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This Week in Numbers: Where in Southeastern Michigan is UMS?

This week at UMS is one of the busiest all season, so you  might notice that posting on the UMS Lobby is a little lighter than usual! With the presentation of three different ensembles three days in a row (The Tallis Scholars, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, and Assi El Helani) combined with our collaboration on the presentation of the ONCE. MORE. event, UMS staff will be all over southeastern Michigan between Ann Arbor and Detroit, with many stops at the airport! Here’s what we’re up to, by the numbers:

  • 6 concerts (including one youth performance)
  • 11 airport runs
  • 4 school visits
  • 1 hospital visit
  • 5 community receptions
  • 3 artist/student workshops
  • 1 Arts & Eats
  • 4 exhibits/installations
  • 3 public lectures

We hope you’ll find a way to participate in this week’s offerings–check out the public events here.

ONCE. MORE. Tour: 1960s Ann Arbor in Memory and Imagination

This past August, UMS Interim Director of Education Claire Rice made an interesting proposition: research and design a tour of the most important ONCE Festival-related sites in Ann Arbor.  Of course, many of the original venues that housed ONCE performances or served as hangouts for the city’s artistic and political revolutionaries have been replaced or, even worse, erased. Thus the project became an exercise in excavation and imagination, as I set off to recreate, revisit, and remember some of the local sites that helped shape—and were shaped by—the artistic and political upheaval so prevalent at that time.

View ONCE. MORE. Tour: 1960s Ann Arbor in Memory and Imagination in a larger map

After discussing the project with Claire and UMS Programming Manager Mark Jacobson, I headed off to do some preliminary sleuth work at the University’s Bentley Historical Library, which holds a small but rich collection of ONCE-related memorabilia. But we needed more: more detail, more history, and more stories regarding the ONCE Festivals and their impact on 1960s Ann Arbor. Since the official ONCE archives are located at Northwestern University, we went straight to the source, searching for local experts willing to share their time and experiences with us.  Thanks to the help of Karen Jania, Susan Wineberg, Alan Glen and others, we began to put together a tour that is, we hope, as diverse as it is rich.  We had especially memorable conversations with Kathleen Timberlake (on-and-off-again Ann Arbor resident and ONCE attendee) and Harold Borkin (Professor Emeritus of Architecture and ONCE Group member), whose extraordinary stories provided a “behind the scenes” look at the complex web of art, politics, and experimentation that immersed 1960s Ann Arbor.

Although our original intention was to organize a bus and/or bike tour of our favorite ONCE-related sites, we realized that, because many of these locations no longer exist in their original form, such a tour would simply inhibit your ability to effectively remember and imagine some of the city’s historic venues. The self-guided tour found here is thus just one result of the journey described above, and the ten locations we chose to incorporate—including performance venues, food joints, and university spaces filled with symbolic meaning—represent only a sampling of Ann Arbor’s rich historical narrative.

Here are some thoughts from those who experienced the original ONCE events in the 1960s:

Kathleen Timberlake:

Centicore was originally on Maynard. It was there that I recall seeing Andy Warhol move through a crowd waiting for him outside the store.  He was a paste white zombie figure in a sea of dark grubby students.  I don’t know exactly when it moved to South U, maybe the early ’70s.  I left A2 in late 1969 and returned in 1976.  It was still on South U at that time.

I remember the Unitarian Church on Washtenaw fondly; its current incarnation sports a rather over decorated scary interior that obscures much of the original church addition’s clean design. Early photographs of the church’s interior might convey a better sense of its space and how it was capable of being used for a variety of venues.

