UMS’s Arts Roundup: October 1
Many members of the UMS staff keep a watchful eye on local and national media for news about artists on our season, pressing arts issues, and more. Each week, we pull together a list of interesting stories and share them with you. Welcome to UMS’s Arts Round-up, a weekly collection of arts news, including national issues, artist updates, local shout-outs, and a link or two just for fun. If you come across something interesting in your own reading, please feel free to share!
- The orchestral world continues to change as Zarin Mehta steps down as President of the NY Philharmonic.
- And so does the opera world — Placido Domingo is also reducing his commitments.
- But James Levine is finally back after months of health issues that curtailed his ability to conduct.
- Arts jobs count too–NEA chief advocates the legitimacy and worth of creative jobs in the arts during hard economic times.
- Is opera worth the expense? Alex Ross voices his opinion regarding the Met’s $16 million Wagner opera cycle.
- Stephen Sondheim at 80: An interview with the man who revolutionized the world of musical theater.
- Dancer/choreographer Trisha Brown featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art in program of her seminal works.
- Rosanne Cash brings superb voice and new depth to classic and new country tunes alike during her performance of “The List” at Hill Auditorium on Saturday night [review].
- Jordi Savall brings music of Spain and Mexico to St. Francis Church [review].
- Play the piano? Always wanted to try? Now’s your chance! Pull up a seat and try out any of the seven Pianos ‘Round Town, located on the sidewalks of Depot Town and Downtown Ypsilanti.
- And you can play your own melody for UMS — at intermission of the Mariinsky Orchestra and Takacs Quartet concerts (Oct. 10 and Oct. 14 respectively).
- A potential sign of hope emerges for struggling arts institutions in Michigan with the Detroit Institute of Arts likely to get $10M from the state.
JUST FOR FUN
- Once again, the hills will be alive with the sound of music, as Oprah reunites the original Sound of Music cast members.
- Dancers morph into human sculptures around Manhattan as part of the Bodies in Urban Spaces project.
UMS’s Arts Roundup: August 27
Many members of the UMS staff keep a watchful eye on local and national media for news about artists on our season, pressing arts issues, and more. We thought we’d pull together a list of interesting stories each week and share them with you. Welcome to UMS’s Arts Round-up, a weekly collection of arts news, including national issues, artist updates, local shout-outs, and a link or two just for fun. If you come across something interesting in your own reading, please feel free to share!
- Pianomania puts the wishes of the world’s greatest pianists in the spotlight from the perspective of their Steinway technician
- The Wall Street Journal takes a look at how a new generation of leadership is changing the role of art museums
- Just who is Grupo Corpo? Here’s a primer from UK’s The Guardian
- And now that you know them, check out a review of Grupo Corpo’s latest work, Parabelo
- In tough times, the Seattle Symphony opts for a “new” approach, commissioning 18 new works for the 10/11 season
- The New York Times reviews a new biography about Ballets Russes master Serge Diaghilev
- Introducing a new ballet troupe in metro Detroit – crazy talk or toast of the town?
UMS Staff Picks: The Cripple of Inishmaan selected by Sara Billmann, Director of Marketing & Communications
SN: The multi-award winning Druid and Atlantic Theater co-production of Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan has been described as “a break-your-heart, cruelly funny evening” – what kind of theatrical journey can audience members expect to experience when they see this production?
SB: I don’t want to spoil the story, but suffice it to say that it will be quite an emotional ride.
I’ve seen two of Martin McDonagh’s plays when they were produced in New York in the mid-late 1990s, and they are simply brilliant pieces, in part because of the way they force you to re-examine your own morals. He sets up these outrageous scenes that are absolutely hilarious, then delivers the knock-out punch that makes you realize you’ve been laughing at something that is, in fact, incredibly tragic. The June issue of <i>Opera News</i> put it perfectly: “As anyone who’s ever sat through a Martin McDonagh play can attest, sometimes the only response we can muster when confronted with the searing emotional or physical pain of others is a laugh.”
I read this play poolside while visiting my in-laws in San Antonio and found myself laughing out loud on any number of occasions. Let’s face it, there are many plays where you chuckle inwardly, but something that produces a spontaneous outburst while reading to yourself is extraordinary in its own sense. And based on every production I’ve seen of McDonagh’s work, the live production will far exceed what’s on the page.
