Category Archives: string-alumni

Early Music Ensemble Invited to Nationally Acclaimed Festival

BGSU Early Music Ensemble[2] (1)

BGSU’s Early Music Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Arne Spohr, has been selected by Early Music America to perform at Early Music America’s Young Performers Festival in Berkeley, CA. This nationally recognized festival will be featuring top university early music ensembles from around the United States, including groups from Indiana University, University of Southern California, Case Western Reserve University, and Brigham Young University Idaho. All performances will take place at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church from June 8th – 10th as part of the Berkeley Music Festival.

Toledo Symphony Orchestra featured in BGSU’s composer reading session

TSO reading_15

BOWLING GREEN, OH— Orchestral compositions written by Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts students will be read, rehearsed and recorded by Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) musicians on Tuesday, Nov. 10, from 3:30-6 p.m. in BGSU’s Kobacker Hall. Michael Lewanski, a prominent figure on the international contemporary music scene, will lead the orchestra while acclaimed composer, conductor author and educator Samuel Adler will be present to observe the session and give comments in an evening masterclass.

After a review of the submitted scores, the following works were selected for the session:

– Richard Arndorfer       Aurora
– Andrew Binder           Endleofan
– Emily Custer               Seelenruhe
– Matthew Ramage        Mutability
– Jacob Sandridge           I-77

The TSO will be bringing its largest complement of players to BGSU, 72 musicians in all. “Few academic institutions can offer this kind of professional experience, making this a unique opportunity for BGSU students,” said Christopher Dietz, a faculty member in musicology, composition and theory and organizer of the session.

The event is open to students, faculty and staff of the BGSU College of Musical Arts and invited guests. Members of the public who would like to attend should email faculty liaison Christopher Dietz ( to be included on the guest list.

Guest soloists from Berlin, Pittsburgh to highlight Philharmonia concert

KELLY__RANDY                                     Bendix-Balgley

BOWLING GREEN, O.—The Bowling Green Philharmonia will host featured soloists Noah Bendix-Balgley, concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, and Randolph Kelly, principal violist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, on Feb. 7. The concert begins at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall at Bowling Green State University. Under the direction of Emily Freeman Brown, the soloists will be featured in Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major for Violin, Viola and Orchestra.”

Recently appointed first concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, Bendix-Balgley has appeared internationally as a soloist to great acclaim. In 2011, he became concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, where his debut recital in 2012 was named “Best Classical Concert of 2012” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has also performed his own version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for solo violin in front of 39,000 fans at the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day at PNC Park.

A laureate of the 2009 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, Bendix-Balgley won the first prize at the 2011 Vibrarte International Music Competition in Paris and was awarded first prize and a special prize for best Bach interpretation at the 14th International Violin Competition in Fermo, Italy.

Kelly has enjoyed a distinguished and multifaceted career as principal violist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, where he was signed by André Previn in 1976. Previn once wrote that Kelly “transformed his section into what I believe is the best viola section of any orchestra in America.” One highlight of Kelly’s tenure with the orchestra was performing the world premiere of a viola concerto written for him by Samuel Adler, commissioned for the 2000-01 season.

In addition to his orchestral career, Kelly’s virtuosity as a soloist and chamber musician has been celebrated around the world. He has collaborated with such artists as Yo-Yo Ma and Pinchas Zukerman. As a soloist, Kelly has appeared on some of the most prestigious concert stages in the world. He made his European solo début when Lorin Maazel invited him to play the “Walton Concerto” with the National Orchestra of France.

Also featured on the BGSU program is Carl Maria von Weber’s “Overture to Der Freischütz” and Paul Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Weber.”

Advance tickets for the performance are $3 for students and $7 for adults and can be purchased by visiting or by calling 1-419-372-8171. All tickets the day of performance are $10.

From cellist to country rock

Jonathan Kampfe ’05 tours the country with The Phillip Fox Band

Jonathan Kampfe ’05 used to picture himself as a professional cellist playing in ensembles — a career classical musician.

He trained for years to fulfill this dream, attending BGSU on a music scholarship and earning a bachelor’s degree in cello performance from the College of Musical Arts in 2005.

Then, an offer from an old friend changed everything, and Kampfe found himself playing music not in  symphony halls, but in stadiums, rock clubs and country western saloons.

Today, the one-time classical cellist is the bassist for the Columbus-based country-rock quartet, the Phillip Fox Band. Kampfe will return to Bowling Green on Saturday, when his band plays a 9 p.m. show on Saturday, Dec. 6 at Grumpy Dave’s Pub, 104 S. Main St.

The band is currently touring to promote its first full-length album, Heartland.

The Phillip Fox Band is a full-time gig for all of its members, Kampfe said. They don’t work side jobs and make the band their sole career focus, playing about 200 shows in 2014.

“At some point, you have to take that leap of faith,” Kampfe said. “I think one thing that helped me from the get-go was knowing there was no plan B. We all knew we wouldn’t be making money for awhile, but that just pushed us harder to make it work.”

Although the Phillip Fox Band is more popular than ever now, Kampfe struggled after graduating from BGSU to find his purpose.

“For a change of scenery, I moved to Virginia and started working for a company that did window treatments,” he said. “I did some music gigs on the side, but it didn’t take long before I knew this was not what I should be doing.”

Kampfe’s life and career took a new direction when he reconnected with a friend from the Toledo area, fellow musician Phillip Fox.

Fox told Kampfe he was looking for a bass player for a new band.

Unsure whether this was the right move for his music career, Kampfe reached out to his former BGSU professor and mentor, Dr. Alan Smith, for advice.

“I wanted to get his reaction, because he was my cello teacher, and I wasn’t sure he would take it well,” Kampfe said. “To my surprise, he told me, ‘Go for it.’”

Kampfe accepted Fox’s offer and moved to Columbus. By March 2011, Fox and Kampfe had been joined by guitarist David Morckel and drummer Austin Nill.

While the band produced the album Heartland without the support of a record label, its fans helped offset recording studio costs by raising $18,000 via the popular crowd-funding website In return, the band took fans’ input on what songs they should include on the album.

Although they have built their biggest fan base in Ohio, the Phillip Fox Band performed last month in Houston at the APCA South Central Regional Showcase. The showcase allows entertainers to connect with university event planners to book campus appearances.

While he prefers to tour for a week or two, rather than for months at a time (he and his wife welcomed a baby boy six months ago), Kampfe hopes doors will continue to open for the band.

“We do hope for that national exposure, but the main goal is to continue to do what we love to do, and to keep finding creative ways to do it,” he said. “I think we have a bright future ahead of us.”