Category Archives: keyboard-alumni

BGSU piano students excell at Detroit Symphony Beethoven sonata marathon

32 pianists, chosen from the region’s schools (Univ of Michigan, BGSU, Michigan State, Central Michigan University, Wayne State Univ, Interlochen, etc.), performed all the Beethoven piano sonatas at the DSO’s Max Fisher Music Center.   Six of the 32 participants were selected to have their performances broadcast on WRCJ.  Two of those six chosen were  BGSU pianists Xueli Liu, who performed the Sonata in E-flat, Op. 31, No. 3, “The Hunt,” and Jianhong Hu, who played the Sonata in F-minor, Op. 57, the “Appassionata.”

Semi-finalists selected in BGSU’s Dubois Piano Competition

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Semi-finalists have been selected in the third annual David D. Dubois Piano Competition at the Bowling Green State University College of Musical Arts. Contest winners will receive $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place. Finalists will also be invited to apply to appear on the National Public Radio show “From the Top” with Christopher O’Riley, which will be broadcast live from BGSU on Sept. 28.

Competing in the next round, to be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 9 in BGSU’s Kobacker Hall, will be:

Vivian Anderson, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Mark Bixel, Bluffton, Ohio; Ariela Bohrod, Interlochen Arts Academy, Mich. (Madison, Wis.); Sasha Bult-Ito, Interlochen Arts Academy (Fairbanks, Alaska);
Menghan Cao, Interlochen Arts Academy (China); Hannah Che, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Jiakung Feng, Hudson, Ohio; April Gao, Sylvania, Ohio; Stephanie Heist, Oberlin, Ohio; Ruyi Jiao, Charlotte, N.C.; Arata Kaku, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Zachary Kleman, Canterbury, N.J.; Geoffrey Kocks, Grand Blanc, Mich.; Sang O Lee, Interlochen Arts Academy (Bangkok, Thailand); Evelyn Mo, Oak Hill, Va.; Charles Oestreich, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Patrick Pan, Houston, Texas; Jiayin Lisa Peng, Shaker Heights, Ohio; Lorenzo Aldrett Ranal, Interlochen Arts Academy (Mexico); Trenton Takaki, Wilmette, Ill.; Kevin Takeda, Interlochen Arts Academy (Indian Wells, Calif.); Athena Tsianos, Glendora, Calif.; Joseph Vaz, Cincinnati, Ohio; Fung Ting Yan, Interlochen Arts Academy (Hong Kong), and Xinyi Michelle Zhao, Interlochen Arts Academy.

Pianists selected from that round will compete in the final round from 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 10. Judges for the competition include piano professors from BGSU along with Dubois Piano Festival and BGSU Festival Series guest artists Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe. The two pianists, who perform as a team, will also be giving a master class for students at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 8 in Kobacker Hall. The master class is free and open to the public.

The piano competition is also part of the Dubois Piano Festival and includes a performance by the piano duo at 8 p.m. Feb. 9 in Kobacker Hall. To purchase tickets online for this performance, visit or call 419-372-8171.

Professor Rosenkranz in Thailand

Assistant Professor of Piano, Thomas Rosenkranz was recently a guest professor at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand. He gave a series of masterclasses on chamber music and solo piano. In addition, He performed a new years celebration concert entitled “Thomas Rosenkranz and Friends” with local Thai classical musicians at the Siam Ratchada Music Auditorium in downtown Bangkok.

Duo pianists Anderson and Roe perform on BGSU Festival Series

BOWLING GREEN, O.–The duo piano team of Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe will present the next performance in Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts Festival Series at 8 p.m. Feb. 9 in Kobacker Hall of Moore Musical Arts Center.
Known for their adrenalized performances, inventive programming, original compositions and refined artistry, Anderson and Roe have been described as “Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers transposed from the dance floor to the keyboard” (Southampton Press). They bring a fresh and visionary approach to the concert stage, impressing audiences around the world as a four-hand and two-piano team.
The BGSU program will feature Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos in D major” and “Part 1: The Adoration of the Earth” from the Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Special arrangements by Anderson and Roe of Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14,” Piazzolla’s “Libertango,” Radiohead and even Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” fill out the concert.
The two Steinway Artists reached popularity through their interactive website,, which has generated great enthusiasm among fans and Internet bloggers. The duo responds regularly to user questions and comments, and their wildly creative, self-produced music videos have been viewed millions of times on YouTube alone.
Their debut album, “Reimagine,” was released in 2008, and their second album, “When Words Fade” was released in 2012 to high acclaim, rising quickly to the top of Billboard’s chart. In the 2012-13 season the duo makes its first Asian tour, performing in China, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore as well as with several American symphony orchestras.
Anderson and Roe’s Bowling Green visit will also include a master class for BGSU piano students, and the duo will be judges for the final round of the David D. Dubois Piano Competition for high school students. The final round of the competition is free and open to the public and will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 10 in Kobacker Hall.

