What does cheer sound like? The holiday season in Ann Arbor is never officially underway until Handel’s Messiah is performed at Hill Auditorium. The Grammy Award-winning UMS Choral Union (2006 “Best Choral Performance” for William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience) launches the holiday season with its signature work. An Ann Arbor tradition, these performances are ultimately the heart and soul of UMS, connecting audiences not only with the talented people on stage, but also with the friends and family who attend each year. Join us for this very special Messiah as we celebrate the centenary of Hill Auditorium. In a true community tradition, the performance will feature the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, the 175 voices of the all-volunteer UMS Choral Union, and conductor Jerry Blackstone.
Program Book [PDF]
Throughout its 134-year history, the University Musical Society Choral Union has performed with many of the world’s distinguished orchestras and conductors. Based in Ann Arbor under the aegis of the University Musical Society (UMS), the 175-voice Choral Union is known for its definitive performances of large-scale works for chorus and orchestra.
Formed by a group of local university and townspeople who gathered together for the study of Handel’s Messiah, the UMS Choral Union has performed with many of the world’s distinguished orchestras and conductors in its 133-year history. First led by Professor Henry Simmons Frieze and conducted by Professor Calvin Cady, the group assumed the name The Choral Union. Since its first performance of Handel’s Messiah in December 1879, the oratorio has been performed by the UMS Choral Union in Ann Arbor annually. Based in Ann Arbor under the aegis of UMS, the 175-voice Choral Union is known for its definitive performances of large-scale works for chorus and orchestra. Sixteen years ago, the UMS Choral Union further enriched that tradition when it began appearing regularly with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO).
Led by Grammy Award-winning conductor and music director Jerry Blackstone, the UMS Choral Union was a participant chorus in a rare performance and recording of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience in Hill Auditorium in April 2004 under the baton of Leonard Slatkin. Naxos released a three-disc set of this recording in October 2004, featuring the UMS Choral Union and U-M School of Music ensembles. The recording won four Grammy Awards in 2006, including “Best Choral Performance” and “Best Classical Album.” The recording was also selected as one of The New York Times “Best Classical Music CDs of 2004.”
Participation in the UMS Choral Union remains open to all students and adults by audition.
The UMS Choral Union began performing on December 16, 1879 and has presented Handel’s Messiah in annual performances ever since. This weekend’s performances mark the UMS Choral Union’s 419th and 420th appearances under UMS auspices. Dr. Blackstone makes his 21st and 22nd UMS appearances, following his debut leading the Choral Union in performances of Messiah in 2003 at the Michigan Theater.
This weekend’s performances mark the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra’s 62nd and 63rd UMS appearances since their 1974 UMS debut.