Wystan Stevens:

I was a student in a couple of Milton Cohen’s drawing classes at the U-M, when I was in the U-M Art school (A&D) in the early 1960s. I never actually saw the Space Theater except for the time one summer evening a few years later when I was walking on Liberty Street, across from the Michigan Theater, and looked up at the open second-floor windows of the next-door building. The rooms were very brightly illuminated, and the Space Theater dome was visible inside. Memory suggests that I saw Cohen there in the window, but it may have been Joseph Wehrer — or maybe I didn’t see anybody at all. Wehrer and Cohen were both active in the Cinema Guild, along with Ed Weber (curator of the U-M library’s Labadie Collection of radical literature) and others. Cinema Guild showed movies on weekend nights in the A&D auditorium, where George Manupelli’s AA Film Festival also got its start. (I saw Andy Warhol and his troupe there for one of the early festivals). I was in Manupelli’s A&D classes also, and he assigned me a chore for the first festival, of placing festival posters in every store window on Liberty Street, from State to Main. Cohen was a film buff, and encouraged his students to watch films.

The first Centicore location on South U was a tiny, crowded store east of Forest Avenue, and probably didn’t get a good attendance. I was in there a few times, to browse the paperbacks. This was many years before Community News Center moved into the corner building. In fact, I don’t think the corner building was there yet in 1965 — only a gas station on the corner.

Centicore’s owners were big kite flying enthusiasts, and used to test various shapes and designs (for sale at the Maynard Street store) by flying them in Burns Park. That Centicore location also cashed in on the streaking fad, by offering a big discount one day to anyone who would streak to the store. Several people did in fact show up naked at the store’s counter, and a photo of them (taken from behind) ran in the Michigan Daily. Another time they had Andy Warhol there, signing copies of an expensive book he had just published (about Marilyn Monroe, as I recall). Several students who couldn’t afford the book but wanted a Warhol autograph went first to the White Market nearby, where they bought boxes of Brillo pads or cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup — all of which Warhol reluctantly signed.

Raymond Detter:

Those were years in which I enjoyed a number of fun dinners and parties at Milton’s apartment with the attached skylight studio and presentations of his creations.  I remember, particularly, “Openings” before he left town, first with Hilly Amis, former wife of Kingsley, and then permanently for Cape Cod where I visited him on two separate occasions at Wellfleet.  Shall we start putting together a Bloomsbury type memoir? Milton never drank alone.  But he was never alone. A very special person. He had his last lover and companion put his ashes into castanets so one could play Milton. She brings them with her when she comes to town.

So check out the map, share your stories about these historic sites, and augment our work with your own “list” of 1960s Ann Arbor hotspots!

ONCE. MORE.: an introduction by Mark Clague

Next week UMS, the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and the U-M Institute for the Humanities present ONCE. MORE. marking the 50th anniversary of the legendary avant-garde ONCE festivals.  UMS has a complete listing of events and a comprehensive festival guide posted at To frame the week, we offer you this amazing essay from U-M professor Mark Clague:

The Creativity of Community: Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan, and the ONCE Phenomenon, 1961–68

by Mark Clague, PhD, associate professor of musicology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

“Once” signals intensity, a singularity of purpose. Never a thing, once is always in action: a fleeting opportunity to be seized in time and witnessed. Once is energy, excitement, ambition, possibility, community. Every art, in its broadest sense, aspires to once. Performance catalyzes intent to transform time into communication: while materials may be reused—performer, audience, and context are always in motion, always changing, and thus artistic expression occurs in precisely the same way only once. Yet art is often frittered away as timeless rather than timely. Static, hung on a wall or embalmed in history, its process unappreciated, it fails to communicate even once. When composers Robert Ashley, George Cacioppo, Gordon Mumma, Roger Reynolds, Donald Scavarda, and their colleagues announced ONCE—they trumpeted the raw ambition to create sounds that were original, certainly, but that also engaged, sparked debate, and echoed into the future. Thus, some five decades later, their creativity is heard “ONCE. MORE.”—not as nostalgia but as ongoing exploration. The periods in the name signal once again their interest in expression over continuity.

