All comments by Ron Sussman
People Are Talking: UMS presents Mnozil Brass:
Although I have been following the Mnozil Brass for years, this performance of as far beyond my expectations. Thanks for bringing them to town, and please plan for a return visit.
People are Talking: UMS Presents Jerusalem String Quartet:
I decided as soon as the schedule came out that I wanted to attend the concert, but I wanted to wait to get senior rush, so I had no choice but to purchase my ticket the day of the concert. As always, the Jerusalem Quartet was superb!
People Are Talking: UMS presents: Zafir: Musical Winds form North Africa to Andalucia:
I was listening to Cuban Fantasy last Saturday on WEMU and my friend and host Mark Taras said he had a pair of tix to give away and suggested to his loyal audience of Cuban jazz fanatics that they might want to call in and win. He was so right. Zafir was a real trip. It brought back memories of my early twenties when I nearly ran out of money in Northern Europe and Eurailed to Morocco for the Winter. I loved the wandering songs. I remembered a fossil market with bushels of trilobytes in stalls under bare bulbs. I helped w the making of a TV movie on Marco Polo carrying plaster camels into place for after the battle scene. I never worried too much about my safety in Morocco. The people were friendly and accepting. I just put my mind in nuetral and let inertia be my bookmark during the long evening. Also, the Michigan Theater is a very warm place to hold a gathering….there are certain amenities and the staff is very genuine.
This was our first experience at Hill Auditorium and it was very enjoyable. My husband and I are both brass players and marveled at the technique and musicianship exhibited by these players. We had a lot of fun. The only issue we did have was the size of the seats. For me it was fine, but for my 6’2″ husband who recently had knee replacement surgery, it was too cramped for him to sit at least a little comfortably.
I think you are referring to the sing along: “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen
Please, who is the singer if the last song they played? We missed it, we wereon our way out to catch a flight, so anybody knows?
The Mnozil Brass were very entertaining! Thank you for bringing them so close to home.
Land of Make Believe. It was absolutely AMAZING — Tuba jam was mind blowing.
Hello all, the encores were: “Land of Hope” by Chuck Mangione and “Lonely Boy” by Paul Anka. Thanks!
Great comment. I sensed that they played differently but I’m only able to play the radio. Dahnke!
I have two degrees in music and trumpet is my major instrument. But these guys play their horns in a way with which I am unfamiliar. So clear and crisp and accurate and in tune and with dynamic changes, etc. WOW! Canadian Brass should be worried. Although they are equally talented I was very impressed with the tuba player. To be able to be as crisp as the trumpets is a might feat. I hope they return to Michigan soon.
MacArthur Park? Or the encores?
Absolutely fantastic performance! Loved their shiny brass instruments, their expert playing and their schticks! Very clever, wonderful music, delightfully amusing and charming all at the same time! A+++++!
Wonderful show! My 11-year-old son and I thoroughly enjoyed the great musicianship with sense of humor throughout. We hope they will be back again!
They were great. Please invite them back.
Many thanks! Somehow I had missed that classic interpretation.
That was Eine Kleine Frühlingsweise, which is set to Dvorak.
These guys are off the chart awesome. I would gladly pay to see them again. The music and humor combined for a most enjoyable evening. Bravo UMS !
Loads of fun–Great brass chops combined with a universal mime-style humor. We enjoyed the whole evening.
Can anyone tell me the name of the acapella song?
These guys killed it! My 84-year-old dad and I had a great evening being entertained by these musicians and their Monty Python antics. Loved it.
Outstanding and committed performance,. An evening well spent
Mnozil Brass, sounded to me like the thing you put on the end of the garden hose to spray off the car after a wash. Well, they were great musicians and showmen. I’m not sure about the recurring Spanish lesson though. Most of the audience caught on. I saw a number of kids in the audience, which was nice for a Thursday night. They made great use of the stage at Hill. Good show!
The quartet’s performance was absolutely stellar!
