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March 18, 2021

UMS Staff Playlist: Music for Spring


UMS Spring Playlist

UMS staff members contributed tracks for a playlist of their favorite music that reflects the optimism, warmth, and nature of Spring.

Listen on your preferred streaming service, and read about the inspiration behind some of our picks below:

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“Lovely Day” by Bill Withers

Submitted by Cayenne Harris, VP, Education and Community Engagement

Bill Withers is one of my favorite artists, and this song makes me feel happy and hopeful every time I hear it.

“Весенние воды (Spring Waters)” by Sergei Rachmaninoff (performed by Ewa Podles)

Submitted by Michael Kondziolka, VP, Programming and Production

The closer you get to the Poles — North or South — the greater the feeling of ecstasy when Spring finally arrives. In other words, the harsher the Winter the more jubilant the Spring. Growing up in the Northernmost state in the continental US, I can relate to this idea. Rachmaninoff, a Russian, grew up in the harshest of winter climates, and he captures the over-the-top feelings of Spring — ice melting into streams, the first warmth of sun on the face, wanting to scream “Winter’s over!” I can relate to that.

“L’oiseau qui danse” by Tennyson

Submitted by Maddy Wildman, Education and Community Engagement Programs Manager

Birds who dance! I know spring has started in Ann Arbor when I can wake up and hear the birds out my window. By late May they’re screaming loud enough to wake me up but I love it!

“Take It Easy” by Archie James Cavanaugh

Submitted by Jessica Adamczyk, Executive Assistant to the President

How can you NOT dance to this? Even the toddler in my life bops along to it!
Background on the song.

“Kites Are Fun” by The Free Design

Submitted by Jake Gibson, Marketing and Communications Associate

From the first flute line, this song is youthful, bucolic, and warm. It brings you right back to the joy of childhood spring days. Where else would you rather be than in a field, with your friends, and far away from Mom and Dad (and Uncle Bill) who just don’t realize that “Kites Are Fun”?

“Prière aux oiseaux” by Barbara Pravi

Submitted by Eric Woodhams, Director of Digital Media

Modern-day chanteuse Barbara Pravi (and France’s 2021 Eurovision Song Contest competitor) released a surprise EP album on International Women’s Day this month. Each song is a tribute to nature, and this track, ‘Prière aux oiseaux’ (prayer to the birds) makes me want to sit on a park bench and soak in the sun, sights, and sounds.

“It Might As Well Be Spring [Live at Café Au Go-Go, 1964]” by The New Stan Getz Quartet (feat. Astrud Gilberto)

Submitted by Mark Jacobson, Senior Programming Manager

The lyrics always make me yearn for springtime; Astrud’s voice sounds like flowers blossoming.

“Late at Night” by The Iguanas

Submitted by Matthew VanBesien, President

It’s nearly spring, and I have no finer memories in my young adulthood than (many) late nights dancing at the old Cafe Brasil to these guys.

“Home (Is Where the Van Is)” by Limbeck

Submitted by Mary Roeder, Programming Manager

A s a high school student on the west side of Michigan and through my time as a U-M undergrad, I came of age during the golden era of emo/pop-punk in the late nineties/early aughts.  Once I got my driver’s license, I was bouncing around with friends to concerts nearly weekly in Grand Rapids and Detroit.  Limbeck was my favorite band at the time (and the creator of my favorite band t-shirt, which I still wear!), and their music instantly reminds me of warm weather and road trips to gigs.

“Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra

Submitted by Amanda Dempsey, Development Associate

After a long gray winter, this song has always been my favorite to play on that first warm Spring day with a clear, blue sky.

“Früling” (Spring)” by Richard Strauss (performed by Jessye Norman)

Submitted by Sara Billmann, VP, Marketing and Communications

One of my first UMS concerts was hearing Jessye perform Strauss’s Four Last Songs in Hill Auditorium during the May Festival of 1989. It was a truly unforgettable performance. Her magnificent voice enveloped the entire balcony, and when she finished the last note of the last song, the entire audience sat in stunned silence for a solid minute before erupting into applause and cheers. I still get goosebumps remembering it.

Carmina Burana, “Primo vere (Part 1)” by Carl Orff

Submitted by Scott Hanoian, Music Director and Conductor of the UMS Choral Union

Nothing says spring like a little Carmina Burana!

“I Hear A Symphony” by The Supremes

Submitted by Christina Bellows, Director, Patron Services

I tend to gravitate toward specific types of music depending on the season, and springtime is for Motown.

“Let Down” by Radiohead

Submitted by Tal Benatar, Patron Services Assistant

A great jam for a sunny or rainy April afternoon drive.

“Nightswimming” by  R.E.M.

Submitted by Marnie Reid, Associate Director of Development, Major Gifts and Planned Giving

This song speaks to me about breaking free and being young and spontaneous. After a long winter night, swimming is what I long for. And the song reminds me of my husband who died two years ago this week.

“What About It” by Rebecca HH Rosen

Submitted by Jacob Rogers, Patron Services Assistant

Rebecca is both a close friend of mine and a treasured collaborator – someone I’d play music with every day if I could. Something between the warming weather, the promise of this all coming to a close, and the joy of maybe making sounds together someday soon has had her music in my brain a lot these days. And, since I have the chance to, I thought I’d send a bit of that joy back out into the world.

“La Balanguera” by Maria del Mar Bonet

Submitted by Anne Grove, Artist Services Manager

My favorite version of this song is from an album that was recorded live in the Placa del Rei in Spain, RAXIA. The concert was to raise awareness about an old Mallorca garden that was under threat of destruction. I tend to play this album when I am spring cleaning. For dance lovers, you may know Maria del Mar Bonet’s music from many works by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato.

“Julep” by Punch Brothers

Submitted by Rochelle Clark, Ticket Services Associate

This song always makes me think of slow spring/summer afternoons spent on my favorite porch swing. “Heaven’s a julep on the porch” – yes, indeed, it is.

“Dancing Queen” by Abba

Submitted by Anne Renforth, Ticket Services Assistant Manager

There’s such a sense of freedom from responsibility built into the lyrics. It feels like the sunshine and fun have come back after a long winter.

“Spoon” by Cibo Matto

Submitted by Terri Park, Associate Director of Education & Community Engagement

I love this band. This in particular has an art-pop/70’s funk style that gets me grooving and feeling happy!

“Paradise” by Sade

Submitted by Victoria Spain, Front of House Assistant Manager

I picked this song because I love listening to this when I clean or when I’m driving. It makes me think of warmer weather.