Roger Reynolds, Donald Scavarda, George Cacioppo (Ann Arbor, 1963). Photo: Bernard Folta, courtesy of Donald Scavarda

The first ONCE Festival of avant-garde performance comprised four concerts on successive weekends—February 24–25 and March 3–4, 1961—in Ann Arbor’s Unitarian Church (now the Vitosha Guest Haus at 1917 Washtenaw). Concerts alternated between guest artists typically from Europe or New York and recitals by the host composers. The opening concert featured members of Pierre Boulez’s “Domaine musical” ensemble from Paris with composer Luciano Berio and multi-vocalist Cathy Berberian. Pianist Paul Jacobs presented music by Schoenberg, Webern, Krenek, Messiaen, Boulez, and Stockhausen on the third concert, while concerts two and four included chamber works by Ashley, Cacioppo, Mumma, Reynolds, and Scavarda, along with then-graduate students Sherman Van Solkema and Bruce Wise. Ashley also contributed an electronic accompaniment to George Manupelli’s film The Bottleman. The concerts sold to capacity and Ann Arbor’s Dramatic Arts Center (DAC), which sponsored the event, covered a deficit of only about $125 on a total budget of $1300 (ca. $9000 in 2010 dollars).

Even before the first festival closed, its success inspired talk of a second. All told, there would be six ONCE festivals over the course of five years (1961–65), while the ONCE Group, a theatrical troupe led by Robert and Mary Ashley, remained active through 1968. Critics moaned “Once is enough” and “Once too often,” yet the festivals grew. The fourth was the largest at eight performances, while the last, held on the roof of Ann Arbor’s Thompson Street parking garage (and thus providing for the sale of more tickets), even returned a small profit to the DAC. Programs for a total of 29 festival events list some 170 works by 92 composers. Guest artists included John Cage, Eric Dolphy, Morton Feldman, Lukas Foss, Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, David Tudor, LaMonte Young, and others. By any measure, ONCE was monumental. Reviews appeared in the local press, as well as in the Musical Quarterly, Boston Globe, Toronto Star, and Preuves (Paris). Dozens of guest appearances took ONCE artists to Detroit, New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, and beyond, to perform under rubrics including ONCE Friends, ONCE a Month, ONCE Removed, ONCE-Off, and ONCE Echoes. Related initiatives by ONCE artists, especially Ashley and Mumma, such as the Collaborative Studio for Electronic Music, the Truck Ensemble, New Music for Pianos, and the Sonic Arts Group (later Union), carried Ann Arbor’s experimental music, film, and theater far and wide, only increasing the impact and reputation of ONCE. Similar festivals arose in Seattle, Toronto, and Tucson, while in 1963 the Ann Arbor Film Festival arose from its cinematic efforts. ONCE artists even recreated Milton Cohen’s Space Theatre at the 1964 Venice Biennale, and the festival propelled several participants to careers outside of Ann Arbor: Reynolds to the CROSS TALK presentations in Tokyo and then to UC San Diego, Mumma to the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in New York (and later to UC Santa Cruz), and Ashley to Mills College in Oakland.

ONCE Group at Robert Rauschenberg’s loft after Judson Dance Theater Festival (New York, 1965). (Front, L–R): Joseph Wehrer, Robert Ashley, unknown, George Manupelli; (second row, L–R): Yvonne Rainer, George Kleis (leaning against palm), unknown, Gordon Mumma, unknown, Cynthia Liddell; (third row, L–R): Jackie Leuzinger, Annina Nosei, unknown; (seated in back on the right holding sandwich) Caroline Blunt; others unknown. Photo: Makepeace Tsao, courtesy of the Tsao Family

The primary driving force of ONCE, however, was not fame (and certainly not fortune), but the deep desire of its composers to hear their music. Many ONCE composers were also fine musicians; their passion for new music and dedication to excellence in its performance was clearly infectious, attracting dozens of volunteer instrumentalists and even administrative talents eager to share in their work. Yet the momentum of the festivals also inspired creativity: Scavarda notes, “Suddenly we could write anything we wanted and have it heard.”(1)  Although deliberately cutting edge, ONCE was not doctrinaire. Performances embraced a wide range of materials (found sound, text, film, multiphonics, non-metrical time), methods (serialism, graphic notation, indeterminacy, improvisation, electronic synthesis, tape manipulation, audience involvement, theater), and aesthetics (modernism, expressionism, collage, happenings). ONCE composers shared a common goal, but never a single artistic manifesto. For Mumma the festival was radical; for Scavarda it was simply pragmatic.

