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May 27, 2021

3 May Festival Memories with The Philadelphia Orchestra


The Philadelphia Orchestra

UMS is delighted to welcome The Philadelphia Orchestra back to Ann Arbor in the 2021/22 Season with two exciting performances in Hill Auditorium, plus an new creative partnership that extends across the University of Michigan campus, across cities, and into the digital space.

The orchestra’s remarkable 260+ performance history with UMS dates all the way back to 1913, and the “fabulous Philadelphians” were the orchestra-in-residence for Ann Arbor’s beloved May Festival for nearly 50 years from 1936-1984. As May 2021 comes to a close, we would like to celebrate our rich partnership with a look through our archives into three milestone moments in May Festival History:


Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff

May 9, 1942

In pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff’s final UMS appearance (after seven solo recitals between 1920 and 1939), The Philadelphia Orchestra celebrated some of his most beloved works in a program of his Isle of the Dead, Symphonic Dances, and Piano Concerto No. 2.

This was one of Rachmaninoff’s last performances, as he passed away the following year in 1943.

Leontyne Price’s First Aïda

Leontyne Price's UMS debut, May Festival, 1957

Leontyne Price’s UMS debut, May Festival, 1957

May 3, 1957

Before her 1961 Metropolitan Opera debut, soprano Leontyne Price performed her first public performance of Verdi’s Aïda with The Philadelphia Orchestra in Ann Arbor. This would become one of Price’s signature roles throughout her career.

Price joined The Philadelphia Orchestra in the May Festival four times between 1957 and 1971, and later appeared in four solo recitals with UMS through 1991. View all programs on UMS Rewind.


Glenn Gould’s UMS Debut

Glenn Gould, 1958

Glenn Gould backstage at Hill Auditorium, 1958

May 4, 1958

Legendary pianist Glenn Gould made the first of only two UMS appearances, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.


Want to Dive Deeper?

Explore the U-M Heritage Project: The May Festival Rising

Browse all 260+ programs and appearances by The Philadelphia Orchestra in our UMS Rewind archives!

Become a UMS Season Ticket Holder for early access to both upcoming Philadelphia Orchestra performances on March 11 & 12, 2022.