The University Musical Society (UMS), under the leadership of President Matthew VanBesien, today announces its 140th season in 2018-19 with an initial slate of 40 performances and events. One of the country’s most acclaimed performing arts presenters, UMS honors its past by showcasing respected ensembles and performers with whom it has enjoyed rich relationships, and fully embraces the future as initiator, incubator, and accelerator for innovative new works and projects. This potent combination infuses the anniversary season with dynamic and diverse voices and perspectives featuring artists at the top of their game — celebrating the canon, taking risks, moving genres in new directions, disrupting stereotypes, and surprising audiences.
“At UMS, we always commit to bringing a dazzling array of artists whose work amazes, entertains, comforts, and even provokes. We believe strongly in the importance of nurturing young talent and fostering experimentation, while also collaborating with those cherished artists and ensembles who have been a hallmark of our series.
“We open our 140th season in September with three events that truly embody our strong sense of tradition, innovation, and collaboration: teaming up with the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering to present a 50th anniversary live presentation of Stanley Kubrick’s audacious 2001: A Space Odyssey to Michigan’s campus, with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Musica Sacra chorus providing the live musical soundtrack; the legendary Philadelphia Orchestra, which served as the resident orchestra for Ann Arbor’s May Festival for 49 years, returning to Hill Auditorium with new music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin; and actor Alec Baldwin, who comes to Ann Arbor to work with students and faculty in the U-M Department of Theatre & Drama on dramatic readings of Arthur Miller’s great work, Death of a Salesman. That’s just the first few weeks of our 140th season!” said UMS President Matthew VanBesien. “Our 2018-19 offerings also include an extraordinary world première project and many other moments during which UMS invites artists to use our spaces to freely experiment, develop, and refine new works, and to provide audiences with insights to the creative process and the first look at exciting performances.”
Early in the 2018-19 season, treasured American actor Alec Baldwin conducts a three-day residency, visiting UMS for the first time to lead workshops with students in the University of Michigan (U-M) School of Music, Theatre & Dance from September 28-30, 2018. The experience culminates with two readings of Michigan alumnus Arthur Miller’s Death of Salesman, with Baldwin playing the role of Willy Loman for the first time.
Superstar pianist Yuja Wang spends a three-day residency with Austrian drummer and bandleader Martin Grubinger and the Percussive Planet Ensemble, putting the final touches on a percussion and solo piano evening that will subsequently tour to Carnegie Hall for its lauded Perspectives series. Leading up to International Contemporary Ensemble’s (ICE) In Plain Air performance, musicians will visit UMS four times during the season to collaborate with young composers through the University of Michigan’s Student Composers Forum, with the potential for some of these new compositions to be incorporated into ICE’s culminating performance in February. Stunning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonatowill collaborate in recital for the first time with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who serves as music director of both the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera, on piano.
Nézet-Séguin also appears in UMS’s 2018-19 season with the return of his Philadelphia Orchestra to Ann Arbor for the first time since 1994, in a program featuring violinist Lisa Batiashvili. Esa-Pekka Salonen and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra make their UMS debut as part of UMS’s five-year commitment to orchestral residencies, which has in previous seasons featured the New York Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic in multi-day performances and master classes with U-M students. Conductor Zubin Mehtabids farewell to his position with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, an institution he has guided for nearly 50 years.
Central to UMS’s theater offerings is the world première of American Wedding, which celebrates the viscerally charged work of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Co-commissioned by UMS along with a host of international partners, the project embeds audiences squarely in Mapplethorpe’s viewfinder for an examination of how humans look, touch, feel, love, and hate. The production, directed by Daniel Fish, features music by Bryce Dessner (The National) and contemporary ensemble Roomful of Teeth with large-scale photographic projections; it is the first live/theatrical performance granted permission to integrate Mapplethorpe’s work.
Equally captivating is the U.S. première tour of Greek artist Dimitris Papaioannou’s striking and surreal The Great Tamer. Melancholic but at the same time darkly funny, Papaioannou pairs a painterly approach to his craft with stark minimalism to meditate on humanity and the human condition, as bodies are exhumed, celebrated, explored, and destroyed in a sensorial and primitive epic.
