Introducing the 2019/20 UMS Season
“UMS’s 2019/20 season was conceived with an eye toward the familiar and the disruptive, the traditional and the uncommon, and the emotional and the provocative — sometimes even within a single work or performance.”
— UMS President Matthew VanBesien
Welcome to UMS’s 141st season
View Full Press Release (PDF)
No Safety Net 2.0 is three-week festival of four provocative theater productions that foster timely conversations around topical social themes.
Yo-Yo Ma returns in a program with Emanuel Ax and Leonidas Kavakos, performing Beethoven Piano Trios.
The season launches with a performance by jazz/funk collective Snarky Puppy.
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and UMS Choral Union will perform the live film score to a screening of Amadeus.
Starting in 2019/20 and for the next few seasons, UMS is pleased to renew a focus on artists, institutions, and ensembles from the Arab World — including Tania El Khoury’s As Far As My Fingertips Take Me and a performance by the Tarek Yamani Trio.
Two Swan Lakes. American Ballet Theatre returns to the Detroit Opera House in a co-presentation with Michigan Opera Theatre, and Irish dance-theatre company Teaċ Daṁsa makes its UMS debut in an acclaimed contemporary and dark deconstruction of the classic tale.
UMS will present a co-commissioned work by Andrew Norman in a “composer’s evening” with yMusic, also featuring music by contemporary luminaries such as Caroline Shaw, Michigan natives Andrew Norman and Shara Nova (also known as My Brightest Diamond), Missy Mazzoli, and Gabriella Smith.
How to Order Season Tickets
Current season ticketholders can renew their series with priority seating starting Monday, April 15 at 9 am.
Season Tickets go on sale to the general public Monday, April 22 at 9 am. Choose five or more concerts and save when you create your own Series:You package, or select from one of UMS’s 10 fixed series packages, specially curated by genre.
Individual event tickets will go on sale Wednesday, August 7.
Celebrating the 2018 DTE Educators of the Year
The University Musical Society (UMS) and the DTE Energy Foundation are pleased to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. High School Teacher Denise Allen and Thurston Elementary School Teacher Yael Rothfeld as the 2018 DTE Energy Foundation Educators of the Year.
The award recognizes and celebrates excellence in arts education, lifting up the importance of the arts as a way of teaching 21st-century knowledge and skills, including creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and familiarity with local and global cultures. The recipients were nominated through a public nomination process. The DTE Energy Foundation is sponsoring the awards as part of its annual grant support for UMS Youth Education Programs.
A dance educator at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in Detroit, Denise Allen is a noted champion for the inclusion of the “A for Arts” in STEAM. Ms. Allen runs one of the few performing arts programs that has remained within Detroit Public Schools throughout its years of emergency management and one of just a handful of dance programs offered for credit at high schools throughout Southeast Michigan. She organizes after-school rehearsals, special evening and weekend performances, and master classes with guest artists, as well as student fundraisers that provide students with opportunities to develop leadership skills. Several of Ms. Allen’s students have gone on to study with professional dance companies, but the discipline, confidence, and focus instilled in learning the craft has also led her students to success in academics and other areas of life.
Ms. Allen’s commitment to inclusivity in her program is especially laudable. To allow any student who wishes to participate the opportunity to do so, she arranges transportation, provides healthy snacks, and purchases costumes and supplies for students who are in need. She also invites autistic students to her dance performances at no cost, encouraging the use of the movement, rhythm, and sound embedded in dance as both physical and communicative therapy. She has made a big difference in the lives of young male students, encouraging them to explore and enjoy their interest in dance and to enjoy it without fear of shame from their male peers.
Yael Rothfeld has been a vocal music educator at Thurston Elementary School in Ann Arbor for 15 years. Ms. Rothfeld works with students in Preschool through Fifth Grade, developing her curriculum in a way that demonstrates to her students the importance of music throughout the world, in her students’ own communities, and in the life of their school. She organizes regular performances for her students, giving them an opportunity to set and work toward specific goals, and to use music as a powerful tool to communicate around ideas and issues that are relevant to their everyday lives.
Ms. Rothfeld continuously develops new programs and ideas for her students so they can grow through hands-on experiences with different instruments and techniques. In 2015, she launched a successful fundraiser to purchase ukuleles — an instrument that lends itself particularly well to teaching melody, harmony, singing, improvising, and storytelling — for Thurston to add another layer of music to the school curriculum. She also leverages resources offered by regional arts organizations to further her own professional development, bringing new ideas and techniques back to her classroom and taking students out of the school to experience live performances by professional artists.
