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UMS Playlist: A Touch of Minimalism

Posted: 12/12/14 -- 8:00 am

Minimalism can be extraordinarily beautiful. A playlist of minimalist music featuring Dawn of Midi, Steve Reich, Aphex Twin, and others.…

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The State of Theater in Ann Arbor: Looking Back to 2000, and Looking Ahead

Posted: 1/5/15 -- 8:00 am

Editor’s note: This article initially appeared in the Ann Arbor Observer in October 2000 and offers a snapshot of the history of theater in Ann Arbor and major developments...…

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Artist Interview: Jennifer Koh, violinist

Posted: 1/19/15 -- 8:00 am

Insightful and passionate violinist Jennifer Koh talks with UMS Lobby contributor and composer Garrett Schumann about creative programming choices, contemporary works, and the...…

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People Are Talking: UMS presents Mariinsky Orchestra at Hill Auditorium

Posted: 1/24/15 -- 12:00 pm

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Thank you for a wonderful concert on Sunday afternoon. "Pictures" was thrilling and the orchestra played spectacularly. They reminded me of the Cleveland Orchestra in their glory days under George Szell. Matsuev was a brilliant soloist. I look forward to hearing him play less bombastic music (I am not a big fan of the Tchaikovsky concertos), like Brahms, Beethoven, etc. Gergiev certainly deserves great honors for preparing and leading such a fine orchestra. However, he made a free choice to speak out politically and to take stands that are anathema to many of us. He must also take responsibility for those actions. It was an exciting afternoon of music. Thank you!

Thomas Gelehrter

Posted: 1/29/15 -- 4:23 pm

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Thank you for clearing that up. Honestly I'm very disappointed, but maybe they're not used to such acoustics at Hill auditorium. I, for one, did not find it amusing, and I would like to convey to Maestro Gergiev that it was a blight on the performance, but I'll forgive him if he comes back next year.

George

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 5:04 pm

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George, In both instances it was confirmed by musicians in the orchestra and by audiences members sitting in the front row of the main floor as well as by others sitting in the dead-center back of the balcony where it is very easy to hear in a clear and delineated way. Those are the only facts I have to support what I wrote earlier.

Michael, UMS

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 4:53 pm

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George, I sat in the front row, right underneath him on Sunday. He sang and hummed the entire time in various ways. It was amusing, because he would hum and buzz just before cueing a violin entrance, often with his eyes closed. I was amused by it.

Diane

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 4:45 pm

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Michael, Just curious, how do you know that, for a fact, without proceeding to back it up with anything? Why were the "vocalizations" so much worse the second night? Are they so oblivious that they don't realize high frequency artifacts detract from the audio quality of their performance? What kind of vocalization would make that sound? He wasn't humming along, because it was roughly the same frequency the whole time. So...he was grunting in an obnoxious, non-human type of way during some of the most gorgeous music. You would think someone in the orchestra would tell him it's annoying. Can you elaborate on what your "facts" are?

George

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 4:37 pm

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With all due respect George, I know for a fact that the noises were indeed both Maestro Noseda and Maestro Gergiev's vocalization while conducting their respective orchestras. For some it may be a problem....for me, I find it rather interesting and accept it as a possible part of the live concert experience. There are many examples of this phenomenon over the years....even on recording, Glenn Gould being the most famous example. I guess is all ends up being a great example of how clear and quick the acoustic is in certain areas of Hill Auditorium. Thanks for being at all three concerts !!

Michael, UMS

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 2:38 pm

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I was also at the William Tell performance, and both Mariinsky performances. I heard the same acoustic artifacts described above, but I can assure you they're not vocalizations from anyone (especially not the conductor!) The acoustics in Hill Auditorium are so great that you can hear every little thing. It could have been any one of the instruments, or even a panel on the wall that resonates with certain frequencies. I was also trying to figure out what it was, and I'm an audio engineer. Nobody goes to a symphony to hear the conductor hum along with the piece, and these are very distinguished artists we're dealing with, so they know better than to detract from their own show by humming (and if it was humming, that person sure can't follow a tune!) It must be embarrassing for them that anyone even thinks that's what it was. I really hope it's not a problem with the Hill auditorium, but in fact I've heard it in several performances now (on Sunday it was the worst I've ever heard), so I'm starting to think it is.

