When it comes to the best of music, dance, and theater, all roads lead to Ann Arbor. Just up U.S. 23 is one of the country’s oldest and most respected presenters of fine entertainment, the University Musical Society.
Next month, UMS will launch its 123rd season with 75 performances plus 100 related educational events. Coming to the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor will be instrumentalists and singers, dancers, actors, and artists whose work crosses disciplines.
Established as the Choral Union in 1880 by singers and lovers of choral music who gathered to study and perform Handel’s magnificent oratorio, “Messiah,” the group soon expanded its productions to a full array of seasonal offerings drawn from the best of performers from around the world.
UMS has helped make the university a global nexus for artistic exploration, benefiting students and the public. Even the venues are a rich mix, from the classical elegance and brilliant sound of Hill Auditorium, the major hall marking its centennial; the starkly 20th century Power Center nearby, the gracious Rackham Auditorium, to the restored and historic Michigan Theater, among others.
This 2013-2014 mix is first class, ranging from world-famous solo musicians such as Andras Schiff, Denis Matsuev, and Joshua Bell; string quartets including the Takacs, St. Lawrence, and Kronos, and great orchestras such as the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and the Israel Philharmonic.
The mix is eclectic, comprising, for example, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, the Manganiyar Seduction — a splashy, irresistible mix of music, song, and dance from the Rajasthan State in northern India; the abstract poetry of Ballet Preljocaj from France, and saxophonist/composer Steve Lehman and his octet.
September’s schedule is a microcosm of the entire season. It opens Sept. 6 with Jason Moran’s Fats Waller Dance Party with Meshell Ndegeocello at the Downtown Home & Garden Shop in downtown Ann Arbor. Then comes England’s National Theatre Live and its new production, The Audience, Sept. 8-9.
Singer Audra McDonald will perform Sept. 15 in Hill, followed by two dance companies: Complicite: Shun-Kin Sept. 18-21, and the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Sept. 27-28.
Other notable October performances will include San Francisco’s all-male choir Chanticleer Oct. 11; mandolin artist Chris Thile Oct. 18, and pianist Schiff Oct. 25. November selections include the French dance troupe Ballet Preljocaj Nov. 1-2, Apollo’s Fire Nov. 3, the wondrous Ukulele Orchestra Nov. 12, and the San Francisco Symphony Nov. 16. Performances of “Messiah” with conductor Jerry Blackstone, the UM Choral Union, and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra Dec. 7 and 8 close out the year.
Highlights of 2014 will include the Kronos Quartet Jan. 17-18; Gidon Kremer’s group Kremerata Baltica Feb. 6; mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught on March 20; the acappella vocal group Tenebrae March 27; Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis on March 30, and the UMS Choral Union singing Brahms’ “A German Requiem” on April 4.
Details at www.ums.org or 734-764-2538
Coming this weekend in Ann Arbor at Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave., will be two lecture-performances by Louis Nagel. At 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, the pianist will discuss and perform music by Mozart and Debussy. Saturday night is Kathy Kosins — Live by Request, with Kosins, a jazz vocalist, backed by pianist Cliff Monear, Marion Hayden, bass, and Scott Krezter, drums. Tickets are $5-$30 for each event. For information and reservations call 734-769-2999 or www.kerrytownconcerthouse.com.
Soprano Marie Engle will present a recital at 7 p.m. Aug. 17 in West Clinton Mennonite Church, 18029 County Road C., Wauseon. The performance is a chance to hear Engle, a junior vocal performance major at Northwestern University, before she departs for a year’s study of opera in Vienna.
On the program will be sacred works, opera arias, and art songs by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Puccini, Faure, and Brahms.
Engle has sung with the Toledo Opera Chorus and Pettisville High School Choir. Proceeds from the recital, which is free but will include a collection, will help fund further music study.
Don’t forget about the New York Voices Camp concert finale, 8 p.m. Saturday in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center, Bowling Green State University. Admission is free.
The Toledo Ballet School will hold its annual open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 17 in its Westfield Franklin Park headquarters. Guests can watch classes, tour facilities, meet students and parents, and chat with Lisa Mayer, who runs the program.
The school offers the American Ballet Theatre national training curriculum for ballet as well as contemporary, jazz, and other forms of dance, plus fitness classes of various types. Classes begin Sept. 3.
The TBA was founded in 1939 by Marie Bollinger Vogt, who started with what became the traditional holiday production of The Nutcracker. Information: toledoballet.org or 419-471-0049.
Tickets are now on sale for this year’s Nov. 27 holiday show by Mannheim Steamroller, the hugely successful musical empire started and still run by Sylvania native Chip Davis. Since 1984, when Davis first introduced his signature mix of classical themes with a rock-and-roll beat, the group has become one of the 50 top-selling musical acts in the world. Tickets and information for the Stranahan Theater show are available at 419-381-8851.
A choral reading session sponsored by the Toledo Chapter, American Guild of Organists is set for 10 to 11:30 a.m. Aug. 24 in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 112 E. Wayne St., Maumee. Clinician will be Dennis Blubaugh, organist and owner of Musical Resources. Dennis Johns, church director of music and worship, will be host. The session is free. Lunch will be served after for those with reservations; cost is $5. Register by Aug. 16 at 419-893-5154.
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