The DTE Energy Foundation is sponsoring the awards as part of its annual grant support to UMS Youth Education Programs.
UMS Director Michael Kondziolka to Receive Chevalier Award
UMS Programming Director Michael Kondziolka was recently named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Minister of Culture.
This distinction recognizes eminent artists and writers, and those who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. Kondziolka receives the award in recognition of his significant contributions to bringing French performing arts to the United States.
Said UMS National Council member Marylene Delbourg-Delphis:
As a French citizen, I am thrilled to learn that Michael Kondziolka is now a Knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters). The significance of this prestigious award is that it recognizes a continuous series of achievements and, as a result, is very hard to get. I am glad that my country values how effectively Michael evangelizes the French performing arts and I am sure that many other countries will follow suit. Michael’s personal acumen, tireless efforts and talent bolster Ann Arbor’s visibility and influence on a national and international scale and confirms UMS’s standing as a truly diverse and cosmopolitan breeding ground for the arts.
The award will be presented later in 2016 in France.
UMS/New York Philharmonic Residency: By the Numbers
UMS’s residency with the New York Philharmonic in October 2015 touched unprecedented numbers of people through performances, master classes, educational activities, and the halftime show at the U-M Homecoming Football game against Northwestern.
A highlight reel of the weekend’s activities:
The New York Philharmonic gave performances of three different programs in Hill Auditorium October 9-11, 2015. Total attendance was 7,945 across all three performances . First-time UMS ticketbuyers accounted for 38% of the total audience. Attendees came from 37 states plus the District of Columbia, and from 8 foreign countries.
Students purchased more than 2,250 tickets at a significant discount and accounted for nearly 30% of paid attendance. UMS subsidized over $110,000 in discounted tickets for students. In addition, students accounted for an estimated 75% of those attending the various residency activities over the course of the multi-day residency.
As part of the multi-day residency, members of the New York Philharmonic participated in 36 additional public and private activities, including lectures by various Philharmonic staff (5); a side-by-side chamber music concert (and rehearsal) in which New York Philharmonic principal musicians played alongside U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance graduate students (2); classroom visits (5); master classes and conducting roundtables (17); visits to three Ann Arbor high schools (4); an event pairing medical students with Philharmonic musicians (1); an open rehearsal for conducting students (1); and performing at the U-M Hospital as part of the Gifts of Art program (1). The total reach of these activities was 2,495.
In addition, UMS selected U-M student and percussion major Evan Saddler as part of its 21st Century Arts Internship program, and he was placed as an intern with the New York Philharmonic for the summer leading up to the residency. He writes about his experiences on this blog.
Half-time with the New York Philharmonic Brass and the U-M Marching Band
One of the highlights of the residency was the inclusion of the New York Philharmonic brass section in the University of Michigan Homecoming Football game halftime show, along with the U-M Marching Band, the U-M Alumni Band (a Homecoming tradition), and the UMS Choral Union. Alan Gilbert conducted the 1,000+ musicians in selections from Aida, Bolero, Carmen, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and other works. Total game attendance was 110,452, and the video of the halftime show has received tens of thousands of additional views.
The “digital Big House” resulted in nearly 200,000 people engaged through social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and umslobby.org. The 9 videos that UMS produced during the course of the residency received almost 50,000 views over the course of the weekend.
Eugene M. Grant
The New York Philharmonic residency marked the first gift of $1,000,000 to UMS, from UMS National Council member Eugene M. Grant (’38, LSA). At 97, Mr. Grant came to Ann Arbor for the weekend’s activities and called it “one of the most memorable events of the past four decades.” Mr. Grant was celebrated at a special “Victors for the Arts” gala dinner on Thursday, October 8 on the stage of Hill Auditorium.
Members of the media interested in more information about the program should contact Sara Billmann, UMS Director of Marketing & Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UMS Honored with National Medal of Arts
We are thrilled and honored to announce that the University Musical Society (UMS) has been selected as one of the 2014 recipients of the National Medal of Arts, announced by the White House today. The award will be presented on Thursday, September 10 at 3:45 pm at the White House. Read full press release.
The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government. The National Medal of Arts is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who “are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States.”
Said UMS president Ken Fischer: “We are simply ecstatic to be selected as a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. For over a century, UMS has had an uncompromising commitment to presenting a diverse roster of legendary artists, to developing students at the University of Michigan and beyond, and to commissioning new work that we hope will influence arts enthusiasts for decades to come. We are proud to join the legion of national arts luminaries who have inspired and served many generations of arts lovers — and we are proud of our community, whose unwavering support for the arts makes this work possible.”
