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Music: Pianist to perform, lead master class at BGSU


Pianist Jeremy Denk comes to Bowling Green State University on Feb. 14-16.


Pianist Jeremy Denk is a newly minted MacArthur Fellow. He is writing an opera about classical music. He blogs and writes for the New Yorker and other mags and now has a book contract with Random House.

He is Musical America's 2014 Instrumentalist of the Year.

Denk, 43, has degrees from Oberlin College, Indiana University, and the Juilliard School. He's on the music faculty of Bard College, and music director of the Ojai (California) Music Festival. He performs regularly at important music festivals, including Spoleto, where he met violinist Joshua Bell. They perform together frequently and released an album, “French Impressions,” for Sony.

Denk calls J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations — a watershed challenge for even the best pianists — “the biggest jazz riff ever written.”

So when Denk is at Bowling Green State University Feb. 14-16, anyone desiring to hear the hippest, hottest classical pianist going will want to be at the Moore Musical Arts Center for his Festival Series recital, at 8 p.m. Feb. 15 in Kobacker Hall.

But there are other opportunities to suss out Denk.

He will lead a master class — a high-level private lesson for high school and college students — from 2:30-5:30 p.m. Feb. 14 in Bryan Recital Hall. He'll be on the judging panel for the annual David D. Dubois Piano Festival Competition final round 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 16 in Kobacker.

The master class and competition are free to the public.

The recital will include works by Gyorgy Ligeti, Schumann, and Mozart.

Tickets for the recital are $33-$42 at​arts or 419-372-8171. Ticket holders may attend a 7:15 p.m. forum for discussion of the program.

Denk may lend star power to events at BGSU, but there's plenty of activity before and after his visit. Cello students of Alan Smith will perform in the Music at the Manor House series, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Wildwood Preserve Metropark.

Guest pianists I-Chen Yeh and Jiung Yoon will perform a free, public recital at 8 p.m. the same night in Bryan hall.

And baritone Thomas Buckner, a longtime proponent and performer of new music, will sing works by his longtime collaborator Robert Ashley in an 8 p.m. recital Feb. 17, also in Bryan hall. BGSU instrumentalists will join the pair in this free, public concert.

The grand finale of the University of Toledo and Toledo Symphony’s two-month Mozart festival is set for 3 p.m. Feb. 14, when the UT Symphony Orchestra, the Festival Chorus, and the Opera Ensemble will fill their program with instrumental and vocal works by the famed classical composer.

Making his Toledo debut in front of the orchestra will be newly appointed director John Pearse.

He's already known through his graduate work at BGSU, his music director position at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Maumee, and mentorship with the Detroit Civic Youth Ensembles. Pearse, a percussionist, has won several awards including a Performer's Certificate from Indiana University, where he earned his bachelor's degree.

The concert is free and will be in Doermann Theater at University Hall.

Ladies in Red, the Toledo Opera's annual gala, has grown to two nights this year, with an 8 p.m. performance Feb. 14 and a 2 p.m. matinee Feb. 16, both in the Valentine Theatre.

Stars from Toledo Opera productions past — Audrey Babcock, Elizabeth Baldwin, Sarah Jane McMahon, Jennifer Rowley, and Amy Yekel — will be in town to sing music of love by Bizet, Verdi, Wagner, Delibes, Gershwin, and others.

Conductors James Meena and Robert Mirakian will lead the Toledo Symphony in musical accompaniment. Kevin Bylsma will emcee and accompany a few songs.

Tickets are $30-$80 at 419-255-7464 or

And to get Toledo audiences in the spirit, Denise Ritter-Bernardini, soprano and head of the Opera Ensemble at UT, will present a free lecture Deadly Divas: The Baddest Women In Opera, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Secor Gallery, 425 Jefferson Ave., first floor. A wine reception will follow with catering by Registry Bistro. Tickets for that are $15.

The Toledo Symphony will play music from the movies in its next KeyBank Pops Concert at 8 p.m. Feb. 15 in the Stranahan Theater.

Resident conductor Jeffrey Pollock will lead the orchestra in reminders of such cinema hits as Gone With the Wind, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Pink Panther, West Side Story, The Godfather, and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

In the glam spirit of the 86th annual Academy Awards ceremony on March 2, Toledo Symphony players are being urged to appear dressed for the red carpet.

Tickets are $24-$64 at 419-246-8000 or

Organist Anthony Williams, Fisk University organist and professor of music, will be in the area Feb. 15-16 for programs and a concert co-sponsored by Heidelberg University and Trinity United Church of Christ, Tiffin. All events are free.

The recital is set for 4 p.m. Feb. 16 in the church, 131 E. Perry St., Tiffin. Williams' program will range from works by Bach, Vierne, and Jongen to new music by Mark Fax, and interpretations of Negro spirituals.

Williams earned his doctorate from the American Conservatory of Music and has degrees from University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the University of Michigan.

On Feb. 15, Williams will give a master class at 10 a.m. and a lecture-demonstration on African-American organ music at 2 p.m., both at Christ Presbyterian Church, 4225 W. Sylvania Ave., Toledo.

Gesu Church is planning a Valentine's Day concert featuring the band Swingmania at 7 p.m. Feb. 14 in the Sullivan Center behind the church, 2049 Parkside Blvd. Seating will be at tables, with finger foods and soft drinks included in the ticket price. Beer will be for sale and wine drinkers may BYOB.

Tickets are $12. Information: 419-450-0418.

Monroe Street United Methodist Church, 3613 Monroe St., is recruiting singers for its annual Palm Sunday Chorus. The program will feature music of Francis Poulenc, including his Gloria and Four Motets for the Time of Penitence. Returning to conduct this year will be Kevin Bylsma.

Rehearsals begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and continue each Saturday at 10 a.m. until the concert, 7 p.m. April 17 in the sanctuary. For more information contact Denise Mathiaas at 419-473-1167, ex. 230.

Toledo Piano Teachers will present a free public program titled Early Childhood Music by Elaine Snieder at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Andrews United Methodist Church, 3620 Heatherdowns Blvd.

Grace Wipfli, a freshman at Capital University, will perform with the New Albany (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra as part of its Student Concerto Competition concert at 3 p.m. Sunday in the McCoy Community Center for the Arts in central Ohio’s New Albany.

Send News of Music items to at least two weeks in advance of the event.

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