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Meet the Soloists: ‘Messiah’ 2021/22

Handel's Messiah

Nearly 300 years after its composition, Handel’s Messiah continues to fill Hill Auditorium with its ravishing beauty, brought to life by friends and colleagues from the community. On December 4 & 5, 2021, music director Scott Hanoian conducts the UMS Choral Union and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra in the return of this beloved annual holiday tradition.

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Meet this year’s soloists and guest artists: Joélle Harvey, Meg Bragle, Nicholas Phan, and Dashon Burton.

Joélle HarveyJoélle Harvey, soprano

A native of Bolivar, New York, soprano Joélle Harvey has established herself as a noted interpreter of a broad range of repertoire, anchored by Handel, Mozart, and new music. She specializes as a soloist for orchestral and choral works, appearing with the Cleveland Orchestra, Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, Mostly Mozart Festival in New York City, and others.

Harvey received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in vocal performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and was a member of Glimmerglass Opera’s Young American Artists Program. Her engagements during the 2021-2022 season include debuts with Opernhaus Zürich, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and UMS.

Read the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s recent profile: “Joélle Harvey finds her niche away from opera”

Meg BragleMeg Bragle, mezzo-soprano

Widely praised for her musical intelligence and “expressive virtuosity” (San Francisco Chronicle), Meg Bragle has earned an international reputation as one of today’s most gifted mezzo-sopranos. A frequent featured soloist with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists, she has made four recordings with the group.

Bragle has appeared with many symphony orchestras in the U.S. and Canada including the Houston, National, Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Pacific, and Colorado Symphonies; the National Arts Center Orchestra and the Calgary Philharmonic in music ranging from Bach and Vivaldi to Mozart, Beethoven, and Mahler.

Her opera roles include Idamante in Idomeneo, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Dido and the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Dardano in Handel’s Amadigi, Amastre in Handel’s Serse, Speranza in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Ippolita in Cavalli’s Elena, and Elpina in Vivaldi’s La Fida Ninfa.

Learn more: “5 Questions with Meg Bragle”

Nicholas PhanNicholas Phan, tenor

Described by the Boston Globe as “one of the world’s most remarkable singers,” American tenor Nicholas Phan is increasingly recognized as an artist of distinction. Praised for his keen intelligence, captivating stage presence, and natural musicianship, he performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies. Also an avid recitalist, in 2010 he co-founded the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC) to promote art song and vocal chamber music, where he serves as artistic director.

A celebrated recording artist, Phan’s most recent album, Clairières, a recording of songs by Lili and Nadia Boulanger, was nominated for the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. His album, Gods and Monsters, was nominated for the same award in 2017. He remains the first and only singer of Asian descent to be nominated in the history of the category, which has been awarded by the Recording Academy since 1959.

A graduate of the University of Michigan, Phan is the 2012 recipient of the Paul C Boylan Distinguished Alumni Award and the 2018 Christopher Kendall Award. He also studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the Aspen Music Festival and School, and is an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.

Read San Francisco Classical Voice’s 2017 profile: “Getting to Know Recitalist Nicholas Phan”

Dashon BurtonDashon Burton, bass-baritone

Bass-baritone Dashon Burton has established a vibrant career, appearing regularly throughout the United States and Europe in key elements of his repertoire — Bach’s St. John and St. Matthew Passions and the B minor Mass, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Beethoven 9, the Brahms Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, and Mozart’s Requiem.

Throughout his 2021/22 season, he makes several notable orchestral debuts with the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and the Seattle Symphony.

Operatic engagements in recent seasons have included Salome at the Salzburg Festival led by Franz Welser-Möst and Peter Sellars’s production of Claude Vivier’s Kopernikus, un ritual de mort at Paris’ Théâtre de la Ville as well as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte in Dijon and Paris and Jupiter in Rameau’s Castor et Pollux with Les Talens Lyriques.

Dashon Burton won his second Grammy in March of 2021, for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album for Dame Ethyl Smyth’s The Prison with The Experiential Orchestra. An original member of the groundbreaking vocal ensemble, Roomful of Teeth, he won his first Grammy for their recording of Caroline Shaw’s Pulitzer-Prizewinning Partita for 8 Voices.

Hear Burton’s appearance on the Classical Post podcast: “How Two-Time Grammy Winner Dashon Burton Defines Success as Being Comfortable in Your Own Shoes”

UMS Connect: Takács Quartet with Julien Labro

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.

