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Fall 2020 Digital Events

While we’re disappointed to share the news that we are unable to host any in-person concerts for the remainder of calendar year 2020, we have put together many special and engaging digital “pivots” just for you — some programs that we hope will continue to give you your cultural fix over the coming months.

All of our digital presentations are free-of-charge to audiences everywhere, and we hope that you will share them with friends and family near and far. Please join us for these upcoming programs, and sign up to receive email notifications of new presentations and live streams.

Kira Thurman and Harumi Rhodes
A Conversation with Kira Thurman

Available from Monday, October 19

Kira Thurman, U-M Professor of History and Germanic Languages and Literature and author of the forthcoming book Singing Like Germans: Black Musicians in the Land of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, is a classically-trained pianist who grew up in Vienna. She gives an overview of all of the works featured on the Takács Quartet Concert program, highlighting composers Florence Price and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and talks with Takács Quartet violinist Harumi Rhodes about some of the challenges of obtaining scores and critical editions of works by Black composers.

Takacs Quartet
Takács Quartet Concert

Digital Premiere: Wednesday, October 21 at 7:30 pm
Streaming on demand through Saturday, October 24

The Takács Quartet concerts originally scheduled for October 16-18 have been converted to a free digital presentation. The concert will premiere on Wednesday, October 21 at 7:30 pm and will remain available on demand through Saturday, October 24. The program will include works by Mozart, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Florence Price, Bartók, and Debussy.


Mozart – String Quartet in d minor, K. 421/417b (Mvt. i)
Coleridge-Taylor – Five Fantasiestücke, Op, 5 (Mvts. i and iii)
Price – String Quartet No. 2 in a minor (Mvt. ii)
Bartók – Quartet No. 1 (Mvt. iii)
Debussy – Quartet (Mvts. iii and iv)

Exclusive Endowment Support: Ilene H. Forsyth Chamber Arts Endowment Fund
Patron Sponsors: Ed and Natalie Surovell

Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Isata Kanneh-Mason Recital

Digital Premiere: Sunday, October 25 at 2 pm with live Q&A with the artists after the concert
Streaming on demand through Wednesday, November 4

In lieu of the City of Birmingham Orchestra and Chorus’ canceled 2020/21 tour featuring soloist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, UMS will present sibling cello/piano duo Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason in a free digital performance recorded specifically for UMS audiences. The program will include an excerpt from Beethoven’s Cello Sonata in C Major and Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata. Both artists will join UMS audiences in a live chat after the digital premiere.

This Digital Arts Adventure is brought to you in part by UMCU Arts Adventures
Patron Sponsor: Braylon Edwards

Wendell Pierce
Digital Artist Residency: Wendell Pierce

Monday, October 26 // 10-11:30 am

Actor and UMS Digital Artist-in-Residence Wendell Pierce will give a talk as part of the University of Michigan Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion’s summit, “Arts+Social Change: Building an Anti-Racist World through the Arts.”

Lisa Bielawa
Voters’ Broadcast by Lisa Biewala

Part 2: Wednesday, October 14 // 3 pm (Advance registration required)
Part 3: Virtual World Premiere (Complete Work): Wednesday, October 28 // 3 pm (Advance registration required)

UMS President Matthew VanBesien is moderating three panel discussions as part of the Democracy & Debate theme semester at the University of Michigan, all of which are centered on Lisa Bielawa’s new composition, Voters’ Broadcast

The work, presented in three parts, is a broadly participatory musical performance for an unlimited number of voices and instruments, including the UMS Choral Union and other U-M ensembles, with text excerpted from Sheryl Oring’s I Wish to Say. Through the work, Bielawa wishes to stimulate voter engagement and political awareness through community participation in her composition. Voters’ Broadcast hopes to challenge the isolation of pandemic lockdown conditions by literally giving voice to the concerns of fellow citizens during the lead-up to the 2020 Presidential election. 

Part 1, which aired on Wed Sep 30, is available on YouTube.

