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School Day Performance with JLCO

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis return to Hill Auditorium on March 4, 2016.

The orchestra and Wynton Marsalis have visited Ann Arbor many times since their debut in 1994, and during our 2013-2014 season, the musicians received the UMS Distinguished Artist award. This group is special not only because of their superb music making; the orchestra’s dedication to education programs is also remarkable.

Check out these photos from a School Day performance during our 2013-2014 season. The orchestra on stage:

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra perform

Wynton Marsalis chats with students after the performance:

Wynton Marsalis speaks to students

Happy students in the auditorium:

Students at UMS School Day performance

Photos by Mark Gjukich Photography.

Last updated 4/29/2016.

From Our Archives: Valery Gergiev

The Mariinsky Orchestra returns to UMS on January 24-25, 2015. The Mariinsky Orchestra (then Kirov Orchestra) first performed in Ann Arbor in 1992. In this 1998 photo from our archives, conductor Valery Gergiev listens to the orchestra in Hill Auditorium in preparation for their performance: Archival Mariinsky Orchestra in Ann Arbor   Interested in more from our archives? Check out our digital archives at umsrewind.org.

Michael Tilson Thomas at 1988 UMS May Festival

We’re getting ready for another visit from San Francisco Symphony on November 13 and 14, 2014. This visit celebrates the 70th birthday of music director Michael Tilson Thomas, and we wanted to share two archival photos from another performance featuring conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, the 1988 UMS May Festival.

In this photo, the Pittsburgh Symphony performs at 1988 May Festival with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.
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Michael Tilson Thomas signs autographs backstage in Hill Auditorium.
Michael Tilson Thomas signs autograph backstage May Festival 1988

To learn more about the May Festival’s one-hundred year history, watch “A Space for Music, A Seat for Everyone,” our feature documentary about Hill Auditorium.

Interested in more from our archives? Check out our digital archives at umsrewind.org.

From Our Archives: Itzhak Perlman

Violinist Itzhak Perlman returns to Hill Auditorium on September 14, 2014.

Itzhak Perlman made his UMS debut in April 1970 with the Philadelphia Orchestra. From our archives, a backstage photo from his visit during the May Festival in 1993 (that’s UMS president Ken Fischer on the left!):

Itzhak Perlman backstage at Hill Auditorium

Interested in more from our archives? Check out our digital archives at umsrewind.org.

From Our Archives: Israel Philharmonic Orchestra visits Ann Arbor

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra returns to Hill Auditorium with long-time conductor Zubin Mehta on March 15, 2014 (they’ll perform Bruckner Symphony No. 8).

From our archives, a photo from the orchestra’s visit to Ann Arbor in 1972.
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In another visit in 1989, here is conductor Zubin Mehta with his wife U-M alumna Nancy Kovack as they visit with U-M president James Duderstadt and wife Anne Lock-Duderstadt at the president’s house.
israelphil-withpresidentduderstadt

Later, during a visit to the Martha Cook dormitory, the home of Nancy Kovack during her time at Michigan.
israelphil-visitingmarthacook

Finally, the contact sheet from that performance gives a sense of the bustle backstage at Hill Auditorium.
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Yuri Temirkanov Visits Ann Arbor in 1996

The St. Petersburg Philharmonic returns to Hill Auditorium with long-time conductor Yuri Temirkanov on February 22, 2014.

From our archives, a photo from of conductor Yuri Temirkanov’s visit to Ann Arbor in 1996. Here, he is in rehearsal with U-M University Symphony Orchestra:
StPetersburgPhil-ArchivalPhoto
Explore other photos in our archive.

This Day in UMS History: Royal Shakespeare Company History Plays (March 10-18, 2001)

Ten years ago today, UMS audiences began a great experiment — the Royal Shakespeare Company presenting four Shakespeare History plays (Henry VI, parts i, ii, and iii, and Richard III) over the course of 27 hours with lunch and dinner breaks built in. The productions, directed by now-RSC artistic director Michael Boyd, marked the beginning of a long relationship between the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor with the RSC. Over the past decade, this partnership has included three major residencies, as well as workshopping new plays on the U-M campus.  Each residency was accompanied by dozens of free educational events for students and the public-at-large.

