Category Archives: education

BGSU issues call for young musician applicants for “From the Top”

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Accomplished young classical musicians from northwest Ohio are invited to audition for a chance to appear on National Public Radio’s popular program “From the Top.” Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts will host a live taping of the preeminent showcase for young musicians, to be recorded at the Moore Musical Arts Center Sept. 28. The event will lead off the college’s 2013-14 Festival Series.

Hosted by pianist Christopher O’Riley, the show is heard locally Sundays on WGTE-FM and features the performances and personal stories of extraordinary young classical musicians from across the country.

Regional musicians can submit an application and recording by mail. Applications can be downloaded at and are due by June 28 to be considered for the BGSU taping.

Classical musicians ages 8-18 who have not yet graduated from high school are eligible for the program. Young performers can audition as soloists (including vocalists), instrumental or vocal ensembles, or as composers who have a piece they wish to have performed. While the show focuses mostly on classical repertoire, from time to time it will feature other genres, especially if the piece connects with the heritage of the regional taping.

There is a $50 application fee which can be paid online or by check. The fee is waived for students with financial need who are also applying for the show’s Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award scholarship.

In addition to being a radio program, From the Top is an independent, Boston-based nonprofit. Each year, it partners with the Cooke Foundation to award about 20 scholarships of up to $10,000 to pre-collegiate classical musicians who appear on the show. Students must demonstrate high levels of artistic achievement as well as financial need to be eligible for the award. Interested applicants apply for the scholarship in tandem with their application to appear on the radio program. More information about the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award can be found on the “From the Top” website.

What began as a radio experiment in 2000 quickly became one of the fastest growing and most popular weekly classical music programs on public radio. Broadcast on nearly 250 stations nationwide to an audience of nearly 700,000 listeners each week, “From the Top” has been described by the Boston Globe as “an entertaining, accessible and inspirational mix of outstanding musical performances, informal interviews, skits and games; the show is a celebration of extraordinary musicians who happen to be teenagers leading fairly normal lives.”

Annually, the program’s live tapings reach more than 20,000 audience members of all ages. In conjunction with its national tour, From the Top offers leadership training to young artists and conducts classroom and community programs leveraging the power of its performers as role models for younger students. Through the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the program has invested more than $1.6 million in support of pre-college students since 2005. Learn more at

The Sound of Music

 By Elizabeth Cope

A broken reed or sticky keys are the variables most saxophonists face during live performance.

But living with hearing loss has prepared music education major Jacob Kopcienski to overcome to a wider range of variables during his own performances: even the batteries going dead in his hearing aids. The disability hasn’t stopped him from collecting awards as a top student in the BGSU College of Musical Arts.

Diagnosed at age four with moderate-severe hearing loss, Kopcienski has focused on finding solutions rather than on his obstacles. He says the key is to face limitations, accept them and adapt, and that includes developing coping strategies and problem solving skills in order to achieve goals.

“For me, hearing is not a constant thing, he said. “Yes, it’s a deficiency and it’s challenging, but I have so much control over it that I don’t even notice it. It’s something I don’t even think about. Most people go through their lives only hearing one way, and not noticing a change in their hearing, but for me, mine can change throughout the day.”

One of his adaptations is to have different programs for his hearing aides – one for direct conversation, one for general circumstances, and one for performing. Educators across the college agree, Kopcienski has never asked for special treatment or consideration. He just keeps smiling and pressing while encouraging others as he goes.

Kopcienski’s accomplishments during his four years at BGSU are impressive by any measure, but he resists viewing his success against the backdrop of his impairment.

“Jacob’s hearing is a very minor issue in his working life,” said Elaine Colprit, chair of the Department of Music Education. “He has never been defined by his disability. If Jacob didn’t tell you, you’d never know, and it certainly has not prevented him from being one of our top students.”

Along with being a top student, Kopcienski has been honored with the Music Presser Award, won BGSU Competitions in Music Performance in 2011, and has performed in prestigious university ensembles, including the Borealis Saxophone Quartet, and was a first place winner of the BGSU Chamber Music Competition in 2010. He is also a student teacher with the band program at Perrysburg High School.

He hopes to study next year in France with the world-famous saxophonist Jean-Michel Goury, a member of the prominent XASAX Quartet and is a faculty member at the Conservatoire National de Musique de Boulogne-Billancourt in Paris.

That sounds like sweet music.

(Posted April 29, 2013 )

BGSU Alum becomes president of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music has hired Gregory Ruffer for the position of President/CEO.

Ruffer is a performing arts leader, conductor and voice teacher with a quarter century of experience in the field. He has served most recently as the Music Department Chair at the Patel Conservatory and Chorus Master for Opera Tampa, both at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida. In these positions, Mr. Ruffer was the administrative leader of a large, multi-faceted music department that included children’s music, Suzuki, youth orchestra, rock school, vocal arts, guitar, jazz and private lessons. He managed a department of nearly 50 music teachers and administrators, a professional opera chorus of 50 singers, and created and oversaw a large departmental budget.