This chamber concert was memorably delightful. The music was well chosen and beautifully played, particularly the Bartok, Schumann and Beethoven encore.
I’d like to encourage comments about the Bartok from you knowledgeable folk. I thought it was interesting to hear, after my ears got attuned to the initial dissonance, which came as a shock after the Beethoven, and that it was visually fun. The Presto was a lovely ending to the concert.
I learned about this concert through mailings and decided immediately to get tickets, Loved concert
All in all, a wonderful concert, and a rare treat to hear Beethoven done with playfulness and spirit. I found the Schumann, though, like much of his orchestral music, to be banal, droning and uninspired, save for the last movement. Thankfully it was erased by the superb encore.
Jerusalem String Quartet was wonderful. Very enjoyable.
This evening’s encore was th Presto (second movement) from String Quartet No. 13 in B♭ major, op. 130, by Ludwig van Beethoven.
Liz Rosenthal, UMS Programming Manager
Esperanza Spalding Montréal International Jazz Festival:
People Are Talking: UMS presents Alfredo Rodríguez Trio and Pedrito Martinez Group at Michigan Theater:
People Are Talking: UMS presents Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán:
The music and singers were very good, but I was hoping that they would sing something in English. Maybe a program handout with English or a screen with English translation so it would be more meaningful.
People Are Talking: National Theatre Live: Shakespeare’s As You Like It:
As you like it – a good interpretation of Shakespeare’s work. The creativity of the desks be coming the forest is amazing. 1st act was a bit slow but the 2nd act made up for that and made it a fantastic performance
Great fun. What was the name of the guitarist, the one who sang “Con te par tiro”?
The boom-box back-up for the junior singers at the beginning was a bit cheesy, however.
Asisti al evento el Viernes 1 de Abril con un grupo de 32 amigos mas. Desafortunadamente creo que todos teniamos una expectativa mucho mas alta sobre esta “Noche de Mariachi”.
Los maestros de ceremonia, el ballet, y las chicas que dieron apertura al show estuvieron excellente!!!.
Los senores del Mariachi, cantan hermoso, tienen unas voces espectaculares, y gran talento!!! Pero desafortunadamente se quedaron cortos en el repertorio, se dedicaron a cantar solo las canciones de su propia autoria, por cierto poco conocidas por el auditorio.
Desafortunadamente cantaron canciones de conocimiento de toda la audiencia como Cielito Lindo, El Rey, la Bamba y otras dos canciones solo en los ultimos diez minutos del show.
Deberian considerar para futuras presentaciones incluir canciones que han sido de larga reconocimiento no solo en Mexico sino en Latinoamerica y el mundo entero para lograr el total deleite del publico. Canciones como:
La Media Vuelta, Mujeres Divinas, Paloma Querida,Cuando salga la luna, Volver, Pa’ todo el anho, Un mundo raro, El 7 mares, La ley del Monte, Toquen Mariachis toquen…. y muchas mas….
Disfrutamos el show, pero definitivamente les falto dar mas y complacer al publico!!
What an exciting event! I was so happy to be part of such an interactive event, even though I am not Spanish-speaking. They certainly are a Treasure, and the lovely Mariachi vocalists in the beginning. Such a treat to see where these young ladies start in such a riveting vocal style!
Thank you, Alvaro!
I love that piece!
People are Talking: UMS Presents American Ballet Theatre: The Sleeping Beauty:
Just saw the Sunday matinee performance of The Sleeping Beauty, American Ballet Theater. Wow, what an incredible treat to see world class grand classical ballet theater in Detroit. I’ve seen other classical ballet theater performances in Moscow, St. Petersberg, Kyiv, Oslo, and Riga, and this performance was comparable. Thanks UMS!
Thank you so much for putting on such a beautiful performance. Every thing from the set, the talent to the choreography was top notch. I was so impressed with the younger children and their professionalism. Please come back to Detroit soon!
After I got parking shock can you imagine when I bought two candy bars handed the woman a $10 bill and she said; “thank you” and went to the next person. I didn’t need to get the candy, and truthfully I don’t believe food and drinks should be sold at an event like this. I guess it helps them make extra money for support.
