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June 19, 2024

Donor Spotlight: Howard Bond

Howard Bond and Elida Malila

Howard Bond and Elida Malila

One of the great perks of working at UMS is hearing about our patrons’ cherished memories and the beautiful relationships that can blossom through shared arts experiences.

Howard Bond and his late wife, Margaret (1931-2022), met shortly before enrolling in Bowling Green State University, where she was (according to Howard) the piano star of the music department and came within a hair of graduating with the highest GPA in the whole of BGSU in 1952. They moved to Ann Arbor in 1962 and held season tickets for the UMS Choral Union series for several decades. Later in life, they added season tickets for the Detroit, Toledo, and Ann Arbor symphonies and reached a peak of attending 40 concerts annually.

Howard’s career was in photography (see some of his work on The Art Institute of Chicago’s website), and he studied under renowned landscape photographer Ansel Adams. Margaret was a piano teacher and performer while also raising their two children, Susan Tobias and Brian Bond. In the 1960s, Howard began to sing in the UMS Choral Union, and continued to participate for nearly 40 years under directors Lester McCoy, Donald Bryant, and Thom Sheets.

Among all the great European and American orchestras with which the UMS Choral Union sang, Howard’s most memorable experience was singing Mahler’s 8th Symphony in Grand Rapids in 1997 (the concert was repeated in Ann Arbor). He recalls that Catherine Comet, the orchestra’s conductor, brought together a combined chorus from Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids and she did a fine job of conducting. However, she had the flu during the Grand Rapids performance. At the end, she staggered off the stage and was too ill to come out for a bow. Howard thought she was a hero.

After many loving decades together, Margaret sadly passed away in August 2022. Howard’s love of the arts endured despite the heartache of her loss, and he continued to attend UMS performances without his music-loving partner by his side.

The following May, Howard bought a ticket to see Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 at Hill Auditorium, which he had previously sung with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. When Howard was seated, he saw that the adjacent seat was occupied by a woman who looked slightly familiar, but he didn’t know her name. He soon learned that she, Elida Malila, had played Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto as a senior in high school and received a music degree from Michigan State.

Howard now has season tickets for those two exact seats (pictured above), and they have attended many other concerts together in the past year. “The frosting on the cake is that Elida was in the Choral Union at the same time I was, but we never met because the chorus is so large!”

Howard is an incredibly generous philanthropic supporter of UMS, and was excited to sponsor the Berliner Philharmoniker’s return in UMS’s 24/25 Season. He shared with us:

“My eyes lit up when I saw that the Berlin Philharmonic, probably Germany’s best, is scheduled for two concerts here this fall. I directed that my annual contribution be used to help sponsor them. I wonder how many Ann Arbor citizens realize how lucky we are that UMS makes these musical treats available to us.”