Earlier this month, from October 16-19, I had the opportunity to head back to Bowling Green, Ohio, to attend BGSU’s 40th Annual New Music Festival. I had attended twice already while I was a student, but this time I had the honor of attending as a guest composer.
Last December, my piece EL CHUPACABRA won the composition division of Bowling Green State University’s Concerto Competition, which meant that it would be performed at the 40th Annual New Music Festival, by the BGSU Wind Symphony!
If you know what the New Music Festival is like, you know. But if you aren’t familiar— it’s a marathon three-day festival, featuring all kinds of new music, wonderful people from all over, and inspiring conversations about music and our art. In fact, it’s almost two weeks later and I’m still riding an inspirational-high from all that happened.
This whole thing is hosted by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music and directed by the incredible Kurt Doles. It’s a massive event that has brought in many important composers in its forty years. From the festival website:
This annual event celebrates the contemporary arts through concerts, panels, art exhibitions, seminars, master classes and papers. Begun in 1980, the festival has hosted John Adams, John Luther Adams, Samuel Adler, Milton Babbitt, William Bolcom, Anthony Braxton, John Cage, Chen Yi, John Corigliano, George Crumb, Mario Davidovsky, Anthony Davis, Dai Fujikura, Philip Glass, John Harbison, Lou Harrison, Jennifer Higdon, Karel Husa, Aaron Jay Kernis, Joan La Barbara, David Lang, Paul Lansky, George Lewis, Steven Mackey, Robert Morris, Pauline Oliveros, Shulamit Ran, Bernard Rands, Terry Riley, Christopher Rouse, Frederic Rzewski, Gunther Schuller, Joseph Schwantner, Bright Sheng, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Steven Stucky, Morton Subotnick, Joan Tower, Vladimir Ussachevsky and more than 400 other guest composers and musicians.
The featured guest this year was composer, conductor, and clarinetist Evan Ziporyn—his music is great, I’d definitely recommend some of his bass clarinet works, like “Tsmindao Ghmerto.” Being at the festival this time was especially-magical because I wasn’t there as a student. To be able to attend all of the concerts, and go out afterwards, but not then still have homework to do?? I’m grateful. 🙂
All of that, plus! My music was a part of it! The BGSU Wind Symphony, conducted by Allison Davis, did an absolutely phenomenal job at the performance. It was clear that both Allison and the ensemble had put in some serious work. They performed my piece along with a piece by Nico Muhly, and then premiered a drum set concerto by Evan Ziporyn. It was a high-energy concert, that was a lot of fun to listen to.
I hope to be able to attend more of these festivals in the future!
Also, side note, if you’re a composer: the call for scores that is held each year for the festival should definitely be on your radar. It changes each year, but you can find information about the call for scores here. Be sure to check it out, and add it to your calendar, reminders, or whatever you use to keep track of these things!
Thank you for reading! Also, be sure to follow me on social media and subscribe to my mailing list to stay updated! In case you haven’t heard EL CHUPACABRA, here’s an older recording of the PLU Wind Ensemble. You can also find more info about the piece by clicking the button below! -EJG