Youth Performances at UMS
Photos from the 11/12 Youth Performance Season [Click to Enlarge] – Questions at AnDa Union (Left) & Dancing at Rebirth Brass Band (Right).
As the school year begins to wind down, I look back at another amazing season at UMS. As the elementary vocal music teacher at Mitchell School in Ann Arbor, I have been fortunate enough to bring my students to UMS concerts for more than 10 years.
When I pause to reflect on the professional, first-class groups that my young students have seen, it is absolutely astonishing. I’m thinking now about World Music groups, and the effects these concerts have had on our students.
When Amalia Hernandez Ballet Folklorico de Mexico appeared in 2006, it triggered a celebration of Hispanic culture in our school. The whole school attended the concert (first time ever!) and the event resonated throughout the school year as we studied and played Latin music. I applied for and received a grant to buy authentic Latin percussion instruments for my classroom. These are enjoyed by every grade level to this day, and have become increasingly important as our school’s Hispanic population continues to grow. I also remember our students being overwhelmed and moved by the performance we attended of The Children of Uganda. The story of these children and their astonishing talents resonated deeply with Mitchell Students.
I’m wondering who else out there has something to say about their experiences with UMS world music youth concerts.
- Did you find that your students were especially moved by the performances?
- Were you able to see carry over effects into the school year and beyond?
- Do your students remember the performances years later, recalling such sights and sounds as new instruments they may have seen in the shows?
Let’s start a conversation to compare experiences and to help UMS continue its great efforts to bring such diverse performers to Ann Arbor. Thanks.
Rosalie Koenig, Mitchell Elementary School
[VIDEO] AnDa Union from Inner Mongolia
UMS is presenting AnDa Union from Inner Mongolia this Wednesday, November 9th. Discover this group’s incredible history, and learn more about Asia Series at UMS in the video below.
UMS on Film Series
Every summer, we come up with about three dozen companion-films to the UMS main-stage season. We’ve narrowed the list to five this year – two in the fall, and three in the winter. Each expands our understanding of artists and their cultures, and reveals emotions and ideas behind the creative process.
In the fall, the films highlight deep cultural expressions which grow from communities of shared heritage. In the winter, the films tie in with UMS’s PURE MICHIGAN RENEGADE series, which focuses on artistic innovation and experimentation. We’ve created a mini film festival, Pure Michigan Renegade on Film, to extend the renegade idea and explore other artists who have created new arts frontiers.
All films (except one! see below) are presented in the U-M Museum of Art Stern Auditorium (525 S. State Street) and are free and open to the public.
Pure Michigan Renegade on Film:
Helicopter String Quartet
(1995, Frank Sheffer, 81 min.)
Wednesday, March 7, 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater (603 E. Liberty)
Tickets: $10 general admission; $7 students/seniors/UMS and Mich Theater members; $5 AAFF members
Purchase Tickets Here
The UMS Renegade on Film series culminates at the Michigan Theatre in collaboration with the Ann Arbor Film Festival (celebrating its 50th anniversary in March 2012!!). The curators at AAFF chose an amazing documentary that captures the renegade spirit and provides a fabulous lead-in to the San Francisco Symphony American Mavericks concerts. In one of the most certifiably eccentric musical events of the late 20th century, German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen designed and executed the performance: four string quartet members playing an original piece by Stockhausen in four separate helicopters, all flying simultaneously. The sound was then routed to a central location and mixed; the work premiered, in turn, at the 1995 Holland Festival. Frank Scheffer’s film Helicopter String Quartet depicts the behind-the-scenes preparations for this event; Scheffer also conducts and films an extended conversation with Stockhausen in which the creator discusses the conception and execution of his composition and then breaks it down analytically. Featuring music by Karlheinz Stockhausen, performed by the Arditti String Quartet. Co-presented with the Ann Arbor Film Festival in partnership with the Michigan Theater, in collaboration with the U-M Museum of Art.
Fauborg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans
(2008, Dawn Logsdon, 69 min.)
Tuesday, October 11, 7 pm
Connected with UMS’s presentation of A Night in Tremé: the Musical Majesty of New Orleans, this documentary follows Lolis Eric Elie, a New Orleans newspaperman on a tour of his city, a tour that becomes a reflection on the relevance of history, folded into a love letter to the storied New Orleans neighborhood, Faubourg Tremé. Arguably the oldest black neighborhood in America and the birthplace of jazz, Faubourg Tremé was home to the largest community of free black people in the Deep South during slavery, and it was also a hotbed of political ferment. In Faubourg Tremé, black and white, free and enslaved, rich and poor co-habitated, collaborated, and clashed to create America’s first Civil Rights movement and a unique American culture. Wynton Marsalis is the executive producer of the film, which also features an original jazz score by Derrick Hodge. Introducing the film is U-M American Culture faculty member Bruce Conforth, whom some may remember from last season’s series on American Roots music.
