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Classical Gems in the 23/24 Season

UMS has a rich history of bringing world-class artists and ensembles to the region. Each season, UMS’s Choral Union and Chamber Arts Series provide a balance of artists familiar to UMS audiences and new artists or works we are excited to introduce.

Read on to learn more about five hidden gems in the 23/24 season:

Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería

Orquesta Sinfónica de MineríaFri Oct 27, 2023 at 7:30 pm // Hill Auditorium
Related Series: Choral Union | Series:You | Marathon

One of the most prestigious orchestras in Latin America, the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería (Minería Symphony Orchestra) was founded in 1978 by a group of mining engineers who wanted to support the cultural development of México and is now regarded as the leading musical institution in the country. Led by 2019 Musical America Conductor of the Year Carlos Miguel Prieto, the orchestra has performed with renowned soloists and conductors and has toured internationally. We had intended to bring Prieto and soloist Gabriela Montero to Ann Arbor during the 20/21 season with similar repertoire, but that tour, of course, didn’t happen as intended.

This concert — the debut of the orchestra, Prieto, and piano soloist Gabriela Montero — features a program of Mexican and Latin American composers, including two women composers. Gabriela Ortiz (b. 1964) composed Kauyumari at the behest of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2021, and the work reflects the return to live performance after the pandemic. Venezuela-born pianist Gabriela Montero performs her own piano concerto, an energetic work that shows the complexities of South American life, from its rhythmic and sensual energy to the shadows of violence and corruption.

The concert also includes works by two Mexican composers: Carlos Chávez (1899-1978) was an ethnomusicologist whose Sinfonía India reflects the harmonies, rhythms, melodies, and instruments of the Indian cultures of México, and Silvestre Revueltas’s La noches de los mayas, a concert suite drawn from his score for the 1939 film of the same name, which relates to México’s pre-Columbian heritage.


Akropolis Reed Quintet

Akropolis Reed QuintetSun Nov 12, 2023 at 4 pm // Rackham Auditorium
Related Series: Chamber Arts | Series:You | Marathon

If you’ve never heard of a reed quintet, you’re not alone. The Akropolis Reed Quintet practically invented the combination of instruments it comprises: clarinet, oboe, saxophone, bass clarinet and bassoon. The five U-M grads developed the innovative and adventurous combination, commissioning over 100 new chamber music works and racking up prestigious prizes and national awards along the way, including the 2014 Fischoff Gold Medal at the country’s largest chamber music competition.

With a shared passion for making music that sparks joy and wonder, Akropolis recently became the first reed quintet to grace the Billboard charts (2021) and now performs over 120 concerts and educational events each year. We’re thrilled to host them for their UMS debut, which features a new work called Are We Dreaming the Same Dream? by the Grammy-nominated composer and jazz pianist Pascal Le Boeuf, as well as an arrangement of Gershwin’s American in Paris and Charles Mingus’s Self-Portrait in Three Colors.

Fun fact: while a student at U-M, Akropolis clarinetist Kari Landry interned in the UMS marketing and communications department!


World Premiere: Nkeiru Okoye’s When the Caged Bird Sings

Nkeiru OkoyeSat Feb 10, 2024 at 7:30 pm // Hill Auditorium
Related Series: Choral Union | Series:You | Marathon

UMS and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) are collaborating on this newly commissioned work by Nkeiru Okoye, an American-born composer of African American and Nigerian heritage. When the Caged Bird Sings is inspired by Maya Angelou and celebrates the resilience of Black women, commemorating those who have paved a path for future generations. Written for orchestra, chorus, four soloists, and a narrator, the work fuses elements of oratorio, theater, gospel, and opera and will be recorded for later release on the Naxos label.

Nkeiru Okoye has received acclaim for her music’s accessibility and expressiveness, and its connections to contemporary culture. Your Classical Voice commented that her compositions “showcase her genius by incorporating different types of musical styles that help create a sound that’s uniquely hers.” Dr. Okoye’s works have been commissioned, performed, and presented by the Detroit Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, and many others.

Her 2020 work Black Bottom was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony to celebrate the centennial of Orchestra Hall and called “one of the most engrossing musical portraits of Black history in the available repertoire” by the New York Times. We are thrilled to work with Dr. Okoye over the coming months and to provide students at SMTD the rare opportunity to work with a living composer on the world premiere of a major new work.


