All posts by spergal

Higdon ’86 to receive honorary doctorate


BOWLING GREEN, O.—Two BGSU alumnae who have had influential careers will receive honorary doctorates from the University during fall commencement ceremonies. The board of trustees approved the degrees at the Dec. 5 meeting.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Higdon ’86 is one of America’s most acclaimed and most frequently performed living composers. She has become a major figure in contemporary classical music, with commissions in the orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, and wind ensemble genres.

She holds doctoral and master’s degrees in music composition from the University of Pennsylvania, a bachelor’s degree in flute performance from BGSU, and an Artist Diploma in music composition from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she now holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in Composition Studies.

Her Percussion Concerto won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in January 2010. Higdon also received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto.

She has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters (two awards), the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Meet-the-Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, and ASCAP.

Most recently, Higdon has written an opera commissioned by Santa Fe Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and Minnesota Opera, based on the National Book Award winner “Cold Mountain,” by Charles Frazier. It will be premiered in Santa Fe on August 1, 2015.

Higdon and television executive Eileen O’Neill ’90 will give the commencement addresses, Higdon on Dec. 19 and O’Neill on Dec. 20. Both were named among BGSU’s 100 most prominent alumni during the University’s 2010 centennial celebration.

Myra Merritt: distinguished guest at Metropolitan Opera Guild Luncheon


The Metropolitan Opera Guild honored legendary soprano Jessye Norman at its 80th Annual Luncheon on November 21, 2014 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.  Myra Merritt was one of the forty-five distinguished guest artists invited to attend the event as one of the honored guests of the Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Merritt sang at the Met from 1980 through 1991 and was introduced as one of the artists who sang over 147 performances at the Met.

Student Composers Confront “The Beast”


David Dupont of the Sentinel Tribune writes,

“Composition students at Bowling Green State University tangled with a beast last week.

At the Student Composer Reading Session, five composition students had the chance to hear their compositions played by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

Writing a piece for orchestra is no small task, said Chris Dietz, the composition professor who organized the event. He likened the orchestra to a “72-headed dragon.”

Composition students at Bowling Green State University tangled with a beast last week. At the Student Composer Reading Session, five composition students had the chance to hear their compositions played by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

Writing a piece for orchestra is no small task, said Chris Dietz, the composition professor who organized the event. He likened the orchestra to a “72-headed dragon.”

Students presenting works were: Chris Lortie, Lydia Dempsey, Alan Racadag, Brian Sears and Kyle Laporte. Their work was selected from about 20 applicants, Dietz said.

Guest composer Steven Stucky, who has worked closely with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, said the students were up to the task. “The whole thing came out very well.” He was especially impressed with the variety of the works presented. “None resembled each other.” Some had robust sections that evoked a movie soundtrack; some had passages of great tenderness.

Sears’ “Fractured Spirits” celebrated the human spirit as it confronts life’s traumas. Racadag’s “ONE” seemed to give voice to mathematical formulae. The pieces required the orchestra to articulate serpentine rhythms with the utmost precision.

A couple pieces had the musicians making up some sounds on the spot. The orchestra, conducted by Michael Lewanski, handled it all with aplomb, Stucky said.

Laporte tackled the notion the orchestra as beast head on in “Fire Breather.” He imagined, he said, the orchestra as “a humongous being” that comes to life in the course of the piece. The orchestra, despite the pieces experimental elements, brought the music to life, he said. “I was very pleased. It was quite experimental.”

To read more, click here.

Thomas Rosenkranz, Professor of Piano, to embark on Chinese tour

Thomas Rosenkranz

Associate Professor of Piano, Thomas Rosenkranz, will tour China giving masterclasses and performances from Nov. 20th-30th. He will visit the conservatories of Southwest University in Chongching, Sichuan Conservatory of Music in Chengdu, and Xinghai Conservatory in Guangzhou before performing as part of the Musicarama 2014 at the City Hall of Hong Kong on November 30th. The program features works for two pianos by local Hong Kong composers as well as John Adam’s Hallelujah Junction with pianist, Linda Yim. 