Through an uncompromising commitment to presentation, education, and the creation of new work in the performing arts, the University Musical Society of the University of Michigan (UMS) serves Midwest audiences by bringing to the Ann Arbor campus and Southeast Michigan region an ongoing series of world- class artists, who represent the diverse spectrum of today’s vigorous and exciting worlds of live dance, theater, and music. UMS’s mission is to inspire individuals and enrich communities by connecting audiences and artists in uncommon and engaging experiences. Since its founding 137 years ago, strong leadership, coupled with outstanding venues, authentic artistic and community collaborations, dynamic education programs, and enduring commitment to excellence, has placed UMS in a league of internationally-recognized performing arts presenters.
In addition to UMS, other recipients of the 2014 National Medal of Arts are U-M Emeritus Professor and operatic tenor George Shirley (who has performed under UMS auspices five times since 1973), Meredith Monk (three UMS performances in 2000 and 2012 with the San Francisco Symphony), and Ping Chong (whose theater company performed Edda with Benjamin Bagby in 2001).
Want more award information? The award ceremony will take place next Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 3:45 pm at the White House and will be available via live stream.
Members of the media interested in more information about the program should contact Sara Billmann, UMS Director of Marketing & Communications, at email@example.com. Read full press release.
Announcing 2015-2016 UMS Artists in Residence!
UMS has something to inspire everyone, from classical music, jazz, global, and indie music, to dance and theater. From left to right, artists on our 2015-2016 season: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, to perform works of dance pioneer William Forsythe; My Brightest Diamond, who opens our season with the Detroit Party Marching Band; theater and cabaret artist Taylor Mac; violinist Gil Shaham, whose performance of Bach’s violin partitas collides with the iconic film world of David Michalek, and Antigone by Sophokles, in a new translation by Ann Arbor’s Award-winning poet Anne Carson. Photos courtesy of artists.
UMS is pleased to announce the second installment of our artists in “residence” program. Why “residence” in quotes? Because instead of a traditional artist residence, during which artists quite literally live at the place where the artist residency is located, we’re asking area artists to take residence at our performances.
We received many wonderful applications. Thanks to all who applied for the chance to experience your work.
Five artists (including visual, literary, and performing artists) have been selected to take “residence” at UMS performances, using these experiences as a resource to support the creation of new work or to fuel an artistic journey. Residents will receive complimentary tickets to select UMS performances; a $500 stipend; gatherings with fellow residents; and behind-the-scenes access to UMS staff and artists, when available. In return, UMS asks that artists share their artistic journeys via residency entrance and exit interviews and on the umslobby.org blog; participate in select UMS Education & Community Engagement events; and share artistic work generated during the residency when possible. Rights to all artistic work produced as a result of the residency will remain entirely with the artists.
Introducing our 2015-2016 artists in residence
Russell Brakefield received his MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. He lives in Ann Arbor where he teaches writing at the University of Michigan and works as a bookseller and as the managing editor for Canarium Books. His most recent work appears in The Southern Indiana Review, Hobart, and Language Lessons: An Anthology by Third Man Records.
Siobhan McBride was born in Seoul, South Korea and currently lives in Ann Arbor. She received her MFA in painting from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005. She was an artist in residence at Yaddo, Jentel, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Program, Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program, and the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has been exhibited at NURTUREart, the Pelham Art Center, Eight Modern, and this past winter at Miami Project with DC Moore.
Helena Mesa is the author of Horse Dance Underwater and a co-editor for Mentor & Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets. Her poems have appeared in various literary journals, including Indiana Review, Pleiades, Third Coast, and Puerto del Sol. She has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences, and Writers in the Heartland. She lives in Ann Arbor and teaches at Albion College.
Andrew Morton’s plays include Bloom (a winner at the 2013 Write Now Festival and winner of the 2013 Aurand Harris Memorial Playwriting Award), which received its world premiere at Flint Youth Theatre in May 2014 and was subsequently published by Dramatic Publishing, Inc. Other works include: February (shortlisted for the 2007 Royal Court Young Writers Festival), Drive-Thru Nativity, and the collaborative projects State of Emergency, EMBERS: The Flint Fires Verbatim Theatre Project, and the upcoming The Most [Blank] City in America, premiering at Flint Youth Theatre in April 2016. As a community artist and educator, Morton has worked with a range of organizations across the globe, including working alongside Salvation Army community counselors in Kenya to incorporate participatory theatre into their work with people living with HIV/AIDS. While based in the UK, he worked with several educational theatre companies and was the Education Officer at the Blue Elephant Theatre where he ran the Young People’s Theatre and the Speak Out! Forum Theatre projects. Morton is currently based in Flint, Michigan where he teaches at the University of Michigan-Flint and is Playwright-in-Residence at Flint Youth Theatre.