Those who were present will no doubt fondly recall some of these images from the productions:

David Oleyowo as Henry VI

Fiona Bell as Joan of Arc, Henry VI, part i

Clive Wood as Duke of York, Henry VI, part iii

Aidan McArdle as Richard III with Fiona Bell as Queen Margaret

The three Henry VI plays were presented at 11 am, 2 pm, and 8 pm on a Saturday, with audiences returning on Sunday for the climactic production of Richard III. (There was also one mid-week cycle, which ran Tuesday, Wednesday [both matinee and evening], and Thursday.) Since that season, UMS’s theater programming has expanded significantly, with an annual commitment to presenting both live and high-definition broadcasts of international theater — including this season’s productions of Richard III and The Comedy of Errors by another British theater company, Propeller.  Like the RSC, Propeller presents contemporary interpretations of Shakespeare and works with an ensemble cast; unlike the RSC, Propeller uses an all-male cast to present the Bard’s works, as would have been the case in Shakespeare’s day.

Richard III opens at the Power Center on Wednesday, March 30, and The Comedy of Errors opens the following evening.  Tickets can be purchased at www.ums.org or by calling 734-764-2538.

This Day in UMS History: Laurie Anderson Meets the Great White Whale (Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 1999)

Multi-media dominatrix Laurie Anderson opened the 1999/2000 UMS season with three performances of Songs and Stories from Moby Dick in the Power Center.  The piece took Melville’s great novel as its inspiration, with Anderson’s signature penchant for the technological edge highlighted by the debut of the “Talking Stick,” a digital sampling machine that could replicate virtually any sound at a granular level.  Anderson’s interest in developing the piece evolved because she was working on a project for high school kids about books with another producer (the project never materialized).  She chose Moby Dick, remembering the novel’s obsessive captain, but also remembering, with dread, the incredible detail about the whaling industry and its technical paraphernalia.  She was completely captivated by the novel as an adult, read it five times, and began to hear the music and lyricism in the author’s voice.  From that experience, she began her largest undertaking in 15 years.

This production was Laurie Anderson’s UMS debut (she has since appeared in 2002 with Happiness and in 2004 with The End of the Moon, and returns in January with Delusion).  As a relative newcomer to the staff at that time, I traveled a few months before her Ann Arbor production to see the work in Philadelphia, at the Prince Theater.  A night or two before I saw it, the actor playing Captain Ahab miscalculated the edge of the stage and fell into the orchestra pit, breaking his leg.  I don’t recall the details of what happened that particular night — I think they canceled the performance — but by the time I arrived in Philadelphia, the actor was back on stage, manipulating his crutches through a surprisingly complicated stage choreography and making it seem as though that had been part of the design from the beginning.  It turns out that although Captain Ahab is probably the most famous one-legged captain in literature, Anderson’s team had not considered using crutches until the accident forced the issue.  By the time I saw the production in Ann Arbor several months later, the crutches had become an integral prop, perfectly incorporated into the storytelling.

Anderson’s ironic sense of humor permeated Moby Dick.  In the program notes for the work, she noted, “Being a somewhat dark person myself, I love the idea that what you look for your whole life will eventually eat you alive.”

This performance brings back so many strong memories for me: how gracious Laurie Anderson was to break from tech rehearsals to give an interview to a public television TV show, how she willingly went to Detroit for a 20-minute interview on WDET, her generosity in allowing selected classes to see a dress rehearsal of the work in tech week.  I also remember seeing an internet ticket order come in from somebody who lived in the same small town in Wisconsin where I grew up.  This was in the early days of e-commerce, and it was shocking to see an address that was literally down the street from my childhood home, from someone renting an apartment in my late great-uncle’s house.  Songs and Stories from Moby Dick was an incredible introduction to Laurie Anderson’s work and an amazing way to kick off the UMS season.