While not scheduled on the current season, UMS commissioned and workshopped a new composition by University of Michigan alumna Julia Wolfe in January, in anticipation of its world première by the New York Philharmonic in January 2019.
UMS also presents a production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, first produced by American Repertory Theatre a decade ago and now remounted by Théâtre National de Bretagne in France, placing the classic in the John F. Kennedy era of the 1960s.
Celebrated multi-media artist Carrie Mae Weems thrusts the season into the present with Past Tense, an outgrowth of her prior work Grace Notes, which was inspired by President Barack Obama singing “Amazing Grace” in the wake of the 2015 mass shooting that killed nine African American congregants at a church in Charleston, SC. Through music, text, projection, and video, Weems explores the salience of tragic Greek figure Antigone to this contemporary moment in history, incorporating video of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Eric Garner as a contemporary parallel to the story of a sister’s struggle to bury her brother honorably. In doing so, Weems helps viewers understand the present by examining their collective past.
UMS will announce the details of No Safety Net 2.0, the second iteration of its contemporary theater festival that launched last year, in the fall. The central themes explored in Past Tense, and to an extent, American Wedding, are part of a collection of performances in the 2018-19 season that explore and spur dialogue about race in America.
With ink, Camille A. Brown & Dancersreclaim African-American narratives that are often appropriated, rewritten, or silenced by celebrating the rituals, gestural vocabulary, and traditions that remain ingrained within the lineage of the African Diaspora.
UMS further incorporates diverse forms of music and artistic expression into its 2018-19 season through its Traditions and Crosscurrents series, spotlighting masters of American Roots and world music. Powerhouse Ranchera singer Aida Cuevas pays tribute to mariachi legend Juan Gabriel. American artists Béla Fleck with Abigail Washburn perform from their album, Echo in the Valley, showcasing the banjo’s rich American heritage while elevating the instrument to new and unique realms. Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro performs in a trio format with bass and guitar, while Las Cafeteras remixes perceptions of roots music with a blend of Afro-Mexican beats and a distinctly East L.A. sound.
In addition to working tirelessly to present world-class performance, UMS collaborates with artists to cultivate and educate future generations of artists, arts administrators, and arts patrons.
Perhaps the greatest expression of UMS’s commitment to education and equipping students for successful careers in the arts is its highly competitive 21st Century Artist Internship Program. Each year, UMS partners with professional dance and theater companies or music ensembles it will present during the upcoming season to mentor University students during an intensive 5-7 week summer internship experience; they then become campus ambassadors for these artists when they return during the season, developing residency content and working closely with both UMS and the artists. Program participants for the 2018-19 season are: Bruna D’Avila (Theater Performance – Directing ’19), who will work with independent arts production company The Office in New York; Johanna Kepler (Dance, ’20) with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; Allison Taylor (Violin Performance ’19) with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London; and Kandis Terry (Dance, ’19) with Camille A. Brown & Dancers in New York.
In addition to delivering world class performances to its concert halls, UMS also collaborates with artists to bring high caliber education outreach into classrooms. While refining their own projects at UMS, Yuja Wang and Martin Grubinger of Percussive Planet Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will host open rehearsals and pop-up concerts, and lead multi-day in-depth residencies with U-M students and young composers. The Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen will lead a three-day orchestral residency with master classes and pre-concert events. Similarly, Las Cafeteras will engage in four days of community and school outreach while in Ann Arbor.
Additional residencies are incorporated into all theater and dance productions in the 2018-19 season, providing students with unrivaled access to creative teams for focused instruction, candid conversation and professional guidance, and contextual activities to frame the performances. Additionally, all dance performances include community movement workshops, master classes for dance students, visits to K-12 classrooms, and post-show Q&As.
School visits are a critical and ongoing part of UMS’s commitment to enrichment in Southeast Michigan, impacting 4,000–6,000 students each season. Six School Day Performances for K-12 students are scheduled as part of the 2018-19 season and feature abbreviated performances of the mainstage concerts presented by the artists: Las Cafeteras, Jake Shimabukuro, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Camille A. Brown & Dancers, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, and the Martha Graham Dance Company. These performances are enhanced by in-school preparation by local teaching artists.
For complete schedule: https://ums.org/2018/04/13/university-musical-society-ums-announces-2018-19-season/