Ben Willis is a bassist, improviser, and composer whose affinities lie in collaborative projects, new music, improvisation, and the merging of cross-disciplinary elements. He released an album of solo double bass compositions, Egret/Flatlander, in summer of 2015. His jazz-rock band, Lovely Socialite, will be releasing their second album, Toxic Consonance, in fall of 2015. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, and performs often throughout the midwest.
You’ll be able to follow the artists’ journeys throughout the UMS season right here on UMS Lobby.
In this video, 2014-2015 residents chat about what they loved about the program.
Interested in learning more? See this season’s application requirements.
Members of the media interested in more information about the program should contact Anna Prushinskaya, manager of digital media, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Download press release
Outgoing UMS Choral Union Music Director and Conductor Jerry Blackstone Inspires $100,000 Gift
On Monday July 6, Jerry Blackstone, Director of Choirs and Chair of the Conducting Department at the University of Michigan, claimed the podium one last time as the UMS Choral Union Music Director and Conductor to lead singers in a reading of Francis Poulenc’s Gloria as part of the choir’s community music-making sessions entitled Summer Sings. A beloved Ann Arbor tradition, Summer Sings events bring together singers from all over the region to learn and sing together for one evening under the baton of some of our nation’s finest choral conductors. At the close of Poulenc’s monumental piece, participants basked in a moment of awe-inspired silence before erupting into appreciative applause for the timeless music, the memorable experience of singing together, and most importantly, for the work of Jerry Blackstone.
After 12 years of dedicated service as the UMS Choral Union Music Director and Conductor, Blackstone passed the baton to Scott Hanoian, whose appointment as the new leader of the UMS Choral Union began on July 1. In recognition of Blackstone’s service and incredible impact on the choir, the Jerry Blackstone UMS Choral Union Performance Fund was announced at Monday evening’s Summer Sings. Two anonymous donors, who wished to provide the UMS Choral Union membership with opportunities to perform an expanded repertoire of significant choral works, made gifts totaling $100,000 to establish the fund, which will be used to help pay for expenses related to the self-produced concert activities of the UMS Choral Union.
“The 175 volunteer musicians in the UMS Choral Union dedicate considerable time and talent for the benefit of our community. We are delighted to have a fund that will help enhance their experience through a robust season of choral repertoire,” said President Kenneth C. Fischer. “Jerry Blackstone has shown us that great music-making requires more than incredible technique and talent. It requires hard-work, thoughtful reflection, and a supportive community where musicians can be nurtured to see their fullest potential. The Jerry Blackstone UMS Choral Union Performance Fund recognizes the work of a beloved music director and paves the way for exciting projects to come.”
The fund is extended to all UMS Choral Union projects beyond UMS’s annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah that are not performed in partnership with a touring orchestra as part of UMS’s Choral Union Series or scheduled through the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as part of their concert series at Orchestra Hall.
Recent self-produced UMS Choral Union concerts include the 2015 presentation of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, the 2014 presentation of Brahms’s German Requiem, and the 2004 presentation of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience, the Naxos recording that won three 2006 Grammy Awards (“Best Choral Performance,” “Best Contemporary Classical Composition,” and “Best Classical Album”).
In a recent interview, Karen Isble, Assistant Vice President for Development at the University of Michigan and longtime UMS Choral Union member, said of Blackstone: “Jerry has fostered the Choral Union community. His ability to be so musical and so warm and so inviting to everyone at every musical level really made the difference during his term as the music director.”
While the donors responsible for the Jerry Blackstone UMS Choral Union Performance Fund prefer to remain anonymous, they released the following statement about their gift: “Our hope is that this gift, and the naming of the fund in Jerry Blackstone’s honor, will encourage others who cherish choral music to add to the fund.”
While the end of an era is always bittersweet, the choir turns its eye to a promising future with incoming UMS Choral Union Music Director and Conductor Scott Hanoian, making his first public appearance in the new role at the next Summer Sings event on August 3 to lead a reading of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.
“Jerry Blackstone was a hugely influential teacher to me during my time as a music student at the University of Michigan and I’m honored to continue the tradition of great choral music-making in Ann Arbor, “ says Scott Hanoian. “The Jerry Blackstone UMS Choral Union Performance Fund will allow the choir to embark on the next chapter of our storied history. I can’t wait to see what will happen next.”
Donors interested in contributing to the Jerry Blackstone UMS Choral Union Performance Fund can do so online or connect with UMS Associate Director of Development Susie Bozell Craig at email@example.com.