James Ehnes

James EhnesFri Feb 16, 2024 at 7:30 pm // Hill Auditorium
Related Series: Chamber Arts | Series:You | Marathon

Canadian violinist James Ehnes, “a thinker of the violin as well as a supreme virtuoso of the instrument,” (Daily Telegraph) makes his UMS debut in 2024, but he is no stranger to UMS audiences in recent years. During the first year of the pandemic, he turned his Florida home into a studio and presented a series of livestreamed concerts, including one that UMS presented digitally that season. In 2021, he released recordings of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin and Ysäye’s Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, as well as three CDs of Beethoven String Quartets; that same year he was named Gramophone’s Artist of the Year.

The week of his live UMS performance debut, he will work with students and faculty at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance; some of those collaborators will join him for a chamber music work on his recital program. Full program to be announced.


Isidore Quartet

Isidore QuartetSun Mar 10, 2024 at 4 pm // Rackham Auditorium
Related Series: Chamber Arts | Series:You | Marathon

Among classical music industry insiders, the buzz about the Isidore Quartet has been extraordinary. Founded in 2019, the New York-based quartet has already been awarded a 2023 Avery Fisher Career Grant — virtually unheard of for such a young group to be so recognized — in addition to winning the 2022 Banff International String Quartet Competition. The group was heavily influenced by the Juilliard String Quartet and is named after Isidore Cohen, who performed with both the Juilliard String Quartet and the Beaux Arts Trio. (Rumor has it that they also take their name from a Greek monk named Isidore, who concocted the first vodka recipe for the Grand Duchy of Moscow!)

The Isidore Quartet also works with PROJECT: MUSIC HEALS US, which provides encouragement, education, and healing to marginalized communities, including elderly, disabled, and rehabilitating incarcerated and homeless populations who otherwise have limited access to high-quality live music performance.

Their UMS debut performance features quartets by Haydn and Beethoven, as well as Billy Childs’ String Quartet No. 2, which was composed in 2012 after his wife’s emergency hospitalization for a pulmonary embolism. The work depicts Childs’ emotional, physical, and spiritual journey in dealing with her illness and recovery, evoking Shostakovich in its depiction of the chaotic emergency room, the powerlessness of being at her bedside, and an ode to the slow process of healing and recovery in a respect for the transient nature of life.

Favorite Moments from the Freighthouse

In April 2023, UMS piloted a week of arts programming at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, in advance of a new four-week residency that will take place at the historic Depot Town venue each Fall and Spring. The pilot week included nine unique programs — all free or Pay What You Wish — and brought together multi-generational audiences from Ypsilanti and beyond.

We were beyond thrilled by the enthusiasm and energy from artists and audiences alike at every event! Here is a look back at some of our most memorable moments:

A Community Sing Kick-Off

There was no better way to start our residency than with Come Together: An Evening of Community and Song, led by Dr. Brandon Waddles and professional singers from Ypsilanti and Detroit. They invited audience members of all ages to join them in songs by The Beatles, Bob Marley, and more!


Breaking it Down

Breakdancing Workshop at the Freighthouse
Families and K-12 students participated in interactive breakdancing and art-making workshops, led by Maurice Archer and Curtis Wallace.


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A Sensational Saxophone Trio

Kaleigh Wilder Trio
Rising baritone saxophonist Kaleigh Wilder brought original compositions and improvisations to the Freighthouse, joined by Jaribu Shahid on bass and Ben Hall on percussion. They filmed a digital-exclusive UMS Live Session (which will be released online later in the Summer), and performed a captivating evening of music accompanied by dancer Alexandria Davis.

Sign up to our Digital Presentations Interest List for a reminder when the Live Session becomes available.


A Garden of Sound

The Regenerate Orchestra
More than 60 local musicians of all ages and backgrounds came together in a performance by The Regenerate Orchestra. Regenerate director Clay Gonzalez wrote and arranged sonic immersions and soundscapes for the group’s specific instrumentation, and invited audience members to walk around and explore the lush, different sonorities throughout the evening.


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Movement and Healing

Reconnecting Currents: A Healing at the Huron
Dancer, educator, and Kresge Gilda Award Recipient Marsae Lynette invited the community to reconnect with freshwater sources and engage in rituals of reconnection. The evening included a film viewing, dance performance, and a poignant processional to the Huron River at sunset.