AnDa Union: From the Steppes to the City (with director Q&A)
(2011, Sophie Lascelles and Tim Pearce)
Tuesday, November 8, 7 pm
Before AnDa Union takes the stage at Hill Auditorium, filmmakers Sophie Lascelles and Tim Pearce will screen their new documentary, which follows the group of 14 musicians who all hail from the Xilingol Grassland area of Inner Mongolia. The film premieres at the London Film Festival on October 13, and Ann Arbor will be one of the first to screen it after its debut. AnDa Union is part of a musical movement that is finding inspiration in old and forgotten folk music from the nomadic herdsman cultures of Inner and Outer Mongolia, drawing on a repertoire of music that all but disappeared during China’s recent tumultuous past. Tim and Sophie will be here in Ann Arbor to introduce the film, and take audience questions after the screening.
(2006, Katharina Otto-Bernstein, 105 min.)
Tuesday, January 10, 7 pm
Absolute Wilson chronicles the epic life, times, and creative genius of theater director Robert Wilson. More than a biography, the film is an exhilarating exploration of the transformative power of creativity – and an inspiring tale of a boy who grew up as an outsider in the American South only to become a fearless artist with a profoundly original perspective on the world. The narrative reveals the deep connections between Wilson’s childhood experiences and the haunting beauty of his monumental works, which include the theatrical sensations “Deafman Glance,” “Einstein on the Beach” and “The CIVIL WarS.”
The Legend of Leigh Bowery (with director Q&A)
(2002, Charles Atlas, 60 min.)
Monday, February 13, 7 pm
Renegade filmmaker Charles Atlas (who worked extensively with the late choreographer Merce Cunningham) introduces his 2002 documentary The Legend of Leigh Bowery. Artist/designer/performer/provocateur Leigh Bowery designed costumes and performed with the enfant terrible of British dance Michael Clark, designed one-of-a-kind outrageous costumes and creations for himself, ran one of the most outrageous clubs of the 1980s London club scene (later immortalized in Boy George’s Broadway musical “Taboo”), and was the muse of the great British painter Lucian Freud. The film includes interviews with Damien Hirst, Bella Freud, Cerith Wyn Evans, Boy George, and his widow Nicola Bowery. Charles Atlas will participate in audience Q&A immediately following the film. This film is co-presented with the U-M Institute for the Humanities which hosts Charles Atlas’s video installation “Joints Array” in February 2012.
Performances for the Whole Family: Filling the master calendar with UMS events
Part of the excitement of coming back to town at the end of summer is collecting all the calendars—Ann Arbor Public School’s holiday and half-day calendar, Huron High School’s band calendar, Clague Middle School’s orchestra calendar, King Elementary School’s PTO calendar, the crew calendar, the soccer calendar, the academic games calendar, University of Michigan’s football calendar, Washtenaw Community College Lifelong Learning calendar, Rec and Ed, Parks and Rec, etc.—whew!—and finally sitting down to map them all out onto one big master calendar in order to see what our year is going to look like.
My favorite calendar to pore over with the kids is the one from University Musical Society (UMS).
This year, the University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies is celebrating its 50th anniversary. As usual for an academic department, they have all sorts of lectures and films and special events and conferences planned. University of Michigan Museum of Art is supporting this celebration with a contemporary Chinese woodblock print exhibit. University Musical Society is supporting this celebration with an Asia performance series. I am excited.
When the UMS catalog arrives, the kids keep grabbing it away from one another. They dog-ear the pages that interest them. They recall other concerts and dance performances we have attended.
Little Brother is captivated by the photograph of the old woman and old man sitting in trashcans. What could that possibly be? (Gate Theatre of Dublin) How to explain Beckett’s “Endgame” and “Watt” to a seven year old?
Our pianist, Niu Niu, complains (again) that she likes playing piano but does not like watching piano, but when we begin discuss how the dazzling Yuja Wang recently rocked the Hollywood Bowl with her very short very tight very sexy orange dress, about which reviewer Mark Swed wrote: “Her dress Tuesday was so short and tight, that had there been any less of it, the Bowl might have been forced to restrict admission to any music lover under 18 not accompanied by an adult.” Oh, and her legendary speed, too. Now Niu Niu is convinced. Our first concert marked on the calendar.
Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan is my choice. I have already heard many Taiwanese American friends discussing how the choreography is inspired by Chinese calligraphy and classical landscape painting. Local Chinese calligraphers will be demonstrating and displaying their work before the performance to connect these two artforms.
Hao Hao wants to go see AnDa Union from Inner Mongolia. I thought it was because her great-grandfather was born in Inner Mongolia, but really it is because she remembers the Mongolian throat singers we once heard perform at the Ann Arbor District Library.
M is intrigued by the Chamber Ensemble of the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra because she knows more about Chinese music than any of us, but the Ballet Preljocal looks amazing. An antithesis of Disney’s Snow White? It looks dark and grim and sexy and strange—irresistible for teenagers dressed all in black.
Now, big sigh, the tickets.
I was so grateful when UMS began their teen ticket program a few years ago, at last an affordable way to bring my teenagers to UMS programs. I was even more grateful when I was able to go with the children’s school field trips as a chaperone. This year, UMS is launching a new UMS “Kids Club” program for students in grades 3 to 12: “Two weeks before opening night, parents can purchase up to two kids’ tickets for $10 each with the purchase of an adult ticket for $20.”
Great! So now we can take the whole family.