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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

Upcoming Performances

The 2019/20 season will include the following performances:

Amadeus Live with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Jeffrey Schindler, conductor
Sun Sep 15 at 2 pm
Hill Auditorium

Handel’s Messiah
Scott Hanoian, conductor
Sat-Sun Dec 7-8
Hill Auditorium

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Sat Jan 25 at 8 pm
Hill Auditorium

Additionally, the UMS Choral Union will perform Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in March. View details on

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 Monday, September 16, 2019 and Monday, September 30, 2019 from 6-10 pm in Palmer Commons. Appointments are required. To schedule an audition appointment or for more information about chorus membership, please email Kathleen Operhall, manager of the UMS Choral Union, at

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 26th 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. Each Summer Sing costs $5 to cover the costs of score rentals and refreshments.

Monday, June 24, 2019 | Hill Auditorium
Duruflé’s Requiem, Op. 9
Conducted by Scott Hanoian, music director and conductor of the UMS Choral Union

Monday, July 15, 2019 | Stamps Auditorium
Haydn’s Mass in C Major (“Paukenmesse”)
Conducted by Michael Mitchell, director of choral activities at Oakland University

Monday, August 5, 2019 | Stamps Auditorium
Mozart’s Requiem, K. 626
Conducted by Eugene Rogers, director of choral activities, University of Michigan

Love great music, theater, and dance?

Love great music, theater, and dance?

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