Takács Quartet and Julien Labro

In our two-part debut episode of UMS Connect, we explore the upcoming program by the Takács Quartet and bandoneón virtuoso Julien Labro, which features two world premieres and UMS co-commissioned works by composers Clarice Assad and Bryce Dessner. Enjoy learning more about the quartet’s 35+ year history performing with UMS, and what makes this unique collaboration so meaningful as these artists join forces for the first time.

Part 1

Michael Kondziolka, UMS’s VP of Programming and Production, introduces Takács Quartet members Harumi Rhodes and Ed Dusinberre in a discussion about the process of learning new works with bandoneón virtuoso Julien Labro. Julien then joins Ed and Harumi to reflect on the new sonic world they discovered upon their first rehearsals coming out of the pandemic.

Part 2

Mark Jacobson, UMS’s senior programming manager, joins Julien Labro for an extended discussion of the works performed, and a demonstration of the bandoneón and the members of the accordion family.

U-M Course – Engaging Performance: Get Up Close and Behind the Scenes

Students in Hill Auditorium
Six live performances. Three humanities credits. Experience the performing arts up close and behind the scenes.

Engaging Performance (Winter 2022) connects undergraduate students directly to the touring, world-class artists who perform music, theater, and dance on the U-M campus. Students will attend live performances, talk with the artists and arts administrators, and explore how the performing arts are an integral part of our lives and the world at large.

The class will include lectures (including some by guests and visiting artists), required attendance at evening performances, interactive classroom activities, weekly readings, response papers about the performances, and presentations from students in class.

Students will attend live performances of:

Engaging Performances

These performances constitute the course’s primary “texts,” and the full package of tickets is available to students enrolled in the course for the dramatically reduced rate of $75.


Term: Winter 2022 // Course Name: Engaging Performance
Course Listing: MUSPERF 200.001, ALA 260.001, LSWA 228.002
Instructors: Dr. Shelley Manis and Dr. Brandon Scott Rumsey
Credits: 3 Credits (Humanities Distribution)
Class Schedule: Tuesdays & Thursdays from 1 – 2:30 pm (In-person – room TBD)

Course Listing

By the end of this class students will be able to:

  • Rigorously describe live performance.
  • Imagine how performance asks questions about the world.
  • Identify how structural choices vary across performances.
  • Identify various elements of a performance and discuss how they impact one another.
  • Have knowledge of tools necessary to research a performance’s historical and social context prior to attending a live performance.
  • Consider how performance might be a mode of research—a way not just to ask a question, but to investigate that question in motion, through sound, etc.
  • Learn more about the UMS and what it offers to students.


No previous knowledge of the performing arts is required from students! It is open to undergraduates at all levels and across all departments at the University of Michigan; no previous experience or special training in arts is required.

Engaging Performance is made possible through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a partnership between the University of Michigan and the University Musical Society (UMS).

Introducing Ash Arder, Flint Artist in Residence

Ash Arder

UMS is pleased to welcome Ash Arder as this season’s Flint Artist in Residence. Ash Arder (she, they) is a transdisciplinary artist whose research-based approach works to expose, deconstruct, or reconfigure ecological and industrial systems. Born and raised in Flint MI, they hope their residency on the University of Michigan Flint campus will put community stories on a platform to be celebrated. Ash’s process-based residency will continue their research of broadcasting as a concept in both agricultural and technological spaces, with the sun as a prominent source of energy.

UMS Education and Community Engagement student staff member Kristin Hanson recently interviewed Ash about their hopes for the residency, personal connections to Flint, and overall artistic process.

What is your connection to Flint, MI and how will it inspire your work during this residency?

Flint is my home. I was born there, raised there, and lived there until I went to college. It’s the classic story of Black families coming up from the south to work in the automotive industries in Detroit and in Flint. There is this constant through-line of machinery and cars in my life, spending so much time in transit for work and play growing up. My dad trusted me a lot, and I learned street smarts when I was able to go off and explore on my own. Flint really created space for me to have a multitude of life experiences. I come home to visit family and be inspired.

It’s important to remember what’s being portrayed in the news about Flint, which in the last decade or so has been a lot of emphasis on toxicity, decay, and health challenges. It’s important for me to remind myself and others that there are so many beautiful things about Flint.

