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UMS Living Archive Interview: Paul Bianchi, Volunteer Usher

When we launched the UMS Lobby last February, we set out to create a space that could capture our community’s response to what we experience at UMS.  With this post, we’re beginning a new journey into what we’re calling the “UMS Living Archive,” which will feature stories from patrons and others about the impact UMS has had in our community.  Over the summer, UMS staff members began to collect video interviews and turn them into the short vignettes you’ll see here.   We’re looking forward to the living archive growing over time and supplementing our historical archive.

This first interview features Paul Bianchi, an Ann Arbor community member who has been a volunteer usher at UMS (and other arts organizations in Ann Arbor) since 2008.  Paul talks about how volunteer ushering has been a very meaningful to him, especially since he’s recently been unemployed, giving him a great connection to the arts.  Paul talks about the importance of UMS to the jazz community now that the Bird of Paradise and other local jazz clubs have closed.  He also reminiscences about his very first Messiah experience.

Links: UMS in the News

Since the beginning of January, we’ve had a busy and exciting 8 weeks of 12 performances in all the big genres: dance, jazz, world music, classical music, and theater.   It’s definitely a whirlwind experience for all of us on staff to see and talk about so many events – and there’s definitely been plenty to talk about!  In case you missed it, here’s a roundup of UMS in the news:

  • Chris Azzopardi of Between the Lines interviewed Bill T. Jones about his motivations for creating Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray and what’s next for his company.

Bill T. Jones on the stage of the Michigan Theater

  • Two of UMS’s very own staff members boldly journeyed into the blogosphere as guest bloggers.  UMS Director of Programming Michael Kondziolka blogged at on how artistic programs are chosen and what makes an artist special.  UMS Director of Marketing and Communications Sara Billmann blogged for the American Orchestras Summit on the future of orchestral music.
  • Susan Nisbett of reviewed Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray which created some conversation in the comments section.
  • Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press interviewed legendary conductor Pierre Boulez on the occasion of his 85th birthday, and in conjunction with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Ann Arbor performance.

Conductor Pierre Boulez

  • Have you heard of Concentrate?  Managing Editor Jeff Myers has been writing fun, quirky, and media-rich profiles of UMS events for a while — and they’re really fantastic.  If you’re having a hard time convincing your friend to go to a performance with you, Concentrate is just what the doctor ordered.  Check out past profiles on Ladysmith Black Mambazo, The Bad Plus, and the Luciana Souza Trio.

Exclusive Video: Backstage with THE BAD PLUS

When the jazz trio The Bad Plus arrived in Ann Arbor last week for their two-set show at the Mendelssohn Theatre, we gave them a Flip Cam and asked them to shoot some backstage video for their fans.  The results are amazing — drummer David King took the lead and hilarious antics ensued.  So, if you didn’t get enough of these amazing, funny, and smart musicians when they were here, check out this video!  (Be sure not to miss the “honey bear” moment around 5:08!) Please beware: adult language ahead.