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Most Memorable UMS Performance Contest

1. Laurie Anderson, last at UMS in 10/11 Season. 2. Philadelphia Orchestra, 1976 May Festival.

What’s your most memorable UMS performance experience? Tell us about it & win.

Describe a live UMS performance that still holds strong feelings or memories for you years later and explain why it does.

How to enter: Tweet about your most memorable UMS performance during the contest period using the hash tag #faveums, or comment on UMS’s Facebook page during the contest period. You must describe your UMS performance experience and use the hashtag #faveums. Your contest entry should be original.

Eligibility: Only open to @UMSNews followers on Twitter or fans of UMS on Facebook.

Contest period: Sept 12th-23rd

Winners: Winners will be selected at about 5PM E.T. Friday, September 16th & 23rd by a panel of judges on UMS staff. Entries will be judged based on creativity and memory-evoking ability. Winners will be contacted via Twitter or Facebook respectively, and if winners do not reply within 5 days, new winners will be declared.

Prizes: Winners will receive an iTunes gift card, plus a pair of tickets to a performance of their choice this season. Two runners up will also receive an iTunes gift card.

Congrats to last week’s winner, Colleen McClain! Her most memorable UMS performance was her first:

“[My most memorable UMS performance] was also my first, as a wide-eyed freshman: Renee Fleming in Strauss’s Daphne. I listened in awe, and after the opera turned to my roommate in the balcony– vowing that I would sing on the same stage she had just commanded before graduation. Six months later, I accomplished that goal (much less beautifully!), thinking of her moving performance the entire time. The energy, sense of community, and beauty that was so much a part of Fleming’s performance has stuck with me each time I’ve stepped onstage or into a seat at Hill since.”

Roger Garrett was the runner-up. His memory is of UM & UMS in 1978, and includes a run-in between the Philadelphia Orchestra and the victors:

“In the fall of 1978, I was a freshman music major. Both my parents had attended UM and told me that if I became an usher for the UMS concerts, I could hear some really great performances for free. I did just that. During my first year I heard the New York Phil, the LA Phil, and the Philadelphia Orchestra (among others). The performance that stands out the most was the Philadelphia Orchestra – for several reasons. 1) – I met Eugene Ormandy and Anthony Gigliotti (Principal Clarinetist) after the concert back stage; 2) They played the Love of Three Oranges Suite by Prokofiev, and Ormandy conducted from memory. He was older at this point in his career, so it was obvious when he began the upbeat for one of the movements in a slow and dramatic tenuto gesture and gave the downbeat, he had forgotten which movement was next because the orchestra came in perfectly together and precise at a very fast tempo. He adjusted right away and joined them, but it was clear that he had forgotten the order of movements. Finally – they played The Victors, and when they reached the trio and the Celli played in a liquid, legato style, almost sappy, everyone laughed! Great concert.”

Our round two winner is KarenZaruda!

“That’s easy: February 2009, the Kodo concert with my family. My son, who was 10 years old, had recently began taking drum lessons. He was enthralled, as were we all! The auditorium felt like the walls were throbbing, and I would have sworn our internal organs were thrumming right along. The climax of the concert involves an extremely fit fellow wearing a loincloth (and little else!) facing a huge drum and playing it with his limbs splayed, arms over his head, beating that thing with unbelievable force. It was as if all the energy in his body flowed from him into the drum. It gave me a new appreciation for the path my son was starting on in his pursuit of music, the bodily connection that a drummer can feel with his instrument. Such a memorable night!”

Molly Elizabeth Mardit was the runner-up:

“During the Winter semester of 2009, I went with a friend to the newly renovated UMMA and experienced Mohammed Bennis and the Hmadcha Ensemble’s performance. What a night! I was especially pumped for this, as the ensemble is from Fez, Morocco, a place I had visited and loved so much, just one year before. I knew it was going to be an experience when my friend and I entered the space, and were told that we could sit anywhere. “Anywhere” ended up being right in the front row, atop pillows and fluffy carpeting that had been brought in especially for the performance. The ensemble had a way of captivating the audience, and soon enough, we were all on our feet, dancing and trancing together. I got such a high that night. :D”

Thanks for entering !

PS. Yes we read & love the New Yorker.

UMS Arts Roundup: December 3

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!

Arts Issues

Artist Updates

UMS News

Local Shout-Outs

  • Acclaimed composer and University of Michigan faculty member Michael Daugherty has been nominated for a Grammy Award. Congrats Michael!

Just For Fun

  • How much would you pay for the King of Pop’s glove? How about a scan of Einsteins brain? Find out here just how much these and other items just went for.