UMS Choral Union
A Grand Night for Singing Virtual Watch Party

Digital Premiere: Thursday, October 29 at 8 pm
Available on demand after the live concert

This year’s virtual U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance event is the largest in the concert’s history. The concert will focus on themes of community and connection, with repertoire that includes traditional songs and new social justice songs, all presented virtually by nine different choral ensembles, including the UMS Choral Union.

Repertoire selected will include both traditional songs that speak to our need for communal singing such as I was glad by Sir Charles Hubert Parry and How Can I Keep from Singing (arr. by Karen Thomas), as well as new social justice songs such as Alysia Lee’s Say Her Name and Melanie Demore’s Lead with Love that seek to raise awareness about police brutality and anti-racism in the United States.

Spektral Quartet
Digital Artist Residency: Spektral Quartet

Chamber Music Forum: “What a String Quartet Could Be”
Thursday, November 5 // 6:30 pm

The Chicago-based Spektral Quartet actively looks for connections between traditional repertoire and contemporary works. In this 90-minute conversation with U-M SMTD students, they discuss their approach to creating community-focused programming that draws in listeners with seamless connections across centuries, charismatic delivery, interactive concert formats, and bold, inquisitive programming.

Tunde Olaniran
Digital Artist Residency: Tunde Olaniran

Digital Release Date: Week of November 9

Flint-based musician and activist Tunde Olaniran will release four singles from their forthcoming full-length album over the course of the coming year. The first of these will include an opportunity for audiences to participate in the creative process using building blocks created by Tunde and a cohort of creatives, who will remix them to create new artistic outputs.

Presented with support from Joe Malcoun and Caitlin Klein and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan
Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan Dance-on-Camera

Beckoning — Choreography by CHENG Tsung-lung
Episode 1 — Behind the Scenes: The Making of 13 Tongues

Digital Premiere: Fri Nov 13 // 7:30 pm
Available on demand through Mon Nov 23

Over the course of the next several months, Taiwan’s Cloud Gate Dance Theatre will present a series of digital episodes charting the making of and inspiration behind 13 Tongues, a signature work by the company’s new artistic director and choreographer Cheng Tsung-lung. This first episode is preceded by Beckoning, a 40-minute dance-theater work that distills movements from the Taiwanese street-dancing ritual of Ba Jia Jiang.

This Digital Arts Adventure is brought to you in part by UMCU Arts Adventures
Patron Sponsors: Ilene Forsyth Theater Endowment Fund and Michigan Taiwanese American Organization

Tarek Yamani & Spektral Quartet
Digital Artist Residency: Tarek Yamani & the Spektral Quartet

Happy Hour Listening Parties
Part 1: Wednesday, November 18 // 5:30 pm
Part 2: Thursday, November 19 // 5:30 pm

Tarek Yamani and the members of the Spektral Quartet open up their creative process to UMS audiences as they begin their digital artists-in-residence journey together. These two listening parties will allow UMS audiences to get inside the artists’ musical worlds as they share music with each other that has shaped their artistic backgrounds and formed their artistic identities.

Wynton Marsalis
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet with Wynton Marsalis:
The Sounds of Democracy

Led by trumpeter/composer Wynton Marsalis and featuring seven of jazz’s finest soloists, the concert’s unique repertoire celebrates jazz’s embodiment of freedom and democracy.

The evening will feature the premiere of Marsalis’s The Democracy Suite, a swinging and stimulating instrumental rumination on the issues that have recently dominated our lives, as well as the beauty that could emerge from a collective effort to create a better future.

Messiah Mixtape
Messiah Mixtape

Available Sunday, December 6 through Thursday, December 31

UMS Choral Union Music Director Scott Hanoian joins Michael Kondziolka, UMS’s Vice President of Programming and Production, for a special program that includes a watch party featuring favorite and memorable archival recordings, special performances from guest artists, and virtual choir excerpts pre-recorded by the UMS Choral Union.

Daniel Hope on ‘The Four Seasons’ and Max Richter’s ‘Vivaldi Recomposed’

Violinist Daniel Hope shares thoughts on Vivaldi’s masterpiece and its modern new take before his upcoming performance with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra on November 16.

