Forward Fund Spotlight: Stephen & Faith 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!
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?
I 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.
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.