So that we could all familiarize ourselves with the play, about a dozen members of the UMS staff did a “read-through” this summer. I hope that some audience members will be interested in doing the same — we’d be interested in putting together play-reading groups for others and loaning the scripts. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the dialects and turns of language that really bring the piece alive. And, of course, a great way to meet new people too.
SN: What are you most looking forward to about this UMS debut performance?
SB: It’s pretty simple, really – I just can’t wait to see what they do with the production to bring it alive. I have friends who saw this production when it was on Broadway a few years ago and raved about it. Having grown up in a small town, I recognize some of the quirky characters and look forward to seeing how they are realized on stage.
SB: Just about everything! As a trained classical musician, I’m particularly interested in the big orchestras and piano recitals. I was turned on to Denis Matsuev about two years ago by someone who had heard his recording in Gramophone magazine. His playing is really quite extraordinary. I also adore Schubert and am looking forward to the three Tákacs concerts, as well as the Scharoun Ensemble performance of the Schubert Octet. I’m also looking forward to Grupo Corpo – what a great company! I could go on and on. The beauty of being the marketing director for UMS is that I start to research all of the artists we’re presenting long before we announce the season, and I always get turned on to things I never would have thought I’d enjoy…which ultimately means that the entire season becomes a “must see” for me.
SN: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
SB: I have two kids – Elisabeth is 8 and going into 4th grade, and Harry is 6 and going into 1st grade – who keep me plenty busy. I was about to respond that I do laundry outside of work, until I saw the word “enjoy” in the question. Elisabeth loves to play baseball, so I think I’ve spent the better part of July attending her games and taking her to see the Tigers when time permits. I’m also hopelessly addicted to The New Yorker and steal moments here and there to try to stay caught up. Other hobbies include wine tasting and walking the dog – we acquired a boxer/pointer mix from the Humane Society three months ago, and I’ve become the family’s designated dog walker, which fills up a shocking amount of time each day.
SN: What have you been listening to on your iPod?
SB: Ha! The day I get to listen to my iPod will be a great day indeed. Lately my kids have been torturing me, making me listen to “Stayin’ Alive” and 1980s dance tunes (oh, to return to the days when my daughter would watch “The Barber of Seville” by choice…). But when I can wrestle it away from them, I mostly listen to Schubert lieder, Maria Joao Pires performing Schubert and Chopin, Denis Matsuev playing Rachmaninoff, and Mahler, though truth be told, the iPod doesn’t do Mahler justice. Murray Perahia‘s recital in 2000 of the Bach/Busoni Chorale Preludes and the Goldberg Variations will always rank among my top UMS performances, and I often bring back that memory with the recording “Songs Without Words” released around the same time. Angelika Kirchschlager and Fritz Wunderlich are among my favorite singers, though I will confess that I also enjoy Pink Martini in my less serious moments. And I recently loaded on a CD by a wonderful Iranian group called Ghazal.
20th Annual Dance Series Announced
The University Musical Society is pleased to announce its 20th Annual Dance Series, with five companies performing in the Power Center and the Detroit Opera House. The series includes:
Paul Taylor, artistic director
Thursday, October 7 | 8 pm
Friday, October 8 | 8 pm
Saturday, October 9 | 8 pm
More than a half-century ago, after performing in the companies of Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine, Paul Taylor became the youngest member of the pantheon that created American modern dance. Now approaching 80 — an age when most artists’ best work is behind them — Taylor is acclaimed for the vibrancy, relevance, and power of his dances. As prolific as ever, he continues to offer cogent observations on life’s complexities while tackling some of society’s thorniest issues. While his work has largely been iconoclastic, since the very start of his career Taylor has also made some of the most purely romantic, most astonishingly athletic, and downright funniest dances ever put on a stage. UMS, in collaboration with the U-M Department of Dance, shines a light on Paul Taylor, with a day-long residency and three performances highlighting just a fraction of the more than 130 dances he has created. “What other artist today makes poetic drama of such variety and eloquence? A Taylor season is a journey through one of the most singular and searching imaginations of our time.” (The New York Times, 2/17/10)
Program (Thurs 10/7)
Speaking in Tongues (Music by Matthew Patton) (1988)
Esplanade (J.S. Bach) (1975)
Program (Fri 10/8)
Orbs (Ludwig van Beethoven) (1966)