George

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 2:09 pm

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Indeed...they were audible vocalizations by Maestro Gergiev. I noticed odd noises during Teatro Regio Torino's performance of William Tell while I was sitting up in the back of the mezzanine and finally figured out that it was Maestro Noseda's vocal expressions. Certain spots in Hill, even all the way upstairs, can catch different sounds from stage! It's odd, but kind of cool to hear the conductor's expressions, beyond what you can usually only see. Liz, UMS

Liz

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 1:59 pm

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What a beautiful reflection, David, As Michael K notes, sitting in the audience and hearing music from our past brings up deeply personal memories for many. as it did for you. As my wife Penny and I sat listening to the Tchaikovsky piano concerto #1, our minds and hearts went back to the summer we met at Interlochen (1961) when we had the privilege of accompanying Van Cliburn as members of the National H.S. Orchestra when Cliburn performed on the Kresge Auditorium stage the same concerto we heard Sunday -- the one that brought him the Tchaikovsky Competition first place prize in 1958 and the NYC tickertape parade that followed.

Ken Fischer, UMS

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 1:01 pm

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Thank you. Those were wonderful.

Tanya

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 12:58 pm

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What a wonderful reflection David...and how great is it to be reminded, through such vivid example, of the complex and powerful experiences that audience members are reliving as they sit in their seats at a UMS concert? I suspect that these moments of deeply personal reflection are occurring all the time for different reasons -- and at different trigger moments -- for a broad cross-cut of our audience over the course of any given UMS season. I do know that it happens for me! Thank you so much for taking the time to share it with everyone.

Michael, UMS

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 12:33 pm

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Ken and Michael, Just a short note of thanks to you both for this wonderful weekend of Russian classical music. It had special meaning for me, especially during yesterday afternoon's program. I have heard "Pictures" many times, but yesterday it triggered one of those flash backs that I suppose is associated with being 72 years old and beginning to savor reflections about what has been so valuable in my life so far. So the flash back was to the very first classical music I heard, as a 7 or 8-year-old kid. It was an early 1950s Radio Moscow broadcast, over short wave radio band, on a war surplus radio my father purchased--something like he'd monitored as communications officer on a Merchant Marine ship plying the Atlantic for most of my first 7 years. We'd set the radio up (to receive only) in my bedroom where we'd taped a National Geographic map of the world on the wall. I pasted gold stars on places where I picked up transmissions (other than in the US), and the first gold star was atop Moscow. Wearing my father's naval earphones, each night after homework I listened to Russian classical music, probably beamed toward North America as part of the Cold War just as Radio Free Europe did in return, with fascination. It was not to my father's taste so we had no classical recordings and my grade school had no musical education in the first grades. And so yesterday I remembered that late each night, before the triumphant sounds of Tchaikovsky or the forceful romanticism of Moussorgsky went sent silent, I listened in awe to the muscular voices of the Chorus of the Soviet Red Army and finally to their rendering of the Russian national anthem. Turns out that Radio Canada (stars on Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal) also broadcast classical music--French, German, English and US composers--probably not by chance on a band close to Radio Moscow's I think. So I learned the words to O Canada; never did master the Russian, but it was the language of Russian music that first stirred what was to become a lifelong musical passion. Thanks again. David

David L Featherman

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 12:20 pm

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An incredible pair of concerts, with two unbelievable pianists. Matsuev has become one of our favourites, and Abduraimov is someone we want to hear much more of. Between the orchestra and him, we heard things we'd never heard before in the Prokofiev. The Mariinksy with Gergiev probes the music with such in-depth character and passion--they play as if their lives depended on it--and, after all, isn't that what it's all about? All very exciting and deeply moving.

David and Lonnie

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 10:21 am

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The best part for me was at the end when they did an encore, which happened to be the overture from Lohengrin - Wagner is my alltime favorite! What a pleasant surprise! I went both nights and the pianists were both fantastic.

George

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 7:17 am

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The acoustics at the back of the balcony are superb! Better than many places in the auditorium that are much closer to the stage. You can't see, but you sure can hear.

Sternrudder

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 12:33 am

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Sundays concert was so intense, I really enjoy the Russian Orchestra performances. They are the best interpreters of russian composers.The piano concerto was excellent as was Pi tures at an Exibition but the surprise of the afternoon came with the opening work by Shederin !!!BRAVO UMS AND THANK YOU AGAIN for bringing world class orchestras to Hill Aud.

PATRICK

Posted: 1/26/15 -- 12:23 am

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I was fortunate to see both performances by this wonderful orchestra! I have to admit that I was much more enthralled by the Sunday concert, but then, I am a great fan of Tschaikovsky! I am very familiar with Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition", and was very surprised to hear some passages played in an unfamiliar manner. Then it struck me; Mr. Gergiev was conducting with a Russian sense! What amazing good fortune to hear such an amazing concert!

Aysenur Unal

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 11:35 pm

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Thank you! I thought the orchestra encore sounded like Wagner, but was so sure they'd only perform works by Russian composers that I was driving myself crazy trying to think of a Russian contemporary of Wagner! The Lyadov piece was a delight, wasn't it?