Progressive politics saturated the University’s social milieu in the 1960s. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) held its first meeting in Ann Arbor in 1960 and on October 14 of that same year President John F. Kennedy proposed the Peace Corps from the steps of the Michigan Union. Yet many ONCE compositions were focused explorations of musical materials and procedures; they assert a right to individual creative radicalism without additional reference to contemporary events. Politics motivates the art of ONCE directly only in certain instances (e.g., Reynolds’ A Portrait of Vanzetti) but often appears obliquely (e.g., Ashley’s in memoriam…). As Ashley remembers, “Everybody was into those ideas by default because they were all around you. But the ONCE Group, by some tacit agreement, we never did anything political; it seemed in bad taste because you’d be preaching to the congregation.”(2)  Nevertheless, political overtones can be heard frequently in the music of ONCE, possibly because such issues were so much a part of the era’s socio-cultural discourse.

The spark that ignited ONCE is often attributed to a car ride back to Ann Arbor from Stratford, Ontario, where Ashley, Cacioppo, Mumma, and Reynolds had attended the International Conference of Composers (August 7–14, 1960). Intended to foster exchange among the world’s leading modern composers, the symposium welcomed participants from 20 countries. These musical pioneers included Berio (Italy), Henri Dutilleux (France), Josef Tal (Israel), and Elizabeth Maconchy (England), as well as Ernst Krenek, Otto Luening, George Rochberg, Vladimir Ussachevsky, and the 75-year-old Edgard Varèse—all then living in the US. While symposium concerts were open to the public, papers and discussions were not, and thus Ann Arbor’s contingent left frustrated after having managed to speak with only a handful of their famous colleagues. They concluded that they could do a better job on their own.

Yet attributing ONCE to a single inspiration ignores other influences. The festival grew from a confluence of opportunities, the first of which occurred in 1949 with the hiring of composer Ross Lee Finney (1906–97) as a tenured professor at U–M’s School of Music (as it was then known) and the subsequent creation of its graduate program in composition. Having studied with Alban Berg, Nadia Boulanger, and Roger Sessions, the Minnesota-born Finney brought a new level of professionalism to the program and connected the university to European musical currents. His personal interests included Bartók, Stravinsky, and American folk music, and while sensitive to his students’ need to develop an individual voice, Finney championed traditional harmonic and contrapuntal skills as well as immaculate habits of notation. His energy and expectations inspired, while his critiques could be devastating: “Finney was incapable of being indirect,” recalls Reynolds, “he said what he felt and thought without any filter, and, of course, this rubbed a lot of people the wrong way or even injured them.”

Yet Finney laid many of the entrepreneurial foundations for ONCE. He organized the campus’ original “Composers’ Forum,” for which student composers recruited and rehearsed performers to present their work to the community each semester. He invited prominent composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Luigi Dallapiccola, Walter Piston, and Karlheinz Stockhausen to speak on campus. (Stockhausen, in fact, lectured the young composers to assume responsibility for performances of their own works.(3)) Finney also fostered peer-to-peer collaboration by hosting a four-hour discussion seminar each week: “I…felt that composers learned as much from their peers as from their teachers….” writes Finney in his autobiography. “My object was to organize a peer group that would function outside of the classroom as well as in it.”(4) Finney’s efforts encouraged the formation of the Interarts Union, an extracurricular student group combining art, theater, and music that sponsored events off campus. This group later influenced the creation of the Dramatic Arts Center, which would sponsor ONCE. “Finney was a remarkable man,” notes Reynolds. “There’s probably no composition teacher in American music history who has dealt with as large and as diverse a group of successful composers as he.”