Also Playing (Gaetano Donizetti) (2009)
Program (Sat 10/9)
Black Tuesday (Songs of the Great Depression) (2001)
The Word (David Israel) (1998)
Piazzolla Caldera (Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky) (1997)
Sankai Juku: Hibiki
Ushio Amagatsu, director, choreographer, and designer
Saturday, October 23 | 8 pm
Sunday, October 24 | 2 pm
Ushio Amagatsu, the founder and artistic director of Sankai Juku, trained in classical as well as modern dance before he devoted his life to butoh. Butoh first appeared in Japan after World War II and is often defined by its playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics, and absurd environments. Traditionally performed in white body makeup with slow, hyper-controlled, mesmerizing motion, butoh represents to Amagatsu a “dialogue with gravity,” whereas most dance forms revel in the escape from gravity. It plays with the perception of time and space through slowing down the experience — the dance equivalent of haiku, only much longer. The company last appeared in Ann Arbor in 1999. In 2002, the work that they will perform, Hibiki – Resonance From Far Away, received an Olivier Award for “Best New Dance Production.” “[Ushio Amagatsu] conveys the infinitely minute yet spellbinding transformations of a world in constant metamorphosis.” (Dance Magazine)
Rodrigo and Paulo Pederneiras, artistic director and choreographer
Friday, January 21 | 8 pm
Saturday, January 22 | 8 pm
This electrifying Brazilian dance company captivates with stunning, sexy physicality, dynamic ability, and rich visual flair. Grupo Corpo (literally “Body Group”) creates a vibrant and seamless blend of ballet’s grace, modern dance’s verve, and the hip-swiveling exuberance of Carnival sambas and their Afro-Brazilian roots. Founded in 1975, Grupo Corpo returns to Ann Arbor — the company appeared in 2002 as part of UMS’s focus on Brazilian artists — with two performances featuring Ímã (2009) and another work to be announced. Don’t miss this chance to experience Grupo Corpo’s “searing sensuality elegantly under control.” (Le Monde, Paris)
Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Friday, February 18 | 8 pm
Saturday, February 19 | 8 pm
When the always forward-thinking Merce Cunningham passed away in July 2009 at the age of 90, he left behind a plan for the dissolution of his dance company and the preservation of his works: a two-year legacy tour that would end on December 31, 2011 with a performance in New York City. Cunningham was undeniably a leader of the American avant-garde throughout his 70-year career and is considered one of the most important choreographers of our time. Through much of his life, he was also one of the greatest American dancers, performing with the Martha Dance Company for six years. With an artistic career distinguished by constant innovation, Cunningham expanded the frontiers of dance, but also of contemporary visual and performing arts. His collaborations with artistic innovators from every creative discipline have yielded an unparalleled body of American dance, music, and visual art. These two different programs will be drawn from the more than 150 dances that Cunningham created over more than six decades of choreographic innovation. In Merce’s own words: “You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.” Fleeting for the dancer, perhaps, but creating lasting impressions for the audiences that experience it.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Judith Jamison, artistic director
Thursday, March 3 | 7:30 pm [note start time!]
Detroit Opera House
UMS is partnering with the Detroit Opera House so that UMS dance subscribers can experience this quintessentially American dance company. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from the now-fabled performance in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Young Men’s Hebrew Association in New York. Led by Alvin Ailey and group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance forever changed the perception of American dance. Now, some 52 years later, the company has performed for an estimated 23 million people in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents. The company has earned a reputation as one of the most acclaimed international ambassadors of American culture, promoting the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage. When Alvin Ailey began creating dance, he drew upon his “blood memories” of Texas, the blues, spirituals, and gospel as inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically-acclaimed work, Revelations.
This performance is only available to dance subscribers; all other tickets will be sold through the Detroit Opera House. UMS will offer round-trip luxury coach service to Detroit for this performance for those who prefer not to drive (details to be announced).
Tickets for the five-performance series range from $133-$206. Subscription renewal packets and brochures will be mailed in early May.
Tickets to individual events on the series go on sale on Monday, August 23 (via www.ums.org) and Wednesday, August 25 (in person and by phone).