Aysenur Unal

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 11:27 pm

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We heard it back in the balcony, so it could not have been any vocalizations by the conductor. I agree that it was annoying and distracting, but fortunately didn't last very long.

Aysenur Unal

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 11:24 pm

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I was sitting in the front row and it was the conductor. Mr. Gergiev hummed the entire time and breathed in an audible way, exhaling while vocalizing. He also made a buzzing "zish" sound much of the time when cueing the violinists on entries. It reminded me of some old Glenn Gould recordings.

Diane Howlin

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 10:59 pm

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My friend and I attended Sunday afternoon's concert - wow! The "Concerto" by Rodion Shchedrin was so interesting and fun, and the following "war horses" were both marvelous. To hear Tchaikovsky's 1st piano concerto in person, played with such precision and energy was a treat, and I very much enjoyed the grandeur and sensitivity that Gergiev drew from the orchestra for Mussorgsky's "Pictures..." BUT... WHAT was that weird buzzy noise that we heard when the orchestra played?? It was horribly distracting. We were sitting on the Main Floor, far left, Section 5, and my friend and I both noticed it, so it wasn't just a voice in my head... Some weird acoustical issue either from the hall (emanating from the stage, it sounded like) or from the orchestra? Really strange.

Margaret Petersen

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 10:22 pm

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My wife and I were sitting in the middle of X row and heard humming singing during some of the portions in the performance. Did somebody else has noticed this or is it the Hall's aucustics had played a trick on us?

Mark

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 10:01 pm

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Sunday's experience was beyond moving. I heard more than one person say that they were nearly brought to tears during the incredibly gorgeous concert. We were treated to two encores that seemed to convey the mutual admiration between audience and performers. Additionally, the elegant Ford Honors dinner and program brought home the universal power of the arts and the importance of sharing arts experiences with our youth--world wide. Thanks to all who made this evening possible!!

Janet Callaway

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 9:54 pm

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My dream finally came true! I adore Valery Gergiev & Mariinsky Orchestra. It was utterly exquisite! Thank you so much!

Harumi Ohata

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 9:27 pm

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The encores on Sunday were Lyadov's The Music Box (performed by Denis Matsuev) and the Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin by Richard Wagner (performed by the Mariinsky Orchestra).

Sara, UMS

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 9:09 pm

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Very much enjoyed Sunday afternoon concert. Please, what is the name of the encore played by the orchestra?

Richard Slama

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 8:01 pm

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Wonderful evening of music, simply beautiful. Looking forward to Sunday's performance . sb

Shirley

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 11:35 am

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Somebody should have yelled UKRAINE during the long silence at the end. That would have been an even more delicate final stroke than that long cymbal note that ends the symphony.

Expert

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 3:03 am

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I've never been particularly fond of Shostakovich, but thought this performance was spectacular!

Aysenur Unal

Posted: 1/25/15 -- 1:14 am

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Mr. Abduraimov performed Scriabin's c-sharp minor Etude following the Prokofiev concerto. Liz Stover Rosenthal, UMS

Liz Stover Rosenthal

Posted: 1/24/15 -- 11:53 pm

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We heard an electrifying performance of Prokofiev’s most popular piano concerto by a pianist of great accomplishment despite his youth. Over the years we‘ve gotten used to the polished playing of this orchestra. Tonight was no exception. That they often produced shrill and bang-y sounds must be debited to the conductor. The rare Shostakovich symphony is a shapeless, overlong work in which many ideas are touched on but mostly not developed. An unimpressive, justly neglected work -- but well played. I can’t say that I’m terribly excited about tomorrow’s warhorses. But who knows…….

Music Lover

Posted: 1/24/15 -- 11:33 pm

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Wonderful music.I came away refreshed.And the long silence at the end allowed the experience to be savored.

Hilary Garton

Posted: 1/24/15 -- 11:29 pm

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My friend from out of town came with me, not knowing what to expect. I thought I did. We both left in awe.

Jeff Gaynor

Posted: 1/24/15 -- 11:16 pm

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The Olympics last year were supposed to elevate Russia to a higher standing among the developed world. Little did we know that Putin would go on a rampage, Obama would cream their economy with sanctions, & Saudi Arabia would pump as much oil as it would take to level prices. So I was glad to just escape it all with a long show of music. The young man who played piano was simply spectacular and he will continue to grow. I wore blue jeans and a golf shirt, was that warm today. I may put on something nicer tomorrow. Great show!

Robert Kinsey

Posted: 1/24/15 -- 11:06 pm

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That was spectacular. I am so proud of the audience for making the final silence so special. That was an unbelievable night of music

Tristan

Posted: 1/24/15 -- 10:57 pm

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What was the encore?

Donna Wessel Walker

Posted: 1/24/15 -- 8:50 pm