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Safety First: The Making of ‘Some Old Black Man’

As part of his UMS Digital Artist Residency, actor Wendell Pierce sought a way to safely produce theater live theater in 2020. This was no easy task. Against a backdrop of the pandemic, social unrest, and a turbulent election, the production faced many roadblocks along the way.

Some Old Black Man

From creating a safety plan, to discovering a positive COVID test, to filming at The Jam Handy in Detroit, this is the story of UMS’s production of Some Old Black Man.


Wendell Pierce performing Wynton Marsalis's piece "The Ever Fonky Lowdown" in Chautauqua, NY in August 2019

Wendell Pierce performing Wynton Marsalis’s piece The Ever Fonky Lowdown in Chautauqua, NY in August 2019

Wendell Pierce’s relationship with UMS began in August 2019 when he met UMS President Matthew VanBesien and Senior Programming Manager Mark Jacobson in Chautauqua, NY. The three were connected by Wynton Marsalis following rehearsals of Marsalis’s work The Ever Fonky Lowdown, which Pierce narrated. They quickly hit it off, spending time together that week. It was in this informal setting that conversations first began about UMS collaborating with Pierce.

These conversations continued when VanBesien attended a night of Pierce’s run of Death of a Salesman on the West End in London (Pierce was nominated for an Olivier Award for his portrayal of Willy Loman). The two caught up backstage and reaffirmed their desires of working together.

The Pandemic Begins

In the early months of the pandemic, UMS began to envision its Digital Artist Residency program. The program sought artists who were eager to adapt in order to continue to create in this difficult time. Specifically, the program aimed to create projects for the digital frame. VanBesien and Pierce reconnected with the desire of producing a piece of theater for digital audiences.

In discussions about what play to eventually produce, Wendell immediately and enthusiastically suggested Some Old Black Man by James Anthony Tyler. Wendell was involved with the play’s development at the Berkshire Playwrights Lab in 2017 and its off-Broadway premiere at the 59E59 Theaters in 2018. The play was supposed to open for another run in New York in June 2020, but that had to be canceled due to the pandemic.

James Anthony Tyler, playwright of 'Some Old Black Man'

James Anthony Tyler, playwright of Some Old Black Man

Pierce saw embarking on a work such as this as central in his role as an artist. “Art is the place where we collectively come together, reflect on who we are, where we’ve been, where we hope to go. We reflect on what our strengths are, what our weaknesses are. We debate, challenge our ideas amongst each other, decide what our values are, and then go out and implement them in our lives. That’s the role of art…Just because we’re in a pandemic, we should not give up that pursuit.”

Some Old Black Man explores the personal trauma of a family’s history, as father and son try to rectify past hurts enabled in a racist world that has damaged their personal relationship. “I thought it was the perfect play to do,” Pierce noted. “It is timely for what’s happening in the country and the discussions we’re having right now.”

But from the beginning of this project, one question was central: how do you produce theater safely during COVID? However, instead of considering this as a barrier, Pierce and UMS considered it an opportunity. It became clear that the ambitious project could be “exemplary for a public health case study of how to produce during a pandemic” while at the same time, provide audiences with an artistic experience even though it is “isolated away from the theater.”

The Quarantine Process

One of Wendell and UMS’s main desires was to keep the collaborative artistic process in place while following strict health and safety guidelines. With guidance from U-M public health officials, UMS Assistant Production Manager Alex Gay developed a safety plan that was ultimately approved by SAG-AFTRA (the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a union overseeing filmed production work). UMS brought together a creative team including Pierce, actor Charlie Robinson, director Joe Cacaci, playwright James Anthony Tyler, and stage manager Tiffany Robinson to quarantine, reside, and rehearse together in a home on the west side of Ann Arbor. Special considerations were made to accommodate the group for everything from meal delivery to exercise equipment to ground transportation.

