UMS announces special residency with Yo-Yo Ma


The University Musical Society (UMS) is pleased to announce a residency with cellist Yo-Yo Ma that will take place February 27-28, 2019 in Ann Arbor and Flint. The residency includes Ma’s talk on “Culture, Understanding, and Survival” as well as a “Day of Action” in Flint, MI. The residency is made possible with support from the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor and Flint campuses.

Yo-Yo Ma’s career is testament to his enduring belief in culture’s power to generate trust and understanding. In this special talk, he will explore the role culture can play in helping us to imagine and build a better future, drawing on examples from his own life as a musician and citizen. Ma’s presentation is rooted in the belief that, at a moment when our world is challenged by the pace of change and the divisions it can create, culture’s ability to create and share meaning is essential in shaping the next stage of our evolution.

In announcing the residency, UMS President Matthew VanBesien said, “Yo-Yo Ma is truly a unique individual. He is one of the great thinkers in our field, able to connect with people on a personal level and constantly wondering how he can use his abilities to build a better future. When he approached us about wanting to do one of his ‘Days of Action’ in Flint, we were thrilled to be involved, and we look forward to working with partners in the Flint community to make this happen in February.”

This special two-day residency features Ma in conversation on Wednesday, February 27, 2019 at 7 pm in Hill Auditorium (Ann Arbor) about his role as a citizen artist, addressing the vital role of culture and the arts and sciences in our society, and how we can all come together to work as “cultural citizens.” The talk will be followed on Thursday, February 28, 2019 by a “Day of Action” in Flint, where he will work with community partners to champion culture’s power to transform lives and forge both a more connected world and a healthy and vibrant local community.

Day of Action activities will be free and open the public and will include a large-scale community convening that focuses on how culture can contribute to Flint’s vibrancy; a musical event; and a community-organized event that will be planned in conjunction with many community partners in Flint. Further details about the Day of Action will be announced in late January.

Sue Alcock, Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan – Flint commented, “It is exhilarating to form part of an inspiring project that seeks to heal and bring people together. Arts and culture have long played a key role in how we have imagined and built our past, present, and now, our future, and we’re elated that Yo-Yo Ma wants to shine a spotlight on the strong and talented community that is Flint.”

For the Hill Auditorium talk on Wednesday evening, UMS has committed to setting aside 1,000 tickets for students, which will be available in mid-January. Martin Philbert, Provost of the University of Michigan, said, “Yo-Yo Ma has marvelous gifts and he shares them generously. His belief in the power of culture to connect people and build understanding is rooted in the commitment to respect, appreciation, and inclusion that is the hallmark of both his music and his citizenship. We are truly pleased that students and members of the Flint and Ann Arbor communities will have the opportunity to learn from him.”

Tickets for the lecture will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, December 6 at 9 am. Student tickets will be available on Monday, January 14 at 9 am.

For tickets and more information, visit or call 734.764.2538.

This residency is made possible with support from the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor and Flint campuses. UMS also thanks Sava’s for donating dinner for the community partnership team from Flint in conjunction with this event.


A recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts, UMS (also known as the University Musical Society) contributes to a vibrant cultural community by connecting audiences with performing artists from around the world in uncommon and engaging experiences. One of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country, UMS is an independent non-profit organization affiliated with U-M, presenting over 70 music, theater, and dance performances by professional touring artists each season, along with over 100 free educational activities. UMS is committed to bold artistic leadership, engaged learning through the arts, and access and inclusiveness. Since 1990, the organization has co-commissioned and supported the production of nearly 80 new or reimagined works. Matthew VanBesien became the organization’s seventh president in July 2017.

Tags from the story
Written By
More from Terry Jacoby

Girls Track Preview: Eagles hope to reload after last year’s third place at state finals

 While the Skyline girls’ track and field team lost quite a few...
Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *