Congratulations to UMS and everyone involved in bringing James Blake to Ann Arbor! Thank you all. I am a business school professor here at Michigan Ross, and I attended my first UMS event last night. I propose two simple reasons why UMS succeeded last night and is positioned to reach greater heights: First, UMS understands the diversity of its community's tastes. Second, UMS reflects that diversity in its offerings. It's easy to do the former; that's just talking the talk. But to achieve the latter, you need to walk the walk. This success means more than having the foresight of booking a young international musician many months before he won the award for best UK/Irish album of the year. (But kudos to UMS Programming! I will let the bigger James Blake fans talk about his music; that's not my specialty...) And this means more than bringing together over 1000 people to the Michigan Theater on a Monday night in the name of Arts and Culture. (Yet do not forget those people represented about three age generations, from loyal UMS donors to people who just learned about UMS because of last night's show. As a result of acquiring those new attendees that are raving about the performance, UMS can expect an incremental boost in future attendance and cash flow.) And still this means more than the messages (positive or negative) in the comments on this page because many miss larger point: UMS has just started the conversation. It presents performances that force us to ask each other -- Did you feel that? What is that? What is a live musical performance in the 21st century? How much bass can I handle? What is the face of patrons of musical culture? They are challenging us. In fact, UMS is not only understanding and reflecting this town's diversity of tastes, but UMS is contributing to its diversity, pushing it further. Finally, I'll twist the a previous comment's closing words: Bring it on, Ken! Really!
Posted: 11/12/13 -- 3:35 pm