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Renegades in the performing world (watch VIDEO)

By Truly Render

The University Musical Society‘s season features 56 performances by 40 different artists/ensembles, with performances that range from cool and enigmatic to high-energy spectacle, and programs that range from cutting-edge contemporary to classical favorites.

UMS ‘s season includes two dominant thematic threads: (1) as part of UMS’s four-year rotating focus on different regions of the world, the 11/12 season turns its eye toward Asia, with a particular concentration on China, Taiwan, Inner Mongolia, and India, with six performances representing this geographic region, and (2) From January-March, UMS presents a special “season-within-a-season” that celebrates change-makers and thought-leaders in the performing arts.

This “Renegade” series includes 10 performances by seven different artists/ensembles, opening in January by the only 2011 US performances of Philip Glass’s (photo left) and Robert Wilson’s (photo right) music theater masterpiece “Einstein on the Beach,” launching an international tour, and closing in March with four concerts from the San Francisco Symphony’s American Mavericks series, which will be presented only by UMS and Carnegie Hall.

UMS is also changing start times for weekday events in the 11/12 season. All performances that happen on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday performances remain at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees will begin at 4 p.m.

“The 11/12 season continues to affirm the artistic excellence at the core of UMS’s mission,” said Kenneth C. Fischer, who enters his 25th season as UMS President. “In addition to presenting familiar favorites, the 133rd season includes 18 UMS debut performances. At the heart and history of UMS is our signature Choral Union Series and Chamber Arts Series, which features a stellar lineup of classical music concerts including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, and some of Ann Arbor’s favorite chamber music ensembles. Our Asia series features awe-inspiring artists that adhere to tradition as well as performers leading the arts world into brave new terrain. We look forward to hosting the creators, musicians, performers, and technical crew of Einstein on the Beach for a three-week period as they reconstruct and mount Einstein on the Beach for the first time in 20 years. And we’re thrilled to be introducing two new dance companies to Ann Arbor, as well as New Orleans jazz, Senegalese mbalax and Spanish flamenco. It’s one of the most interesting and innovative seasons I can remember.”


Within the signature Choral Union Series, UMS presents 10 concerts in historic Hill Auditorium:

• Olivier Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the Stars, complete with a triptych film screening of filmmaker Daniel Landau’s visual counterpoint to this musical exploration of the untouched wilderness of Utah’s Bryce Canyon (Sunday, January 29). Featuring the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra and conductor Jeffrey Tate.

• The Chicago Symphony Orchestra with conductor Riccardo Muti and violinist Pinchas Zukerman in an all-Brahms program featuring the composer’s Violin Concerto and Symphony No. 2 (Friday, March 9).

• Three concerts by the San Francisco Symphony and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas as part of the San Francisco Symphony’s American Mavericks festival. Featuring a host of soloists, the American Mavericks festival celebrates the creative pioneering spirit of composers who created a new American musical voice for the 20th century and beyond. American Mavericks will be presented in its entirety only at UMS and Carnegie Hall. Choral Union subscribers will choose two of the three performances for their series. See the attached chronological listing for complete programs.

• The Choral Union Series closes with an all-Beethoven concert by Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields with violinist and director Joshua Bell (Sunday, April 22).


The 49th Annual Chamber Arts Series presents seven of today’s leading chamber musicians performing both traditional and contemporary repertoire, including:

•  Hagen Quartet in an all-Beethoven program (Thursday, February 23); and the Pavel Haas Quartet in a UMS debut appearance with a program of Tchaikovsky, Pavel Haas, and Smetana (Wednesday, April 18).

• Les Violons du Roy and recorder virtuoso Maurice Steger in a program featuring Bach, Telemann, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, and Geminiani (Saturday, January 28).

• Renowned clarinetist Sabine Meyer and her chamber ensemble Trio di Clarone deliver a program of Mozart, Poulenc, Stravinsky, and Bach (Saturday, February 4).

• The Chamber Ensemble of the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, under the artistic direction of Wang Fujian, performs a program of traditional Chinese music (Thursday, February 10).


The focus on “renegades” in the 11/12 season examines thought-leaders and game-changers in the performing arts and encompasses performances that are part of the UMS International Theater Series, Choral Union Series, Divine Voices, Dance Series, and the Chamber Arts Series. Performances under this umbrella will take place in a ten-week period from January – March 2012 and include:

• The reconstruction of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s seminal opera, Einstein on the Beach (Friday, January 20 — Sunday, January 22).

• From the Canyons to the Stars, performed by the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jeffery Tate and complete with a triptych film by Daniel Landau (Sunday, January 29).

• The Tallis Scholars, performing Tenebrae Responses by renegade Italian Renaissance composer Carlos Gesualdo (Thursday, February 16).

