Bagpipes make Andrew Bova smile. As a senior bagpipe major at Carnegie Mellon University, the Perrysburg native has found a way to use his talent and training to help other kids around the world smile, too.
On Jan. 7, Bova and Friends will present the third annual bagpipe benefit concert at 7 p.m. in First Presbyterian Church-Maumee, 200 Broadway, Maumee. The beneficiary will be Operation Smile, the international charity that provides free surgery for children born with cleft lips and palates.
The free program will start with traditional reels and marches performed by Bova in his traditional tartan kilt and regalia on a modern-day version of an instrument that's as old as the hills.
Think of it as a band in a bag -- a recorder with its own air bladder and additional harmonizing pipes capable of nonstop sound.
"There are references to bagpipes in the Bible," Bova said. "Bagpipe music reaches back to 1431 A.D. No matter where you go, there's a pipe band. We've been writing music for 500 years now and still coming up with original pieces."
The second half of the concert will show the more modern side of the instrument. Although, Bova notes, the pipe with holes on which he plays tunes -- sometimes called the chanter -- is capable of only nine notes, new developments have helped expand that range a bit.
With fellow student David Grabowski on electronic instruments, Bova will show off his electric bagpipe in some newer and original works. "It requires no blowing. It's totally digital with electronic sensors," he explains.
Bova was drawn to the instrument as a teenager while he was studying flute -- he was principal flute of the Toledo Youth Orchestra. During his Carnegie Mellon years he migrated from one wind instrument to another and plans to graduate with a degree in bagpipe this May, following which he hopes to remain in Pittsburgh to get a masters degree in the instrument. Carnegie Mellon is one of the few universities to offer such a program.
"I know that with the degrees, job opportunities are slim," Bova said, noting that he has a minor in conducting. "My plan is to get a PhD in ethnomusicology and my endgame is to teach at a university."
Without surgery as an infant, Bova would not have been able to eat or speak well, let alone play a wind instrument. "Through this concert, I aim to pay it forward, to enable other kids to have opportunities to do whatever they want in life."
Operation Smile, since its 1982 founding, has provided free surgery for some 150,000 children around the world. Bova says he has raised nearly $2,500 with each of the two previous concerts. "This year I hope to beat that total," he said.
A freewill offering will be taken with 100 percent of proceeds going to Operation Smile.
• The Toledo Symphony will present its Carnegie Hall Kick-Off, with a varied program of music by Toledo native Stanley Cowell, American composers George Gershwin and Aaron Copland, and European composers inspired by New York City. Resident conductor Jeffrey Pollock will conduct the downbeat at 8 p.m. Jan. 7 in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. Cowell will perform his new Asian Art Suite with the TSO and Toledo Mayor Michael Bell will narrate Copland's A Lincoln Portrait.
Tickets start at $35 at 419-246-8000 or www.toledosymphony.com.
• The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD season continues with the opening of Puccini's La Fanciulla del West (Girl of the Golden West) at 1 p.m. Jan. 8 in Rave Motion Pictures Fallen Timbers 14 Theaters. The 3 1/2-hour production stars soprano Deborah Voigt, tenor Marcello Giordani, and Lucio Gallo, with Nicola Luisotti conducting.
An encore showing of Verdi's Don Carlo is set for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 5 in the same hall. Tickets start at $20.
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