More information on Musicarama Hong Kong:

BGSU CMA Alumna, Kathleen Murray, named President of Whitman College

Kathleen Murray

A letter to the Whitman College Community from, Brad McMurchie ’84, Chair of the Board of Trustees:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees it is my great pleasure to announce that Dr. Kathleen Murray, Provost, Dean of the Faculty, Professor of Music, and former Acting President of Macalester College, will become Whitman’s 14th President on July 1, 2015. The Board voted unanimously to appoint Kathy after having received the same endorsement from the Presidential Search Committee.

The Search Committee began its work by developing a set of principles in consultation with all College constituencies. These principles, summarized in the Presidential Prospectus, guided our selection process. Over the intervening 8 months, the Committee reviewed the applications of more than 100 candidates. The College’s strong position allowed us to attract an extraordinarily impressive pool. A series of in-depth interviews and personal interactions culminated with the selection of Kathy.

From the beginning it was clear to the committee that a leading priority would be to find a President with a deep background in the liberal arts as well as the ability to articulate the power of the type of education offered at Whitman. We also sought a candidate able to lead the College in the development of a new strategic plan and with the experience necessary to turn that plan into reality through both their management abilities and fund raising prowess. Kathy stood out from a pool that included leaders from some of the nation’s best colleges and universities. Kathy is described by a peer as a “calm, good listener [who is] able to clearly and respectfully articulate her views.” In Kathy, the Committee found the person with the experience and vision to lead Whitman forward as we build on the success of the last ten years. We also found a person with great warmth, intelligence, and a sense of humor.

At Macalester, Kathy was responsible for the academic program of one of America’s finest liberal arts colleges. She also directed the planning for Macalester’s new $70 million Fine Arts Center and played a key role in the development of the College’s new strategic plan. As a testament to her leadership skills, Macalester’s Board of Trustees selected Kathy to serve as Acting President of the College during the fall of 2013. Away from Macalester, Kathy serves as the Vice Chair of the American Conference of Academic Deans and as a Director of the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth.

Kathy, as a first generation college student, graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music (Piano Performance) from Illinois Wesleyan University. She received a Master of Music from Bowling Green State University and a Doctor of Music (Piano Performance and Pedagogy) from Northwestern University. Kathy began her academic career at Lawrence University (a selective liberal arts college and conservatory of music, enrolling approximately 1350 students), where she moved from Department Chair to Dean of the Conservatory of Music to Dean of the Faculty. Before being appointed as Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Macalester in 2008, Kathy served for three years as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Birmingham-Southern College. She is also a 2004 graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Institute for Educational Management.  Please click here to learn more about Dr. Murray.

The campus owes a debt of gratitude to all the members of the Search Committee and, in particular, to Co-Chairs Nancy Serrurier and Janice Abraham. The Trustees, Overseers, faculty, staff, and students on the committee, along with our search consultants from Storbeck/Pimentel, worked tirelessly and collegially to find the next great leader of Whitman. I also want to thank President George Bridges. Our ability to attract such an outstanding pool of candidates is a testament to his hard work and leadership since assuming the Presidency in 2005.

Kathy and her partner Bridget Reischl are excited to join the Whitman and Walla Walla communities. Please join me in welcoming them.


PROJECT Trio Makes a splash at BGSU

Project Trio

“Toledo’s classical music scene next week will focus intensely on youth music education — both performers designing programs to interest and inspire young audiences, and youthful performers revealing their capabilities in concerts and recitals.

Topping the list is Project Trio.

If you’ve never thought of the flute, the cello, and the bass as percussion instruments, then you’ve clearly missed out on this young and energetic musical trio. Energetic young New Yorkers playing on classical-music oriented instruments are ready to free Northwest Ohio of such limited thinking.

The players — bassist Peter Seymour, cellist Eric Stephenson, and flutist Greg Patillo — who met while studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music, have applied a fresh new face and sound to the idea of chamber music through clever improvisation and fresh arrangements of standards.

“Absolute technical masters of their instruments — Patillo is renowned as the leading beatbox flutist in the United States, Stephenson is a regular in major chamber performances — they amp up the energy playing together, mixing styles from classical, jazz, urban, and original works with skill and wit.

Project Trio is coming to Bowling Green State University for a residency and to Toledo for several youth concerts Nov. 19-22. Their big marquee appearance will be at 8 p.m. Nov. 22 in Kobacker Hall. Tickets are $5-$15 at 419-372-8171. A preconcert talk for ticketholders will start at 7 p.m. in nearby Bryan Hall.”