Your Cart UMS

UMS Arts Roundup: December 15

Many members of the UMS staff keep a watchful eye on local and national media for news about artists on our season, pressing arts issues, and more. Each week, we pull together a list of interesting stories  and share them with you.  Welcome to UMS’s Arts Round-up, a weekly collection of arts news, including national issues, artist updates, local shout-outs, and a link or two just for fun. If you come across something interesting in your own reading, please feel free to share!

Arts Issues

  • Michael Phelps won’t be the only one to watch in London at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games – the Cultural Olympiad London 2012 festival will coincide with the games, bringing the world’s best artists and the world’s greatest athletes to one city.
  • Creative leaders in Africa speak up about obstacles they face in acquiring federal funding and maintaining ethical standards in the arts industry on their continent.

Artist Updates

  • Renée Fleming has accepted a position as the new Creative Consultant for the Lyric Opera of Chicago — but that doesn’t mean she’ll stop singing.  Quite the contrary.

UMS News

  • What about Propeller’s Richard III — also in March?  In The British Theatre Guide review of the production, Sheila Connor writes, “This inventive company brings the most thrilling, and the most wayward, production you are ever likely to see – truly mesmerizing.”

Local Shout-Outs

  • President Barack Obama nominated former UMS board member and friend Aaron Dworkin, President of the Sphinx Organization in Detroit, to the National Council on the Arts.

Just For Fun

Handel’s Messiah: 50 Years of Memories

As the Group Sales Coordinator at UMS, I speak with UMS concertgoers each year in late summer who are looking to book their group reservations as soon as possible.  Without fail, several of these calls are for our annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah.  As Delores Forsmark and I were speaking about her reservation this year, she shared with me that she and her husband have attended the Messiah performance for more than 50 years.  I asked Delores if she would consider sharing some favorite experiences with us, and her husband Bert sent me a wonderful letter explaining how significant this holiday tradition has become for them.

Bert first heard the piece in its entirety after receiving the LP as a Christmas gift from his brother.  Delores and Bert began attending the Messiah together in 1958, when Delores was a student at the University of Michigan.  He and Delores have made the drive from Flushing, sometimes even in harsh winter snow and ice storms, almost each year since then.  Bert writes, “Except for a few times when our kids were small, we have attended performances at Hill Auditorium (or the Michigan Theater, during the renovation) almost without exception, always with guests.”

Ever since that first interaction with the piece, the Forsmarks feel a special connection with the Messiah.  Bert told me about how a painting he and Delores purchased, Dali’s Crucifixion, made him remember the lyrics “All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way…”.  Bert recalls, “That was in 1965, and as I sit here typing this, I still weep.”

Bert and Delores’ most memorable Messiah performance was in 1983.  Having attended with 42 of their fellow church members and their pastor, Bert recalls how the soprano soloist that year brought a new significance to the performance.  He still vividly remembers the passion she brought to the piece: “When she sang ‘Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice greatly’, her face glowed, and the audience rejoiced with her.  She easily stole the show, and was the talk of the whole busload.”  That soloist was Kathryn Bouleyn, also known as Kathryn Day, who previously performed in the Messiah at UMS in 1976, 1977, and 1978.

At UMS, we know that many of you share the Forsmarks’ appreciation for our annual production of the Messiah.  Dr. Andrew Berry has also been attending for more than 50 years – he writes, “This is the beginning of my Christmas season every year.  We always have a group, and we carpool to have dinner afterwards.”  So what are your favorite memories?  What is it about this performance that makes it so special for you?  What are you most looking forward to when you walk into Hill Auditorium this year?  We hope you’ll share your stories, and we look forward to starting up the holiday season with you this weekend.

It used to be that I found the repeated Amens at the conclusion to be tedious, but now I hear them as joyous Amens rolling through the heavens when the redeemed are gathered as the parts are sung, and at the conclusion sigh and say, ‘Only 364 days until the next one.’               -Bert Forsmark

UMS Artists In the Stores and On The Shelves

Making your lists, checking them twice…

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are scrambling for creative gift ideas.  When you hit the stores, consider the following albums recently released by UMS artists from this season.

Many of the artists who have already visited Ann Arbor this season released albums this year, including Rosanne Cash (The List), the Mariinsky Orchestra with Denis Matsuev (Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 3, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini), and the Hot Club of Detroit (It’s About That Time). In addition, the Tallis Scholars (Josquin Masses – Missa Malheur me bat & Missa Fortuna desperata), the Jerusalem Quartet (Haydn: String Quarters vol. 2 – Op. 20 No. 5, Op. 33 No. 3, Op. 76 No. 5), and Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán (Estrellas de la Musica Mexicana) released albums in 2009.  Were you able to make any of these performances from the fall?  Consider picking up the album and listening to your favorite songs from these concerts again.

Looking ahead to the New Year, several of the artists still to perform on UMS stages have album releases that are sure to make great stocking stuffers.  Laurie Anderson (Homeland), Renée Fleming (Dark Hope), and Rafal Blechacz (Chopin: The Piano Concertos) all released solo albums this year, and Wynton Marsalis, Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Pinero, and Tony Allen released albums in 2010 recorded with their bands.  For those interested in classical music, check out the two new records from the Cleveland Orchestra (Wagner: Wesendonck Lieder/Orchestral Music and Piano Concertos and Miroirs), the New Century Chamber Orchestra (Live: Strauss, Barber & Mahler), and Bach Collegium Japan (Bach Motets) in preparation for their sure to be stellar concerts this winter.

