George Shirley on Countertenor David Daniels
Editor’s note: Countertenor David Daniel’s performs in the “What’s in a Song?” evening of song music curated by pianist Martin Katz on January 8, 2016 in Hill Auditorium.
U-M Emeritus Professor of Voice George Shirley remembers his student, U-M alumnus David Daniels, who has led the resurgence of interest in countertenors over the past two decades. In 2015, Daniels will join the faculty of U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
‘Tis the Season: Your Messiah Memories
An annual tradition since 1879, UMS’s presentation of Handel’s Messiah has become a “signature” Ann Arbor experience. We’re so grateful for the participation of the community in this event year-after-year, and we hope you’ll share with us some of your favorite Messiah memories: how many years you’ve attended, why you look forward to Messiah every year, what makes this event special to you.
Share your memories with us in the comments below, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with hashtag #umslobby. Photos welcome!
Over the year’s we’ve also collected video memories. Here are a few audience reactions to last year’s performances.
These two are getting a bit of off-camera direction…
Graduated U-M in 1978, and attended ever since…
Snow storm strikes in the middle of Messiah…
Whole family in the video booth…
And here are some of our favorites from throughout our history.
Jerry Blackstone, director of UMS Chormal Union and long-time Messiah conductor, on forgetting his jacket on the day of a Messiah performance.
Father Timothy Dombrowski, choral union member for over forty years, remembers “The Bat out of Hill.”
Megan Sajewski, U-M alumni and resident of Martha Cook dormitory, talks about co-chairing the annual Martha Cook Messiah Dinner.
Last updated 4/29/2016.
Handel’s Messiah: A history in photos, programs, and video
This post is a collaboration between UMS interns Meaghan McLaughlin and Kayla Silverstein.
UMS has a history of 135 years of hosting unique performers and bringing talents all over the world to perform on Ann Arbor stages. A massive factor in the founding of UMS and a piece of its history still today is the annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah. While history has changed the presentation of this monumental piece, the tradition is one that UMS patrons can look forward to every year. But when did it all begin?
Handel’s Messiah is a UMS tradition; the work has been performed in its entirety every year since 1941. Records indicate that the first time the UMS Choral Union presented this holiday piece was with a small choir, a mere fraction of the Choral Union today. Upon their first meeting, the choir director at the time, Dr. Henry Simmons Frieze, chose a piece out of Handel’s Messiah. The group quickly decided to devote their time and energy into mastering a few select portions of this work, meeting every Tuesday to rehearse. Their first concert was small but intimate, performed in the M. E. Church on December 16, 1879.
Photos from the UMS Archives.
This small-scale performance of Handel’s Messiah is rare today. The piece is most commonly heard with a large choir backed by an orchestra. The pioneers of the UMS Choral Union performed solely with a double string quartet and two pianos. Not quite what Handel had in mind, but I think he would appreciate the effort of these trend-setting singers.
The concert included ten works in addition to the two chosen choruses of Messiah: “For unto us a Child is Born” and “Lift up Your Head, O Ye Gates.” With so much attention and time devoted to learning Messiah, it fast became a tradition of the ensemble to study and perform bits of the work every December.
Fortunately for audiences today, the performance and tradition of Handel’s Messiah has grown and evolved with the times. The Choral Union today consists of 175 accomplished voices, a much fuller sound that gives Messiah that extra bit of power. Full orchestral accompaniment is now standard with the yearly performances as well as Hill Auditorium as the venue – an acoustically-blessed building that produces the rounded sound that brings the work to life.
Want more Messiah history? Check out the program for the original Messiah performance or watch our video history of Handel’s Messiah.
Share your favorite Messiah memories in the comments below.
Kayla Silverstein is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, pursuing a dual degree in English and Creative Writing with a minor in French. She works as an intern in both the marketing and programming departments at UMS. In her free time, she enjoys running, drinking obscene amounts of coffee, and writing short fiction.
Meaghan McLaughlin is a former UMS Intern and a 2013 U-M graduate
[VIDEO] Messiah Memories Bloopers
UMS first presented Handel’s Messiah in December of 1879. Over several weeks, we released a series of Messiah Memories webisodes from everyone involved over the years. We couldn’t resist releasing these staff bloopers.
Episode 1: Jerry Blackstone, long-time Messiah conductor, forgets his jacket on the day of the performance.
Episode 2: Father Timothy Dombrowski, choral union member for over forty years, remembers “The Bat out of Hill.”
Episode 3: Megan Sajewski, resident of Martha Cook dormitory, talks about co-chairing the annual Martha Cook Messiah Dinner.
Episode 4: Meg Bragle (mezzo-soprano) and Mary Wilson (soprano), Messiah soloists and good friends, talk about the fun of coming back to Ann Arbor to perform in Messiah.