• Random Dance, a company started by Wayne McGregor , the resident choreographer at The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, whose groundbreaking collaborations across dance, film, music, visual, art and science is evident in the company’s presentation of FAR (Saturday, February 18)

• The Hagen Quartet, in an all-Beethoven program, recognizing how Beethoven ushered in a whole new aesthetic era with his compositional style (Thursday, February 23).

• Robert Lepage’s The Andersen Project, a solo performance created by Canadian theater visionary Robert Lepage that explores sexual identity, unfulfilled fantasies, and the thirst for recognition and fame through Hans Christian Andersen’s timeless fables (Thursday, March 15—Saturday, March 17).

• The four concerts of the San Francisco Symphony’s American Mavericks festival. In addition to the three orchestral concerts noted in the Choral Union Series, members of the San Francisco Symphony will present a chamber music concert to close both the American Mavericks festival and the UMS focus on Renegades.

Closing the International Theater Series, is The Andersen Project, a solo performance created by Canadian theater visionary Robert Lepage and performed by Yves Jacques that explores sexual identity, unfulfilled fantasies, and the thirst for recognition and fame through Hans Christian Andersen’s timeless fables (Thursday, March 15—Saturday, March 17).


Ballet Preljocaj’s production of Blanche Neige (Snow White), set to music by Gustav Mahler and featuring costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier, closes the dance season (Thursday, April 19—Satuday, April 21).


With five different events, the UMS Jazz Series celebrates jazz’s diversity, highlighting the best in modern jazz while honoring jazz’s legacy. Winter concerts include Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (photo left), (Wednesday, February 22); and the Charles Lloyd Quartet, with Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers, and Eric Harland (Saturday, April 14).


The Divine Voices Series celebrates the choral music tradition with three concerts at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and one in St. Andrews Episcopal Church. The St. Francis concerts include the State Symphony Capella of Russia with a program of masterworks by Russian composers (Thursday, October 13). Schola Cantorum of Venezuela with a program rich in Latin American composers (Thursday, October 27); and The Tallis Scholars, performing Tenebrae Responses by Italian Renaissance composer Carlos Gesualdo (Thursday, February 16). The British ensemble Stile Antico, which made its UMS debut in 2009, performs a program of Tudor music for Christmas and Advent, Veni Emmanuel, in St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Kerrytown (Wednesday, December 7).


UMS focuses its global programming on four different regions of the world — the Arab World, Africa, the Americas, and Asia — with one region enjoying a particular focus during each season. Following the celebration of the performing arts of the Americas in the 10/11 season, UMS turns its thematic focus to Asia, specifically highlighting artists from China, Taiwan, Inner Mongolia, and India.

The series includes Cloud Gate Dance Theater (Friday, October 21— Saturday, October 22); AnDa Union, a traditional Mongolian music group (Wednesday, November 9); the Chamber Ensemble of the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra (Thursday, February 10); and Zakir Hussain and the Master Musicians of India, including the famous dancing drummers of Manipur (Thursday, April 12). In addition, the series includes two classical artists from China: pianist Yuja Wang (Sunday, October 9) and the Beijing Guitar Duo (Sunday, November 20).


In addition to the events from Asia noted above, UMS presents Goran Bregovic and His Wedding and Funeral Orchestra, which combines a Serbian Gypsy Band, string ensemble, orthodox male choir, and two Bulgarian female vocalists in a wild ride in Hill Auditorium (Saturday, October 15); flamenco star Diego El Cigala (Saturday, November 5); Max Raabe and Palast Orchester, recreating the high style and musical glory of the Weimar era (Saturday, March 10); and Senegalese singer/songwriter Cheikh Lô (Friday, April 13).


Several events will also be presented as part of the UMS 11/12 season, but don’t necessarily fit into one of the series designations above:

• Musical theater star and four-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, who captured three of her Tony Awards before turning 28 (Friday, November 4)

• The ever-popular Canadian Brass in a holiday program on Thanksgiving weekend (Sunday, November 27)

• The Grammy Award-winning UMS Choral Union and conductor Jerry Blackstone continue Ann Arbor’s longstanding holiday tradition with their performances of Handel’s Messiah (Saturday-Sunday, December 3-4)

• Sweet Honey In The Rock (Friday, February 17)

Information about Tickets & Subscription Packages

Subscription packages go on sale to the general public on Monday, May 9 and will be available through Friday, September 17. Current subscribers will receive renewal packets in early May and may renew their series upon receipt of the packet.

Tickets to individual events will go on sale to the general public on Monday, August 22 (via and Wednesday, August 24 (in person and by phone). UMS donors of $250 or more may purchase tickets to individual events beginning Monday, August 15.

To be added to the mailing list, please contact the UMS Ticket Office at 734-764-2538 or visit UMS also has an e-mail list that provides up-to-date information about all UMS events; sign-up information is available on the website.

Truly Render is press and marketing coordinator for the University Musical Society.