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UMS Staff Playlist: Music for Spring

UMS Spring Playlist

UMS staff members contributed tracks for a playlist of their favorite music that reflects the optimism, warmth, and nature of Spring.

Listen on your preferred streaming service, and read about the inspiration behind some of our picks below:

Apple Music logo Spotify logo

“Lovely Day” by Bill Withers

Submitted by Cayenne Harris, VP, Education and Community Engagement

Bill Withers is one of my favorite artists, and this song makes me feel happy and hopeful every time I hear it.

“Весенние воды (Spring Waters)” by Sergei Rachmaninoff (performed by Ewa Podles)

Submitted by Michael Kondziolka, VP, Programming and Production

The closer you get to the Poles — North or South — the greater the feeling of ecstasy when Spring finally arrives. In other words, the harsher the Winter the more jubilant the Spring. Growing up in the Northernmost state in the continental US, I can relate to this idea. Rachmaninoff, a Russian, grew up in the harshest of winter climates, and he captures the over-the-top feelings of Spring — ice melting into streams, the first warmth of sun on the face, wanting to scream “Winter’s over!” I can relate to that.

“L’oiseau qui danse” by Tennyson

Submitted by Maddy Wildman, Education and Community Engagement Programs Manager

Birds who dance! I know spring has started in Ann Arbor when I can wake up and hear the birds out my window. By late May they’re screaming loud enough to wake me up but I love it!

“Take It Easy” by Archie James Cavanaugh

Submitted by Jessica Adamczyk, Executive Assistant to the President

How can you NOT dance to this? Even the toddler in my life bops along to it!
Background on the song.

“Kites Are Fun” by The Free Design

Submitted by Jake Gibson, Marketing and Communications Associate

From the first flute line, this song is youthful, bucolic, and warm. It brings you right back to the joy of childhood spring days. Where else would you rather be than in a field, with your friends, and far away from Mom and Dad (and Uncle Bill) who just don’t realize that “Kites Are Fun”?

“Prière aux oiseaux” by Barbara Pravi

Submitted by Eric Woodhams, Director of Digital Media

Modern-day chanteuse Barbara Pravi (and France’s 2021 Eurovision Song Contest competitor) released a surprise EP album on International Women’s Day this month. Each song is a tribute to nature, and this track, ‘Prière aux oiseaux’ (prayer to the birds) makes me want to sit on a park bench and soak in the sun, sights, and sounds.

“It Might As Well Be Spring [Live at Café Au Go-Go, 1964]” by The New Stan Getz Quartet (feat. Astrud Gilberto)

Submitted by Mark Jacobson, Senior Programming Manager

The lyrics always make me yearn for springtime; Astrud’s voice sounds like flowers blossoming.

“Late at Night” by The Iguanas

Submitted by Matthew VanBesien, President

It’s nearly spring, and I have no finer memories in my young adulthood than (many) late nights dancing at the old Cafe Brasil to these guys.

“Home (Is Where the Van Is)” by Limbeck

Submitted by Mary Roeder, Programming Manager

A s a high school student on the west side of Michigan and through my time as a U-M undergrad, I came of age during the golden era of emo/pop-punk in the late nineties/early aughts.  Once I got my driver’s license, I was bouncing around with friends to concerts nearly weekly in Grand Rapids and Detroit.  Limbeck was my favorite band at the time (and the creator of my favorite band t-shirt, which I still wear!), and their music instantly reminds me of warm weather and road trips to gigs.

“Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra

Submitted by Amanda Dempsey, Development Associate

After a long gray winter, this song has always been my favorite to play on that first warm Spring day with a clear, blue sky.

“Früling” (Spring)” by Richard Strauss (performed by Jessye Norman)

Submitted by Sara Billmann, VP, Marketing and Communications

One of my first UMS concerts was hearing Jessye perform Strauss’s Four Last Songs in Hill Auditorium during the May Festival of 1989. It was a truly unforgettable performance. Her magnificent voice enveloped the entire balcony, and when she finished the last note of the last song, the entire audience sat in stunned silence for a solid minute before erupting into applause and cheers. I still get goosebumps remembering it.

Carmina Burana, “Primo vere (Part 1)” by Carl Orff

Submitted by Scott Hanoian, Music Director and Conductor of the UMS Choral Union

Nothing says spring like a little Carmina Burana!

“I Hear A Symphony” by The Supremes

Submitted by Christina Bellows, Director, Patron Services

I tend to gravitate toward specific types of music depending on the season, and springtime is for Motown.

“Let Down” by Radiohead

Submitted by Tal Benatar, Patron Services Assistant

A great jam for a sunny or rainy April afternoon drive.