The Stage is Yours

Rochelle Clark and Jason Dennie
Ypsilanti resident and singer/songwriter Rochelle Clark hosted an Open Mic night, showcasing the outstanding talents and creativity of our local community — from an original poetry reading to an acoustic cover of Bad Bunny!


Dancing the Night Away

The lights dimmed and chairs cleared right after our Open Mic concluded, opening up a dance floor to an electrifying DJ set by Ypsilanti-based artist Todd Osborn.


Light and Shadow

Detroit Puppet Company workshop
Our second workshop for families invited children ages four and up to participate in Detroit Puppet Company’s presentation of The Carnival of the Animals. The series of shadow puppet scenes depicting different members of the animal kingdom, all set to music by composer Camille Saint-Saëns, was followed by a crafting session where participants could try out their shadow puppetry skills.


Welcoming Local Students

K-12 Student workshop at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse
Over the course of the week, more than 200 students from local schools participated in daytime K-12 workshops at the Freighthouse.

A Sophisticated Send-Off

John E Lawrence and the Power Band
Nearly 200 guests at the Freighthouse joined our closing performance by guitarist and lifelong Ypsilanti resident John E. Lawrence and The Power Band, who took the stage for an evening of jazz.

Thank you to all who participated in our pilot week at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse! We cannot wait to build on this momentum for an extended residency this September. Sign up for our interest list for a reminder when full details are announced in July.

Thank You to Our Residency Supporters

The Ypsilanti Freighthouse residency is made possible by Menakka and Essel Bailey, Helga and Jerry Bilik, and Matt and Nicole Lester.

Funded in Part by

Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

Meet the 2023/24 Season 21st Century Artist Interns

Each year, UMS and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance pair students with an internship working with dance, theater, and music ensembles in the forefront of their fields.

The 21st Century Artist Internship is a highly competitive program developed to prepare students for new demands that working artists face in the contemporary marketplace.

This summer, interns will develop industry contacts, hands-on work experience, and deep connections with internationally recognized performing artists. And upon their return to campus, the interns continue their work via a one-credit independent study where they serve as campus ambassadors, educators, and marketers to support their respective artists during their visit to Ann Arbor in UMS’s 2023/24 season.

The 21st Century Artist Internship program is made possible in part by Tim and Sally Petersen.

This Year’s Interns

Matthew EggersMatthew Eggers

Class of ’24
Major: Theater Design and Production
Placement: Javaad Alipoor Company (Manchester, England & Edinburgh, Scotland)

Related UMS Performances
Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World
Nov 15-18, 2023 // Arthur Miller Theatre

Matthew Eggers is a theater artist currently working as a BFA candidate at the University of Michigan in Theater Design and Production. They are a Queer artist that loves to explore the intersection of performance, design, and community. Trained as a Costume Designer, they have picked up skills from scenic, lighting, and stage management during their time at the University. Although they could do a whip stitch at a moment’s notice, they could also just as easily daisy chain DMX, lay a floor of Marley, and run a production meeting in a lighthearted manner.

They are currently the Artistic Director of Basement Arts, a student-run theater company geared towards community-centered theater at the University. They have previously held the position of Late Night Coordinator, creating engaging events to celebrate art, identity, and life. Outside of theater, they are a journalist and editor, specifically in the arts. In 2021 they were selected as the O’Neill Theater Journalism Fellow at the National Kennedy Center American College Theater Conference and joined the National Critics Institute 2021 class at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Currently, they are a Senior Newsletter Editor at the Michigan Daily.


Sasha GusikhinAlexandra (Sasha) Gusikhin

Class of ’25
Major: Voice Performance and Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience (BCN)
Placement: The Philadelphia Orchestra (Philadelphia, PA & Saratoga Springs, NY)

Related UMS Performances
The Philadelphia Orchestra
April 20-21, 2024 // Hill Auditorium

Sasha Gusikhin (she/her) is a dual degree student from Commerce Township, MI, studying voice performance with Professor Caitlin Lynch and biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience (BCN) at the College of LSA. She is passionate about using music and performing arts events as mobilizing agents to facilitate tangible action, community engagement, and holistic healing through inter-audience connection. She is currently the co-executive director of the Aphasia Community Friendship Center, where she works to fuse neuroscience and music to foster language recovery in a safe environment for persons with communication disorders.