In order to convene safely, all members of the creative team were sent a pre-travel, at-home COVID test, requiring a negative test result before arriving in Ann Arbor. Once in Ann Arbor, UMS arranged for the creative team to be tested by a local Ann Arbor lab, LynxDx, Inc., one of the few labs in the country that employed a “gold-standard” PCR saliva test. The team was to be tested daily for the first week and then 3 times a week for the rest of the production.

The "Quaranteam" – Wendell Pierce, Tiffany Robinson, James Anthony Tyler, Joe Cacaci, and Charlie Robinson

The “Quaranteam” – (top row) Wendell Pierce, Tiffany Robinson, and James Anthony Tyler, (bottom row) Joe Cacaci and Charlie Robinson

The Positive Test

On the morning of Tuesday, October 20, just days after the creative team moved into their quarantine housing, the production faced unfortunate news – Joe Cacaci, the play’s director, tested positive for COVID-19. The positive test presented a challenge for UMS and the creative team; however, they were well-prepared for just this type of situation.

As part of the safety process required by the SAG-AFTRA, UMS had already developed a strict protocol in the event of a positive test. Immediately, the entire creative team was notified, and by mid-morning, UMS Artist Services Manager Anne Grove had made arrangements for Joe to be transported to isolation housing.

In these moments, it was not clear whether the production would be able to continue. There were hesitations from both UMS and the creative team about continuing. As Mark Jacobson noted, “There was a lot of concern and fear that everyone in the house was going to get COVID.”

In any event, safety guidelines prevented any team members from being immediately sent home regardless of the status of the project – it was important to keep any cases contained, rather than spreading them further – a unanimous decision was reached to continue rehearsals remotely and distanced, even within the quarantine environment while further testing and monitoring were conducted. The period of daily testing was expanded to another 14 days.

In the end, the regime of mask-wearing and social distancing in place before and after the positive test paid off. No other individuals tested positive. Thankfully, Cacaci remained only mildly symptomatic. He had virtual visits with a physician through U-M’s University Health Services, allowing him to appropriately monitor symptoms.

It is clear that the strict safety plan developed in advance saved the project from what could have ultimately led to its collapse.


Wendell Pierce, Charlie Robinson, Joe Cacaci, and Tfinnay Robinson rehearsing masked at the Jam Handy in Detroit

Wendell Pierce, Charlie Robinson, Joe Cacaci, and Tiffany Robinson rehearsing while masked at The Jam Handy in Detroit

Joe’s isolation, however, forced the team to completely revamp their rehearsal plans. A testament to the resilience of the entire team, all rehearsal work transitioned to Zoom. Over the next two and a half weeks, they rehearsed with Joe remotely. At times all of the team called-in from separate rooms in the same house. Later on in the process, they had distanced staging rehearsals in the house, allowing Joe to direct the unfolding work through two cameras that James Anthony Tyler periodically moved upon request.

This certainly was not the preferred way of rehearsing, but, nevertheless, the team stayed on schedule. They brought the production to The Jam Handy in Detroit on November 9 for their first full in-person rehearsals with Joe.

Joe noted, “One of my happiest days was when I walked into this space and saw everybody in person, and we got to do what we really do.”

By this time, a full set had been designed and constructed by Scenic and Lighting Designer Justin Lang (watch a behind-the-scenes tour of the set). This, alone, was a difficult process requiring testing, masking, distancing, and more for all of the IATSE Local 395 members who participated in building the set. It was then transported to Detroit and assembled in the Jam Handy with assistance from members of IATSE Local 38, who worked on the rest of the production on set.


Wendell Pierce and Charlie Robinson on set

Wendell Pierce and Charlie Robinson on set for filming

Filming the production took place over three days from November 11-13. Present at the filming were the two actors, Wendell Pierce and Charlie Robinson, director Joe Cacaci, playwright James Anthony Tyler, stage manager Tiffany Robinson, UMS’s Rochelle Clark (who assisted with stage management), and a crew of essential production staff who oversaw the filming and set. HMS Media, a company out of Chicago that has filmed many theatrical performances at Lyric Opera of Chicago and Steppenwolf, among others, worked closely with director Joe Cacaci to capture several takes of the entire play, always focused throughout the editing and post-production process on making sure that it felt like a live theater experience.

