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Dr. Donald Bohlen
Dr. Donald Bohlen
  • March 1, 2024
  • Marketing and Communications staff

“The Music of Donald Bohlen: 90th Birthday Celebration,” a retrospective concert encapsulating the musical career of the SUNY Fredonia School of Music professor emeritus, will be presented on Saturday, March 23.  

Performers will include SUNY Fredonia faculty, students and several guest artists. The performance will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Juliet J. Rosch Recital Hall. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

Originally from Regina, Saskatchewan, his education in the United States — studying composition, musicology, and piano — included the completion of degree programs at Oberlin Conservatory and Princeton University, where he studied under the tutelage of Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt, and completing his doctoral degree at the University of Michigan, where he studied with Ross Lee Finney and Leslie Bassett. While at Michigan, he was recognized as being in the forefront of pianists involved in the premiere presentations of new music for solo piano.

Dr. Bohlen joined the SUNY Fredonia School of Music faculty in 1974, retiring in 2007. During his tenure, he helped to establish a nationally recognized program for the training of young composers at the university. Bohlen served as founding faculty advisor for the Ethos New Music Society starting with its inception in 1978 and guided countless SUNY Fredonia students to a greater understanding and appreciation of contemporary music.  

The writing of Bohlen includes a wide variety of choral works, chamber music selections, compositions for solo piano, opera and music for film. He is currently completing a Song Cycle titled “Künstler’s Abenlied” for soprano, cello and piano, of which two  songs will be performed on the concert. The trio of performers will include soprano Dr. Angela Hass and Dr. Anne Kissel from SUNY Fredonia, and cellist Dr. Jennifer Carpenter from the University of Rochester and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. The premiere of “Adagio Variations” will feature Dr. Andrew Seigel of SUNY Fredonia on clarinet and bassoonist Ellen Barnum from SUNY Buffalo State University and the Buffalo Chamber Players. Dr. Kissel will premiere a new piano solo, “Sources.”

Other works to be performed will include selections from “Prelude, Arioso and Variants,” by violinist and SUNY Fredonia Assistant Professor Jessica Tong; the last movement from “Songs and Doubles,” for soprano, clarinet and cello performed by a SUNY  Fredonia student trio of soprano X'Zaya Ivy, clarinetist Luca Vukelic, and pianist Mario Chai; and selections from “Exordium,”  by guest pianist Dr. Stephanie Titus of Ohio Northern University. A work for men’s chorus, “Night Songs” will be directed by SUNY Fredonia’s Professor Joe Dan Harper, accompanied by Fr. Sean Duggan, and sung by Fredonia students including Zachary Brudz, Dominic Townsend, Adam Brophy, Gunnar Nowicki, Adrian Otero, Jackson Vanstrom, Will Jelstrom, Dan Novak, Michael Burns and Lucas Cochran.

“For a composer, life is composing,” Bohlen said. “Composition is my life…(and) I feel there is a constant personal growth that continues to make it worthwhile.”