This Day in UMS History: Laurie Anderson Meets the Great White Whale (Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 1999)

Multi-media dominatrix Laurie Anderson opened the 1999/2000 UMS season with three performances of Songs and Stories from Moby Dick in the Power Center.  The piece took Melville’s great novel as its inspiration, with Anderson’s signature penchant for the technological edge highlighted by the debut of the “Talking Stick,” a digital sampling machine that could replicate virtually any sound at a granular level.  Anderson’s interest in developing the piece evolved because she was working on a project for high school kids about books with another producer (the project never materialized).  She chose Moby Dick, remembering the novel’s obsessive captain, but also remembering, with dread, the incredible detail about the whaling industry and its technical paraphernalia.  She was completely captivated by the novel as an adult, read it five times, and began to hear the music and lyricism in the author’s voice.  From that experience, she began her largest undertaking in 15 years.

This production was Laurie Anderson’s UMS debut (she has since appeared in 2002 with Happiness and in 2004 with The End of the Moon, and returns in January with Delusion).  As a relative newcomer to the staff at that time, I traveled a few months before her Ann Arbor production to see the work in Philadelphia, at the Prince Theater.  A night or two before I saw it, the actor playing Captain Ahab miscalculated the edge of the stage and fell into the orchestra pit, breaking his leg.  I don’t recall the details of what happened that particular night — I think they canceled the performance — but by the time I arrived in Philadelphia, the actor was back on stage, manipulating his crutches through a surprisingly complicated stage choreography and making it seem as though that had been part of the design from the beginning.  It turns out that although Captain Ahab is probably the most famous one-legged captain in literature, Anderson’s team had not considered using crutches until the accident forced the issue.  By the time I saw the production in Ann Arbor several months later, the crutches had become an integral prop, perfectly incorporated into the storytelling.

Anderson’s ironic sense of humor permeated Moby Dick.  In the program notes for the work, she noted, “Being a somewhat dark person myself, I love the idea that what you look for your whole life will eventually eat you alive.”

This performance brings back so many strong memories for me: how gracious Laurie Anderson was to break from tech rehearsals to give an interview to a public television TV show, how she willingly went to Detroit for a 20-minute interview on WDET, her generosity in allowing selected classes to see a dress rehearsal of the work in tech week.  I also remember seeing an internet ticket order come in from somebody who lived in the same small town in Wisconsin where I grew up.  This was in the early days of e-commerce, and it was shocking to see an address that was literally down the street from my childhood home, from someone renting an apartment in my late great-uncle’s house.  Songs and Stories from Moby Dick was an incredible introduction to Laurie Anderson’s work and an amazing way to kick off the UMS season.

UMS Arts Roundup: September 24, 2010

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!

Arts Issues

Artist Updates

  • A look at the challenges that arise in preserving Merce Cunningham’s impeccable dance legacy beyond The Legacy Tour, coming to the Power Center stage in February.

UMS News

  • Do you have tickets to the Rosanne Cash concert?  Consider picking up her book, too – Composed: A Memoir

Local Shout-Outs

  • The DIA uses geocaching to engage the community in exploring the metro Detroit area and draw attention to the Inside|Out project.

Just For Fun

  • Would you ever watch an opera in the Big House?  In Washington D.C., they’re not too far off…“Play Ballo!”
  • In Sweden, a robotic swan created by Mälardalen University dances to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
  • Shocked by Lady Gaga’s meat-dress at the Video Music Awards?  Believe it or not, she’s not the first to dress carnivorously.  Check out the art history behind her meaty wardrobe.

UMS Staff Picks: Laurie Anderson’s Delusion selected by Jim Leija, Public Relations Manager

SN: Laurie Anderson’s daring and thought-provoking use of technology in her pieces has earned her worldwide recognition – just what kind of an artist is she and how can audience members expect to see her multi-media approach come to life in Delusion?