Convening this group presented new safety challenges to overcome. Every individual who came on set for any reason had to have a negative test before arriving and was required to be tested three times a week. By the end of the project, over 250 tests were run.

In addition, critical safety measures were implemented to protect the actors while in front of the camera unmasked. Two zones, with one including the stage, were set up in the Jam Handy. Only the actors were allowed in the stage zone while they were unmasked for filming. UMS employed COVID-19 Supervisors to assist in oversight of the set to ensure that all protocols were followed.


After a difficult production process, being able to complete the project and showcase the incredible work of both actors and the many people who helped to bring it about was a triumph for the team and everyone at UMS. Wendell Pierce felt confident that the production would provide “an answer to these difficult times. I believe this special experiment and experience will be an answer to performance during a pandemic, and it also shows UMS demonstrating a legacy of vanguard performances and the importance of artists to our community as a whole.”

UMS President Matthew VanBesien also noted how excited he was for the premiere of the production. “Some Old Black Man resonates with both social justice themes and with intergenerational conflict, making it a very fitting title for our times when the reality of more togetherness also unveils some of the tensions underlying even the closest of relationships. We are extraordinarily proud and humbled to present theater once again — albeit without in-person audiences and by using the digital frame.”

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Sign up for updates about the special digital screening of Some Old Black Man on Friday, January 15, 2021, followed by a live talkback with the artists.

UMS Favorites at NPR’s Tiny Desk

With over 800 recorded concerts and a collective 2 billion views, NPR’s Tiny Desk may be one of the most popular performance spaces in the world. The online concert series is known for hosting a wide range of artists; indie bands, hip-hop artists, and string quartets are all welcome. At the Tiny Desk, it is almost an expectation for artists to push their limits to create a unique presentation for the quirky NPR offices. After 12 years, the Tiny Desk series shows the possibility and potential of exciting online performance.

As we wait together for a safe return to our venues, enjoy these nine performances from past UMS artists playing NPR’s Tiny Desk.

Max Richter

Max Richter is joined by members of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble for three short works. The concert includes “On the Nature of Daylight,” a piece that has been featured in a number of movies including Shutter Island, Arrival, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Joyce DiDonato

Opera star and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato reimagines “centuries-old Italian love songs” with a jazz band. As NPR writes, “The musical formula for these unorthodox arrangements makes room for typical jazz solos while DiDonato molds her phrases to the flexible rhythms and inserts old-school trills and flamboyant roulades.” This concert offers the chance to see Joyce at perhaps her most daring, playful, and fun.

Cécile McLorin Salvant

Cécile and Sulivan Fortner grace the NPR offices with intimate duets. The set begins with three love songs from her third album, For One to Love, and ends with an acapella rendition “Omie Wise,” a traditional American murder ballad.

Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and Stuart Duncan

The four musicians from the star-studded Goat Rodeo Sessions come together to play three songs from the 2011 recording. The performance opens with “Quarter Chicken Dark”, which Ma, Meyer, and Thile performed as an encore during their 2017 performance in Hill Auditorium. This June, the quartet released its follow-up, Not Our First Goat Rodeo.

Lawrence Brownlee

In this Tiny Desk, tenor Lawrence Brownlee performs three African-American spirituals. As NPR writer Tom Huizenga writes, “the heart and soul of this concert is ‘All Night, All Day,’ a performance that swells with a potent combination of tenderness and operatic horsepower. The song speaks of a protective band of angels — angels that Brownlee told the audience are watching over his 3-year-old son Caleb, who’s just been diagnosed with an autism-spectrum disorder.”

Sam Amidon & Bill Frisell

This Tiny Desk Concert pairs folk singer-songwriter Sam Amidon with the guitarist Bill Frisell for a wonderfully collaborative set. Sam, Bill, and the multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily all have a long history of collaboration with artists across many genres. Sam Amidon has worked with the likes of Nico Muhly, Bon Iver, Nels Cline, and Jason Moran. Bill Frisell has appeared on UMS seasons as a solo performer, bandleader, and sideman with Charles Lloyd. Throughout his career, Frisell has traversed the music world embedding himself in the Downtown jazz scene in New York and the worlds of folk and Americana music.

