History, Ethno & New Music

Sidra Lawrence, director

The BGSU Afro-Caribbean Ensemble performs traditional songs, percussion music and dance from sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. During the academic year, performances are given on campus and in neighboring communities. Enrollment is open to all students.

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. 

Here’s a link to a video of our performance at the Berkeley Early Music Festival, filmed by Early Music America:


Allison Eckardt Merrill, 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 World Percussion Night.  Music is learned aurally, so music reading ability is not necessary, but you should be ready for lots of physical movements.

Kurt Doles

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 is directed by Kurt Doles and presents biannual concerts, performs at community events, and occasionally goes on tour. Enrollment is open to all students.

Andrew Pelletier, director

The New Music Ensemble presents the works of our time in several concerts each year. Besides the traditional repertoire, the ensemble also focuses on improvisation and collaboration with artists from other disciplines.

Robert Desmond

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.