Sasha’s passion for event production was ignited when she conceived and co-produced the Benefit Concert for Ukraine (2022) at the First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, where she also serves as an alto soloist and section leader. Later that year, she co-produced the mental health-centered YES GALA at the Michigan Theater with Express Your Yes Foundation in collaboration with six local nonprofit organizations and over 40 community performers. At U-M, she has produced Boys in the Band with In the Round, a student theater organization dedicated to providing a safe space for queer stories and storytellers. Sasha hopes to apply her education to cultivate powerful and neurologically-informed experiences of community healing through the arts.


Kate KlassaKatherine (Kate) Klassa

Class of ’24
Major: Organizational Studies and Theater Arts
Minor: Dance
Placement: Martha Graham Dance Company (New York City, NY)

Related UMS Performances
Martha Graham Dance Company
Feb 17-18, 2024 // Power Center

Kate Klassa (she/her), from Dearborn Heights, MI, is a junior at the University of Michigan pursuing degrees in Organizational Studies and Theater Arts with a minor in Dance. She hopes to continue down the path of performing arts management and arts organizing as she is passionate about expanding the reach of art to new communities and audiences. Kate is not only an administrator, but she is also an artist and an educator in dance. She has been dancing since the age of 4 and continues to perform with her lyrical and jazz dance group at her university. As a teacher at local dance studios in her hometown and now her college town of Ann Arbor, she is dedicated to building community and empowering dancers to make connections within themselves, their bodies, and others in the classroom.

Outside of her love for dance, she has become drawn into the worlds of theater and musical theater in recent years while volunteering for run crew and ushering for student groups and university productions at U-M. Kate found that musical theater combines her love for music and movement and storytelling and pushed her to pursue her current role as a producer of musical theater productions through MUSKET, a student organization on campus. As she moves into the professional art world, she hopes to intertwine her experiences within the performing arts community and use this knowledge to inspire further change toward creating a more equitable and just, arts-filled society.


Emilia VizacheroEmilia Vizachero

Class of ’24
Major: Acting
Minor: Community Action for Social Change
Placement: Druid Theatre (Galway, Ireland)

Related UMS Performances
Druid O’Casey
Oct 18-21, 2023 // Power Center

Emilia Vizachero (they/she) is an actor, writer, educator, and community organizer from Baltimore, MD. Introduced to theater at a young age, they have always had a fascination with the transformative power of the performing arts and their ability to spark dialogue. Their first forays into arts activism began during their years at Baltimore School for the Arts, where they served as editor of a youth-led feminist collective that published zines biannually. They produced and directed Lauren Gunderson’s play Natural Shocks to raise funds for Everytown for Gun Safety, led theater workshops at local retirement homes, and wrote scenes to raise awareness about conscientious objection to war.

At the University of Michigan, Emilia continues their work exploring the intersection of storytelling and social justice. While pursuing a BFA in Acting and a minor in Community Action for Social Change, Emilia has staged plays to raise awareness for various social issues, devised performance pieces to call attention to misogyny, and written one-acts, most notably Simple Verses In Technicolor, which explores the queer experience. They have also been an active member of the Theater department by participating in the Season Selection Advisory Committee (crafting a diverse, student-focused production season) and the Accountability Team (strategizing ways to uphold standards of equity in the department).

Celebrating Michael J. Kondziolka

Michael KondziolkaFor the past 36 years, Michael Kondziolka has worked at UMS, serving as the director of artistic programming and production since 1993. His artistic sensibility and curiosity, breadth of cultural and historical knowledge, and bold vision of what the performing arts can be has transformed and shaped UMS into what it is today.

Michael’s unbridled passion for the performing arts fuels his intellectual curiosity and ambition, and his curatorial vision pushed UMS to new artistic achievements that resonated far beyond Ann Arbor, garnering broad national and international recognition. Throughout his tenure, Michael worked to strengthen UMS collaborations throughout the University of Michigan, weaving the arts into the fabric of intellectual campus life and cultivating both new and lifelong arts patrons in the process. Through his unwavering day-to-day commitment to holding UMS to the highest standards, Michael has influenced and inspired the lives of countless current and former UMS colleagues.