Charles Lloyd & Jason Moran

In a pairing of the old and new vanguards, Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran offer three meditative duets. NPR Radio host Felix Contreras writes, “you can hear reverence in [Moran’s] duo playing with Lloyd — and you may also notice playing that taps into Lloyd’s ever-present youthful spirit. Together, their performance behind Bob Boilen’s Tiny Desk was as refreshing and energizing as deep meditation.”

Danish String Quartet

When last with UMS in 2015 and 2018, the Danish String Quartet shined in its interpretations of Haydn and Beethoven. For their Tiny Desk, the group showed off another side, performing exquisitely arranged Danish and Scandanavian Folk music. The set is centered around a trio of traditional Danish wedding tunes that date back 400 years.


This hit Ukrainian folk-punk quartet stirs up a mesmerizing sound that melds traditional Ukrainian folk music, African grooves, Eastern colors, and a contemporary, trans-national sensibility that the band calls “ethno-chaos.” Their Tiny Desk Concert perfectly captures the energy and joy they bring to every performance, whether it is for an intimate crowd or a packed Michigan Theater.

5 Free Digital Performing Arts Resources for the U-M Community

Through the University of Michigan Library, U-M students, faculty, and staff have free access to many incredible online arts resources. Discover five of our favorites below, including UMS’s recommended viewing on each platform. Please note, resources may require a U-M account and password to access.


Met Opera On Demand

1. Met Opera On Demand

From old-school legends to today’s great stars, experience more than 700 full-length Met performances with their online streaming service. University of Michigan Students access to the full catalog which includes audio and video of some of the world’s greatest performances.

UMS Recommends:

Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier
This 2017 production was Renée Flemming’s final performance in her iconic role as the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. Strauss’s beloved score incorporates Viennese waltzes, raucous comedy, and the composer’s characteristically vivid palette of orchestral color.

Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Audiences went wild for Bartlett Sher’s dynamic production, which found fresh and surprising ways to bring Rossini’s effervescent comedy closer to them than ever before. The production features mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who was most recently in Hill Auditorium this past October, in the role of Rosina.

Puccini’s La Bohème
Starring U-M alumnus Michael Fabiano as ‘Rodolfo.’ Puccini’s timeless love story, which includes some of its composer’s most beloved music, has moved generations of opera lovers since its 1896 world premiere.

Nico Muhly’s Marnie
In September of 2018, the Philadelphia Orchestra with Yannick Nézet-Séguin performed a Suite from Marnie ahead of its US debut in October. The Opera is based on Winston Graham’s gripping 1961 novel of intrigue and deception which also served as the basis of Hitchcock movie of the same name.

Wagner’s Das Rheingold
When else might you have time to watch the entire Ring Cycle?! Met On Demand has two full cycles, both the 1989 and 2010-2012 productions. Start with a production of Das Rheingold and move on to Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung.

Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall

2. Digital Concert Hall

Invite the Berlin Philharmonic into your living room! The Digital Concert Hall’s archive contains hundreds of recordings with all the great artists of classical music. U-M students can enjoy full access to the archives with performances going back to the 1980s.

UMS Recommends:

Simon Rattle Conducts Berio And Bartók
To help social distancing, the Berliner Philharmoniker performed its most recent concert without an audience. Under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle, the Philharmoniker Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. The concert is a great reminder of the resilience and importance of the arts in these times.

Inaugural Concert: Kirill Petrenko Conducts Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
For the first time, Kirill Petrenko stands before the Berliner Philharmoniker as its new chief conductor. For his inaugural concert, he chose one of the greatest symphonic masterpieces of the 19th century: Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. (P.S. you might have the chance to see Kirill Petrnko with the Philharmoniker next year in Ann Arbor!)

