UMS Director of Programming Picks Five Notable UMS Debuts
By Michael KondziolkaTweet
One of the reasons we’re so excited about our 2015-2016 season is the debut performances. Winter is especially ripe with UMS debuts, including by mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, pianist Igor Levit, vocalist Tanya Tagaq, among many others.
Debuts are an important part of our 135-year-history. Every artist debut has embedded in it that same kind of hope and optimism, something truly great might come of all this talent which is being revealed to us for the first time. At UMS, every debut also holds the possibility of a life-long relationship between that artist and our community of music lovers.
Here are five notable debuts which grew into a fully formed career and lifetime of memories for UMS audiences:
Violinist Yehudi Menhuhin – UMS debut, 1932
Photo: Yehudi Menuhin readies for the 1974 UMS May Festival (UMS Archives).
Menuhin made his concert debut at UMS when he was age sixteen. He went on to give eighteen UMS concerts over the course of his career most often as violin soloist but also as a conductor later in his life. His last appearance was in February of 1987 fifty-five years after his debut.
Pianist Artur Rubinstein – UMS debut, 1938
Photo: Pianist Arthur Rubinstein and former UMS president Gail Rector (UMS Archives).
The great Polish pianist Artur Rubinstein didn’t make his UMS debut until he was 51. He played Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra at May Festival. Even though he was middle aged when he first come to Ann Arbor, he still managed to give fifteen concerts for UMS over the course of his career, the last one, a benefit recital in January 1971.
Soprano Leontyne Price – UMS debut, 1957
Photo: Leontyne Price sings her first career Aida in concert version with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the May Festival (UMS Archives).
Price had a double debut when she first come to UMS for the May Festival in 1957. Not only was it her first performance in Ann Arbor, but it was also her first public performance of the title role of Aida, a character she went on to own and dominate in every important opera house in the world. By the time she gave her last UMS recital in 1991, she had visited Ann Arbor to perform eight times.
Mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli – UMS debut, 1993
Photo: Mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli and pianist Martin Katz receive a standing ovation at her UMS debut, April 10, 1993 (UMS Archives).
Bartoli gave her debut recital performance in Hill Auditorium when she was relatively unknown. She was partnered by Ann Arbor’s very-own pianist Martin Katz. Her most recent appearance was in February of 2004 with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in a program devoted to the music of Antonio Salieri.
Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis – UMS debut, 1996
Photo: Trumpet Wynton Marsalis will receive the UMS Distinguished Artist Award as part of this season’s Ford Honors Program on March 30, 2014 (Photo courtesy of the artist).
The great jazz (and classical) trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis gave his first UMS concert with his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra Octet in 1996. Since that time he has become an almost annual fixture on the UMS season while, simultaneously, becoming a singular international voice for the centrality of jazz to American culture.
Do you have your own notable debuts or early performance favorites in UMS history? Share them in the comments below.