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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)

Introducing University Macaroni Society

We’ve heard the stomachs growling in the quietest moments of the symphony. And our ushers have spotted the Zingerman’s sandwiches that some ticketbuyers snuck into the balcony. The world has changed, and UMS recognizes our audience’s increased appetite for comforting sustenance while attending evening events. That’s why today, we are thrilled to launch an exciting culinary complement to your next UMS performance…

UMS Food Truck

Introducing University Macaroni Society. Parked outside of your favorite Ann Arbor concert venues, our new food truck offers convenient carryout…for you to carry in and enjoy during the performance, complete with compostable, noise-reducing packaging and utensils.

Enjoy classics from around the world, starring recipes featured in UMS’s beloved cookbook, Bravo ! : Recipes, Legends and Lore. From Cecilia Bartoli’s “Family Cicche,” to Bill T. Jones’s Sage Fusilli and Martin Katz’s Risotto all’erbe, our menu offers delicious options for everyone.

It’s been a pleasure to safely welcome audiences back to our iconic venues this season. And we guarantee that everything UMS presents — from stage to plate — will be well seasoned!

We hope you enjoyed a bit of April Fools’ Day fun from UMS. We couldn’t help ourselves. 🍝

While unfortunately, we cannot enjoy food in our historic performance spaces, we hope you enjoy some of UMS staff’s favorite dishes at home:

Jessica Adamczyk, Executive Assistant to the President
Creamy Chickpea Pasta with Spinach and Rosemary

Christina Bellows, Director, Patron Services
Feel Good Tofu Noodle Soup (vegan)

Rochelle Clark, Ticket Services Associate
Pasta Pomodoro

Alexandria Davis, Community and Audience Programs Manager
Sheet-Pan Gnocchi With Mushrooms and Spinach

Jake Gibson, Digital Marketing Coordinator
Caramelized Shallot Pasta

Kristin Hanson, Education and Community Engagement Student Staff
One Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon

Michael Kondziolka, Vice President, Programming and Production
Gnocchi à la Parisienne

Rachelle Michelon, Annual Giving Manager
Farfalle with Ricotta, Pancetta & Peas

Lisa Murray, Associate Director of Development, Foundation & Government Relations
Pasta e Ceci (Italian Pasta and Chickpea Stew)

Terri Park, Associate Director of Education & Community Engagement
Cantonese Beef Chow Fun Noodles

Marnie Reid, Associate Director of Development, Major Gifts and Planned Giving
Smoked Salmon Cream Sauce with Gnocchi

Mary Roeder, Programming Manager
Macaroni and Four Cheeses

Justine Sedky, Administrative Assistant
Gigi Hadid’s Spicy Vodka Pasta

Maddy Wildman, University Programs Manager
1950s Retro Spaghettios & Franks Jello Mold Cake

Eric Woodhams, Director of Digital Media
Tagliatelle with “Weeknight” Bolognese

Meet the Newest UMS Staff Members

Since the pandemic began just over a year ago, UMS staff has been extremely grateful for the countless Zoom contributions made by our added work-from-home colleagues. Today, on April 1, 2021, we thought it most fitting to introduce some of our newest team members to you.

Please note that due to their hectic schedules, we kindly request that you contact their personal assistants directly using our staff directory.


Director of Digital Barketing

This digital dingo is a master of handshakes, high fives, high jumps, and generally being a good boy during Zoom calls. Those perky ears make him a great listener when assigned tasks and commands, except while in the presence of his one “Achilles’ heel”… squirrels.

Personal assistant: Eric Woodhams, Director of Digital Media



Assistant Meowanager of Ticket Services

Ensures all writing instruments have been properly chewed on, especially pencils. Expert purr monster. Professional napper.

Personal assistant: Anné Renforth, Ticket Services Assistant Manager




Hen in the Foxhouse Endowment Chief Risk Officer

This brown leghorn produces the biggest yolks you’ve ever seen. She has a high tolerance for risk and is most definitely an over-communicator. Always striving for efficiency, she lives by the tagline, “Last in, First Out.”

Personal assistant: Mary Roeder, Programming Manager



Education and Community Engagement Pawgrams Intern

Chimichurri “Chimi” Alberto Perez-Mozumdar is a Ph.D. candidate in Treat Studies at the University of Michigan with over two months of experience as a cuteness consultant for UMS. His dissertation, “A Complete Guide to Stealing Mommy’s Headbands,” was awarded the Goodest Boi Academic Award in 2021. A proud Wolverine, Chimi is an undefeated tug-of-war champion. In his free time, he enjoys Zoom-bombing his parents’ meetings with loud squeaky toys and unsolicited kisses.

Personal Assistant: Christina Mozumdar, Education and Community Engagement Programs Manager



Presidentastix and Chief Treats Officer

Angling for treats; hangdog looks; more angling for treats

Personal assistant: Matthew VanBesien, UMS President




Catmunications Specialist

Demands treats 24-hours a day. Is adept at interrupting Zoom meetings that bore them by demanding belly rubs (often on camera and usually by screaming). Regularly sends cryptic messages to colleagues when her human steps away to refill her coffee. The very best snuggler in all of the land.

Personal assistant: Rochelle Clark, Ticket Services Associate



Director of Pawtron Services

In addition to ensuring her human stays on track at work Fern specializes in reviewing web content, especially when there is an opportunity to chase that little arrow thingy around the screen. She is also expert at attention to detail, specifically her tail, which she has yet to catch.