Concert with Claudio Abbado to Mark the 100th Anniversary of Gustav Mahler’s Death
Exactly 100 years after Gustav Mahler’s death in 1911, the Berliner Philharmoniker commemorated this anniversary with a special concert under the direction of their former chief conductor, Claudio Abbado, with Anne Sofie von Otter and Jonas Kaufmann as soloists.

A Beethoven Evening With Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, and Yo-Yo Ma
With Barenboim playing both the piano and conducting, he is supported by his famous colleagues Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma to perform Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano, Violin, Violoncello and Orchestra in C major and Fantasy for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra in C minor.

Hélène Grimaud and Valery Gergiev
French pianist Hélène Grimaud, whose March 2020 performance in Hill Auditorium was unfortunately canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions, joins Valery Gergiev, the director of Mariinsky Theater, to perform Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto. Later in the concert, Gergiev leads the Philharmoniker in Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 6.

Boulez Meets Stravinsky
This performance places Boulez’s own works in conversation with one of his major influences, Stravinsky. The program features Boulez’s … explosante-fixe … with flutist Emmanuel Pahud (who last held a recital in Rackham in 2018) as soloist. The night concluded with Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol in concert.

BBC Shakespeare Collection

3. BBC Shakespeare Plays

Between 1978 and 1985 the BBC adapted thirty-seven Shakespeare plays for television. Shakespeare is rightly called the world’s greatest playwright for the soaring beauty of his language, for his profound insight into human nature, for the truths he dramatized and for the realism of the characters he created. He was, and remains, a superb entertainer. Featuring some of Britain’s most distinguished theatrical talent, these programs are an ideal choice for libraries, literature classes, and for continuing personal enjoyment.

UMS Recommends:

Romeo and Juliet
A hit for over 400 years. It expresses love in its infinite variety more than any other work in the English language.

As You Like It
After the overthrowing of Duke Senior by his tyrannical brother, Senior’s daughter Rosalind disguises herself as a man and sets out to find her banished father while also counseling her clumsy suitor Orlando in the art of wooing. Helen Mirren stars as Rosalind in this pastoral comedy.

Perhaps his greatest triumph as a stage play. As General Othello becomes convinced that his wife is having an affair, Evil Iago plants doubt in Othello’s mind about Desdemona, and audiences are spellbound. Stars Anthony Hopkins.

Merry Wives of Windsor
When Sir John Falstaff decides that he wants to have a little fun he writes two letters to a pair of Window wives: Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. When they put their heads together and compare missives, they plan a practical joke or two to teach the knight a lesson. Features Ben Kingsley as Frank Ford.

Hamlet suspects his uncle has murdered his father to claim the throne of Denmark and the hand of Hamlet’s mother, but the Prince cannot decide whether or not he should take vengeance. In this richly costumed production, the greatest tragedy ever written maintains all the tension of a murder mystery.


4. Kanopy

Like all artistic experiences, the films that truly resonate with us do more than just entertain. They inspire us, enrich us, and challenge our perspectives. Kanopy ensures that these films reach viewers around the world. Through U-M’s library, students have access to much of the Criterion Collection, as well as features and documentaries across a wide range of topics.

UMS Recommends:

A Composer’s Notes – Philip Glass and the Making of an Opera
Philip Glass provides an intimate look at the inspiration, development, and production of his third opera, Akhnaten.

Alive Inside – A Story of Music and Memory
A joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity, chronicling the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. His camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.

Itzhak – The Life of Violinist Itzhak Perlman
This enchanting documentary looks beyond the sublime musician, to see the polio survivor whose parents emigrated from Poland to Israel, the young man who struggled to be taken seriously as a music student when schools saw only his disability. As charming and entrancing as the famous violinist himself, Itzhak is a portrait of musical virtuosity seamlessly enclosed in warmth, humor, and above all, love.

Bobbi Jene – A Superstar of Modern Dance Returns Home
After a decade of stardom in Israel, American dancer Bobbi Jene decides to leave behind her prominent position at the world-famous Batsheva Dance Company, as well as the love of her life, to return to the U.S. to create her own boundary-breaking art.

