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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.

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

BGSU College of Musical Arts to host 100th year birthday celebration

Treble Clef Club 1918a CroppedBOWLING GREEN, O.—The College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University invites the community to join its celebration of 100 years of music during “Bravo CMA!” on March 28.

Events get underway at 3 p.m. in the Moore Musical Arts Center, where visitors can attend a reception, learn about the history of the college in a special presentation, and enjoy a concert. The night will conclude with a party and dancing at the Clazel Theatre, 129 N. Main St. in downtown Bowling Green.

According to CMA Dean Jeffrey Showell, “The CMA’s 100-years-of-music celebration will provide a unique opportunity for CMA alumni, former professors and former administrators to relive the past, to find out more about the present of this terrific institution, to reunite with their contemporaries, and to meet current faculty, students and administrators.”

From 3-5 p.m., guests are invited to connect with the various departments of music, including the Falcon Marching Band, Men’s Chorus, music education, the jazz area, orchestra and string faculty, choral, voice and opera faculty and more. During that time guests are also invited to meet the deans in the Kennedy Green Room.

A reception in Kobacker Lobby and Bryan Recital Hall will be held from 5-6 p.m. At 5:40 p.m. a pre-concert talk about the history of the college with Professor Emeritus Vince Corrigan will be held in Bryan Recital Hall.

The Bravo CMA! celebration concert will follow at 6 p.m. in Kobacker Hall featuring the Wind Symphony, University Women’s Chorus, University Men’s Chorus and the Bowling Green Philharmonia.

The festivities continue with an after party and dance celebration at the Clazel Theatre, beginning at 9 p.m. Guests can look forward to performances by the Jazz Lab Band I, Afro-Caribbean Ensemble and Indian Opinion, a student band.

The cost for the event is $25. Register by visiting For more information, contact Dr. Mary Natvig at 419-372-7351.