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Published: Thursday, 9/10/2009

BGSU Festival Series kicks off Sunday

BY SALLY VALLONGO
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

BOWLING GREEN - The Sphinx is coming to Bowling Green State University Sunday.

No, this is not the famed Egyptian monument but the accomplished chamber orchestra touring the U.S. and making not only beautiful music but also a profound statement.

"It's our Rising Stars Concert," says Susan Knapp, new director of public events at BGSU who picked the ensemble to open the 2009-2010 Festival Series.

The stars are all members of the orchestra, black and Latino classical musicians selected through annual competitions held in Detroit each winter. Since 2004 the group has toured the country annually. This year's tour kicks off at BGSU and includes stops in Pittsburgh, Rochester, N.Y., Norfolk, and a return to Carnegie Hall in New York City.

On tap at 3 p.m. in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center is a lively program comprising music by Mozart and Vivaldi as well by Piazzolla and Perkinson. The Harlem String Quartet will perform as will soloist and concert mistress Elena Urioste. Conductor Damon Gupton, a Detroit native now at the Kansas City Symphony, will lead the program. (Gupton has appeared locally with the Toledo Symphony, too.)

"What a great message to send," says Knapp, "that we have these talented musicians of African-American and Hispanic descent."

Sphinx is the brainchild of Ann Arbor musician Aaron Dworkin, who has sought since 1998 to level the classical playing field.

Dworkin will be in the house on Sunday at

2:15 p.m. to talk about the Detroit-based Sphinx organization, and to introduce some of the musicians.

"It's an amazing organization," says Knapp, a clarinetist and administrator who has music degrees from the University of Colorado and Michigan State. She arrived at BGSU last January with the task of planning this season immediately at hand.

Besides the Sphinx opener, the beloved town-gown series will present NEXUS, the famed percussion ensemble, at 8 p.m. Oct. 8; a performance of Handel's Messiah with the University Choral Society and Toledo Symphony at 8 p.m. Dec. 2; Irish pianist Barry Douglas (the Lois M. Nitschke Memorial Concert) at 8 p.m. Jan. 26, and the male vocal group Chanticleer at 8 p.m. March 3.

All concerts are in Kobacker Hall. In addition to performing, the groups also show up to inspire students all over the area.

Tickets for the BGSU Festival Series are $60-$145 for all five events. Single event tickets are $15-$36. Information: bgsu.edu/festivalseries.

Contact Sally Vallongo at: svallongo@theblade.com



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