Wonderful performance; loved the costumes, music, and dancing. People should be prohibited to use their cell phones. Throughout the performance, there was this lady in front of me who constantly checking her face book! I wonder why she even bothered attending the show. I found it distracting and disrespectful. Parking was expensive ($20).
I’m surprised they are seating people that are late. I always get their early. You are right, that is very rude. No matter what the excuse may be they should not be seated.
A little too long, but absolutely beautifully done. Thoroughly enjoyed. However, when we are there a half hour on time and they are STILL SEATING LATE PEOPLE 20 minutes INTO THE PERFORMANCE, totally RUDE. This would NEVER happen at the opera. If you are late, you wait till intermission.
The one where they just play is:
Huapango de moncayo
An amazing production with exquisitely designed costumes. The timing of each performance by the principals was seamless and I was thrilled to see Misty dance.
The bus provided by UMS got us there in time to have a delicious dinner at Vicente’s Cuban restaurant.
A perfect evening.
Does anyone know the title of the rather longish instrumental piece that Mariachi Vargas played toward the end of the program?
Fabulous performance. Great collaboration. The bus was supportive of the event.
It was wonderful, we loved it. I only wish they would put an age limit on admittance. Someone had a toddler that you could hear during the performance. I always park at the Opera House parking garage usually pre-pay for $10. They didn’t offer pre-pay this time and had to pay $20. They announce no photography or filming during the performance. I don’t understand why people think it is ok to use cell phones or Ipads. Very unfair to others.
Wonderful performance. Being brought up on ballets by Chaikovsky(I am Russian) I always have very high expectations and this one was up to them!! Thanks to everybody who made this to happen.
Magical performance! Kudos to those who donated 600 tickets to young people so they could attend the matinee today!
UMS Bans Cell Phones, Installs Pay Phones:
Very well done, everyone, but special kudos for Jonesboro native Willie Sullivan. Glad to see your smiling face, Willie.
The musicians were talented but the evening overall was a huge disappointment. There was no attempt made to accommodate non-Spanish speakers, and no attempt to provide any context or education about the music, its history, or cultural significance. Even the program was devoid of content. I did not learn anything.
It was clear that those who were not already familiar with this music were not wanted here. I left feeling frustrated and alienated.
Have never seen so many people in Hill have so much fun. Fantastic. I don’t understand Spanish, but the music and the mood communicated all I needed to know. I probably won’t come to a repeat show, but I would highly recommend. Very enjoyable.
Wonderful music and a lot of fun for those of us who speak Spanish. But I took a class of undergraduate students from U of M with me n they were frustrated by not understanding Spanish. The Mariachi folks need to do what they have done in the Opera — subtitles in English on a screen above or at least introduced the songs in English telling folks what they were about.
The lead-in singers were too many and it went on too long. With canned music yet! I came to see Marachi and didn’t need the rest.
Me gusto mucho pero quedaron a deber. Me explico:
Siendo el Mariachi un orgullo Mexicano, excluyeron equivocadamente de su amplio y excelente repertorio unos pocos temas clasicos como:
El son de la negra
El Mariachi Loco
Respetuosamente a su gran actuación, también les falto mas complacer al publico.
En otros años la presentacion fue mas entregada y complaciente, regresando 2 o 3 veces al escenario a petición de los asistentes.
Aun asi, es TOTALMENTE recomendable y volvería a ir a verlos. No por nada el Mariachi es considerado Patrimonio de la Humanidad!!
A propósito, las 3 jovencitas que abrieron la presentación, la guerita que canta con un acento español hermosisimo, el ballet que las acompaño y los maestros de ceremonia, también estuvieron de lujo y le agregaron mucho valor a la de por si, muy profesional y alegre velada.
Respetuosamente, Viva México y bendito USA que a traves de U of M que nos abren sus puertas a nosotros y nuestras raices!
