Category Archives: composition

The heartbeat of new music

Pop, rock, country, alt country, classical, jazz … today’s music can usually be classified by genre. But what exactly is “contemporary” or “new” music?

Defying musical definition, contemporary music composers often write pieces for classical instruments but take advantage of the technological advancements of today, creating sounds that can both emotionally move and challenge audience perceptions of what music can and should be.

New music is also currently enjoying a resurgence driven by younger composers and younger audiences looking for something new, said Kurt Doles, director of the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music (MACCM) at Bowling Green State University.

For more than 40 years, BGSU’s College of Musical Arts has been at the leading edge of new music. As home to MACCM, an award-winning organization devoted to the study and promotion of contemporary music and technology, the University has been an active and prolific contributor to the national and international new music scene.

Faculty and graduate students from the University’s renowned contemporary music program will be taking that musical style from the Midwest to the Big Apple when they perform on April 3 at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City’s Greenwich Village, presenting a program of varied and challenging new music. The music club is a venue for both nontraditional music and interactive media, which often go together.

The New York performance is a continuation of BGSU’s tradition. The program will include works by composers such as Sebastian Currier, Iannis Xenakis, Jon Christopher Nelson, Leroux, Jonathan Harvey, BGSU faculty composer Christopher Dietz and BGSU alumna Jennifer Higdon, winner of Pulitzer and Grammy awards. The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m.

“The mix we’re bringing is a broad range of music that showcases the versatility of the genre and the strength of the performers,” Doles said. “We have a good mix of both accessible and challenging works.”

Creating and performing new music requires a distinct musical skill set – the technical and creative demands are beyond typical classical music. In many ways, it is tied to the indie-rock movement, and while there has always been a small but loyal audience, the people finding it now are a younger, thoughtful, educated crowd interested in something unique, Doles said.

BGSU has developed one of the top programs in the country. Along with MACMM, Bowling Green maintains a robust composition program, a vibrant new-music-focused Doctor of Musical Arts in Contemporary Music curriculum, and hosts the annual Bowling Green New Music Festival, now in its 34th year, which has brought some of the leading lights of the new music world to campus. The New York performance represents the beginning of a greater outreach for the program.

Tickets to the show are $10, and are available at Le Poisson Rouge’s box office website, LPR is located at 158 Bleecker St., on the site of the former Village Gate nightclub.

For more information, contact the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at 419-372-2685.

BGSU Graduate Composes Music for New York City Production

BGSU graduate Andrew Selle (BMus 2012) has taken a big bite out of the Big Apple! He was selected from numerous applicants to compose music and serve as musical director for “Circle of Haunts”, a ghost opera/dance theater event based on Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw.” Selle composed all the opera’s music, which includes nine performers singing numerous a capella arias and recitatives, along with assorted hand-held instruments the performers use on stage. The opera was staged seven times in February, and reviewed by, which hails Selle’s music as “most striking.”

Big Robot performs in Bowling Green February 25th

BOWLING GREEN, O. – Big Robot, a computer-acoustic ensemble, will perform in Bowling Green on Monday, February 25 at the Clazel Theatre (127 N. Main St., Bowling Green). This performance is part of the Music at the Forefront concert series sponsored by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music in collaboration with BGSU Electroacoustics.

Big Robot is a computer-acoustic trio that creates live media-enriched art and music, interweaving aesthetic expression with computer interactivity and networked technology. With integration of audio/video design, live percussion, and electronics, the group creates a multi-dimensional performance that explores the cross points of virtual and physical gesture, sound, and space. Big Robot employs interactive processes such as motion tracking, acoustic instrument sampling, audio processing, integration of real-time video, and the use of telecommunications software/devices. The group performs in live venues as well as telematically over research-grade, high-bandwidth internet from their studio. Big Robot has presented concerts and residencies throughout the United States since 2009.

Music at the Forefront is an annual concert series featuring performances by accomplished and innovative performers of contemporary music. For more information contact Kurt Doles at the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music (419/372-2685 –

Jennifer Higdon receives NEA grant

BGSU alum and composer Jennifer Higdon has received an NEA grant, along with the Cypress String Quartet, in support of a commission she is composing for the Quartet.  It’s a work for soprano and string quartet for the Quartet’s Call & Response program, which pairs two works from the established repertoire with a new work.  Higdon’s piece is entitled  “In The Shadow of Sirius,”  and is based on the poetry of the former U.S. Poet Laureate (and two-time Pulitzer winner)  W.S. Merwin.

Here’s a link to the press announcement, and the NEA’s announcement as well…

Christina Jensen PR – Cypress Quartet’s Press Releases – Cypress Quartet Receives NEA Grant to Commission Jennifer Higdon – World Premiere in April 2013

NEA:2013 GRANT AWARDS: Access to Artistic Excellence – Music