Ballet – A Profile of the American Ballet Theatre
The film presents the renowned ballet company in rehearsal in their New York studio and on tour in Athens and Copenhagen. Choreographers and ballet masters are shown at work with principal dancers, soloists, and the corps de ballet.

Alexander Street

5. Alexander Street Collections

ProQuest’s Alexander Street products are curated, discipline-focused, primary-source collections, websites, and streaming media for learning and research. U-M Students have access to over 132 curated collections which include over 1300 different series.

UMS Recommends:

Classical Music in Video
1100+ videos of classical music performances and masterclasses.

Theatre in Video
Classic and contemporary plays and documentaries in streaming video.

Dance in Video
Contains over 900 hours of dance productions and documentaries by the most influential performers and companies.

Opera in Video
300 opera performances, captured on video through staged productions, interviews, and documentaries.

Art and Architecture in Video
A collection of 600+ documentaries and interviews illustrating the history, theory and practice of art, design and architecture.

Enrico Caruso’s Big Debut…and the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic

When you’ve been around for 141 years, you’ve seen it all. And while the events of the past few weeks are truly extraordinary, this is not the first time UMS has been forced to make tough choices in response to a global pandemic.

Enrico Caruso

A little over a century ago, the Spanish Flu outbreak put the presentation of Italian tenor Enrico Caruso in jeopardy. Here is the story of how UMS brought “the world’s greatest tenor” to Ann Arbor.

Programming Caruso

In 1918, Enrico Caruso was set to perform in just four cities across the Midwest: Buffalo, St. Louis, Chicago, and Ann Arbor. Nearly every large midwestern city placed its own bid on bringing in Caruso. As UMS president emeritus Ken Fischer tells the story, Charles Sink (UMS president from 1927-68) met personally with Caruso in New York to convince him to come to Ann Arbor. The two reportedly left the meeting in high spirits with Caruso excited to perform in Hill Auditorium.

Caruso’s manager, though, was concerned about UMS’s ability to meet his fees. Yet, within a week, Sink had secured the necessary funds. At the time, Sink was protective over disclosing how large Caruso’s fee was. However, he noted that “Caruso receives enough for such an engagement as this to purchase 100 acres of the finest farmland, to buy also a ‘first-class’ automobile, and after having done both these to have enough left over to take an excellent summer vacation.” Eventually it was disclosed Caruso’s fee was $13,200 (the equivalent of around $220,000 today!).

Enrico Caruso recital program from 1918

Caruso’s recital program from UMS’s 1918-19 season

Ann Arbor Times article from 1918

Ann Arbor Times News, Oct 24, 1918

Spanish Flu Hits Ann Arbor

Caruso was scheduled to perform his first concert in Ann Arbor alongside soprano Nina Morgana and violinist Elias Breeskin at Hill Auditorium on October 19, 1918. In order to fund the performance, patrons were required to buy a three-year subscription to UMS performances (though all tickets were exempt from the war tax!). However, in the weeks leading up to Caruso’s performance, the dangers of the Spanish Influenza spread to Ann Arbor. On October 16, just three days before the scheduled performance, Ann Arbor’s health officer ordered that “all places of public assemblage, including auditoriums, churches, theaters, dance halls and all places of amusement within doors be and are hereby closed until further notice.” Read more on Michigan Medicine’s archives (PDF)

This, of course, forced UMS to postpone the performance. Charles Sink immediately wired Caruso’s manager in New York to reschedule, but no date could be announced immediately.

Michigan Daily article from 1919

Michigan Daily, Feb 28, 1919

Rescheduling Caruso

The rescheduled date of March 3 for Caruso’s recital was not announced until February 1919. Sink, once again, personally went to New York to secure the new date. It was particularly special for Caruso to agree to return in March, as it fell in the midst of the Metropolitan Opera season; it was the first time in his 25 years of singing at the Met where he even considered leaving New York.