Flint feels like a space that is home – but Flint is also a teacher. Flint finds its way into my work through familial stories and histories, and even literal sound bites and videos collected from inside of the city. It is part of the well-known story of the Great Migration – this co-dependent relationship between the automotive industry and Black families. This relationship is wrapped up in complexity, beauty, and challenge. Well-funded opportunities to make art at home are rare, so this will be really special.


You have created work centered around your father’s story as an automotive worker and urban gardener. Could you give an example of how your memories with him and of your childhood influence your work?

Almost 10 years ago I started to explore making fiber from plants harvested around the city of Detroit. When I was doing that work, it was really frustrating because I couldn’t find anybody in the community to show me how to process these plants into yarn.

I found myself calling my dad often to ask for tips on so many things: how to cultivate plants inside, how to make clones of plants, what types of soils to use, what lights to get, how to prune effectively, etc. I don’t know why it took so long to realize that I didn’t need to be going into this work alone. It was a kind of an “Aha” moment when I realized that moving into this work was about the trajectory of my relationship with plants, which started when I was really young. There was always a beautiful garden with strawberries and grapes and watermelon and vegetables growing in our very small backyard. My father was always cultivating herbs and drying them in the kitchen. My dad would play music for plants. He would set up these really involved altars and greenhouses for the plants.

Looking back at the photos, he would set up what looks like an art installation – where mirrors and rocks are sort of intertwined into the plants so that the light can reflect on them. I took these childhood experiences for granted. It wasn’t until I went off into the world on my own that I realized my relationship with plants was sacred and natural, and that I had been exposed to creative gardening in an urban context for as long as I could remember. My art reminds me of that creative gardening, especially in the context of Black people in urban spaces working with traditional and almost forgotten forms of cultivating plants. I started to document those stories and document my current conversations with others, so I could pass them along to other folks that may be asking the same questions.

What does your artistic process look like?

My work is really process-oriented and process-based. I’m constantly collecting information and stories. Information for me comes in the form of sound and field recordings. It comes in the form of prompts to interview members of my own family or members in the community where I’m teasing out information about a specific subject or place.

The process also looks like spelunking in sectors and labs and environments that are interesting to me, but unfamiliar. I don’t have any hesitations about cold calling a physicist or an electrician or a biologist and asking if I can observe their lab activity. I don’t always know how what I learn will be incorporated into my work, but I usually come away with information about how questions can be asked differently. I’m never really trying to resolve anything; the final output is rarely a buttoned-up, resolved concept.

Another thing that’s super interesting to me is the tangibility of information. I’m often carrying around a cassette recorder and that’s how I capture the sound clips in the interviews. Sometimes I capture a digital version as well, but there’s something about being able to literally touch a piece of tape – that a physical object and material represents a specific moment in a story. To be able to physically hold on to that moment means something to me. It feels like more of a connection to the person and the event behind the story.


Ash Arder

Ash Arder activating ‘Broadcast #3’

You’ve mentioned that your previous work, Broadcast #3, will inform what’s going to happen during your residency. Can you tell us about that connection?

I’m thinking about seeds and soil, and the process of seeds going into soil. It is literally called broadcasting. Seeds are being broadcast into bodies of soil so that they can make more of themselves and grow. What does it look like to think about a generation of people being cast out into the world to amplify or make more of the stories, lessons, memories that they know? What if I’m a seed that’s being broadcast out into space? And what does it look like when I am allowed to grow? What form will that take?

I’m thinking about broadcasting being something in agriculture, but also being a concept in communications. I’m interested in the dual meaning of things, and the ways I can create a moment of pause for people to rethink their relationship with everyday objects or everyday concepts.

Broadcast #3 is showing up as inspiration for this particular project in the way that it uses natural materials, like soil or seeds, and also uses personal and shared narratives to create a meditation or experience for a larger group of people. Broadcast #3 is a sound sculpture that plays an analog synthesizer on a loop when no one is activating it. It kind of sounds like a heartbeat. When I activate the piece, I show up with a cassette tape recorder that holds a pre-composed, 20-minute sound piece. That sound piece is a nonlinear story about some relationship between people and the environment. That story is the literal thing that’s creating a vibration inside of the speakers, that are inside of the sculpture. These vibrations make the seeds move from one place to another – to be broadcasted. Story, history, and personal and shared narratives act as a kind of catalyst, if you will, for some sort of movement of organic material.