Ustedes que opinan?
El mejor Mariachi del mundo. Son unos profesionales. Excelentes voces, canciones,y trajes. La musica es excelente. Por algo son patrimonio cultural de la Humanidad. Me encanto. Estoy fascinada.
Wonderful evening of dance, costumes, sets, staging and music. Parking twice the cost of regular opera events-greed is never agreeable. Great diversity in the audience. A bit late for most children-perhaps matinees should be considered.
The performers were great. The ushers were kind and helpful. The show wasn’t the best experience I could have had because of all the phones and IPads being held up and blocking my view. When we asked the person in front of us to put down his gigantic phone he told us to shut up. Luckily the usher intervened. Unfortunately the two IPads a few rows ahead still blocked our view. What a bummer.
We’ve come a long way from Chas. Sink and the Philly Orchestra May Festival, which I attended for many years, but I gotta admit the variety is refreshing. Latinos are a happy, hard working people and they love their music, So do the Irish and many others.
Why not wear out the upholstery a little faster and get the crowds coming to Ann Arbor
Just don’t forget the red, white and blue
Muy divertido! The costumes were beautiful. The music was fun and filling. The audience may have been the best part. Was kind of like watching a baseball game indoors. I’m sorry the new comers don’t know where to park. It’s a pretty confusing town and traffic was snarled by the Spring football game and a million other things.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán at Hill Auditorium:
I’m grinning and happy, loving what we have experienced this evening. Loved the energy in the audience, too! I’m living proof that music transcends language and culture….by the end of the final encore I could swear I spoke Spanish fluently. VIVA!!!
The Mariachi Vargas ensemble may be the best in the world, but tonight’s program was deafeningly loud and totally off-putting. I didn’t buy a main floor ticket to see nearly an hour of students singing, either. I stayed until about 9:00, then left. Couldn’t take the overly loud sound (even went up to the mezzanine and it was nearly as loud and not at all enjoyable to listen to).
A woman sitting behind me (on the main floor) kept screaming at the top of her lungs before, during and after every number. Perhaps she was “under the influence” I don’t know. But it was totally irritating and uncalled for. I’ve never had such an unpleasant experience with a performance from UMS before. Hopefully, never again, in the future. Glad to be home.
UMS Lobby Guidelines:
This Mariachi band may be the best in the world, but tonight’s program was deafeningly loud and totally off-putting. I didn’t buy a main floor ticket to see nearly an hour of students singing, either. I stayed until about 9:00, then left. Couldn’t take the overly loud sound (even went up to the mezzanine and it was nearly as loud and not at all enjoyable to listen to).
A woman sitting behind me (on the main floor) kept screaming at the top of her lungs before, during and after every number. Perhaps she was “under the influence” I don’t know. But it was totally irritating and uncalled for. I’ve never had such an unpleasant experience with a performance from UMS before. Hopefully, never again, in the future. Glad to be home.
Beautiful dancing, costumes, and music. It’s a good idea to arrive early enough to read the program before rather than during intermission as I did. Parking across the street is $30.00 and $10.00 at the Z parking garage.
Thank-You, Thank-You, Thank-You András Schiff’s performance @ Hill was “Tainted” by the chorus of Cell Phones.(Not part of the Program) Thank-You, Thank-You, Thank-You
People are Talking: UMS Presents Gil Shaham Bach Six Solos with original films by David Michalek:
I agree, Ian, though I also liked the final flowers in the rain. For the most part, I could do one or the other, listen or look. The fact that the short films were in slow motion made it even harder to watch while listening because I had to pay close attention to find what was moving. I listened with my eyes closed for some of the concert.
Finally, there is a culture difference between viewing a film and listening to music. Chuckles and gasps are fine for a film, not for a concert.
The playing was masterful and the acoustics in Hill did it full justice, at least where I was sitting. I find Bach very elegant and cerebral and I found some of the visuals to be distracting and others essentially irrelevant. The only two that worked for me were in the middle part of the program: the woman holding and responding to a photograph; and what I interpreted to be a Japanese take on a mourning ritual.
