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CMA mourns the loss of Gunther Schuller

The College of Musical Arts mourns the death of Gunther Schuller, composer, conductor, performer, author and teacher. He died on Sunday, June 21, 2015 at the age of 89. He was a frequent guest on the BGSU campus having received an Honorary Doctorate and serving as the special guest of the annual New Music Festival.

BGSU Trumpets Find Success at ITG 2015

Marcus Flores and Thomas Darlington, students of Charles Saenz, both attended and competed at this years International Trumpet Guild. ITG celebrated their 40th anniversary  in Columbus, OH which drew amateur and professional trumpet players from around the world to watch lectures, listen to concerts, and compete.

Marcus Flores competed in the International Trumpet Guild Solo Competition and took home the top prize with Bloch Proclamation and Böhme Concerto in F Minor. the judges were Rex Richardson, Judith Saxton, and Jens Lindemann.

Thomas Darlington competed in the Trumpet Orchestral Excerpt Competition and took third place.


Interdisciplinary collaboration with the BG Philharmonia: New look for ‘Pictures’


The Sentinel Tribune writes,

“The classical music staple “Pictures at an Exhibition” is getting a new look when it is paired with moving pictures created by university film students.

When the Bowling Green Philharmonia, directed by Emily Freeman Brown, performs Sunday at 3 p.m. films created by the Visual Imagery in Music class taught by Lucas Ostrowski will be projected above the orchestra.

The concert, which will also feature Richard Strauss’ “Four Last Songs” with solo soprano Sujin lee, and Claude Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun,” will be presented in Kobacker Hall on the Bowling Green State University campus.

The project came after Jeffrey Showell, the dean of the College of Musical Arts, suggested a collaboration between student musicians and student filmmakers.

For his part Ostrowski had been wanting to offer a class looking at the intersection of music and film. His interest while a student at Ohio University was the music in horror films and rockumentaries.

“This gave me a reason to do this class,” he said.

So he taught Visual Imagery in Music. The 17 students in the class listened to the music, and researched some about composer Modest Mussorsky.

Mostly though they reacted to the music. Usually when they work with music, Ostrowski said, it is contemporary. “Pictures at an Exhibition” offered the challenge of dealing with a late 19th century piece.

It’s just one of the ways in which the project “takes students out of their comfort zone,” Ostrowski said.

The project also requires them to work backward, creating images for music, rather than fitting the music to film.

The films are being “created for a client” and work with parameters provided to them.

“Having their films played alongside a live orchestra is probably an experience they’ll never have again,” Ostrowski said.

“Pictures at an Exhibition” was originally written for piano, and later orchestrated a number of times.

It depicts a stroll through an exhibition of works by Mussorsky’s friend Victor Hartmann. The movements, linked by several promenade sections, depict various Hartmann’s paintings.

But the students weren’t tied to the imagery of the titles. Instead they were given free rein to come up with their own cinematic interpretations.

Those varied from abstract images using lights, milk and plexiglass, or short narratives.

One involves a guardian angel-like figure. Another evokes the Frankenstein story.

Brown said: “They are very creative, sometimes personal, sometimes they are in a narrative form and sometimes abstract.”

Seeing all these ideas juxtaposed “is fun,” Ostrowski said.

He plans to record the performance, and have it played at Arts X next December.

He’s also hoping to repeat the experiment next year.”

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Brass students perform Leoš Janáček’s Sinfonietta with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra

BGSU Brass at TSO

Students from the Trumpet and Tuba/Euphonium studios performed the Sinfonietta by Leoš Janáček with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.  The performances took place on January 17 and 18, 2015.  Members include: Jon Britt, Molly Fink, Marcus Flores, Rachel Richards, Bryan Bates, Thomas Darlington, David Gieseler, Caitlin Ballinger, Chris Lortie, Joshua Amaro, and Mark Simmons.

Student Composers Confront “The Beast”


David Dupont of the Sentinel Tribune writes,

“Composition students at Bowling Green State University tangled with a beast last week.

At the Student Composer Reading Session, five composition students had the chance to hear their compositions played by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

Writing a piece for orchestra is no small task, said Chris Dietz, the composition professor who organized the event. He likened the orchestra to a “72-headed dragon.”

Composition students at Bowling Green State University tangled with a beast last week. At the Student Composer Reading Session, five composition students had the chance to hear their compositions played by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

Writing a piece for orchestra is no small task, said Chris Dietz, the composition professor who organized the event. He likened the orchestra to a “72-headed dragon.”

Students presenting works were: Chris Lortie, Lydia Dempsey, Alan Racadag, Brian Sears and Kyle Laporte. Their work was selected from about 20 applicants, Dietz said.

