Small Ensembles

Afro-Caribbean Ensemble (Sidra Lawrence, director)

The Afro-Caribbean Ensemble plays repertoire from both the continent of Africa and the diaspora, across a range of traditional and popular genres. We have performed several Guy Warren Afro-jazz tunes, Fela Kuti Afro-beat songs, a Cuban mozambiqué, New Orleans second line charts, a Manu Dibango Afro-funk song from Cameroon, South African choral music and mbaqanga, South African jazz by Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masakela, and Abdullah Ibrahim, Dominican merengue, Cuban batá and comparsa, Ghanaian highlife, R&B, and spoken-word poetry from Black American traditions, to name just a few. Enrollment is open to all students.

Balkan Choir (Megan Rancier, director)

The Balkan Choir ensemble explores the bright timbres, dense harmonies, and additive meters that distinguish the vocal performance traditions of southeastern Europe. Traditionally, these songs were used for community celebrations such as weddings, harvest festivals, and national holidays, but since the mid-20th century they have become popular with listeners and singing groups all over the world. Repertoire may include songs from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia, and other countries of the region, and they may be performed either a cappella or with instrumental accompaniment. Enrollment is open to all students.

Early Music Ensembles (Arne Spohr, director)

For more than 40 years, the BGSU Early Music Ensemble has been a vital part of the diverse performance culture in the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University. The ensemble usually consists of 15–20 students, with a group of string players, a recorder consort, a vocal group, chamber ensembles in varying formations, and a harpsichordist. We perform once or twice per semester in venues on and off the BGSU campus. The ensemble has worked with internationally acclaimed early music specialists such as Bob Wiemken, David Douglass and the Ensemble REBEL. Its director, Arne Spohr, holds a PhD in music history from the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Köln (Germany), where he also studied recorder with Wolfgang Dey.

The group performs repertory from the Middle Ages to the late eighteenth century. Concert programming has centered on topics that tell “music histories,” not necessarily found in textbooks or music history lectures. These include programs such as The Travels of John Dowland: A Musical Journey through Europe c. 1600, Improvisation and Variation in Renaissance and Baroque Music, and Images of Orpheus. In 2016, the ensemble was chosen to perform at the Young Performers Festival of the Berkeley Early Music Festival, with the program Fringe Music: Music from the Peripheries of Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Europe, a musical journey of discovery through Portugal, Denmark and the Czech Lands. In 2017, the group was expanded into a Baroque orchestra to perform J.S. Bach’s St John Passion in collaboration with the BGSU University Choral Society and faculty soloists.

Performance video from the Berkeley Early Music Festival, filmed by Early Music America

BGSU Early Music Ensemble

Hayabusa Taiko Ensemble (Angela Ahlgren, director)

Taiko is a form of Japanese Ensemble drumming that has become popular across Japan, then United States, and around the world. Students will perform in the ensemble, learning multiple pieces and performing in venues across town, including at the College of Musical Arts, the Arts Village, and at the Black Swamp Arts Festival in downtown Bowling Green.  Music is learned aurally, so music reading ability is not necessary, but you should be ready for lots of physical movement. Enrollment is open to all students.

Kusuma Sari Gamelan (Kurt Doles, director)

Kusuma Sari (Inner Flower) is the gamelan gong kebyar orchestra from Bali, Indonesia, housed at the College. Consisting largely of gongs and metallophones, the gamelan performs the dynamic traditional music of Bali as well as modern compositions by American and Balinese composers. Kusuma Sari presents biannual concerts, performs at community events, and occasionally goes on tour. Enrollment is open to all students.

Kusuma Sari Balinese Gamelan,SoundSculptureExhibition,2014

Middle Eastern Music Ensemble (Christopher Witulski, director)

Arabic music features any and all instruments and voices—especially strings, woodwinds, and percussion—and puts an emphasis on complex melodies and rhythms with plenty of opportunity for improvisation and individual creativity. The Middle Eastern Music Ensemble will perform music from across the region, including North Africa, the Mediterranean, the gulf, and diasporic communities around the world. We regularly feature repertoire from diverse art music traditions and popular music sounds. The ensemble is open to all students and community members.

Steel Drum Ensemble (Robert Desmond, director)

Composed of undergraduate and graduate students, the new Steel Drum Ensembles (founded in 2007) perform music ranging from traditional Caribbean tunes to modern jazz arrangements. Students learn instruments ranging from bass pan up to lead tenor as well as “engine room” percussion—drum set, timbales, congas, shakers, etc. Steel Drum Ensembles are open to all students.