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BGSU to host sounds of the latest and greatest

Performances of the latest classical music often seem chaotic and full of unexpected instruments, sounds, and combinations. But at Bowling Green State University, the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music wants to provide a guide to understanding and appreciating what's out there.

"Method in Madness" is the title of the annual New Music Festival, set to kick off Wednesday and run through Oct. 15 at the Moore Musical Arts Center and other venues. On hand will be 25 of the hottest composers and ensembles, performers and pedagogues, and important premieres in this almost totally free public event. (Unless indicated otherwise, all events are free.)

Highlights will include the appearance of Mantra Percussion, a new and cutting-edge cluster of drummers bent on exploring new sounds, effects, and instruments at 8 p.m. Oct. 14 at Kobacker Hall. On the program is the U.S. premiere of "Timber," Michael Gordon's work for six percussionists utilizing both rudimentary materials and sophisticated electronics.

Avant-garde jazz artist Tony Malaby and his Tamarindo Trio will kick off the festival with a concert at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Clazel Theatre, 127 North Main St. The Clazel also is the venue for an after-hours concert at 9:30 p.m. Oct. 13 featuring faculty and students performers.

David Lang, a musical innovator who has produced work that won the Pulitzer Prize for music, will be special guest for the festival. Lang will discuss his work at 2 p.m. Oct. 13 at Bryan Hall and his music stars in the opening concert, "Laws of Nature," set for 7:30 p.m. that day at Kobacker.

On Oct. 14, three separate concert events will offer a survey of new and notable music. Two world premieres -- "T9P" for nine trumpets by Matthew Roddie and "Jonah," for nine bass clarinets and narrator, by Brad Balliet are on the program titled "One," at 10:30 a.m. at Bryan. A 2:30 p.m. event at Kobacker will feature "Fantasmi," a new work by BGSU's award-winning composer Marilyn Shrude. At 4 p.m. the program titled "Messages" will include world premieres of music by James Mobberly and Jeffrey Brooks in Bryan Hall.

Not to be missed will be educator/performer Christopher Azzara at a workshop at 4 p.m. Oct. 13 titled "Inspiration and Meaning Through Improvisation," at Bryan Hall.

Music by Toledo School for the Arts composers created during a year-long collaboration with the BGSU MACCM is to be performed by Mantra Percussion at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 15 at Bryan Hall. And -- shades of the old kitchen band -- a program titled "Playthings" using spoons, ukuleles, toy flutes, and marimbas will begin at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at Bryan. Grand finale will be the world premiere of "Douze Mains," composer Mayke Nais' piano work for 12 hands.

Closing the festival will be the only ticketed event: a concert featuring the BGSU Philharmonia, Wind Symphony, and Collegiate Chorale at 8 p.m. Oct. 15 at Kobacker. Another world premiere, this one of David Lang's piece, "Lying, Cheating, Stealing," will highlight the program. Tickets are $7-$10 in advance at 419-372-8171; add $3 to purchase at the door.

The Toledo Opera's first production of the 2011-2012 season, La Traviata, by Giuseppi Verdi, is to begin at 8 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Valentine Theatre, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Oct. 16. James Meena, who was conductor for the TOA until 2000, will return to conduct the Toledo Symphony, and popular singer Fenlon Lamb is handling stage direction.

Appearing for the first time locally will be soprano Sarah Jane McMahon in the title role. Tenor Shawn Mathey also will make his local debut as Alfredo Germont. (Mathey grew up in Bowling Green, son of choral leader David Mathey.) Returning to the opera company will be baritone Scott Bearden and Sean Cooper.

Tickets are $25-$75 at or 419-255-7564, extension 1. A pre-performance chat will begin one hour before opening curtain in the Grand Lobby of the Valentine.

The Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestras will launch their new season with a 4 p.m. concert Oct. 16 at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. Artistic director Kenneth Thompson will conduct the Philharmonic and Concert ensembles in works by Smetana, Brahms, and Borodin.

Wasim Hawary will lead the Symphonic orchestra in works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Dvorak, and Gershwin. The concert is free.

Baroque music performed by faculty from BGSU is on the program for a Great Music in the Great Gallery concert at 3 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Toledo Museum of Art. This program is free.

The Toledo Piano Teachers Association will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Andrews United Methodist Church, 3620 Heatherdowns Blvd., for the beginning of a season-long series on piano pedagogy. Pianist and instructor Karen Tank will offer a program titled "Teaching the Standard Piano Repertoire."

Attendance is free to the anyone interested in music education and home-schooled junior and senior high school students.

Happy 50th Birthday to the Perrysburg Symphony Orchestra! Started in 1961 by local music lovers and dedicated instrumentalists, the community ensemble has flourished, enriching the area through live performances and inspiring great music appreciation for nearly two decades.

Items for News of Music should be sent to at least two weeks in advance of the event.

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