The 1950s were a period of rapid growth and intellectual excitement at the University of Michigan, in which enrollment, driven by the G.I. Bill, increased and the faculty expanded. Research funding grew and, as the Cold War deepened, many placed hope in the nation’s scientific and technological prowess. U-M scientists successfully tested Salk’s polio vaccine (1955) and operated the “Phoenix” nuclear reactor (1957–2003). Cross-disciplinary interchange was vigorous and as a result science, architecture, engineering, and mathematics would deeply influence several ONCE composers. Ashley was initially enrolled through the Speech Research Institute, and, after Finney threw the manuscript to one of Mumma’s compositions out the eighth-floor window of his Burton Memorial Tower office, the young composer transferred to the literature department, later working in a seismology lab and all the while constructing electronic sound equipment for his home studio. Reynolds was not initially trained as a musician at all, but completed a bachelor’s degree in engineering before returning to U-M to earn a master’s in composition in 1961. Collaboration was modeled as well. From 1958, Mumma and Ashley created live sonic accompaniments using prepared tapes plus improvised live sound for U-M art professor Milton Cohen’s Space Theatre. Subtitled “Manifestations in Light and Sound,” these avant-garde light shows also featured creative contributions by Manupelli and Harold Borkin, then a graduate student in U-M’s architecture program. Increasing from invitation-only affairs to twice-weekly public events, the Space Theatre fostered Ann Arbor’s audience for experimental art.

ONCE composers also learned important lessons in publicity and marketing. Written and premièred at Tanglewood in 1959, Scavarda’s Groups for Piano explores the question of how concise a piece of music might be (its five movements require just 55 seconds to play). Performed the following spring for the Midwest Composers Symposium at the University of Illinois, Groups again sparked heated debate about the nature of music. Its success taught ONCE artists the value of controversy, and Groups was subsequently featured on the first ONCE composers program. For festival two, controversy struck over the artistic viability of LaMonte Young and Terry Jennings’ performance
and again provided ONCE with national attention. Most famously, the group’s 1964 publicity poster featuring political activist Martina Algire reclining nude on the counter of a local diner favored by music students—Red’s Rite Spot—produced another beneficial fracas, although it offended some in the DAC. In the end, however, such scandals were less tactics than endemic to the ONCE enterprise. As Mumma notes, “Anything or everything we did was controversial for someone.”

The rigor Finney’s teaching inculcated among ONCE composers was ultimately released by his winter 1960 sabbatical replacement—Catalan modernist composer Roberto Gerhard (1896–1970). Steeped in Spanish nationalism but later studying extensively with Arnold Schoenberg, Gerhard taught a seminar at U-M in serial techniques that sparked excitement. “Gerhard had never taught before he came to Ann Arbor,” Reynolds recalls. “He was very intense and intellectual, but extremely retiring and without pretenses.” Gerhard offered an affirming voice and graciously
supported student initiatives. “He never missed a Space Theatre performance,” recalls Ashley. Mumma likewise was inspired: “Gerard was wide open and positive about innovation.”

Although he emphasized method, Gerhard challenged his students to extend tradition in new directions while modeling a broad engagement with literature literature and philosophy. His campus lecture, “Is Modern Music Growing Old?” offered an emphatic refutation to Theodor Adorno’s Dissonanzen (1956), while ranging broadly from Aristotle and Charles Burney to the poets Paul Valéry and Wallace Stevens. Ultimately Gerhard’s message affirmed individual exploration. “The contemporary confusion in the field of music…” Gerhard said, “is rather what one would expect from a social body deep in ferment and teeming with creative energy. It would seem a poor show if an epoch does not… develop its ‘contemporary’ ideas fully in all directions, to the utmost limits of contradiction. Even by linguistic implication, contradictions evidently belong together….We move in all directions at once, and in each to the fullness of our bent.”(5)  (The same May as Gerhard’s lecture, composer John Cage and pianist David Tudor, as well as Berio, visited Ann Arbor, further whetting Ann Arbor’s appetite for the avant-garde and inspiring the soon-to-be ONCE composers to seize the means for their own artistic expression.) On campus for only a term and free of institutional entanglements, Gerhard liberated the creative energies of those around him. A crucial event in the planning for ONCE took place when eight of Gerhard’s seminar participants took inventory of their compositions to see if there were sufficient works to merit a public performance.

