New Music Festival offers immersive experiences in music, art


Hub New Music


Puppet by Sha Sha Higby

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis, contemporary classical ensemble Hub New Music and puppetry/dance artist Sha Sha Higby headline the 39th annual New Music Festival at Bowling Green State University Wednesday through Saturday (Oct. 17-20).

The international festival features the work of more than 30 guest and BGSU faculty composers and performers and includes eight concerts, plus composer talks, panel discussions and a performance and exhibition by artist-in-residence Higby.

Organized by BGSU’s MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music (MACCM), College of Musical Arts and Fine Arts Center galleries, the festival supports the creation of new work and engages the University and regional communities in the process of music appreciation and awareness.

Most festival events are free and open to the public. A complete schedule can be obtained online.

Higby leads off the festival Wednesday with a 7 p.m. performance in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts. She has entranced audiences with her mesmerizing puppetry/dance performances at major venues throughout the world since 1974.

The first full day of events begins Thursday with a 1 p.m. Composer Talk by Kernis in Bryan Recital Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center, followed by three concerts, two including his compositions.

One of America's most honored and prolific composers, Kernis’ music appears prominently on concert programs worldwide. He has been commissioned by America’s preeminent performing organizations and artists, including the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco, Toronto, and Melbourne (Australia) Symphonies, Los Angeles and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestras, Walt Disney Co., Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Joshua Bell, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Sharon Isbin.

Also a conductor whose works have been recorded on several labels, Kernis teaches composition at Yale School of Music and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Classical Music Hall of Fame. Leta Miller's book-length portrait of Kernis and his work was published in 2014 by University of Illinois Press as part of its American Composer series.

Hub New Music performs at 8 p.m. Friday in Kobacker Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. Hailed by Oregon ArtsWatch as “one of the most talked about younger contemporary classical ensembles,” with its unique instrumentation of flute, clarinet, violin, and cello, the ensemble has been praised for performances of adventurous repertoire that are “gobsmacking and perfectly played,” said Cleveland Classical. The Boston Globe encouraged audiences, "next time the group offers a concert, go, listen, and be changed."

The festival’s final performance, at 8 p.m. Saturday in Kobacker Hall, features the BG Philharmonia performing large ensemble works by Kernis, Kory Reeder, Martin Kennedy, John Corigliano and Erkki-Sven Tüür.

“The Works of Sha Sha Higby” exhibition showcasing her intricate textile costumes will run through Nov. 4 in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery at the Fine Arts Center. Higby studied art, made dolls and pursued the art of puppetry and sculpture in her early years. She has received many prestigious grants that have enabled her to study the arts of carving, mask-making, puppetry and dance throughout Southeast Asia. Gallery hours for the exhibition are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays.

Founded in 1980, the New Music Festival has hosted such notable composers as John Adams, Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Chen Yi, John Corigliano, George Crumb, Philip Glass, Jennifer Higdon, Lou Harrison, Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley, John Luther Adams, Bright Sheng, Steven Stucky, Joan Tower and more than 400 other guest composers and musicians.

Updated: 10/12/2018 03:51PM