Guest composer Steven Stucky, who has worked closely with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, said the students were up to the task. “The whole thing came out very well.” He was especially impressed with the variety of the works presented. “None resembled each other.” Some had robust sections that evoked a movie soundtrack; some had passages of great tenderness.

Sears’ “Fractured Spirits” celebrated the human spirit as it confronts life’s traumas. Racadag’s “ONE” seemed to give voice to mathematical formulae. The pieces required the orchestra to articulate serpentine rhythms with the utmost precision.

A couple pieces had the musicians making up some sounds on the spot. The orchestra, conducted by Michael Lewanski, handled it all with aplomb, Stucky said.

Laporte tackled the notion the orchestra as beast head on in “Fire Breather.” He imagined, he said, the orchestra as “a humongous being” that comes to life in the course of the piece. The orchestra, despite the pieces experimental elements, brought the music to life, he said. “I was very pleased. It was quite experimental.”

To read more, click here.

Lillios to teach electracoustic performance in Greece as Fulbright scholar

BOWLING GREEN, O.—As Dr. Elainie Lillios goes about preparing for the end of the semester at Bowling Green State University, getting ready for a premiere of her work in South Carolina in June and for her commission to compose in Paris this fall, she is also spending some time each day learning Greek.

Lillios, an associate professor of composition specializing in electroacoustic music, has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach a seminar and conduct research at the Municipal Conservatory at Thermi in Thessaloniki, Greece, next fall.

“I’m a composer, but I’ll be exploring a new area of instruction,” she said. “I’ll be teaching performers how to perform with technology.”

A prolific composer, Lillios is well known in the electroacoustic world. In 2009 she won first prize in the “music with instruments” section at the 36th annual Bourges International Competition in France for her composition “Veiled Resonance,” written for soprano saxophone and live electronics. Last year she became only the second American composer in the history of the prestigious Groupe de Recherches Musicales musical research group in Paris to be awarded a commission. Lillios’s new work will be premiered in October as a featured piece on the group’s “Multiphonies” concert series. She will perform it at La maison de Radio France in the Salle Olivier Messiaen, on the organization’s famous “Acousmonium,” an orchestra of 80-plus loudspeakers arranged throughout the concert space.

In her invitation to Lillios to come to Thermi, Artistic Director Erato Alakiozidou said the conservatory was interested in “your expertise on integration of new technology in composition, performance and repertoire selection. Quite recently, our conservatory started a contemporary music and music technology department and there are already 20 students interested in attending such a seminar.”

“The conservatory students who attend the seminar play traditional instruments, but want to learn to integrate technology into performance,” said Lillios. “We’ll investigate performers who specialize in technology, and I’ll show them how to use microphones, how to prepare pieces employing technology, and how to work with sound systems. The seminar’s capstone event will be a concert where students will perform technology-mediated pieces they select and rehearse in collaboration with their studio instructor.”

Integrating technology calls for a specific type of composition, and one of Lillios’ goals is “to leave the conservatory with the beginnings of a technology-mediated score repository so that they have the resources to continue after I’m gone.

“Many contemporary composers create music combining live and acoustic instruments with technology,” she said. “It could be saxophone with fixed media (what we used to call tape), or flute with computer – which listens to the music and reacts to it.”

To gather the necessary materials, she will put out a call for scores, and all submissions will go to Greece for student and faculty use.

In many ways, the trip to Greece is a reconnection for Lillios, whose father was Greek and who still has family in the Thessaloniki area. She taught in a weeklong electroacoustic composition workshop in Corfu during a 2007 sabbatical.

The connection with the Thermi conservatory, though, is with a BGSU alumnus from Greece, Theofilios Sotiriades, who was a graduate student in Distinguished Artist Professor John Sampen’s saxophone program. Sotiriades now teaches at the conservatory.

“When he (Sotiriades) was at Bowling Green, he took the music technology class and loved it. He’s been championing me to come to Greece ever since,” Lillios said, adding that while there is a lot of electronic music in the country as a whole, “I’m bringing something new to the conservatory, and I hope to get the students and the faculty excited about it.”

In addition to teaching and composing, “I plan to travel and lecture in various parts of the country,” Lillios said. “With the Fulbright, I will be a diplomat to build bridges in my field between creative people in Greece and creative people here.”

She plans to renew her connections with the Corfu faculty and arrange to lecture there as well. “I want to recruit for our program and build connections. I want to collaborate with Theofilios (Sotiriades) and compose a piece for the resident faculty ensemble.

“I’m looking forward to working with students and faculty at the Municipal Conservatory, connecting with family and immersing myself in Greek culture,” she said.