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Innovation connects eyes, ears, and heart

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<i>The Collector</i>, a mixed media work will be on display.

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With a quarter-century of successful innovation under their belts, organizers of Bowling Green State University's 25th annual New Music & Art Festival will celebrate the present while drawing from the past when programs for the three-day event begin tomorrow. Highlights include new works by 25 composers, three exhibitions featuring 10 visual artists, a program of digital animation, and various lectures.

This year's featured composer is 1991 Pulitzer Prize winner Shulamit Ran. All of this week's composers either have appeared in past festivals or are BGSU alumni.

The visual arts side of the festival, INterVENTIONS, offers a variety of takes on how artists use established media to address contemporary issues.

Brooklyn-based artist Ellen Harvey, for example, requisitions cityscapes as the "canvas" for her natural landscapes. Her "New York Beautification Project" consists of oil paintings that she created on abandoned buildings and other urban structures. Digital images of the work will be shown this week.

Organizers admit that, beyond an interest in innovation, there is little to connect the music and art sides of the festival. Yet, the media increasingly cross into each other's cultural spheres. Digital videos by composers and artists will be featured in a 10:30 p.m. screening tomorrow in Bowling Green's Cla-Zel Theater. The disciplines mingle again in a panel discussion titled "High/Pop/HipHop" at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the Toledo Museum of Art's Great Gallery.

The festival began on a shoestring budget in 1980 when Vladimir Ussachevsky, considered one of the fathers of electronic music, was the featured composer.

"We couldn't even cover his expenses, but he came anyway, as a friend," said BGSU composer and festival co-founder Burton Beerman.

With success came sustained funding, which organizers have put to good use. The list of subsequent guest composers reads like a "who's who" of contemporary music, including John Cage, Philip Glass, and Milton Babbitt, among others.

"This is maybe the top academic music festival in the world," said Beerman. Composers hopeful to get a work on the program submit more than 1,000 scores annually.

The first visual art exhibit opens at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow with paintings and prints by BGSU art professor Mille Guldbeck. Then, Shulamit Ran gives a talk at 7:15 preceding a concert at 8 by clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein. Friday brings concerts at 10:30 a.m., 2:30, and 8 p.m., as well as a 12:30 p.m. forum featuring Ran, the music ensemble Pinotage, and Barbara Zuck, senior arts critic for the Columbus Dispatch. All of these events, as well as an 8 p.m. Saturday orchestra concert, are in the Moore Musical Arts Center. Chamber music will be featured at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Great Gallery of the Toledo Museum of Art.

Events in the Fine Arts Building include a 6 p.m. Friday talk by Harvey (room 204) followed by the opening of an exhibit featuring the works of Ken Aptekar, ChanSchatz (an artistic team of Eric Chan and Heather Schatz), Mark Dion, and Harvey in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery.

BGSU photographer Brad Phalin speaks at 6 p.m. Saturday followed by an exhibit opening featuring the works of Ellen Grevey, Robert Moore, Migiwa Orimo, and Phalin.

Bowling Green State University presents its 25th annual New Music & Art Festival tomorrow through Saturday. Tickets for tomorrow evening's program with clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein range from $16 to $32. Information: 419-372-8171. Tickets for the 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday concerts are $8, $5 for students, and will be available at the door. All other events are free, though some require advance tickets. Information: MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, 419-372-2685; Fine Arts Center Galleries, 419-372-8525; festival.bgsu.edu.

Contact Steven Cornelius at:

scornelius@theblade.com

or 419-724-6152.

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