Laurie Anderson's Delusion

JL: As a student and practitioner of performance art, I’ve studied and admired the legendary Laurie Anderson for a long time. Anderson is an artistic pioneer, blending visual imagery, text, and electronic music (even inventing several unique electronic instruments) to create theatrical events that twist our perception of reality. A lot of her text reminds me of that of the late monologist Spalding Gray (who was a collaborator of Anderson’s): slightly offbeat and neurotic, strangely funny, and astutely observant. When you’re watching Laurie Anderson perform, you almost feel like you’re in a dream – quirky, bizarre, trancelike, too real, or not real enough. Anderson has an incredible talent for taking bits and pieces of our hyper-commercial, hyper-politicized society and spinning them into moments of hyper-realistic cyber-techno poetry that challenge authority, bend reality, and demand that we see the world differently. Audiences can expect to be surprised and challenged by the way Anderson transforms herself through what she’s called “audio drag”: sometimes she’s the cool, calm, collected self-help guru, sometimes she’s the evil robot of our worst sci-fi futuristic nightmares, and other times she’s a domineering patriarch. Never one to mince words, Anderson has recently explored highly charged issues like homelessness, terrorism, the war in Iraq, the collapse of Wall Street, and the oil spill in the gulf. I am most excited by contemporary artists like Anderson who are willing to tackle tough issues in ways that might leave audiences feeling a little uncomfortable and a little uncertain about how they should respond. I like to feel challenged by performance and to be shaken out of everyday complacency. I expect that in Delusion we’ll experience many of the Laurie Anderson “ingredients” that I’ve mentioned, and we’ll be transported into Anderson’s unusual, but compelling universe.

SN: Have you seen a performance by Laurie Anderson before?

JL: I’ve actually never seen Laurie Anderson perform live! I’ve only experienced her work through video and audio recordings. I’m looking forward to finally seeing her perform in-the-flesh after admiring and studying her work for so long.

SN: What other events are on your “must see” list for the 10/11 season?

JL: When I was working on my MFA in Art & Design, I experimented with sound installation and the ways in which an artist can use sound to change how people experience a particular place. I’m looking forward to Susurrus to see how David Leddy uses sound and narrative to recreate the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in a new and exciting way. I just have a feeling that Susurrus is going to be really magical.

Jim Leija (photo by Mark Jacobson)

Carolina Chocolate Drops is an absolute must. I saw the group when they first played at The Ark three years ago, and I still think back to that concert as one of the best I’ve seen in recent years. The CCD is so masterful at blending amazing bluegrass musicianship with educational tidbits about Black string music. I learned a lot, and I slapped my knee to the beat a lot, and I plan to do the same when they take the stage at the Michigan Theater.

SN: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

JL: For me, the summer is all about vegetable gardening, going to the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market, and cooking up a storm. I grow everything from tomatoes to eggplant to kale and herbs in my backyard garden, and my partner and I get a farm share from Tantre Farm in Chelsea. We love to see just how “local” we can be, especially during the summer months when so much amazing, fresh food is available in Ann Arbor.

SN: What have you been listening to on your iPod?

JL: The performance artist in me is listening to a lot of Lady Gaga. The chef in me is catching up on Splendid Table podcasts. The hipster in me is jamming to OK Go (can you believe that video with the Rube Goldberg machine?!).

Have you seen a live performance by Laurie Anderson before? We’d love to hear about your favorite performance artist!

UMS’s Media Roundup

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 Media Roundup, 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!

National & International Interest

  • Looking for a job? The New York Phil, among other major orchestras, has openings. See what goes into hiring professional orchestra musicians.
  • Ever wonder who wrote that incredible piece you heard at the BBC proms on your honeymoon back in 1972? Now you can find out! The BBC Proms just launched a searchable online archive dating back to the first concert in 1895.
  • Kennedy Center Director Michael Kaiser is on a mission to turn troubled institutions around.
  • Arts trump social causes for donor visibility, but are they losing their cache with a new generation?
  • Attention students! Heading to NYC? Check out, a new website devoted to low-cost (and sometimes free!) admission to cultural events, restaurants, and more around the City.

Artist Updates

  • Tony Allen and his band will perform as part of UMS’s 10/11 season on April 16, 2011. The Afrobeat drummer was featured in an NPR story last week about his work with Fela Kuti, and Kuti’s Enduring Legacy.
  • Ever wondered what Laurie Anderson really thinks of performance art, and where it’s heading? Salon Magazine has the answers.
  • More from Laurie with a discussion of her new album, Homeland, in The Village Voice.
  • Nick Eanet, first violinist of the Julliard Quartet resigns. What’s next on his plate and for the ensemble?
  • French conductor Ludovic Morlot will replace Gerard Schwartz as music director of the Seattle Symphony next season

Local Shout-Outs

  • Congratulations to MOT Director David DiChiera, who recently received a national honor.
  • The Detroit International Jazz Festival announced its lineup of local artists as part of the 2010 Festival
  • Legendary African-American Choral Director Brazeal Dennard, former Detroit Public Schools Music Supervisor and founder of the Brazeal Dennard Chorale, passes away.

Just For Fun