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Letters from Artists: David Finckel, for the Emerson String Quartet

All one has to do for the Emerson String Quartet is mention “Ann Arbor,” and vivid images arise, as we have been playing regularly for the University Musical Society since our earliest days. To a large extent, the places to which we have returned many times during our career are part of who and what we are.

From the Detroit Airport to the stage of Rackham Auditorium is a route as familiar as from my living to dining room: lunch at my favorite Lebanese restaurant near the airport; I-94 to the Ann Arbor exit; squeezing in the little tunnel under the hall; parking in the restricted space; the long tunnel to the double-sided green room, where tables are laden with photos to sign and the always-mind-blowing UMS season brochures; the little bells that count down to the concert; ascending the slightly-treacherous staircase to the left; squeezing through the small stage entrance while a stage attendant opens and disappears behind the door; and finally, the familiar warm welcome and intense listening of the discriminating and devoted UMS audience, ready to hear even our most challenging programs, and always rewarding us with hearty thanks.

The equally important part of the Ann Arbor experience is, of course, encountering director Ken Fischer, who seems ever more youthful in years and inspired in vision. To be a part of what UMS creates in Ann Arbor is, for us, to be part of something vastly larger than ourselves, which is seen around the country as an incomparable model of presenting and community service.  With its strong and clear mission, UMS should be around for a good long time, here to serve the children and grandchildren of the vibrant Ann Arbor community.  We wish Ken and his always-stellar team as much success as they can imagine, and more.

David Finckel is the cellist for the Emerson String Quartet.

Links: UMS in the News

Since the beginning of January, we’ve had a busy and exciting 8 weeks of 12 performances in all the big genres: dance, jazz, world music, classical music, and theater.   It’s definitely a whirlwind experience for all of us on staff to see and talk about so many events – and there’s definitely been plenty to talk about!  In case you missed it, here’s a roundup of UMS in the news:

  • Chris Azzopardi of Between the Lines interviewed Bill T. Jones about his motivations for creating Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray and what’s next for his company.

Bill T. Jones on the stage of the Michigan Theater

  • Two of UMS’s very own staff members boldly journeyed into the blogosphere as guest bloggers.  UMS Director of Programming Michael Kondziolka blogged at on how artistic programs are chosen and what makes an artist special.  UMS Director of Marketing and Communications Sara Billmann blogged for the American Orchestras Summit on the future of orchestral music.
  • Susan Nisbett of reviewed Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray which created some conversation in the comments section.
  • Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press interviewed legendary conductor Pierre Boulez on the occasion of his 85th birthday, and in conjunction with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Ann Arbor performance.

Conductor Pierre Boulez

  • Have you heard of Concentrate?  Managing Editor Jeff Myers has been writing fun, quirky, and media-rich profiles of UMS events for a while — and they’re really fantastic.  If you’re having a hard time convincing your friend to go to a performance with you, Concentrate is just what the doctor ordered.  Check out past profiles on Ladysmith Black Mambazo, The Bad Plus, and the Luciana Souza Trio.