Upon retirement from the University, Michael’s lasting artistic impact will be celebrated throughout the communities of UMS, the University of Michigan, and Ann Arbor, as well as throughout the performing arts field at large.

The entire UMS and University of Michigan community offers Michael our thanks and heartfelt congratulations, knowing that he will embrace future endeavors with the same devotion to beauty and art that he brought to all of us during his much-admired and celebrated tenure.


Revisit some memorable performances from Michael Kondziolka’s UMS tenure:


March 1997

In a last-minute Hill Auditorium song recital substitution for ailing Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, UMS “discovered” another superstar, thanks to Michael Kondziolka’s connections: Polish contralto Ewa Podleś, whose staggering technical facility and wide range wowed UMS audiences.


November 1997

Already a living legend and the greatest female singer to emerge from Cuba, Celia Cruz, the Queen of Salsa, made her long-awaited UMS debut at Hill Auditorium alongside sonero José Alberto “El Canario.” Five years later, UMS re-engaged Cruz to headline a Latin Dance Party that brought heat to the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center.


January 1999

UMS remounted Lee Breuer and Bob Telson’s masterpiece The Gospel at Colonus, a reframing of the Oedipus tale featuring The Blind Boys of Alabama, J.D. and Jevetta Steele, and the Detroit-based Duke Ellington Centennial Choir, co-founded by UMS and led by music director Dr. Rudy V. Hawkins.


October 1999

After a hiatus of almost 35 years, the Berlin Philharmonic returned to Hill Auditorium under the baton of artistic director and chief conductor Claudio Abbado, in an unforgettable program of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 and Schoenberg’s Pelleas and Melisande.


April 2004

In collaboration with the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance and to celebrate the reopening season of Hill Auditorium after an 18-month renovation, UMS produced the 20th-anniversary performance of Songs of Innocence and of Experience by U-M professor emeritus and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom. The ensuing recording of the Hill Auditorium production garnered four Grammy Awards, including “Best Classical Album.”


October 2004

Directed by Simon McBurney and co-produced with Tokyo’s Setagaya Public Theatre, UMS embarked on a longstanding relationship with the UK-based Complicite in the presentation of a staged adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes, the first of four UMS appearances by the ingenious company.


January 2012

Launching UMS Renegade, UMS co-produced the 2012 tour of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s seminal 1976 opera Einstein on the Beach, An Opera in Four Acts, considered one of the most important operatic events of the 20th century. Michael Kondziolka was a driving force in the remounting of Einstein, and UMS presented the first public performances of the highly acclaimed international tour.


April 2012

With a keen eye for French culture, Michael Kondziolka encouraged UMS to present Angelin Preljocaj and his Aix-en-Provence-based dance company, Ballet Preljocaj. Their five appearances over two decades, including 2012’s Blanche-Neige (Snow White) have been among audiences’ favorite dance presentations, and also introduced the company to other presenters in the US. Ballet Preljocaj was just one of many brilliant dance companies that Kondziolka championed over the past three decades.


February 2018

In collaboration with The Gershwin Initiative and the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, UMS produced the premiere performance of the scholarly performing edition of the landmark score of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess before its Metropolitan Opera debut. The Chicago Tribune included the Hill Auditorium performance as one of “The 10 Best Concerts of 2018.”


January-February 2023

UMS launched its third No Safety Net festival with The Plastic Bag Store, a bold statement interrogating the enduring usage of single-use plastics via a custom-built public art installation and immersive film experience conceived and directed by Robin Frohardt. The site-specific production was presented in collaboration with UMMA, the Graham Sustainability Institute, and the U-M Arts Initiative and connected audiences to larger issues that spoke to the heart of our humanity.

UMS Connect: Christopher Rountree, Wild Up

Welcome to UMS Connect, a new digital series that invites audiences to dive deeper into the season’s performances in casual conversations with artists and creators.

In this Episode

Hear from Christopher Rountree, founder and artistic director of musical collective Wild Up, about the ensemble’s origins, its performance philosophy, and why they champion works by the late composer Julius Eastman.

Introducing the 23/24 Season

Watch our 30-second trailer.

Be Present.

Dazzling debuts. International superstars. A focus on Arts & Resistance. Welcome to UMS’s 145th season.