“Nightswimming” by  R.E.M.

Submitted by Marnie Reid, Associate Director of Development, Major Gifts and Planned Giving

This song speaks to me about breaking free and being young and spontaneous. After a long winter night, swimming is what I long for. And the song reminds me of my husband who died two years ago this week.

“What About It” by Rebecca HH Rosen

Submitted by Jacob Rogers, Patron Services Assistant

Rebecca is both a close friend of mine and a treasured collaborator – someone I’d play music with every day if I could. Something between the warming weather, the promise of this all coming to a close, and the joy of maybe making sounds together someday soon has had her music in my brain a lot these days. And, since I have the chance to, I thought I’d send a bit of that joy back out into the world.

“La Balanguera” by Maria del Mar Bonet

Submitted by Anne Grove, Artist Services Manager

My favorite version of this song is from an album that was recorded live in the Placa del Rei in Spain, RAXIA. The concert was to raise awareness about an old Mallorca garden that was under threat of destruction. I tend to play this album when I am spring cleaning. For dance lovers, you may know Maria del Mar Bonet’s music from many works by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato.

“Julep” by Punch Brothers

Submitted by Rochelle Clark, Ticket Services Associate

This song always makes me think of slow spring/summer afternoons spent on my favorite porch swing. “Heaven’s a julep on the porch” – yes, indeed, it is.

“Dancing Queen” by Abba

Submitted by Anne Renforth, Ticket Services Assistant Manager

There’s such a sense of freedom from responsibility built into the lyrics. It feels like the sunshine and fun have come back after a long winter.

“Spoon” by Cibo Matto

Submitted by Terri Park, Associate Director of Education & Community Engagement

I love this band. This in particular has an art-pop/70’s funk style that gets me grooving and feeling happy!

“Paradise” by Sade

Submitted by Victoria Spain, Front of House Assistant Manager

I picked this song because I love listening to this when I clean or when I’m driving. It makes me think of warmer weather.

Playlist: UMS Staff “Quarantunes”

UMS Staff working from home

UMS staff members contributed tracks for a playlist of social distancing and easy listening, to help stay calm and productive while working from home.

Tap to listen on your preferred streaming service, and read about the inspiration behind some of our picks below:

Apple Music logo  Spotify logo

“Lavez Vous” by The Bandana Splits

Submitted by Jessica Adamczyk, executive assistant to the president

I heard this song on WCBN as a bit of a PSA about washing one’s hands…


“Sun It Rises” by Fleet Foxes

Submitted by Alex Gay, assistant production manager

This is my favorite album to start the morning. Very chill and atmospheric…perfect for the sunrise.


Suite bergamasque, L. 75 by Claude Debussy

Submitted by Matthew VanBesien, UMS president

I bought Zoltan Kocsis’s CD while at Indiana University studying music, and listened to it non-stop for nearly a semester! Aside from discovering the incredible world of Debussy’s piano music (I only knew the orchestral works and probably “Claire de Lune” at that point…), Kocsis’ wonderful, stylish and sometimes sensual interpretation is like a well-made Negroni: one part exquisite beauty, one part melancholy, and one part hope mixed with sheer delight. 


“Chimacum Rain” by Linda Perhacs

Submitted by Jacob Gibson

The track I chose is from Linda Perhac’s album Parallelograms. Born out of an unlikely collaboration between Linda Perhacs, a dental hygenist living in Topanga Canyon, and Leonard Roseman, a film composer who studied 12-tone composition with Schoenberg and Dallapiccola, the result is a truly unique folk record. The album is other-worldly, yet grounded in Perhacs’s intimate songwriting – the perfect escape from the recent chaos.


“Tangled up in Blue” by Bob Dylan

Submitted by Marnie Reid, associate director of development, major gifts and planned giving.

This is a tough week for social isolation for me. My husband died a year this week. So instead of being socially isolated, my big crazy family and friends are channeling virtual connections. We had a cocktail hour via Zoom with 30 participants from at least 13 states. We had a dance party on Zoom for St. Patrick’s Day. And I play the music my husband loved from the playlist, “Kitchen Dance Tunes,” he made for me.


Three Chords and the Truth by Van Morrison

Submitted by Carmen Rodriguez, VP, finance and administration

As I work from home my music (much to my kids’ dismay) to motivate and soothe is Van Morrison (as my kids say “who?!”) I am enjoying his new album – Three Chords and the Truth. Funny I read that this is his 41st album. Just to think that this year marked UMS 141st season…. well we got 100 years on Van Morrison’s record career!…… and UMS will continue to bring motivating and soothing performances to our patrons.


