BG Philharmonia ends centennial year on a crescendo

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

It’s been a grand year for the BG Philharmonia as it marked its 100th anniversary with a series of special events.

The orchestra will cap its yearlong celebration May 5 in Kobacker Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center with a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, performed as the composer originally intended, with chorus. About 140 singers from Bowling Green State University’s A Cappella Choir, Collegiate Chorale and University Choral Society will participate, along with invited soloists. The University Choral Society combines BSGU and community members.

The College of Musical Arts will also extend its reach to the Detroit community to culminate its anniversary year, with a free, repeat performance at 7:30 p.m. May 6 at Detroit Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave., where area music educators are invited to bring their students along with the general public.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony features the iconic “Ode to Joy,” with words by Friedrich Schiller, during the choral final movement. Among the soloists are College of Musical Arts alumni Tina Bunce, mezzo-soprano; and Dennis Jesse, bass, now a faculty member at Louisiana State University; plus voice faculty members Sujin Lee, soprano, an adjunct assistant professor; and Christopher Scholl, tenor, an associate professor.

Dr. Mark Munson, director of choral activities, has been rehearsing the choirs, along with Dr. Richard Schnipke. “Everyone is familiar with the ‘Ode to Joy,’ but this is a great opportunity to hear the entire fourth movement straight up,” Munson said.

Dr. Emily Freeman Brown, director of orchestral activities, will conduct the BG Philharmonia. This Beethoven symphony is special in a number of ways, Brown said. It is one of the most widely popular and recognized works ever written, reputedly performed somewhere in the world every day.

“It’s also the first symphony we have where the composer included a chorus,” she said. “Beethoven wrote it at a time when Europe was in upheaval and he wanted to express something unifying. It’s often performed in times of celebration and also when there’s a need for reinforcement of the concept of our common humanity. It was performed at the fall of the Berlin Wall, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Its message has universal appeal.  

“It’s a natural piece to celebrate our great anniversary. It’s a challenging piece for our orchestra, and we’ve been working very hard to prepare it. It’s very inspiring for us to perform for our guests.”

The May 5 concert begins at 3 p.m. in Kobacker Hall. Advance tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for non-BGSU students and children. All tickets are $10 on the day of the performance. Admission is free for BGSU students with ID card at the door. Tickets are available online at, in person at the Wolfe Center Box Office from noon to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, or by calling 419-372-8171.
Following the May 5 performance, there will be a complimentary birthday celebration for the concert-goers and musicians, with cake and beverages.

The performance is the final event sponsored by PNC (Presenting Patron of the Arts for the 2019 spring premier arts events); the College of Musical Arts will announce the 2019-2020 premier arts events.

BG Philharmonia alumni are invited to begin the day with brunch and a tour of campus before the performance. Brunch is from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Mileti Alumni Center. The cost is $20, which includes brunch, the tour and a ticket to the performance.

Register online

Detroit concert

In Detroit, BGSU music students and faculty will interact with Saline High School and West Bloomfield High School orchestra students at Orchestra Hall, giving clinics, master classes and performances throughout the day May 6.

Before the 7:30 p.m. performance, an alumni reception will be held for Detroit-area BGSU alumni from 5:30-7:15 p.m. in Orchestra Hall’s Donor Lounge. There is no charge to attend, but guests are asked to RSVP online.

Updated: 04/26/2019 03:34PM