Explore All 23/24 Events

Order 23/24 Season Tickets

or browse season highlights below

For Our Patrons & Season Ticketholders

Season ticket packages are on sale now! Learn more or flip through our interactive season brochure.

Individual event tickets will go on sale Tuesday, August 2.

For the Press

View Full Press Release (PDF)
View Chronological List of Events (PDF)

Season Highlights

An Opening Week to Remember

Snarky Puppy

Snarky Puppy

The 23/24 Season opens with two electrifying, genre-defying ensembles in Hill Auditorium.

  • Superband Snarky Puppy returns with songs from their 2023 Grammy-winning album Empire Central (Sun Sep 10, 2023)
  • UMS presents the 50th anniversary tour of Shakti, featuring John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, and Shankar Mahadevan, with very special guest Béla Fleck (Thu Sep 14, 2023)


Choral Union Series Events in Hill Auditorium

Klaus Mäkelä

Klaus Mäkelä and Orchestre de Paris

The 11-concert Choral Union Series features a world premiere, orchestral and conductor debuts, and pianos galore!

  • Luminous soprano Renée Fleming in her first appearance since 2011, in recital with pianist Inon Barnatan (Thu Sep 28, 2023)
  • Mexico City’s Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería debuts with conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto and pianist Gabriela Montero, who performs her own Piano Concerto No. 1 (Fri Oct 27, 2023)
  • Violinist Maxim Vengerov returns to Ann Arbor for a recital during Thanksgiving weekend (Sun Nov 26, 2023)
  • Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Michael Feinstein join forces in a program of piano solos, duos, and vocals, including Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (Sun Dec 10, 2023)
  • Pianist Hélène Grimaud makes her pandemic-postponed recital debut (Thu Jan 18, 2024)
  • Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, and Yo-Yo Ma return in an all-Beethoven program of piano trios (Tue Jan 30, 2024)
  • UMS presents the world première of Nkeiru Okoye’s When the Caged Bird Sings, in partnership with the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance (Sat Feb 10, 2024)
  • Pianist Igor Levit presents a recital of transcriptions by Beethoven and Mahler (Fri Mar 8, 2024)
  • Impressive young conductor Klaus Mäkelä makes his UMS debut with Orchestre de Paris, alongside 2022 Van Cliburn-winning pianist Yunchan Lim (Thu Mar 14, 2024)
  • Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra close out the 23/24 season with two different programs: Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 and Florence Price’s Symphony No. 4; and Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem with the UMS Choral Union (Apr 20-21, 2024)


Chamber Arts in Rackham Auditorium

Akropolis Reed Quintet

Akropolis Reed Quintet

A six-concert Chamber Arts Series mixes exciting debuts with perennial favorites.

  • The Jerusalem Quartet will appear with Inon Barnatan, who closes out his week of residency activities with this concert (Thu Oct 5, 2023)
  • Ann Arbor’s own Akropolis Reed Quintet presents Pascal Le Boeuf’s Are We Dreaming the Same Dream?, a blend of classical, jazz, and contemporary music that explores the variety of perspectives concerning the unity of the American experience (Sun Nov 12, 2023)
  • Following a 2020 UMS Digital Presentation, violinist James Ehnes performs in recital alongside faculty and students from the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance (Fri Feb 16, 2024)
  • The Isidore Quartet, 2023 Avery Fisher Career Grant awardees, make their UMS debut (Sun Mar 10, 2024)
  • Jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire makes his UMS debut with pianist Sullivan Fortner, in a program unique to UMS (Fri Mar 22, 2024)
  • The Takács Quartet presents a program that nods to the natural world, including a new quartet and UMS Co-Commission by Nokuthula Ngwenyama (Fri Apr 12, 2024)


Arts & Resistance at Michigan



U-M Arts and Resistance ThemeThe U-M College of Literature, Science & the Arts has announced that Fall 2023 will be the “Arts & Resistance” theme semester. Several of UMS’s presentations were programmed to fit into this theme.