Vivaldi: The Four Seasons Recomposed by Max Richter

Submitted by Ryan Davis, VP and chief development officer

‘Vivaldi Recomposed’ is on repeat and has been since we heard it earlier this season in Hill Auditorium. It is especially healing for my daily walks and meditation…it’s quite extraordinary how the scenery changes while listening to it.


“River Jordan” by Rochelle Clark

Submitted by Rochelle Clark, ticket services associate (and check out her full album, In Time !!!)

I recorded this song this past fall. It always reminds me of heading “home” to Northern Michigan. Northern Michigan (in particular the U.P.) is heaven to me and I can’t wait to fill my lungs with all that fresh air north of the 45 soon!


“Finding Gabriel” by Brad Mehldau

Submitted by Mark Jacobson, senior programming manager

Pianist and composer Brad Mehldau released this final track on his Nonesuch Records album of the same title last spring, a moment which feels like a different — but in some ways, similar — lifetime ago. According to Brad, “Finding Gabriel came after reading the Bible closely for the last several years.” Brad performs all of the instruments and vocals on this track — layering everything in the studio as a one-man band. The track serves as the epitome of his artistic and spiritual ideas on this work, a wondrous culmination to the album. As Brad elaborates, “It seemed that the trick was to listen to Gabriel’s words through all the noise….”


“when the party’s over” by Billie Eilish

Submitted by Anna Simmons, systems specialist

My go-to of late has been Billie Eilish. Her style and tone keep the stress at bay while her lyrics aren’t as distracting as other music can be.


Hecuba by Oracle Hysterical

Submitted by Maddy Wildman, education & community engagement programs manager

I’m listening to the album Hecuba by Oracle Hysterical because it’s so, so good! It also reminds me of my friend Brad who plays bassoon on the album and is awesome.


Classic by HAUSER

Submitted by Eric Woodhams, senior manager of digital media

There’s always comfort listening to the cello…it’s so much like the human voice. HAUSER of classical crossover group 2CELLOS (confession…I’m a big fan!) recently released a solo album, Classic — a mix of gorgeous arrangements from symphonic, ballet, and opera repertoire backed by the London Symphony Orchestra. It’s an easy listen, and I admire these artists’ ability to introduce classical works to millions of new listeners in modern and meaningful ways.


“Don’t Lose Your Good Thing” by Etta James

Submitted by Jeff Beyersdorf, production director

Etta…because Etta.


“Whiskey Six” by Chris Buhalis

Submitted by Lisa Murray, associate director of development, foundation & government relations

I’m one of those people who prefers to work without music playing, but I have become a new fan of Facebook Live concerts, which I highly recommend as a way to stay engaged and keep supporting artists — you can donate the cost of a ticket to the artist while they perform. I tuned in to a recent concert by local folk artist Chris Buhalis, who was supposed to tour in Italy this spring. As usual for me, I’m finally catching up to something that others have been doing for months now… but I can also recommend a TV show I just heard about that’s supposed to be great, I think it’s called ‘Game of Thrones’?!… 🙂


Four Impromptus, Op. 90, D.899 by Franz Schubert

Submitted by Sara Billmann, VP, marketing

Schubert is always so hopeful, comforting, and inspiring, and this recording by Maria Joāo Pires — someone who, sadly, UMS never presented — is an all-time favorite.


“Alien Observer” by Grouper

Submitted by Jacob Rogers, patron services assistant

Grouper’s music is like a heavy blanket you can curl up under, something grounded and warm and enveloping. She’s an artist whose music has accompanied me alongside many of the quietest moments of my life, both good and bad, and as I’ve been settling into the stillness of this moment her music again has been a force of comfort and reassurance to me.


“Rearrange My Heart” by Che Apalache

Submitted by Teagan Faran, patron services assistant

Catching up on Che Apalache’s album “Rearrange My Heart.” Their mix of bluegrass and Latin American folk is the sound of friendship to me and helps to get through socially distanced times.


“How It Ends” by Devotchka

Submitted by Amanda Dempsey, development associate

I’ve been listening to Devotchka’s live album with the Colorado Symphony. I love when musicians perform live with a full orchestra. Devotchka has one of my favorite sets but Gregory Alan Isakov and Ben Folds will probably be next in my music queue.


“Astral Weeks” by Van Morrison

Submitted by Mallory Shea, marketing and media relations manager

I’ve been listening to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks a lot while working from home. The entire album is just so good, all the way through, and that signature Van Morrison mumble keeps the lyrics from becoming too distracting.