So that work’s being brought over to this residency. I’m still thinking a lot about interactivity and performance. What’s different for this iteration are the things that I would like to experiment with or prototype. I’m exploring ways to take the project off the power grid so that it can truly be immersed on a site and be its own module – its own kind of entity. Untethering the sculpture from the grid is something that I’m going to be really invested in figuring out.


On the subject of taking the project off the power grid, can you talk about that and how Solar Party Detroit will participate in conjunction with your work?

Solar Party Detroit is a low-profit company that I started a few years ago with some friends. We’re continuing to figure out how we can get solar energy into urban spaces. Incorporating art into the organization and showing people how that can look has been super important.

Art is one of those sectors where it doesn’t matter what your job is, or where you’re from, or how old you are. I think it has the capacity to connect with people in a way that feels genuine and emotional, and not always intellectual or didactic.

Solar Party Detroit will act as a support for figuring out how to power this project using solar or photovoltaics. It’ll be really exciting to merge my technical interest in addressing climate catastrophe with the creative, intuitive, art-making part of my brain.

What does your ideal world look like? What would your utopia be?

I think often about non-human or more-than-human entities and their perspectives on what’s happening all around us. I think it would be really beautiful if there was a disintegration of the hierarchies that exist between humans and more-than-humans. If we were able to channel indigenous ideas around trees being ancestors and family members, for example, I think there would be a lot more slowness and understanding.

I don’t think time is linear. My utopia would be a space where time is related to experiences and emotion as much as it’s related to systems and logic-based frameworks.


You create a lot of time-based media art. What draws you to this type of art-making?

From a very early age, I was interested in making music. I think music is like my entry point into the way I make and receive creative visions. That just translated over to video because it was a natural partner to music.

I grew up watching MTV and being allowed to watch music videos all day long if I wanted to. In the early 2000s, popular music videos reflected a lot of experimentation in world-building. I’m thinking about Missy Elliott videos, and really, many of Hype Williams’ directorial projects.

My dad would always buy me technical equipment, keyboards, and cameras, and things. I was the friend that would document everything – shooting videos of random moments. I’m still doing that. For me, recording isn’t a means to an end. For example, it feels natural for me to record a random bird chirping on my cassette player on a random Tuesday. There’s usually no particular reason I’m doing it other than the process of capturing that time-based thing makes me feel alive. It makes me feel here.

Congrats to UMCU on its National Arts + Business Partnership Award!

UMS extends our heartfelt congratulations to the University of Michigan Credit Union (UMCU), which was honored with an Arts + Business Partnership Award on October 15!

Presented annually by Americans for the Arts, an organization dedicated to advancing the arts nationally, the Arts + Business Partnership Awards recognize businesses of all sizes from around the country for exceptional mutually beneficial, innovative, and sustained collaborations with the arts. Recipients are nominated through an open national call issued each January. Other past UMS corporate partner recipients include the Ford Motor Company Fund, Masco, and PNC Foundation.

The UMCU was nominated for the award because of its generous spirit of collaboration and bold vision for community impact, which included the creation of the UMCU Arts Adventures Program at both UMS and the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) through a $1.5 million gift in 2016. This commitment, made during the University of Michigan’s Victors for Michigan campaign, was the largest corporate campaign gift to the arts and the first corporate endowment supporting programming at the University of Michigan. It allows UMS and UMMA to provide thousands of K-12 and U-M students with extraordinary, affordable access to a diverse array of arts offerings for generations to come.

At UMS, the UMCU Arts Adventures program has already improved access to the arts by eliminating some key barriers to participation. Within three years, attendance at UMS School Day Performances by students from under-resourced schools grew from 35% to more than 65%, thanks to ticket and transportation grants offered through the UMCU endowment. Likewise, student attendance at our mainstage performances grew from 16% to 23% of total attendance over the same time period, due in part to the ticket subsidy from the endowment and the outreach efforts of the UMS student committee.

During the pandemic, when in-person performing arts experiences were suspended both for students and the community, UMCU continued to grow and strengthen the impact of Arts Adventures through new gifts supporting UMS’s free digital offerings, or Digital Arts Adventures, in both the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.

UMS is proud of our ongoing relationship with the University of Michigan Credit Union and applauds its national recognition as an exemplary business partner for the arts.