Accounts of the School of Music’s relationship to ONCE vary widely, maybe not surprisingly given the university’s decentralized authority located in individual faculty. While the ONCE composers had each studied at the university’s School of Music, the festivals were independent events wholly organized, supported, and housed by the local community. ONCE was not a rejection of the establishment as much as an extension of ongoing creative work. Most of its composers were alumni, and thus the festivals created vital performance opportunities now that university programs were no longer open to them. Many younger music faculty, such as theorist Wallace Berry, composer Paul Cooper, and musicologist Wiley Hitchcock, were interested in ONCE, and the campus radio station WUOM (where Cacioppo worked) recorded each concert. Likewise, Finney attended the first festival and contributed by convincing band director William Revelli to loan some of the school’s percussion instruments to the event. The school’s talented pool of instrumentalists was also essential. Yet, especially as the festivals grew, their notoriety overshadowed official university activities. In response, the School of Music organized its own contemporary music events and for “the 1964 ONCE Festival,” writes Mumma, “there was a nearly unanimous boycott of the concerts by the School of Music faculty…on the grounds that such activities were everything from immoral to academically and culturally disreputable.”(6) Although individual works by ONCE composers have been performed by School of Music faculty and the school’s Contemporary Directions Ensemble offered a memorial concert for George Cacioppo in April 1985, ONCE. MORE. represents the first comprehensive celebration of ONCE and its alumni by the University.

For Reynolds, the ultimate message of ONCE is simple: “If you don’t like the way things are, do something to change the situation.” Indeed ONCE should inspire students today, especially as the Internet makes self promotion only more accessible. In the 1960s, ONCE composers depended on the organizational skills of a small coterie of non-musician supporters including Mary Ashley, Harold Borkin, Cynthia Liddell, George Manupelli, plus Anne and Joseph Wehrer, who mailed countless letters, reserved venues, set up chairs, and contributed their own creative energies. Yet while the Internet facilitates, it also encourages competition; in 1961 by contrast, ONCE entered a veritable vacuum as little avant-garde musical activity happened outside of New York and the Cage/Tudor tours, giving ONCE events immediate prominence.

For Mumma, ONCE continues to offer advice to artists today: “Limit your habits,” “define innovative goals and build your discipline to achieve them,” and “work together generously while developing the best of your individuality.” Mumma’s last bit of advice hints at what is potentially the most important legacy of ONCE—its example of the power of an arts community. The festivals ended because DAC funding dried up, not because artistic cooperation failed. ONCE was made possible by a radical alliance of imagination that mustered collaboration in the service of artistic expression—a conspiracy for creativity that runs counter to the Western ideology of the lone artist working in isolation. The increasing tendency of ONCE towards theater reflects this same communal understanding of creativity. Further, ONCE benefited from the social and creative environment of its hometown, and, in turn, increased and perpetuated those values of association, diversity, tolerance, ambition, and innovation that continue to make Ann Arbor a dynamic place. Thus, ONCE affirms a three-dimensional community model of art requiring collaboration among creators, supporters, and an engaged audience. Reynolds sums up the result succinctly:
“Common interests have uncommon power.”

1 Miller, 87 .
2 Unless noted, all quotes are from personal interviews by the author with the composer.
3 Miller, 28.
4 Finney, 160.
5 Gerhard, 206.
6 Mumma, 390.

Complete bibliography.

10/11 Chamber Arts Series & Schubertiade Announced

The 48th Annual UMS Chamber Arts Series presents some of today’s leading chamber musicians performing both traditional and contemporary repertoire:

Schubert Cycle Concert 1

Takács Quartet

Jeffrey Kahane, piano

Thursday, October 14 | 8 pm
Rackham Auditorium

The always superlative Takács Quartet has become an Ann Arbor favorite over the past decade, consistently delivering performances that live well beyond the last note played in the concert hall. In the 10/11 season, they perform a three-concert cycle of Schubert’s quartets and quintets, with the first performance launching the Chamber Arts Series. Commenting on their latest Schubert recording for Hyperion, Gramophone magazine noted, “The Takács have the ability to make you believe that there’s no other possible way the music should go, and the strength to overturn preconceptions that comes with only the greatest performers.” This first concert features pianist Jeffrey Kahane, and balances two Schubert string quartets with the young American composer Daniel Kellogg’s Variations on “Death and the Maiden.”

