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Airwaves alive: Sounds of new music from BGSU get airing on public radio PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT, Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Friday, 04 October 2013 08:41
File photo. Composer Jennifer Higdon speaks to students and faculty at BGSU. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
New music thrives at Bowling Green State University.
Local music lovers know that, as do the cognoscenti of contemporary music. Now a public radio show will share that news with the rest of the country and the world.
"New Music from Bowling Green" premieres Sunday at 1 p.m. on WGTE-FM. The local station collaborated with the university's College of Musical Arts to produce the session. The hour-long show is being distributed by the WFMT Radio Network.
The show actually aired on some stations Thursday. So far 60 stations have signed on, including one in Dubai. The rest are domestic including stations in St. Louis, Atlanta and Omaha.
The series has been almost two years in the making. It was first announced by Music Dean Jeffrey Showell in February, 2012. "I'm really glad we took those two years developing the program instead of rushing it," said Brad Cresswell,  music director for WGTE-FM. "We have something we can be really proud of." 
The goal of the program is to expand classical music listeners' horizons beyond "vanilla classical programming."
That's a delicate job, Cresswell said.
A veteran of both the studio and stage, he said "the No. 1 people don't like new music is they're unfamiliar with it and their brain can't predict where it's going."
The intent of "New Music from Bowling Green" is "to ease" listeners into these unfamiliar soundscapes.
"We create these little tent poles, these little stories," Cresswell said.
Those stories are told by the composers themselves, he said. Their words will be underscored by sounds.
Cresswell said that about a quarter of the show will be devoted to commentary with the remainder devoted to music.
The programs will be highly produced. "The structure is to begin with a hook that immediately catches the ear," he said. Then the programming will veer away from that to explore other pieces, as many as a half-dozen a week, before returning to that theme in the second half hour.
Cresswell understands that for many listeners when they hear the phrase "new music... their ears glaze over."
They have visions of "crazy atonal music."
But the music featured on "New Music from Bowling Green" will be "music that's very tonal that just happens to be written by people who are still alive."
One of those people will figure in prominently. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and BGSU graduate Jennifer Higdon's music will be hear in the first episode, and three later episodes will be devoted exclusively to her work.
In a statement released by the program, Higdon stated: "I'm honored to be part of this radio program, not only because of my connection to BGSU, but because of the fantastic variety and quality of music offered. My hope is that the program will introduce listeners across the country to these vitally important  works of living composers, which represent the future of our classical music industry."
Showell concurred with her assessment. "Contemporary compositions are the future of classical music, and the radio series will go far in introducing them to listeners, both sophisticated and new, in a way that makes them both accessible and enjoyable."
The series will draw on a variety of sources for material, Cresswell said. Music will come from both commercial recordings, including those on Albany made by the Bowling Green Philharmonia, as well as archival recordings made at BGSU.
The interviews will come from those already in the archives of the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music as well as fresh interviews conducted by Cresswell.
Cresswell said the program benefits from the College of Music's "crackerjack recording team," which is directed by professional engineer Mark Bunce.
The series is a natural outgrowth of the center's annual New Music Festival and its Music on the Forefront Series. BGSU's commitment to the study and performance in contemporary music also led to the creation of a Doctorate in Contemporary Music several years ago.
Cresswell is pleased with the reaction to "New Music from Bowling Green" so far. "A new music series is a hard sell," he said. "We're encouraged. If we can keep those stations interested we'll be in good shape."
In January the program will be marketed to other English-speaking countries, and a second series of programs is in the works.
Last Updated on Monday, 07 October 2013 09:08

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