However, I am so pleased that I went. Gil Shaham gave a wonderful performance.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Montreal Symphony:
I can identify with logistical problems in getting to one’s seat, such as long will call lines. Another thing about concerts at Hill is the parking situation. The nearest structure is not of the best quality, and fills up fast. So one can probably count on walking some distance, and extra time just for that. There were no audience problems where I was in the front center section.
In Detroit, I usually get a box seat, which are located in a separate area, where people getting to their seats late creates far less intrusion than with row seating. However, when some people do arrive after the piece has begun, it is still a little distracting but I just stay focussed on the music. Talking, using cell phones, etc. no, no, NO!
I believe it may have been the great conductor/composer Gustav Mahler who began the practice of forbidding seating after the concert has begun until an appropriately lengthy pause. I seem to recall in one of his works he stipulates a pause of so many minutes before starting the second movement.
Mr. Sullivan, thank you for your consideration of the various comments. For me it was an exceptional concert, very enjoyable. Ann Arbor is extremely fortunate to have convenient access to events of this scale and quality.
I wanted to comment on the issue of seating people after the concert started. A contributing factor might have been very long will call lines. When I arrived at about 10 minutes before 8PM, the 2 lines went out the doors, down the steps, and maybe 40 feet to the north on Thayer. (I don’t know what is typical for will call. This was unfortunately only my first UMS event at Hill this season.)
When I got my ticket, there were still significant lines behind me. I moved very quickly to my seat in section 5 on the main floor. I was seated for probably no more than 2 or 3 minutes before the concert started. Due to the large number of delayed will call patrons, I thought that perhaps the ushers were trying to seat people that would have been required to wait under less crowded conditions. (I am not saying that this is good or bad, only that it is my perception.)
I don’t know who controls the start of the performance, but a delay of a few minutes would have allowed time to seat many of these people.
Three possibilities for improving this situation are:
– At the time of purchase, warn will call patrons that for busy events, a 10 or 15 minute wait in the will call line must be expected.
– Find ways to expedite the process of picking up will call tickets, especially if long lines are starting to form.
– Delay the start of the event, even by a few minutes.
Ideally, all patrons would arrive and be seated well before the start of a performance. But for a crowd of 3,500 or so people, this will always be difficult to achieve.
I have been attending concerts for decades. I have heard some great ones at Hill. This was certainly one of those being unforgettable! Daniil Trifonov was incredible. I view him as on his way to being historically one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century. I thought so upon hearing him for the first time in Detroit, knowing nothing of him beforehand. I had the pleasure of meeting him, and he also comes across as genuinely a very nice person. The Montreal Symphony and Negano were very impressive, wonderful in Debussy and in the rare complete Firebird.
Shaham must have been using a baroque bow for that movement. That is the hand position for a baroque bow.
I am not a string player, but I have a question about technique. I noticed that for at least part of the Partita No. 1, (the piece immediately before the first intermission) Mr. Shahan held the bow differently than he did for most (if not all) of the remaining pieces. His hand was about 2-4 inches from the base of the bow. Does anybody know why he would have done that and what effect it had?
UMS Artists in “Residence”: Meet Carolyn Reed Barritt:
I absolutely agree with “fifil”. Shaham fabulous performance. The visuals trite, banal,insulting to the audience as well as the music. I had to keep my eyes closed to be able to enjoy. So much for my expensive seat up front so I could experience the expressions and fingers.
I thought the playing was gracious and sensitive and wonderful, so I thoroughly enjoyed the music. Shaham is a masterful performer, and his violin resounded with exquisite beauty and grace under the roof of the Hill Auditorium.
However, I thought the visuals were tasteless, to say the least. It is displeasing to see the world class classical musicians acquiescing to such shallow, kitschy “translations” of their art. The visuals were banal, meaningless, nothing to do with Bach, and not unlike your regular, over-saturated, slow-mo imagery in food commercials and the like. Ugly.