To purchase tickets online for the performance, visit Tickets can also be purchased by calling 419-372-8171.

# # #

BGSU alumnus performs with Johnny Mathis on The Tonight Show Dec. 20

For 1975 BGSU alumnus Scott Lavender, his career has been a series of connections that has led to his musical success.

One of his most enduring connections was made in 1990, when Johnny Mathis’s librarian/copyist, whom he had met during a gig in the late 1970s in Wichita, Kansas, suggested Lavender audition to play with the popular music singer. He was hired, started in January 1991 and has worked with him ever since.

“It’s the best job of its kind,” Lavender said. “He (Mathis) carries four of us with him for his shows; we play all over the country, always with an orchestra.

“No one carries people around with them any more, not even Tony Bennett.” Lavender added.

And this week on Thursday night, Mathis is bringing his team along when he performs holiday tunes on The Tonight Show. It’s not the first time Lavender has been on The Tonight Show with Mathis, but he always enjoys the opportunity.

In addition to working with Mathis, Lavender has made a name for himself as a conductor in the world of symphony pops concerts. He has conducted nationally and internationally and offers pops programs to orchestras and audiences across North America.

Lavender grew up in Findlay, Ohio, in a house where music was the norm. His parents appreciated music ranging from classical to country. “If it was good music, they played it,” Lavender recalled. At the age of 7, he started playing piano, but like many children he was bored with practicing, so he gave up the piano when he was 11.

That didn’t end his musical career; instead, he joined a rock and roll band in junior high, and then discovered jazz in college at BGSU. His musical prowess caught the attention of then-musical arts faculty member David Melle, who recruited him as a sophomore to play trombone in the jazz lab band. For the next three years, while earning a bachelor’s degree in piano performance, he was in the jazz lab band performing everything from jazz to pop music.

Following graduation, he followed up on a jazz band connection that landed him at the University of North Texas in their prestigious jazz studies master’s program. He found the studies a bit confining, so instead opted to go on the road with Jesse Lopez, a buddy he met in Dallas and brother to Trini Lopez. “Three hundred dollars a week seemed like a good thing at the time,” Lavender said with a laugh.

While touring with Lopez, a job in Wichita also made a forever connection for him- it’s where he met Carolyn, his wife-to-be, in 1976. Two years later, they married and moved to L.A. in search of work with $500 in their pockets. Shortly after the move, he was contacted by another Texas connection – Marlene Ricci – who asked if he wanted to go to Las Vegas and perform, opening for Sinatra at the Palace. After one week there, he and his wife moved to Vegas, where they stayed for three years. “I worked there doing all kinds of production shows, small groups and gaining an understanding of the profession.

A Las Vegas connection then hooked him up with folk singer Glenn Yarbrough (and the Limelighters), which afforded him the opportunity to move back to L.A., where his wife could study communicative disorders, and he eventually earned a master’s in instrumental conducting.

The only time he did not have a connection for that next gig was in 1984. “I had put my name into a musician’s contact service, where anyone can pay a fee to look for available musicians.” Lavender said.

“One night I had been playing in a smoky bar and came home to a message on my machine of a guy looking for a keyboard player,” he recalled. It turned out to be Daryl Dragon of the musical duo Captain and Tennille.

He has kept in touch with people who are particularly talented, he admits, which has helped pave the way for his successful career. ‘The biggest success is lasting this long and being able to make a living in this business,” he said.

“I’ve been able to do what I love, support and family and do OK. And I’m still at it,” he said. If anyone had told 35 years ago that he would realize this kind of success, he would have been surprised.

“If I had jumped from the starting point to this, it would have been surprising, but as you go along, over the years, it’s a different perspective,” he said. “I liken it to looking at a painting up close: you only see the dots when you are up close, but when you step back and get perspective, you see the whole picture.”

Recently, they decided to get out of the big city. He and his family moved to his hometown to start a new phase of life. “I hoped at some point to have the opportunity to teach,” he said. And by chance, he was watching a BGSU basketball game when Jeffrey Showell, dean of the College of Musical Arts, introduced himself and asked if Lavender would be interested in teaching at BGSU. “It’s another case of perfect timing,” he said.

For the first time this fall, he taught a conducting course on campus, and plans to continue in the spring, as well. “The students here are so focused and take their studies so seriously,” he said. “Most of them have no idea who Johnny Mathis is, but when I told them I would be on the Tonight Show, that’s what they wanted to talk about.”