Personal assistant: Christina Bellows, Director of Patron Services


Freddie and Lulu

Co-Directors of eduCATion and Canine Engagement

Freddie and Lulu have been an incredible addition to our team. They are experts at looking out the window at squirrels, sleeping on our heads, and fuzzifying our blankets and pillows. They are especially talented vocal meowcians (pun for musicians) as they love to show off their vocal talents especially in the early hours of the morning. Lastly they provide a sense of calmness to a stressful work environment as they zoom bomb our meetings.

Personal assistant: Terri Park, Associate Director of Education & Community Engagement



Vice President of Naps, Treats, and Belly Rubs

Responsible for chewing on absolutely everything, tail chasing, and playing games in the backyard. Other responsibilities as assigned.

Personal assistant: Cayenne Harris, Vice President of Education and Community Engagement



Pawtron Services Assistant

Levi’s passion for the arts along with his people skills make him an invaluable asset to UMS. He will go above and beyond to help out around the office by sitting on keyboards, chewing wires, and even deciding that the computer needs a restart. He is such a hard worker and so deeply committed to his position at UMS that he falls into a deep slumber after only 2 hours of work.

Personal assistant: Justine Sedky, Patron Services Assistant


Front of Lawn Manager

Lilly Anne’s responsibilities include making sure unauthorized birds and chipmunks do not enter the lawn, catching any frisbees thrown and bringing them back to the house, and napping in the sun.

Personal assistant: Victoria Spain, Front of House Assistant Manager


Little May

Sr. Pawgramming Manager

Likes to sniff around the jazz and new music bins. Has her paw prints all over her pawgramming. Chases after many sounds.

Personal assistant: Mark Jacobson, Senior Programming Manager



Director of Happiness and Smiles

Otis enjoys bringing happiness and smiles to virtual meetings, but holds us accountable for outdoor exercise and indoor naps in the sunlight. He enjoys adult meetings more than virtual first-grade appearances. Otis looks forward to Michigan summers at the lake. Go Blue!

Personal assistant: Will Smith, Assistant Manager, Major Gifts



Group Tails and Pawmotions Associate

Padawan spends the work day on Zoom calls and taking naps in the sun. Paddy attended Kojima University with a degree in Good Doggos, minoring in Jedi studies. She looks forward to giving you and your pets a group discount to shows!

Personal assistant: Bridjet Kojima, Group Sales and Promotions Associate



Director of Develickment

A real arfs lover, Piper has a talent for sniffing out like-minded suppawters and shepherding them into the fold. A talented funraiser, Piper excels at fetching needed resources and showing those donors her love as only an affectionate Aussiedoodle can.

Personal assistant: Susie Craig, Director of Development


Executive Director of Fur Distribution

Yvaine’s primary skill is appearing unannounced in every zoom call. When off camera, she fills her day by screaming for food, sleeping at least 16 hours a day, and getting her fur on literally every surface in the house. She yells at birds out the window and probably loves bonito flakes more than her moms.

Personal assistant: Maddy Wildman, Education and Community Engagement Programs Manager



Senior Donor TREATment Specialist

Zealand joined the development staff a year ago to help make sure UMS donors are TREATed well. Her duties include sniffing around to make sure donors are well fed. She sometimes barks orders at others, but usually commands respect with simple tricks and rewards.

Personal assistant: Marnie Reid, Associate Director of Development, Major Gifts and Planned Giving


April 1: UMS Bans Cell Phones, Installs Pay Phones

New technology is challenging some expectations of performing arts experiences.

Photo: Willie and Ushers: Get them out of here!

The classical music world has recently been abuzz with high-profile instances of confronting cell phones in the auditorium. There’s Patti LuPone, who “snatched” a cell phone from a texting audience member. New York Philharmonic conductor Alan Gilbert stopped a performance after hearing the familiar iPhone “marimba” ring. In a performance of the Goldberg Variations with the pianist Igor Levit, the artist Marina Abramovic purposefully banned cell phones to create a specific effect. Sometimes, lasers are involved.

On the other hand, organizations are also embracing technology in productive and interesting ways. Through its live streaming of concerts, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has exposed new audiences to orchestral music.Theater makers are exploring co-creating with audience members through social media. Through our own experimentation with tweet seats, we discovered that some audience members in fact experience performances more deeply through tweeting.

Conversations about technology can quickly become polarized, and that makes sense, because people’s experiences of performances can be deeply personal, and so opinions about how performances should go run deep, too. But we believe that technology, in itself, isn’t necessarily isolating, distracting, or bad. It’s how we use it that can create such experiences.

This video was funny for us because we often have these conversations on staff and with our community. But it’s also meant to start a conversation.

Our general policy at UMS is to ask audience members to turn off cell phones and electronic devices during performances. We all know how terrible it is when a phone rings during a performance. It can break that special bond between a performer and the audience. Illuminated screens on phones are also a visual distraction in a darkened theater.

But we’ve made (carefully considered) exceptions, for example, during our tweet seats experiment.

What are your thoughts about technology and performances? We’d love to hear about your positive or engaging experiences with technology and performances, too.

Love great music, theater, and dance?

Love great music, theater, and dance?

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