Dance in Ann Arbor and Detroit


Batsheva Dance Company

  • LaTasha Barnes, who appeared as part of Caleb Teicher’s SW!NG OUT in 2022, brings The Jazz Continuum, a new dance production that centers the prolific artistry of jazz music and dance as a cornerstone of Black American culture and community (Jan 19-20, 2024)
  • The Martha Graham Dance Company presents two performances featuring Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, a new work set to music by Rhiannon Giddens, and Graham’s final work, Maple Leaf Rag. (Feb 17-18, 2024)
  • UMS collaborates with Detroit Opera to bring the Israeli company Batsheva and its new production MOMO to Detroit (Mar 23-24, 2024)


Traditions from Around the Globe

Mariachi Herencia de México and La Marisoul

Mariachi Herencia de México and La Marisoul

In addition to DakhaBrakha and the Shakti 50th anniversary tour, the 23/24 season features:


Holiday Programming for the Family

Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro

Two holiday performances in December include the annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah with the UMS Choral Union and Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra (Sat-Sun Dec 2-3, 2023) and ukulele superstar Jake Shimabukuro, who brings his Holidays in Hawai’i program to Ann Arbor (Fri Dec 8, 2023).


A Concert Experience You Can’t Refuse

The Godfather

The Godfather

UMS is partnering with the Grand Rapids Symphony to present The Godfather Live. Francis Ford Coppola’s epic film will be presented with John Varineau conducting the Grand Rapids Symphony in Nino Rota’s Oscar-nominated score. (Sun Jan 7, 2024)


Discover all upcoming events at Additional 23/24 Season programming — including School Day Performances, UMS Digital Presentations, and our Fall residency at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse — will be announced over the coming months.

Rediscovering Julius Eastman’s Minimalist Masterpiece

This blog was created with the help of AI tools, and edited by UMS staff. Explore links to additional resources below.

Julius Eastman and ‘Femenine' manuscript

On April 16, 2023, UMS will present a performance by Wild Up, a Los Angeles-based musical collective dedicated to celebrating the legacy of Julius Eastman. Eastman was one of the most overlooked and underappreciated composers of the 20th century, and a pioneer of “organic music,” a style that combines repetition, improvisation, and gradual transformation of musical material. He was also a trailblazer as a young, gay, and Black artist who challenged the norms and conventions of his time.

The concert will feature Eastman’s masterpiece Femenine, a 70-minute work that he composed in 1974, two years before the premiere of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians and Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach.

Femenine is based on a simple two-note motif that Eastman called the “prime,” which is played by a vibraphone throughout the piece.

The prime serves as a rhythmic and harmonic anchor for the rest of the ensemble. The musicians are free to choose when and how to play their parts, creating a rich and dynamic texture that evolves organically over time. For their UMS performance, Wild Up’s instrumentation consists of winds, strings, piano, amplified electric piano, percussion, and voice.

Femenine is not only a musical statement, but also a political and personal one.

The piece reflects Eastman’s vision of a more inclusive and diverse society, where different voices can coexist and interact harmoniously. Femenine also expresses Eastman’s joy and resilience in the face of adversity and discrimination.

Unfortunately, Eastman’s life and career were cut short by tragedy. He died in 1990 at the age of 49, after struggling with homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse. Most of his scores and belongings were lost or destroyed when he was evicted from his apartment in New York City. His music was largely forgotten and neglected for decades, until a recent resurgence of interest and appreciation from scholars, performers, and listeners.

Wild Up is one of the leading advocates for Eastman’s music today.

Wild Up

LA-based musical collective Wild Up

Wild Up has recorded Femenine as part of their multi-volume anthology of Eastman’s works, which they hope will introduce his music to a wider audience and inspire new interpretations and collaborations. Their performance of Femenine at UMS will be a rare opportunity to experience this groundbreaking work live and to celebrate the life and legacy of Julius Eastman.

Get tickets to hear Wild Up perform Julius Eastman’s Femenine, Sunday, April 16 in Rackham Auditorium.

While in Ann Arbor for their residency, Wild Up will film two additional Eastman works for a free UMS digital presentation to be released in June 2023. Sign up for our digital presentations interest list to be notified when available.

More Resources

🎧  Listen to Wild Up’s album, Julius Eastman, Vol 1: Femenine, on Apple Music or Spotify

📰 The New York Times article: “Minimalist Composer Julius Eastman, Dead for 26 Years, Crashes the Canon

📰 The New Yorker article: “Julius Eastman’s Guerrilla Minimalism

📰  NPR story: “Julius Eastman, A Misunderstood Composer, Returns to the Light

Unanimity of Thought & Action

It was an honor to present Washington, D.C.-based Step Afrika! in UMS’s 2023/24 season. Founded in 1994 by C. Brian Williams, Step Afrika! is the first professional company dedicated to stepping, a percussive, highly energetic art form first developed through elaborate and joyful song and dance rituals performed by Black fraternities and sororities.