At first, the announcement of Caruso’s rescheduled date caused controversy due to a potentially conflicting performance. On the evening of March 3, British theatre actor Cyril Maude was set to perform in a play at the Whitney Theatre on Main and Ann (not a UMS performance). Fortunately, Maude’s performance was able to be rescheduled for the afternoon, allowing enthusiasts to attend both events.

The Performance

In the days leading to the performance, Caruso was praised in advance for his programming choices, as they highlighted the work of WWI-allied composers. In particular, Caruso and Morgana’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” drew the attention of the Michigan Daily, which reported that the piece sent “audiences home with a sense of overwhelming wonder.” Though only four pieces were programmed for Caruso, he performed thirteen. The encores even included a premiere of a work by his pianist, Salvatore Fucito. View the full program on UMS Rewind

Shortly after the performance, Caruso had to make his way to the Ann Arbor train station; the next day he was scheduled to perform in New York at an event celebrating the return of President Woodrow Wilson from a WWI peace conference in Europe. In order to accommodate Caruso’s schedule, a special stop in Ann Arbor had to be arranged. Arrangements such as these, it seems, could be made when a notable plans to reserve his own compartment and five additional sections of the train for his traveling party.

Enjoy our accompanying playlist of Caruso recordings, featuring works performed in this legendary UMS performance.

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UMS’s Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide 2019

Unwrap an unforgettable performance this holiday season. 🎁


⛷️ For the Nordic Enthusiast…

Minnesota Orchestra

Saturday, January 25
Hill Auditorium

The perfect winter concert for the end of January! The Minnesota Orchestra returns to Ann Arbor with a program of works by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, including his stunning and rarely heard Snöfrid (Snowy Peace) with full UMS Choral Union. Don’t miss your chance to give your favorite Nordic lover the chance to hear these wintry gems.

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Starting at $14 (+ fees)
$12-20 student tickets available


🎮 For the Gamer…

The Believers are But BrothersThe Believers Are But Brothers

January 22-25
Arthur Miller Theatre

The audience becomes part of the show through a live WhatsApp group! An electronic maze of fantasisists, meme culture, 4chan, the alt-right, and ISIS, The Believers Are But Brothers explores the online world surrounding gaming culture and young men. This multimedia show explores the smoke and mirrors world of online extremism, anonymity, and hate speech.

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$35 general admission (+ fees)
$12-20 student tickets available

✊ For the #Resistance…

White Feminist

February 3-9
Duderstadt Center Video Studio

Gender and privilege collide in this scathing comedy that will grab you by the pussy hat and challenge our understanding of activism. As the host of a morning talk show, “Becky’s Time,” Lee Minora skewers and dissects the failings of non-intersectional feminism and the dangers of white women’s tears, blending the #MeToo movement, liberal guilt, and fake celebrity apologies into a concoction that is absurdly hilarious and painfully true. Trust us — this show will sell out, so you’ll want to make sure you get tickets before they do.

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$35 general admission (+ fees)
$12-20 student tickets available


🎸 For the New Wave Fan…

Angélique Kidjo’s Remain in Light

Sunday, February 16
Michigan Theater

Hear Angélique Kidjo’s reimagining of the landmark New Wave album Remain In Light. The original was deeply influenced by music from West Africa, and Kidjo celebrates the genius of the Talking Heads and Brian Eno with euphoric singing, explosive percussion, horn orchestrations, and select lyrics performed in languages from Benin.

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Starting at $28 (+ fees)
$12-20 student tickets available


🏠 For the Home Decorator…


April 3-4
Power Center

What makes a house a HOME? Absurdist theater artist Geoff Sobelle builds an entire house, and seven performers embody generations of characters who have inhabited it, using remarkable feats of stagecraft to capture all the drama of everyday life. This breathtaking spectacle of illusion, choreography, storytelling, and live music is a life-affirming house party like no other.

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Starting at $36 (+ fees)
$12-20 student tickets available


🤷 For the Indecisive…

UMS Gift Certificates make great gifts! Available in any amount and redeemable for events throughout our season, wrapped and delivered with your personal message.

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