And of course, if the person you’re shopping for prefers live music there’s always the alternative – a UMS Gift Certificate.

Happy shopping!

UMS Arts Roundup: September 24, 2010

Many members of the UMS staff keep a watchful eye on local and national media for news about artists on our season, pressing arts issues, and more. Each week, we pull together a list of interesting stories  and share them with you.  Welcome to UMS’s Arts Round-up, a weekly collection of arts news, including national issues, artist updates, local shout-outs, and a link or two just for fun. If you come across something interesting in your own reading, please feel free to share!

Arts Issues

Artist Updates

  • A look at the challenges that arise in preserving Merce Cunningham’s impeccable dance legacy beyond The Legacy Tour, coming to the Power Center stage in February.

UMS News

  • Do you have tickets to the Rosanne Cash concert?  Consider picking up her book, too – Composed: A Memoir

Local Shout-Outs

  • The DIA uses geocaching to engage the community in exploring the metro Detroit area and draw attention to the Inside|Out project.

Just For Fun

  • Would you ever watch an opera in the Big House?  In Washington D.C., they’re not too far off…“Play Ballo!”
  • In Sweden, a robotic swan created by Mälardalen University dances to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
  • Shocked by Lady Gaga’s meat-dress at the Video Music Awards?  Believe it or not, she’s not the first to dress carnivorously.  Check out the art history behind her meaty wardrobe.

Happy 80th Birthday Paul Taylor!

“I make dances because it briefly frees me from coping with the real world, because it’s possible to build a whole new universe with steps, because I want people to know about themselves, and even because it’s a thrilling relief to see how fast each of my risk-taking dancers can recover after a pratfall.” –Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor at 80

Today marks the 80th birthday of Paul Taylor, artistic director of the Paul Taylor Dance Company.  Mr. Taylor has been dancing and choreographing for over 60 years, enjoying a career that has fundamentally shaped the development of modern dance in America.  In honor of Mr. Taylor’s extensive contributions to both modern dance and dance education, and in celebration of such a landmark birthday, we’ve compiled a history of the previous appearances of the Paul Taylor Dance Company at UMS.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company has made 14 appearances on UMS stages since its debut performance in 1964.  But if you bought tickets to Mr. Taylor’s performance in the 1964 or the 1965 UMS seasons, when Mr. Taylor was still dancing with his own company, you wouldn’t have watched his work from a seat in the Power Center.  Although the idea of building a proscenium stage in Ann Arbor to accommodate performers like the Paul Taylor Dance Company was conceived in 1963, the Power Center wasn’t completed until 1971.  Prior to its completion, UMS actually built a makeshift, portable proscenium arch for use in Rackham and Hill Auditoriums when normal stage orientations in those venues weren’t suitable for certain artists.

Hill Auditorium, as it would have been for Paul Taylor Dance Co. (year unknown)

Mr. Taylor’s first appearances in Ann Arbor were actually a part of the Third and Fourth Annual Chamber Dance Festival, performed in Rackham Auditorium.  As described in the program for the 1966 festival, “In 1962 the University Musical Society inaugurated a ‘Chamber Dance Festival’ with three presentations within three consecutive days, of special dance programs in Rackham Auditorium.  An extended stage, constructed by the University, together with special curtains and lighting provided by the Tobins Lake Studios, made this possible. […] The audiences this year are the largest to attend the annual Dance Festival.  With this kind of encouragement and support the University Musical Society will continue its endeavors in the presentation of the finest dance groups available.”

The top ticket price for the entire series in 1964?  $6.00.  If you were only interested in the Paul Taylor performance, single tickets could be purchased for a top price of $3.50.  Just prior to Mr. Taylor’s debut performance, Igor Stravinsky guest conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra performing his piece “Perséphone” at the 71st May Festival.  1964 was also the year the School of Music moved to facilities on North Campus.

When the Paul Taylor Dance Company returned to Ann Arbor in 1975, one year after Mr. Taylor retired as a performer, the company performed as part of the Fifth Annual Choice Series – this time in the new Power Center.  Started in 1970, the Choice Series included jazz, international music, soloists, and dance performances throughout the UMS season each year.  The Paul Taylor Dance Company performance on March 12, 1975 was just under one year after the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Ann Arbor, celebrated at the previous year’s May Festival.

Mr. Taylor returned to Ann Arbor for two performances in 1979, another important year for both UMS and the city of Ann Arbor.   In 1979 the city of Ann Arbor purchased the Michigan Theater to keep the struggling venue from being converted into a shopping mall, and the 1978/1979 season was the 100th Concert Season at UMS.  The Paul Taylor Dance Company gave two performances in January of 1979, each with completely different repertoire.  The January 27th performance included his work Polaris; the program note for the performance reads, “The choreography for Part II is an exact repeat of Part I.  The only difference is the change of cast, music, and lighting.  An opportunity is offered to observe the multiple effects that music, lighting, and individual interpretations by the performers have on a single dance.”  Mr. Taylor also led two master classes in the U-M Dance Department that year, and returned for additional residencies in 1982, 1984, 1989, and 2004.

UMS is thrilled to bring the Paul Taylor Dance Company back to Ann Arbor this fall and continue to showcase Mr. Taylor’s expertise, artistic achievement, and contributions to modern American dance.  Many friends and colleagues of Paul Taylor have left their birthday greetings on his website.

Happy Birthday, Paul Taylor!