Corporate Spotlight: All Seasons Senior Living, Jerry Beznos

Jerry Beznos

The arts are a signature part of the All Seasons Senior Living experience. Corridors feel more like galleries with specially-curated displays of photography, mixed media, and more. An art studio complete with its own kiln is found just around the bend from a versatile auditorium with a beautiful Bösendorfer piano. We sat down with UMS 2021/22 Season Preview sponsor and Beztak partner, Maurice “Jerry” Beznos, to learn more about All Seasons’ philosophy.

Tell us a little bit about All Seasons.

All Seasons is an upscale, active lifestyle senior living community that has been thoughtfully designed to delight every one of the senses – every day. Each of our locations (there are four in Michigan: Ann Arbor, Birmingham, Rochester Hills, and West Bloomfield) offers residents luxury amenities to stay active, engaged, and connected, including a state-of-the-art fitness center, an indoor-outdoor heated swimming pool, an art studio that offers pottery classes in-house, a purposely curated library and a 70-seat auditorium for continuing education, live musical performances and theater programming, to name a few. Our newest property, located in Ann Arbor, is nestled into the tree line of Parker Mill Park at the corner of Geddes and Dixboro on Ann Arbor’s northeast side.

All Seasons, Ann Arbor

All Seasons Ann Arbor


Why was All Seasons inspired to support UMS?

The answer to this question is derived from the very core of our individual and corporate belief that the support and the experience of the arts, in all of its manifestations, give expression, provide animation and inspiration to the spirit within us. More – and here we think of George Eliot who said it best – “art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow-men beyond the bounds of our personal lot.” What could be more important than that?

All Seasons, as we like to say, is “For the Joys of Senior Living.” To us, the arts are integral to who we are as individuals and what we do. Even more, in one way or another, the founding partners of All Seasons have been lifetime theater and concert-goers and avid museum visitors. Indeed, one has been studying and playing the classical piano repertoire for 50 years, another has accumulated a distinguished collection of modern art, another has led one of the nation’s most prestigious chamber music concert series for over 20 years. Our support of the arts is personal, deep, and long abiding.

All of us at All Seasons passionately believe that presenting diverse social, educational, and cultural enrichment programs constitutes one of the fundamental components of our mission: as important as providing the finest dining opportunities, the most beautifully designed and appointed environments in the industry. We are all about “the best.” It is for these reasons that our communities even feature Bösendorfer concert grand instruments on which artists (and our residents) are invited to perform.


Do you have a favorite performance memory you’d like to share?

With heartfelt enthusiasm I cherish our art experiences of the past while always looking forward to the next experience, which is a renewal of sorts; it is a kind of desire that increases as it is gratified and as it is ever inspired anew. I am happy to declare, “too many to mention!”

Unmasking the Arts Episode 5: Yuval Sharon, Artistic Director of Michigan Opera Theatre

Our partners at Princeton University Concerts have created a new six-part series, Unmasking the Arts, with host Helga Davis and special guests in conversation about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the middle of lockdown, Yuval Sharon, MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and newly appointed Artistic Director of Michigan Opera Theatre, staged a drive-through experience of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung in a Detroit parking garage for his production Twighlight: Gods.

As the founder and Co-Artistic Director of The Industry, an LA-based experimental opera company that develops immersive musical experiences, Twilight: Gods was nothing out-of-the-ordinary for Sharon. He had already directed operas staged in moving vehicles, at a railway station, and at other untraditional venues. Yet during the pandemic, this creative approach to presenting music became all the more crucial. Sharon discusses this and more with Unmasking the Arts host Helga Davis.

“What we really need to cultivate in our lives more than anything is a sense of solidarity with each other…and I really do think that’s where the arts are going to be crucial when we come back: trying to rebuild that sense of solidarity.” – Yuval Sharon

Shared with kind permission of Princeton University Concerts.

Princeton University Concerts

On Saturday, September 25, Michigan Opera Theatre will present BLISS, Sharon’s recreation of Ragnar Kjartansson’s performance piece. The performance replays three sublime minutes of The Marriage of Figaro with the same cast and the same orchestra, without pause, for 12 hours. Get tickets and learn more about the performance.

Yuval Sharon – Unmasking the Arts: Playlist

For Princeton University Concerts’ Collective Listening Project, Yuval Sharon shared some of the tracks that resonated with him in the last year – ”as I weighed how my work and how art, in general, is required to drastically shift to accommodate new demands for social change, the wisdom of this music reminds me where a polemicist approach fails and true art begins…” Read more about Sharon’s selections.