Ruffer holds B.M. and M.M. degrees from BGSU.

Alum Richard Alleshouse inducted into Norwalk HS Hall of Fame

Richard Alleshouse, B.S.’63, has had the honor of being inducted into the 2012 Class of Norwalk High School Hall of Fame, academic division.   Richard has been on the faculty of BGSU and UT and taught orchestra students for 33 years, most recently retiring as Director of Orchestras in Sylvania, Ohio, schools.  He is in his 48th year as Principal Double Bass of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and his first season with the orchestra was 1961.

Prof. Bruce Moss conducts Wheaton Municipal Band at Midwest Conference

The Wheaton Municipal Band, under the direction of BGSU professor, Dr. Bruce Moss, will perform for the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic on Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 8:30 McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.”This is a huge honor” says maestro Dr. Bruce Moss. “We are one of only two adult/community bands to have been invited to perform at this prestigious event.”

The Midwest Clinic – the world’s largest instrumental music conference – attracts thousands of instrumental music directors and performers from around the world. The invitation to perform is determined through a rigorous screening process. Acceptance to perform is a distinct honor at the highest level.

Going deeper into the music

Music education and performance reached a crescendo the week of Nov. 5 when the College of Musical Arts was visited by two nationally known professionals plus the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

Seated in a small room in the Moore Musical Arts Center on Nov. 7, a group of student composers and faculty sat listening to a recording of an orchestral composition, each intently following along on the large scores before them.

What was unusual about the day was that the compositions were those of four of the students, and they had been performed the previous day by 72 members of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra in Kobacker Hall.

For student composers, having their work recorded by a full orchestra is a “golden ticket” to auditions and interviews, said composition faculty member Chris Dietz, who organized the orchestra’s visit. “It can be used to advance their careers.”

Furthermore, critiquing the pieces was none other than Bill McGlaughlin, a conductor, composer, musician and national radio personality. Perhaps best known for his work in broadcasting, as host of Peabody Award-winning “St. Paul Sunday” and “Exploring Music” (heard daily on Toledo’s WGTE-FM), as well as programs from Wolf Trap and the Library of Congress, he spent 25 years as an orchestral conductor, receiving numerous awards for adventurous contemporary programming.

The fact that the McGlaughlin’s residency as part of the annual Hansen Series coincided with the visit from the symphony was a happy coincidence, said Dietz. “It’s made the learning experience even more profound.”

Now McGlaughlin was listening to portions of works by graduate students Evan Williams, Corey Keating, Mark Witmer and Zachary Seely, offering comments and advice from the most practical (from “Have them warm up the tamtam (gong) so when it comes in it’s not so harsh,” to adding additional notation to make “conductors’ lives easier” and not writing notes that are too difficult for the musicians to reach) to the most aesthetic (“I love the way that dissolves,” and “That’s a great line, reminiscent of Sibelius,” “That’s a slinky chromatic” and “Don’t feel you have to rush it; give people time to get to where you are and let them luxuriate in that.”)

Interspersed with his critiques and questions, McGlaughlin shared a lifetime’s worth of musical memories, from driving in a car with the pioneering composer John Cage through the mountains of California to his difficulty in getting composer William Bolcom to say anything about his work even when they were to appear on a program. Thus he was understanding when trying to draw out Seely about his composition “Work for Orchestra 1.b.”

A first-year graduate student from New York, Seely said that while his composition sounded quite close to how he had heard it in his head, listening to it performed by the symphony was “pretty surreal.

Having that experience plus the input from McGlaughlin was an “extraordinary opportunity and something students at our level don’t often get,” said Keating, a second-year graduate student from California.

In contrast to Seely and Keatings’ compositions, which called for textural variations and unusual percussion effects and rhythms, Williams’s “Prelude in Tempore Belli (Music in a Time of War)” took a more traditional approach and contained several musical “quotes” from American military ballads.

“Overall, (McGlaughlin’s input) was really helpful. I see now there are several parts that I have to go back and work more on,” he said.

Also in the room was the couple who made McGlaughlin’s visit to BGSU possible. DuWayne and Dorothy Hansen, who funded the annual series dedicated to bringing top-level musicians to the college and the community. This year’s series also brought well-known jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson to campus for intensive work with the University’s jazz lab bands and vocal groups. Both McGlaughlin and Allison also gave public performances during their campus stay, he conducting the Wind Symphony and she singing with Jazz Lab Band 1.

The Toledo Symphony visit was thanks to the generosity of longtime supporter Karol Spencer, combined with funding from several areas of the University.

Wrapping up the reading session, Dietz asked McGlaughlin his opinion about the prospects for orchestras. “There’s a tremendous future for orchestras and I think the country is ready to come back. You’ve got the future in your hands. You’ll do really well,” the veteran musician predicted.

By offering opportunities like this, the College of Musical Arts is doing its part to make sure that happens.