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Share Your Hill Auditorium Memories

Posted: 6/8/12 -- 8:00 am


avatar by The UMS Lobby

We’re celebrating Hill Auditorium’s 100th birthday during this 2012-2013 season, and we want to know about your experiences in Hill!

Check out our gallery of select “In Hill Auditorium, I am…” submissions below. We’ll grow it throughout our 2012-2013 season.

Download a flyer and submit your own Hill Auditorium Experience.

Featured memory, collected at the Mariinsky Orchestra performance on October 27, 2012:

“I used to sit up here in the 2nd balcony when a student at U-M (1953-56). This time, I was startled all over again by the clarity and distinctness of the separate instruments. Magical acoustics!

My father told me, years ago, that it was a picture of the just-built Hill Auditorium that inspired him to yearn for higher education. One of ten children on a farm near Fremont, he had never traveled further than a horse and wagon could go. He had never seen a remarkable building. In his memoirs he wrote, more than 60 years later, “I leafed through a “Michiganesian” in the school library and was captivated by a photo of Hill Auditorium, so majestic, so academic. Desire for college sprouted anew.”

After crops were planted in the summer of his senior year, he was released by his father to earn money as a laborer in Grand Rapids. That fall he had saved enough to enroll as a freshman at Calvin College.

In 1925, he and his new bride (my mother) came to Ann Arbor for graduate study. Two years later he was offered a job as instructor in the U-M Rhetoric Department, later absorbed into the English Department where he taught until he retired. Many many times they entered the great doors of Hill Auditorium and sat under the soaring bands of lights, and then in darkness heard the music.

His name was A. K. Stevens.”

Read the U-M memorial for A. K. Stevens. Notably, in 1944, A. K. Stevens was the faculty sponsor of the first University of Michigan Inter-Cooperative Council (ICC) co-op house, which was named in his honor, the A. K. Stevens Cooperative House.

Gallery of recent submissions:

PS. Yes, we love MoMA.

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  • avatar

    I have so many memories but will impart this one. Not long after I moved to Michigan in the mid 90’s I attended a Ravi Shankar concert that went on for hours. I had never seen so many Indian people and they were so peaceable and got up whenever they pleased and went to the lobby or greeted friends. It seemed as though I was in a crowded marketplace and I liked the experience very much. Every so often I play some Raga music!

  • avatar

    Having played and sung in university ensembles since 1962, I have many fond memories of Hill Auditorium. My most memorable, however, is a combined Michigan Symphony Band Memorial Concert with current and alumni members performing “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral” by R. Wagner. The concert honored and memorialized the recent death of William D. Revellil who was purported to have been one of the foremost interpreters of this work for wind band. Emotions of the many years with a master teacher and the sound of the combined musicians is a memory which will live with me forever. It all happened in Hill Auditorium.

  • avatar

    Although I have participated in several choral events in Hill, the most memorable for me was being a part of the only adult band to perform one year at the Midwest Music Education Conference. The Symphony Band of Ann Arbor (now Ann ARbo Concert Band), under the direction of its founder, Victor Bordo, puut on a wonderful concert! It was a great experience!

  • avatar

    When I was 15, I toured Europe with the Youth for Understanding Chorale and Orchestra. Our valiant return from the adventure was marked by a concert at Hill Auditorium. I was amazed by how the hall resonated our young voices. I was hooked, and have looked for every opportunity to hear music fill its rafters since.

    Lee Doyle

  • One subtle Hill Auditorium memory: Sitting in the nosebleed seats, I watched a performer pick up a glass of water that was sitting by his feet. (I can’t remember what concert this was or who the performer was.) The performer took a sip of water, and gently placed the glass back on the stage. Thump. I heard the glass when it made contact with the stage!

    Not so subtle Hill Auditorium memories: Doing entry on the stage as a Marching Band member. Loved every minute of it!

  • avatar

    On the afternoon of March 27th, 1986 I received a call from Gail Rector. He sounded worried and asked if I would come over to Hill Auditorium that afternoon.

    When I met him he explained that Andres Segovia was performing that evening and we needed to eliminate all extraneous sounds during the concert.We proceeded to go on stage where he asked me if I could hear that C flat. Not knowing a C flat from A sharp I told him I did hear a humming sound. As we listened more intently we decided the sound was coming from the back of the second balcony, in the far corner of the auditorium where an exhaust fan was running. I arranged to have the fan shut off and the auditorium fell silent.

    That evening, before the concert, Gail brought Andres Segovia to our seats and introduced him to my wife and me. What a marvelous gesture and a thrill for us. And then, of course, the music was extraordinary. A solo guitar filled that great hall with beautiful melodies. During quiet moments between numbers you could hear a pin drop. The auditorium was beautifully silent. No C flat could be heard. Mission accomplished!

  • avatar

    I stood in line for what seemed like hours to hear Hillary Clinton speak at Hill in 1998, and then suddenly felt the line surge forward and into the auditorium. Turns out Ms. Clinton, then first lady, realized she’d never take the stage on time if the security screenings continued, and so she told the guards to stop checking and just let people in. (At least that’s the story.) We packed the auditorium. I’ve admired her courage ever since. I fear the gesture will never be repeated–not in a post-9/11 America.

  • avatar

    After graduating from Oberlin in 1962, I came to U-M to do my graduate studies. I immediately fell in love with Hill Auditorium, particularly its free concerts. Two stands out in my memories. The first: three beautiful female singers sang Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate. The second: a male trumpeter played Michael Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto as a high school contest winner. Ann Arbor is a great place for poor students to enjoy many free offerings.

    Master BC Yu

  • avatar

    Recently at Nick’s Restaurant in Pacifica, California
    I heard a band and a pretty good woman singer…sing ” Proud Mary” ……but it only reminded me of the Ikettes dancing wildly on both sides of Tina Turner (the only woman who could ever do that song justice!) who was dancing and singing up a storm and a duet with none other than her husband Ike Turner….everyone in the audience at Hill was going crazy!!! So often I’ve wanted to tell people that I actually heard Tina sing with Ike…..but have not for fear of disclosing my age!
    Thanks for so many amazing concerts during the years 1968-72…when I was in Ann Arbor at Hill!!!

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    antigone production


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    Taylor Mac

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