BOWLING GREEN - As a practitioner and proponent of contemporary music, Burton Beerman was outstanding in his field when he came to Bowling Green State University in 1970. But that field was largely barren in the Black Swamp.
So when the Atlanta native with master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan proposed a festival celebrating new compositions and innovative performance practices, it took time for the seeds of the idea to sprout in Wood County soil.
But sprout they did.
Beerman helped found the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at BGSU and directed the center - the sponsor of the festival - from 1999-2007.
Next week, the 31st annual New Music Festival will begin with the first of a series of concerts bringing hot new talent and bold new sounds to the Moore Musical Arts Center.
And foremost in the opening program will be the premiere of a work by Beerman, now a distinguished artist professor on the BGSU faculty and still outstanding in the burgeoning field he helped sow for the region.
Beerman's work, "Gifts (for you)," for violin, piano, dancers, and digital video, was first presented in 2009 in New York City.
Here, the composer will re-create that performance with many of the same artists: Duo Diorama with pianist Winston Choi and violinist Ming-huang Xu; choreographer Jennifer Kayle and her company plus another group from the University of Iowa, the Architects; video artist Misael Amos Reyes, and lighting designer Keith Hofacker.
It should be a highlight of the opening concert, set for 8 p.m. Oct. 21 in Kobacker Hall. And for those inspired to hear more new music, a late-night show will begin at 10 p.m. with music by BGSU alumna Jennifer Higdon, who just won a Pulitzer Prize for her music, plus Louis Andreiesses, and others. The second event will be the Clazel Theatre, 127 Main St.
Honored guest composer this year will be Robert Morris, a Beerman contemporary from England and a University of Michigan alumnus known for compositions and scholarly study of new music. Morris will be in residence and his music will be performed at several of the concerts, all free to the public.
Oct. 22 will open with a performance by violinist Yehonatan Berick from UM at 10:30 a.m. in Bryan Hall. At 2:30 p.m., MIDI artist Daniel Koppelman will perform music by Morris, Andrew Martin Smith, and Pierre Boulez in Kobacker Hall At 4 p.m. that day, Dora Hanninen and Andrew Mead will present a lecture-recital on Morris and his music, in Bryan Hall.
The day will conclude with the debut of the hot new string ensemble, the Jack Quartet, in an 8 p.m. performance in Kobacker. The Jack specializes in performance of contemporary music.
The schedule for Oct. 23, the final day of the festival, will begin at 10:30 a.m. with guest artist Renee Clair, a mezzo soprano, performing with BGSU students and faculty, music by Morris, Mead, Adler, and others in Bryan Hall. Duo Diorama will offer a reprise performance at 2:30 p.m. in Bryan, with music by Felipe Lara, Amy Williams, Bright Sheng, and others.
The 31st festival will conclude with the BGSU Philharmonia and Wind Symphony performing works by Morris, David Liptak, and Marilyn Shrude. Tickets for that performance start at $7 and can be purchased in advance from the box office at 419-372-8171 or at the door.