By David Dupont
BG Independent News
When a quartet of musicians come together for a concert at First Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green, they will do more than present a set of songs – they will share parts of their lives.
The concert was organized by Heather McEwen Goldman who took over the musical direction of the church in which she grew up.
Already organist of the church, she will now direct the choirs of which she was a member, and will bring together a choir of bells, which she had played in her youth.
An evening of singing will be presented Thursday, July 7 at 6 p.m. in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church, 126 S. Main St., Bowling Green. It will feature singers Caroline O’Dwyer and Aaron Roos with McEwen Goldman on piano. Her husband Ted Goldman, composer, will provide musical commentary.
She was inspired to organize the concert by her appreciation of the talents of Roos, who preceded her as church music director, and a desire to perform again with mezzo-soprano O’Dwyer, a friend and fellow at the Eastman School of Music. The concert is free; donations are welcome.
McEwen Goldman, who grew up in Bowling Green and started college as a piano specialist at BGSU, and her husband moved to Bowling Green from New York during the pandemic. It seemed safer, certainly cheaper.
Goldman is a Juilliard-trained composer who also works remotely doing computer programming work for his father’s accounting firm in New York.
Now they and their two young children have settled down and made Bowling Green their home. When the position of organist opened up at First Presbyterian, she applied, even though she hadn’t played the organ. McEwen Goldman said she wanted to play the organ since she was a child. She got the job thanks to her talents as a pianist and her promise to learn. So she took lessons with Michael Gartz, who teaches at BGSU and performs at area churches.
“I have my feet under me,” she said. “So I’m an organist, but not an expert organist.”
O’Dwyer and McEwen Goldman worked together when they were both graduate students at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. McEwen Goldman was studying collaborative piano and O’Dwyer was a vocal performance student.
They were assigned to work together throughout their two-year programs, performing and attending each other’s classes. “It’s a really special experience because you end up growing and developing together not just as musicians and artists, but like in our case, becoming the closest of friends,” O’Dwyer noted in an email. mail.
They have been in contact since graduating in 2015, but haven’t played together.
O’Dwyer said it was an honor to be invited back to sing in McEwen Goldman’s hometown.
The pandemic has thrown it on a loop. “When it all first shut down in March 2020, I was really struggling to sing,” she wrote in an email. “I couldn’t teach my singing students in person, performances were canceled and it seemed like the arts were being forgotten at the start of the pandemic relief programs. I think I didn’t really sing for almost a month when we first closed.
Then friend Nathan Salazar shared a video of him playing and singing one of the tracks from Carlos Guastavino’s set of Spanish Songs “Cuando Acaba de Llover: Cuatro Canciones Coloniales”.
“It just made me cry it was so, so beautiful. I didn’t know the composer so I found the sheet music and fell in love with the set,” she wrote.
O’Dwyer programmed the set at her first post-closure recital in December 2021. She will also share them with Bowling Green listeners.
She will also perform Libby Larsen’s song cycle “Love After 1950”.
She wrote that she loves “the themes and strong female voices that emerge from the poetry Larsen has selected for this song cycle. They are both contemplative, nostalgic, but also hilarious!
The songs are also difficult. Larsen composes piano parts and vocal lines independent of each other, giving the singer little anchor in terms of rhythm or pitch. “Once I started to embed the vocal lines into my muscle memory, they really seemed to match my voice – despite looking complex on the page, they just felt easy and natural to sing. In the world of music contemporary scholar, this situation is a real gift!
Roos is choir director at Anthony Wayne and has recently taken on roles in the theatre.
He will perform both arrangements of folk songs and show tunes.
Folk tunes include “Shenandoah,” a favorite of her high school choir director, and the anthem “This Is My Father’s World,” dedicated to her father, who will celebrate his birthday by attending the concert.
It also includes Steven Mark Kohn’s “Ten Thousand Miles Away”, music that first sparked his interest in classical music.
Among the shows will be “Corner of the Sky” from “Pippin,” the Stephen Schwartz musical about a young man struggling to find a place in the world.
“When I first found ‘Pippin’, listening to it all through, I was having my own existential crisis,” he said.
He was attending Ohio State and studying to be a sports broadcaster. “I was going to be the next Joe Buck.” But he discovered that although he loved sports, “he didn’t want to live, breathe and sleep”.
So he left the program, studied at Cleveland State for a year, before coming to BGSU as a music education major.
He will also sing Hamilton’s “You’ll Be Back” – “he absolutely inhibits it; he’s King George,” McEwen Goldman said – and Bree Lowdermilk’s “Run Away with Me” in “The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown,” which is one of her favorite pieces.
He’s never seen the musical, and he doesn’t want to either.
“We all have these pieces in our lives that we come across without knowing anything about them,” he said. “We give them meaning.”
But sometimes this is contradicted when seen in the context of the full show. “So I don’t want to see the full musical because I like what the play means to me now.”