Schubert                    String Quartet in E-flat Major, D. 87
Schubert                    Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960 (Op. Post.)
Daniel Kellogg         Variations on a Theme from “Death and the Maiden”
Schubert                    String Quartet in d minor, D. 810

Jerusalem Quartet

Thursday, October 21 | 8 pm
Rackham Auditorium

“Superlatives are inadequate in describing just how this playing was from one of the young, yet great, quartets of our time.” (The Strad) Returning after its widely acclaimed UMS visit in 2007, the Jerusalem Quartet was formed in 1993, when its members were still teenagers, within the framework of the Young Musicians’ Group under the auspices of the Jerusalem Music Centre and the America Israel Cultural Foundation. “Musical electricity may be unfathomable, but one thing is for sure — they have it.” (The Strad)

Mendelssohn          Quartet in e minor, Op. 44, No. 2
Mark Kopytman       String Quartet No. 3 (1969)
Brahms                     Quartet in c minor, Op. 51, No. 1

The Historic Concert

ONCE.MORE Festival:

A 50th Anniversary Moment

Tuesday, November 2 | 8 pm
Rackham Auditorium

The ONCE Group was a collection of musicians, visual artists, architects, and film-makers who wished to create an environment in which artists could explore and share techniques and ideas in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The group hosted the ONCE Festival six times in Ann Arbor in the early 1960s; one of the enduring outcomes of this group is the Ann Arbor Film Festival. The organizers of the ONCE festival were five composition students of U-M composition professor Ross Lee Finney, whose sabbatical in Europe resulted in a revolution of sorts among his students, who began using electronics in their compositions. This concert represents the historic works presented during Ann Arbor’s ONCE Festival some 50 years ago; a second concert, presented two days later (and not on the Chamber Arts Series), will look at more recent works by the same composers. This special collaboration with the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance will provide a look into Ann Arbor’s progressive role in the development of avant-garde music.

Roger Reynolds                                   Mosaic for Flute and Piano (1962)
Robert Ashley                                       in memoriam…Crazy Horse (1963)
Gordon Mumma                                   Large Size Mograph (1962)
Donald Scavarda                                 Group for Piano (1959)
Robert Ashley                                       in memoriam…Esteban Gomez (1963)
Donald Scavarda                                 FilmSCORE for Two Pianists (1962)
Donald Scavarda                                 GREYS, A FilmSCORE (silent version) (1963)
Scavarda/Mumma                               GREYS, A FilmSCORE (with sound) (1963)
Gordon Mumma                                  Sinfonia (1958-60)
Donald Scavarda                                 Matrix for Clarinetist (1962)
Roger Reynolds                                   A Portrait of Vanzetti (1962-63)

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin

New Century Chamber Orchestra

Friday, February 4 | 8 pm
Rackham Auditorium

Electrifying performances, fearless interpretations, and musical depth have established the violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg as one of the leading violinists of our time. She was born in Rome and immigrated to the United States at the age of eight to study at The Curtis Institute of Music, beginning her professional career in 1981 when she became the youngest person ever to win the Walter W. Naumburg International Violin Competition. For the past two years, she has served as music director of San Francisco’s New Century Chamber Orchestra, which makes its UMS debut with a program that includes Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, a tango-inspired version that complements the Vivaldi and Philip Glass “Four Seasons” on the Choral Union Series.

Wolf/arr.                    Drew Italian Serenade (1887)
Bartók/Willner          Romanian Folk Dances
Piazzolla                   Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (1964-70)
Tchaikovsky             Serenade for Strings in C Major, Op. 48

Concertante and Rafał Blechacz, piano

Sunday, February 13 | 4 pm
Rackham Auditorium

Comprised of a core of six virtuoso string players, Concertante performs in varied combinations of instrumentalists with a sheen, warmth, and polish that are the hallmark of superb chamber music groups. For this concert, they are joined the Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz, who performs in recital on the Choral Union Series two nights earlier, for a chamber arrangement of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, written when the composer was only 20 years old. Blechacz is widely regarded as a supreme interpreter of Chopin’s works, sweeping all five first prizes at the 2005 International Chopin Competition when he was just 20, the first Pole to achieve the honor since Krystian Zimerman in 1975.

