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Best of Artist Playlists


Over the course of the past few seasons, we’ve asked some of our performers to tell us what they’ve been listening to lately. Here are some of our favorites:

1. Jazz pianist Jason Moran winner of Downbeat magazine’s 2011 Critic’s Pick for “Album, Artist, and Pianist of the Year.” He returns in our 2013-2014 season with his Fats Waller Dance Party. Listen to Jason’s playlist

2. Winner of 2011 Grammy for Best New Artist and the 2012 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album for her album Radio Music Society, Esperanza Spalding. Listen to Esperanza’s playlist

3. Jazz drummer and hip-hop producer for artists including Common, Slum Village, Talib Kweli, and The Roots, Karriem Riggins. Listen to Karriem’s playlist

If you could browse any performer’s music collection, who would it be? Why?

Tweet Seats: Esperanza Spalding

On to our fourth tweet seats event! This time we saw Esperanza Spalding perform at Michigan Theater on April 6.

Meet the participants.

UMS: Tell us a little about you.

Richard Retyi: I am the social media director at Fluency Media, a digital marketing agency in Ann Arbor, as well as a regular feature writer for and other publications. You can follow me on Twitter at @RichRetyi or read my work at

Cody Takacs: I am a recent graduate of the School of Music earning my BM in Double Bass Performance. I appear frequently as a soloist specializing in new music with performances ranging from the University of Michigan’s Collage Concert to Carnegie Hall. As an educator, I have been the double bass instructor for Skyline High School’s orchestra and chamber music coach for Michigan Bass Bash.

Kristin Kurzawa: A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Art and Design (MFA 2009), I describe myself as a storyteller, innovator, and educator with a passion for bringing communities together through information sharing and online platforms. Photography, feature writing, content management, and social media community management/development are the tools I use to create user-friendly content and foster communities. My website is, and follow me on Twitter: @kriskurzawa, on Instagram at, and LinkedIn:

Jasmine Hentschel: My relationship with UMS started back in my sophomore year at U of M, when I started interning in the production department. It was one of the most enriching, enlightening, and greatest learning experiences not only of my undergraduate career, but of my entire life. I currently work for Cambridge Michigan Language Assessments making standardized English language tests, and I’m headed to U of M’s School of Information to study computational linguistics in the fall. @JasmineShuree on Twitter.

UMS: In one sentence, how would you describe your relationship with technology?

Richard Retyi: The only reason I am in social media is because I signed up for Twitter back in 2007 on a whim. Since then, I’ve been kind of tethered to my phone. All the world’s knowledge in a single device, plus Instagram.

Cody Takacs: I use technology to build and maintain a strong musical network and also to share and express my musical ideas.

Kristin Kurzawa: As a self-proclaimed geek, I appreciate the technology in every tool I use throughout the day, from my anti-glare eyeglasses to my ubiquitous iPhone to the latest cloud-based software.

Jasmine Hentschel: I am wonderfully overwhelmed by the incredible knowledge and power that technological advances of recent decades have afforded people all over the world.

UMS: Why did you decide to participate in this project?

Richard Retyi: Curiousity.

Cody Takacs: As I mentioned in the second question, I like to use technology to share and express my musical thoughts and ideas. I feel that the Tweet Seats project would allow me a great opportunity to relay my thoughts and ideas to my musical network and even public at large.

Kristin Kurzawa:  I love the idea of bringing digital communities and live, in-person communities together. I’m 100% committed to increasing awareness of the arts!  The Tweet Seats is one of the most innovative and exciting ideas for involving everyone in the experience!

Jasmine Hentschel: I think UMS is an incredible organization that really brings a great deal of phenomenal art and culture to the vibrant city of Ann Arbor. Having worked as an intern for several years in the production department, I’ve been to dozens and dozens of UMS shows and I thought this would be an exciting new way to get involved. I am very curious to see how it feels to be engaged in the performance in a totally different way.

UMS: To you, what does it mean to “be present” during a performance or another arts experience?

Richard Retyi: I think unless you really know a particular sphere of art or performance (musicians, dancers, etc.), performances transport your mind somewhere else most of the time. You watch the musicians, you watch the artists and then your mind wanders. To past memories, creative ideas, whatever. And then you return to what’s actually happening. Or maybe that’s just me.