About the Artists

Yuval SharonYuval Sharon

Yuval Sharon has amassed an unconventional body of work that expands the operatic form. He is founder and Artistic Director of The Industry in Los Angeles and the newly appointed Gary L. Wasserman Artistic Director of Detroit’s Michigan Opera Theatre.

With The Industry, Sharon has directed and produced new operas in moving vehicles, operating train stations, Hollywood sound stages, and various “non-spaces” such as warehouses, parking lots, and escalator corridors. From 2016-2019, Sharon was the first Artist-Collaborator at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, creating nine projects that included newly commissioned works, site-specific installations, and performances outside the hall. His residency culminated in a major revival of Meredith Monk’s opera ATLAS, making him the first director Monk entrusted with a new production of her work.

In 2017, Sharon was honored with a MacArthur Fellowship and a Foundation for Contemporary Art grant for theater.

Helga DavisHelga Davis

Helga Davis first appeared on UMS stages in our 2012 presentation of Philip Glass’s opera, Einstein on the Beach. We look forward to welcoming her back in the 2021/22 season as a featured performer in Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

Davis is a vocalist and performance artist with feet planted on the most prestigious international stages and with firm roots in the realities and concerns of her local community whose work draws out insights that illuminate how artistic leaps for an individual can offer connection among audiences.

Listen to the new season of her podcast series, Helga: The Armory Conversations, co-produced by WNYC Studios and Park Avenue Armory.

Forward Fund Spotlight: Stephen & Faith Brown

Faith and Stephen Brown

Faith and Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown is an alumnus of the University of Michigan (B.A., English, ’66; J.D. ’69), and practiced labor and employment law in Washington, DC and Chicago for 30 years. He and his wife, Faith (B.A. English, ‘69), retired to the San Francisco area in 2001. We spoke with Stephen about his UMS memories, his chance meeting with UMS president emeritus Ken Fischer, and what inspired their gifts to the Forward Fund this past year.


Tell us your fun story of first meeting Ken Fischer, UMS president emeritus.

I was walking down the street in San Gemingano, in Tuscany, and spotted a guy wearing a familiar ‘block M’ cap. I was wearing a similar cap. Naturally, this led to a discussion of our mutual interests. The guy was Ken Fischer, former president of the UMS. It was one of many great encounters I’ve experienced all over the world as a result of wearing a Michigan cap. People have greeted me with “Go Blue” everywhere — from Sydney to Buenos Aires!

Stephen Brown in Tuscany, 2019

Stephen Brown in Tuscany, 2019

When did you start attending UMS events?

I began attending UMS events as a Michigan undergraduate in the ‘60s. It was amazing to have world-class artists so accessible and such a short walk away. I was just discovering classical music back then and the opportunity to attend live UMS concerts really broadened my appreciation and knowledge.

Do you have a favorite or most memorable UMS moment?

May Festival PersephoneI remember paying $1 for a standing room ticket to hear Igor Stravinsky conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra in Persephone at the annual May Festival. I also recall other amazing May Festival concerts, such as hearing E. Power Biggs with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra perform the Saint-Saëns organ symphony at Hill Auditorium and artists such as Joan Sutherland and Rudolf Serkin. And I always looked forward to Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in “The Victors” at the last May Festival concert of the season.

What inspired your gifts to the Forward Fund?

This was our first donation to UMS, and an opportunity to give back after all our wonderful concert experiences. The Bank of Ann Arbor offered a one-for-one match, which was a nice incentive for us. We wanted to help UMS take full advantage of the match!

Why are the arts so important to our Ann Arbor community?

Ann Arbor may be a relatively small city but it has cultural resources that rival or exceed many major cities. Ann Arbor is often selected as the best college town in the country and one of the best places to live. I believe the arts play an important role in many ways, including attracting top students and faculty and in the ranking and reputation of the University. We hope to play a small part in keeping Michigan on top.

Why should more UM alumni give back to the arts on our campus?

It’s important for Michigan to remain a vibrant and premier University. When I meet other Michigan alumni, the mention of the University and Ann Arbor generally brings a smile and leads to reminiscences about all the great experiences they enjoyed as students. UMS concerts are often a big part of those experiences.

UMS Forward Fund

Make a gift to the Forward Fund and support UMS as we safely return to live events. Contributions made before the end of 2021 will help offset projected operational deficits for the next two years that are a direct result of the pandemic.

All 2021/22 Season Events On Sale Now!

New Health & Safety Measures for Fall 2021 Events

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