Daniel Hope and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra

I first experienced Vivaldi as a toddler at Yehudi Menuhin’s festival in Gstaad, Switzerland, in 1975…

One day I heard what I thought was birdsong coming from the stage. It was the opening solo of “La Primavera” from The Four Seasons. It had such an electrifying effect that I still call it my “Vivaldi Spring.” How was it possible to conjure up so vivid, so natural a sound, with just a violin?

In 1723 Vivaldi set about writing a series of works he boldly titled “Il Cimento dell’ Armonia e dell’invenzione” (The trial of harmony and invention), Opus 8. It consists of 12 concerti, seven of which — “Spring,” “Summer,” “Autumn” and “Winter” (which make up The Four Seasons), “Pleasure,” “The Hunt” and “Storm at Sea” — paint astonishingly vivid, vibrant scenes. In “Storm at Sea,” Vivaldi reached a new level of virtuosity, pushing technical mastery to the limit as the violinist’s fingers leap and shriek across the fingerboard, recalling troubled waters.

In the score, each of the four seasons are prefaced by four sonnets, possibly Vivaldi’s own, that establish each concerto as a musical image of that season. At the top of every movement, Vivaldi gives us a written description of what we are about to hear. These range from “the blazing sun’s relentless heat, men and flocks are sweltering” (Summer) to peasant celebrations (Autumn) in which “the cup of Bacchus flows freely, and many find their relief in deep slumber.” Images of warmth and wine are wonderfully intertwined. When the faithful hound “barks” in the slow movement of “Spring,” we experience it just as clearly as the patter of raindrops on the roof in the largo of “Winter.” No composer of the time got music to sing, speak and depict quite like this.

Today The Four Seasons, with more than 1,000 available recordings, are being reimagined…

Astor Piazzolla, Uri Caine, Philip Glass and others have all created their own versions. In Spring 2012, I received an enigmatic call from the British composer Max Richter, who said he wanted to “recompose” The Four Seasons for me. His problem, he explained, was not with the music, but how we have treated it. We are subjected to it in supermarkets, elevators or when a caller puts you on hold. Like many of us, he was deeply fond of the “Seasons” but felt a degree of irritation at the music’s ubiquity. He told me that because Vivaldi’s music is made up of regular patterns, it has affinities with the seriality of contemporary postminimalism, one style in which he composes. Therefore, he said, the moment seemed ideal to reimagine a new way of hearing it.

I had always shied away from recording Vivaldi’s original. There are simply too many other versions already out there. But Mr. Richter’s reworking meant listening again to what is constantly new in a piece we think we are hearing when, really, we just blank it out. In fact, working with Vivaldi Recomposed since 2012 inspired me to finally record The Four Seasons last year! In this program with UMS on November 16, pairing Vivaldi’s original with Max Richter’s brilliant new take, I feel both works inform and reflect on each other to create fresh and exciting connections.

— Daniel Hope

March 27, 2018: Your Arts & Culture Adventure Picks

This post is a part of a series of posts curating adventurous arts and culture experiences in Southeast Michigan. Sign up for email updates (choose “Arts & Culture Adventures” list).

amanda krugliak

UMS Wallace Blogging Fellow Amanda Krugliak is an artist, curator, and arts administrator best known for performance and conceptual experiential installations, most notably as curator at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities since 2007.

I’m still patiently waiting for crocuses to be in full bloom, and I’ve been reminded yet again this year that things never quite turn out the way you expected. I’m never going to be an heiress, its official. Alert the media… and I’m not sure I still believe in the American Dream.

But I’ve reminded too, of the power of the People, their great ideas, and how many of them are right here right now. There are so many extraordinary happenings in your town…things to see, places to go, a melody that opens you up. After a long winter and a road full of pot- holes, Place is what you make it. So, turn off the space heater and the nature channel, tumbleweeds are so “yesterday.” Swap those slippers for Chelsea boots, and venture out! Because Why Not….