Cody Takacs: To be “present” at a performance to me means 1) that the listener is physically present and 2) that they are mentally experiencing the performance on one or a combination of any of Aaron Copland’s three planes of listening that find best suiting for their own listening experience (the sensual, expressive, and sheerly musical planes).

Kristin Kurzawa: To me, “being present” involves all five senses. The ability to really observe both the micro and macro level of the entire experience- from the smell of the auditorium, to the sounds of the orchestra’s warm-up, to the visual impact of the set design or audience reaction, to the feel of the velvet seats beneath you– to the taste of the fountain soda during intermission!

Jasmine Hentschel: Being “present” is a matter of being engaged in a performance and giving it all of your consideration and attention, regardless of your preconceived notions and expectations of what it might be. It’s about not only noticing the little things, including all of the time and effort that gets put into every aspect of a performance, but also how it makes you feel before, during and after, and how you the art you’re watching ties into and relates to your personal experiences and those of all of mankind, whether it be theater, dance, music, or some other art form.

Meet the tweets.

After the performance

UMS: How did tweeting affect your experience of the performance?

Kristin Kurzawa: I thought the tweeting experience might be a wee bit distracting to my focus, but it was just the opposite. Knowing that I was the eyes and ears of the concert for those following kept me hyper-focused on the band, the audience, and of course, Esperanza Spalding’s voice!

Jasmine Hentschel: I was so mesmerized by Esperanza and the band throughout the entire performance that it was hard to decide when to take my eyes off them to post a tweet. However, tweeting about the performance also forced me to analyze how I was thinking and feeling in a very different way than I normally would during a show, to determine exactly why I was so mesmerized, and to put these thoughts and feelings into comprehensible words. It’s interesting to have the tweets now to look back on after the fact, to recall what I was thinking at very specific moments throughout the performance that I would totally forget about otherwise.

Richard Retyi: Working in athletics and live-tweeting a number of games for work, the experience wasn’t new to me. With the hashtag, I was more curious about what my fellow tweet seaters were saying, so it was like the four of us were having mini conversations during the performance.

UMS: Did you expect this effect or are you surprised by this outcome?

Kristin Kurzawa: I enjoyed meeting and sharing tweets with my fellow Tweet Seaters. We represented such unique perspectives that we created a team. I would love to see us have more dialogue during or after the shows, but that would take a lot of multi-tasking for sure.

Jasmine Hentschel: I honestly thought it would be a little easier because I anticipated there being at least a couple lulls in the performance. But every song was completely engaging and I found it hard to take my attention away from the stage even for a few moments. It was definitely easier than tweeting during a Shakespeare play though, because I could still hear the music and follow the show without a problem even when I was on my phone–trying to do that during a play meant I had to look up and jump back into the show after missing dialogue and action that you can’t take in if you’re looking down. That was right along the lines of what I expected.

Richard Retyi: I didn’t really know what to expect going in. I should have known that the hashtag wouldn’t be in use during the performance by the people in the theater. I’d be curious about the response from tweet seaters in the overall UMS community.

Are you interested in joining our tweet seats section? Sign up & we’ll let you what’s coming in the 2013-2014 season.

Esperanza Spalding at the signing after her performance


Esperanza Spalding with our UMS banner, at the signing after her performance on Saturday, April 6. Check out the live tweets of the performance from the tweet seats section.

Did you attend the performance? Don’t forget to share your thoughts.

Esperanza Spalding Montréal International Jazz Festival

Our programming manager Mark Jacobson shared this photo with us. A crowd gathers outside of Esperanza Spalding’s performance this past summer at Montréal International Jazz Festival. We can’t wait to host her in Ann Arbor this weekend, Saturday, April 6.


We asked Esperanza Spalding what she’s been listening to lately. Check out her playlist.

Behind the Scenes with Esperanza Spalding

Photo by Carlos Pericas.

You may have heard of Esperanza Spalding. She was awarded the 2011 Grammy for Best New Artist, and this year, her album Radio Music Society was the winner of the 2012 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Esperanza Spalding performs at Michigan Theater on April 6.

We asked Esperanza what she’s been listening to lately. Check out her playlist below.

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