Filmed at U-M’s campus during our Step Afrika! residency, this video gathers members from U-M’s Black fraternities and sororities to bring awareness to the founding, history, and legacy of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and its stated purpose and mission: “Unanimity of thought and action as far as possible in the conduct of Greek-letter collegiate fraternities and sororities, and to consider problems of mutual interest to its member organizations.”

All nine member organizations — The Divine Nine — are represented in the University of Michigan chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

Piloting a “Pay What You Wish” Ticket Model

As part of our upcoming April residency at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, UMS is introducing a “Pay What You Wish” (PWYW) ticket model for three unique performances.

With PWYW, we’re trying to remove barriers between audiences and great art, and to make it as easy and welcoming as possible to attend something that may be a new experience.

With PWYW, you decide how much to pay per ticket.

Ultimately, we hope that those who can afford to pay a little more will do so, to help make it more affordable for someone else. Artists receive the same fee regardless of how much money is collected from ticket revenues.


Pay What You Wish Events

Kaleigh Wilder Trio

Tue Apr 25 at 7:30 pm

Baritone saxophonist Kaleigh Wilder has performed around the world, led her first album release, and now has plans to release two more albums as a bandleader with a New York-based record label—among several other ongoing projects. She performs at the Freighthouse with Jaribu Shahid on bass, drummer Ben Hall, and dancer Alexandria Davis.


Reconnecting Currents: A Healing at the Huron

Thu Apr 27 at 6 pm

Marsae Lynette presents an evening of film, performance, and community, inviting audiences to reconnect with one another and freshwater sources like the Huron River.


John E. Lawrence & The Power Band

Sat Apr 29 at 7:30 pm

In the closing night of UMS’s April Ypsilanti Freighthouse residency, John E. Lawrence and The Power Band take the stage for a sophisticated evening of jazz.


Thank You to Our Residency Supporters

The Ypsilanti Freighthouse residency is made possible by Menakka and Essel Bailey, Helga and Jerry Bilik, and Matt and Nicole Lester.

Funded in Part by

Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan


Meet Cleffy, your AI powered UMS chatbot

UMS has some exciting news to share with you today. As you know, we are always looking for ways to improve your experience with us and to make our website more user-friendly and engaging. That’s why we are thrilled to announce that we are adding a new feature to our website…Cleffy, our friendly and helpful AI chatbot!


Yes, you heard that right. Soon, you can chat with Cleffy anytime you visit Cleffy will greet you on the bottom right corner of your screen and enthusiastically act as your virtual concierge. You can ask it anything you want to know about UMS! Here are just a few examples for inspiration:

What did Cecilia Bartoli sing in her 1993 recital?

Are there front-row seats available for Daniel Hope’s concert?

Is parking included with my concert ticket?

Who is performing in the 23/24 season?

The chatbot is powered by advanced natural language processing and machine learning algorithms that allow it to understand your questions and provide accurate and relevant answers. Cleffy can also learn from your feedback and preferences, and tailor its responses accordingly.

Cleffy is informative and entertaining, and can even tell you jokes, stories, and UMS trivia. And, it will only get smarter over time. We look forward to Cleffy’s debut soon!



Okay…while Cleffy is only an April Fools’ Day joke (for now!), it’s not hard to imagine a concept like this becoming a reality as AI tools improve at a remarkable pace.

Much of this blog post was written by AI using Microsoft Bing. We asked Bing to “write an April Fools Day blog about a new AI chatbot on UMS’s website.”

And perhaps even more impressive than that, we used AI to create the character itself, taking inspiration from an iconic virtual assistant of the past. We prompted Bing Image Creator to “make a character that resembled Microsoft’s Clippy, but using a treble clef.” We may be biased, but we think Cleffy is more lovable.

We hope you enjoyed this distraction today! It has been fun to start thinking about ways AI can help the audience experience, and we look forward to exploring meaningful possibilities in the years ahead.

— The UMS Marketing Team (powered by Cleffy)

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