Elgar                      Serenade for Strings in e minor, Op. 20
Schoenberg        Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4
Chopin                  Piano Concerto No. 1 in e minor, Op. 11

Scharoun Ensemble Berlin

Chamber Musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic

Wednesday, March 9 | 8 pm
Rackham Auditorium

In 1983, members of the Berlin Philharmonic founded the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, named after the architect who designed the marvelous concert hall where the Berlin Philharmonic performs at home. The eight musicians of the Scharoun Ensemble express an artistic commitment to both the heritage of the past and the challenges of the present. The ensemble comprises the standard octet instrumentation — clarinet, horn, bassoon, two violins, viola, cello, and double bass —allowing them to perform some of the great chamber music literature of Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, in addition to 20th-century classical modernist works and contemporary music.

Schubert                     Octet in F Major, D. 803
Additional works to be announced.

Tetzlaff Quartet

Saturday, April 9| 8 pm
Rackham Auditorium

The terrific German violinist Christian Tetzlaff, who most recently appeared with as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, in addition to solo recital appearances at both St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and Hill Auditorium, brings his chamber ensemble, the Tetzlaff Quartet. The group was founded in 1994 by Tetzlaff and his sister, Tanja, along with two musicians with a mutual devotion to chamber music whom they met at a chamber music festival in Switzerland. Despite reduced availability, they make a commitment to perform each year as a quartet, drawing accolades from critics and casual listeners alike.

Haydn                        Quartet in g minor, Op. 20, No. 3
Mendelssohn           Quartet in a minor, Op. 13
Sibelius                     Quartet in d minor, Op. 56 ”Voces Intimae” (1909)

Schubertiade Series

The always superlative Takács Quartet has become an Ann Arbor favorite over the past decade, consistently delivering performances that live well beyond the last note played in the concert hall.  In the 10/11 season, they perform a three-concert cycle of Schubert’s quartets and quintets (Thursday, October 14; Sunday, February 20; and Friday, April 8). 

Schubert Cycle Concert 2

Takács Quartet

Sunday, February 20| 4 pm
Rackham Auditorium

Schubert                String Quartet in B-flat Major, D. 112
Schubert                String Quartet in a minor, D. 804
Schubert                String Quartet in G Major, D. 887

Schubert Cycle Concert 3

Takács Quartet

Jeffrey Kahane, piano

Paul Katz, cello

John Feeney, double bass

Friday, April 8 | 8 pm
Rackham Auditorium

Schubert                Piano Quintet in A Major, D. 667 (“Trout”)
Schubert                Cello Quintet in C Major, D. 956

Tickets for the 7-concert series range from $124-$256. Subscription renewal packets and brochures will be mailed in early May.

An additional option that includes all three Schubert concerts by the Takács Quartet (nine concerts total) ranges from $170-$340.

Tickets to individual events on the series go on sale on Monday, August 23 (via and Wednesday, August 25 (in person and by phone).

Which events in the season are you most anticipating? Let us know in the comments area below.

The always superlative Takács Quartet has become an Ann Arbor favorite over the past decade, consistently delivering performances that live well beyond the last note played in the concert hall. In the 10/11 season, they perform a three-concert cycle of Schubert’s quartets and quintets, with the first performance launching the Chamber Arts Series. Commenting on their latest Schubert recording for Hyperion, Gramophone magazine noted, “The Takács have the ability to make you believe that there’s no other possible way the music should go, and the strength to overturn preconceptions that comes with only the greatest performers.” This first concert features pianist Jeffrey Kahane, and balances two Schubert string quartets with the young American composer Daniel Kellogg’s Variations on “Death and the Maiden.”

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