Jon Cowherd for an interview means catching him on the road.

On the day of this telephone chat he’s at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut waiting to go on stage with jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson.

A pianist, composer, arranger and producer, Cowherd has kept busy. He’s probably best known for his work with drummer Brian Blade and The Fellowship Band, which he helped found back in 1998. He’s also much in demand for a range of pop and jazz jobs, including in Roseanne Cash’s band. Just a peek at his schedule dating back to January, 2014 is exhausting – with gigs around the world, from Tokyo to Helinski and back to his home base in New York.

When Cowherd plays at Bowling Green State University April 11 for a Festival Series concert, he’ll have the chance to front his own band, The Mercy Project, a showcase for his own compositions. The group features Blade with guitarist Steve Cardenas and bassist Tony Scherr.  The concert starts at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall. Tickets are $20 from or the box office at 419-372-8171.

With Blade anchoring the rhythm section, the group is certainly an offshoot of The Fellowship Band, but one that lets the pianist’s own musical personality blossom.

His debut album, “Mercy,” released through the fan-funded service ArtistShare, features lyrical, impressionistic melodies over fluid rhythms.

The melodies spring from his improvising. He’ll record them with his iPhone and then work them over from there.

Though known as a jazz pianist, his early studies led him neither to the keyboard nor to jazz.

Both his parents were music teachers, his mother voice and his father a band leader who also composed. Even now, Cowherd said, when he’s writing he can sometimes hear bits of his father’s music.  He also learned much from their approach to music, an approach “that’s serious, that’s hard working.”

The Kentucky native took piano at 5, but later focused on French horn

Cowherd went to Loyola University in New Orleans as a classical French horn player. It was at Loyola that he met Blade, and where he discovered jazz.

“I was pulled into that direction,” he said. “It was the freedom I sensed in the musicians, the spontaneity. I loved the harmony and rhythm, and the grooves, especially the New Orleans grooves.”

He also shifted away from horn, and even took piano lessons from jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis.

Cowherd said he still draws on his orchestral experience when writing. And a producer on a Roseanne Cash session where he was contracted to play organ convinced him to get out his horn for a few tracks.

While at BGSU he’ll work with students and share with them some of what helped him develop.

While young musicians all strive to be original, they need the direction of those who came before. When an older musician would praise a colleague Cowherd had never heard of, he’d “immediately try to check it out and find out why they thought that musician was worth listening to.”