56th Annual Ann Arbor Film Festival
March 20-25
Ann Arbor

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is truly one of the greatest happenings every year, anywhere. 56 years old, it’s still quirky, smart, engaging, offbeat, inspiring, and inventive. It continues to bring together visual thinkers from across the globe, along with our own eclectic like- minded visionaries, all gloriously gathering in style to celebrate experimental film.

Under the leadership of Director Leslie Raymond and Associate Director of Programs Katie Mc Gowan, the offerings this year surpass expectations in their relevance, and innovation. In addition to the sublime  experience of viewing so many wonderful films in competition, and attending all of the celebrations and goings on during the week, the festival offers special new programs this year well worth citing: Memories of Disintegrations: Ibero-American Experimental Film, explores Spanish and Portuguese-language films on Video8, Super *, 16mm, Super 35mm, and VHS.  Black Radical Imagination showcases films that explore racial identities beyond the restrictive boundaries and limitations often prescribed to people of color. These challenging programs extend our understanding and reach, and are representative of the bold spirit of this long running avant-garde festival. Also note a special screening of The Big House, a documentary about our own grand stadium and the labor behind the scenes that goes into the sports spectacle…from cooks to snipers. Also this year, don’t miss multi-media works Off the screen in venues across town—among them Lily Baldwin and Peter Rose// Room 2435 North Quad UM,  Razan AlSalah and Radical Democracy//Ann Arbor Art Center; and Matt Wilken// Arbor Brewing Company.

TALK: Simone Brown + Danielle Dean in Conversation
March 29, 7 pm
MOCAD, Detroit

Sociologist Simone Browne’s acclaimed book Dark Matters: On Surveillance of Blackness examines surveillance in relation to the history of transatlantic slavery and its afterlives. These themes informed in part by Browne’s research are central to Danielle Dean’s multimedia installation TrueRedRuin on view at MOCAD. This conversation between them explores the different ways that scholarship and artistic practice can overlap, dovetail, igniting critical dialogs and raising social consciousness in the process.

Exercising the Eye: The Gertrude Kasle Collection
March 10-July 22,
Alfred Taubman Gallery, UMMA, Ann Arbor

This lyrical exhibition celebrates Gertrude Kasle (1917-2016), who was a key figure in the formation of Detroit’s contemporary art community in the 1960’s and 70’s. Like other strong minded maverick women of her generation in the arts, she wanted to provide her Midwestern community with a venue in which to experience cutting edge art from centers like NYC. Yet, she also wanted to support and exhibit regional artists, so that the work of both groups could be included in that visual and critical conversation. This surprising and disarming show, which includes the work of Phillip Guston, Jane Hammond, Robert Rauchenberg, Jasper Johns, among others, captures the particular tenor of that era…the imagination, the drive of the gallerist, and the exciting way artists were connected in their inquiries. Don’t miss the incredible paintings by Grace Hartigan, with superb color and gesture that are as fresh today as in 1974. And make sure to take home a vintage poster from the original shows produced by the Kasle Gallery, which you can purchase in the gift store for a song. Now that’s a great day.

Romare Bearden
N’NAMDI center for contemporary art, Detroit

This exhibition offers an opportunity to see the works of acclaimed artist Romare Bearden, whose collages and paintings are iconic. He has influenced so many young artists who came after in regards to story, directness, use of color, and deliberateness of stroke and design. Bearden was a multidisciplinary artist ahead of the curve, interested in the intersection, influence and overlay of music, visual art, history, performance, literature, and culture. Above all, he was a humanist, genuine in his passion for the world and those in it, past, present and future tied together like a daisy chain.

Like what you read? Sign up for email updates (choose “Arts & Culture Adventures” list).

Ms. Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton


Sir András Schiff, piano


The Chieftains


Danish String Quartet


Nufonia Must Fall


Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán


Tanya Tagaq in concert with Nanook of the North


Igor Levit, piano


Camille A. Brown & Dancers: Black Girl — A Linguistic Play


American Ballet Theatre: The Sleeping Beauty


Jamie Barton, mezzo-soprano


Taylor Mac


My Brightest Diamond (Shara Worden) with the Detroit Party Band