The playing was world class, so let me end on that note. Stellar (if routine) performance of the six solos. Long, demanding, and rewarding all the way through. Awesome.
Sorry, didn’t reread. Greatly enjoyed music and film. sb
My daughter and I greatly enjoyed both music and dil. the dove was especially enchanting. sb
Procrustean huh? Seemed a bit obscure to anyone but the so very intellectual. So I looked it up….. Maybe that is the whole point, that Bach is a composer whose works can connect us to our common humanity. Maybe there is a glimpse here of expanding the vision of what visual and musical artistry can be. I would join in with those who found it unclear as to the connection or even the artistic value of the films and the music together. But I take a different perspective. I have briefly worked on a few movements of these sonatas and partitas and have heard them played. In his notes Gil Shaham speaks if the complexity and depth inherent in them. To play them all in one performance, with such carefully dedication was amazing. I am suspecting it just might be my lack of genius and insight which leaves me wondering what I missed, rather than Gil Shaham’s ineptitude in presenting it.
While Shaham is a masterful violinist his interpretation of these powerful and moving pieces seemed procrustean. A dance needed to sound like a dance, fast was preferable to moving, etc. This is not Bach to me. However, “De gustibus non est disputandum” or “in matters of taste, there is no dispute”.
The technicity of the playing was breathtaking. But I found the interpretation quite cold and lacking in emotion. The video detracted rather than enhanced. An interesting evening, but not a transporting one.
The music was moving. I traveled from out of state to see this performance and Gil Shaham made the trip worth it! Awesome!
Music was outstanding. The images were intrusive and distracting. Ugh…
Thank you to all the collaborators for a wonderful evening. Gil Shaham’s violin playing was masterful. The imagery was fascinating. I particularly liked the non-human images in the films — the flowers, skull, hourglass and globe.
Bach’s music demands concentration. It is often quite complex. The harder one listens, the greater is appreciation of Bach’s musical genius. Shaham’s performance was extraordinary.
The film was a distraction from Bach’s music and Shahan’s playing. It was also devoid of cogency to the music.
Wonderful. Exquisite performance. The slow slow motion videography was beautiful
I found Gil Shaham’s performance tonight to be absolutely breath taking. A world-class artist performing some of the most captivating pieces ever written. There is just something about Bach that transcends everything. The 3 hours went by so quickly, I wished it had taken longer.
I was a bit apprehensive when I heard there was going to be film to go along with the music, but I have to say….as a Bach lover and enthusiast, I found the slow-motion films to be exactly what was needed in a space like Hill to deepen the average audience member’s listening experience. The films for me, helped to offer a new perspective or way of looking at each movement. I disagree with a comment made already that the films weren’t “relevant” or had “nothing to do with Bach.” I find those statements to be completely ludicrous, because for me…. Bach is everything, and everything is Bach.
The audience members behaved better this time around compared to some of the past performances I’ve been too…..still some whisper’s, and clumsy people dropping cellphones during the softest part of an adagio…audience grade this time around is a B-
Overall, an incredibly moving performance by one of the most revered artists in the world. I will never listen to Bach the same way again.
People Are Talking About…Jennifer Koh:
I totally missed the purpose of the video. I loved and was awed by the Bach. Mr. Shaham is impressive.
First “Mavericks” – Guest Blog by Leslie Stainton:
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My name is Willie Sullivan and I am the Front of House/Usher Coordinator at UMS. I am saddened to hear that some of you had a poor experience at this amazing concert. We always try to do our best to acknowledge issues as they arise, but as your comments show, some things slip through the cracks. Because Hill Auditorium is such a vast space, it is very difficult to monitor all areas simultaneously.That being said, there is no excuse for what many of you experienced. We cannot thank you enough for your feedback and will, in the future, work even harder to ensure that similar situations do not occur at performances. Further, we can guarantee that the issues with ushers are being acknowledged and resolved. Thank you so much for your support and we hope to see you again soon!
Thank you, