UMS Choral Union

Formed in 1879 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 over the course of its long history. First led by Latin professor and organist Henry Simmons Frieze and then conducted by the University of Michigan’s first music instructor, Calvin Cady, the group has continued to perform Handel’s Messiah in Ann Arbor annually. In May 2015, UMS announced the appointment of Scott Hanoian as the Choral Union’s music director and conductor following Jerry Blackstone’s 12-year tenure.

The 175-voice Choral Union is known for its definitive performances of large-scale works for chorus and orchestra. In 2004, UMSCU participated in a rare performance and recording of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience in Hill Auditorium under the baton of Leonard Slatkin. The Naxos Records three-disc set of this 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.”

Other recent highlights include a recording project with the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s choral and orchestral ensembles of the rarely-heard Oresteian Trilogy by Darius Milhaud conducted by Kenneth Kiesler. In May 2013, chorus members joined the Detroit Symphony and Leonard Slatkin in a performance of Ives’s Symphony No. 4 as part of Carnegie Hall’s Spring for Music festival in New York.

Photo credit: Peter Smith

The 2017-18 season will include the following performances.

  • Leonard Bernstein Symphony No. 3 (“Kaddish”) with the New York Philharmonic
    Leonard Slatkin, conductor
    Sunday, November 19 at 3 pm, Hill Auditorium
  • Handel’s Messiah with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra
    Scott Hanoian, conductor
    Saturday, December 2 at 8 pm, Hill Auditorium
    Sunday, December 3 at 2 pm, Hill Auditorium
  • Giuseppe Verdi Requiem with the Ann Arbor Symphony
    Arie Lipsky, conductor
    Saturday, April 21 at 8 pm, Hill Auditorium
  • Claude Debussy Nocturnes with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
    Fabien Gabel, conductor
    Friday, April 27 at 8 pm at Orchestra Hall, Detroit
    Saturday, April 28 at 8 pm Orchestra Hall, Detroit
    Sunday, April 29 at 3 pm Orchestra Hall, Detroit
Music Director Scott Hanoian

scotthanoian-by-Katie-Przygocki-970xScott Hanoian began his appointment as music director and conductor of the UMS Choral Union on July 1, 2015.

In addition to his appointment at UMS, Scott Hanoian is the director of music at Christ Church Grosse Pointe. Career highlights also include artistic director of the Oakland Choral Society; faculty member at Wayne State University; assistant organist and assistant director of music at Washington National Cathedral; and a robust career as an international touring musician performing throughout Europe, Australia, and Canada. He has recorded the complete organ works of Johannes Brahms for the JAV label. A graduate of the University of Michigan (BMus ’99, MMus ’01, MM ‘01), Scott Hanoian was a student of Robert Glasgow, Theodore Morrison, and former UMS Choral Union director Jerry Blackstone.

Auditions & Rehearsals

The next auditions will take place on August 28 and September 11, 2017. For information about chorus membership, auditions and scheduling, contact:

Kathleen Operhall, manager of the UMS Choral Union
734-763-8997 or

Plan to arrive at least ten minutes before your audition. Bring a copy of your prepared solo in the correct key for the accompanist; the accompanist is not expected to transpose. Singers are notified of results after all auditions are completed.

Audition Content

Vocalization: A series of vocalization exercises to determine the range and color of the voice.

Prepared solo: Select a composition in any language that best demonstrates the timbre of your instrument. The prepared work may be an aria, lieder, or excerpt—either solo or choral—from a major work, musical theater piece, or hymn. In the interest of time, please perform 16-20 measures of your piece. We advise you not to pick music that tests the limits of your range or vocal technique; rather, bring a work that you can sing confidently and expressively.

Sightreading: We provide a short excerpt and ask you to sing your part while the other three parts are played by an accompanist.

Summer Sings


Take part in the 24th season of Summer Sings, popular, participatory evenings of memorable music-making. No auditions required…just bring your voices and enthusiasm to these choral reading sessions, led by outstanding conductors with talented local soloists. Registration begins at 6:30 pm; the Sings begin at 7 pm and end around 9:30 pm.

Monday, June 19, 2017
Stamps Auditorium
Fauré Requiem
Conducted by Kimberly Dunn Adams, Western Michigan University

Monday, July 10, 2017
Hill Auditorium
Mozart Great Mass in c minor, K. 427
Conducted by Scott Hanoian, UMS Choral Union

Monday, July 31, 2017
Stamps Auditorium
Bach St. John Passion
Conducted by Noah Horn, Wayne State University