This Day in UMS History: Beverly Sills (September 23, 1977)

Beverly Sills

Beverly Sills

This Day in UMS History – September 23, 1977
Hill Auditorium

Beverly Sills, soprano
Charles Wadsworth, piano

Let the Bright Seraphim from Samson–Handel
Un moto di gioia, K. 579–Mozart
Bester Jüngling from Der Schauspieldirektor, K. 486–Mozart
Alleluia from Exsultate Jubilate, K. 165–Mozart

Many artists presented by UMS over its 132-year history have a long and rich history of performances with the organization. Soprano Beverly Sills was certainly no exception. Throughout the 1970s, Beverly Sills made numerous appearances under UMS auspices, culminating with this, her final appearance in 1977, just a few short years before announcing her retirement in 1980.

The late 60s and early to mid 70s were considered the high points of Beverly Sills’ career, as evidenced by her appearance on the cover of Time magazine in 1971, where she was described as “America’s Queen of Opera.” Beverly Sills’ first UMS appearance on January 30, 1971 was also a solo recital with Charles Wadsworth accompanying her on piano. On that particular program, Sills sang three arias from Handel’s opera seria Giulio Cesare. It is interesting to note that in 1966, Sills’ performance as Cleopatra in the New York City Opera’s revival of Handel’s then virtually unknown Giulio Cesare, is what many argue made her an international opera star.

Sills Program

Her final UMS program featured an aria from Handel’s oratorio Samson, considered by many to be one of Handel’s finest dramatic works, as well as three pieces by Mozart: concert aria “Un moto di gioia”, “Bester Jüngling” from the comic singspiel Der Schauspieldirektor (one of the only four vocal numbers in that piece), and “Alleluia” from the final allegro section of Mozart’s religious solo motet Exsultate Jubilate.

Following her retirement from performing, Beverly Sills remained quite active with the New York City Opera, serving on their board until 1991. Following that, she also served as chairman of Lincoln Center until 2002, and then as chairman of the Metropolitan Opera. Beverly Sills lost her battle with lung cancer on July 2, 2007 at the age of 78.

I hope you will take a moment to enjoy the video below and hear for yourself (if you weren’t able to attend any of her UMS performances!) the beauty and purity of tone of Beverly Sills’ voice as she sings one of my all-time favorite Mozart arias “Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben” from Zaide.

Search Hundreds of Photos… and 100 Years of Concert Programs

Finally–the time has come! Thanks to the Ann Arbor District Library, we launched the beginnings of the UMS digital archive!

UMS President Ken Fischer launched the archive March 14, 2010, with a special talk about UMS’s history.  You can watch the whole thing here:

Baby-duty in the Hill Auditorium Lobby, 1974 May Festival

The AADL has digitized the first 100 years of UMS concert programs as well as hundreds of photos from our photo archive.  It’s a work in progress, but we couldn’t wait to share it with you.

The AADL is building a searchable database so that we can link all of this great history together. We’re also continuing to scan and tag photos, and making plans to digitize our old-fashioned card catalog of artists and repertoire, so that you can pick your favorite symphony and search for every time it was performed on our stages and by whom!

A quick walk through of the site.

Along the left hand side, you’ll see a menu with a few options:

Browse Programs: Here, you’ll find a comprehensive list of every concert from our first season through the 1978/1979 season. Click on a program, and you’ll see images of the concert program. Click on the images, and they will enlarge and given you an option to view them in full-screen.

Search Programs: Here, you’ll find a simple search box. Type in a keyword: a date, artist, piece title, composer, venue–click “search,” and it will pull up every program that matches your keyword. (Remember–it only covers programs through the 1978/79 season so far.)

Browse Images: My favorite! Scroll down to the search box and type in a keyword–an artist, company, venue–and it will pull up any photos that are tagged with that keyword. For example–if you type in “Bernstein”–you’ll see photos of Leonard Bernstein, photos of the Bernstein benefit, and tons of scanned contact sheets from his Ann Arbor visits (some of which only a few people have ever seen before!). Click on a photo to enlarge it. NOTE: When your search results appear, make sure to click the button under the search box that says “Show all #” as there may be more photos than the three that appear.

We hope you enjoy playing around with the site, and remember, there is MUCH MORE to come!  Thanks so much to our great partners at the Ann Arbor District Library for helping us share our history. Stay tuned!

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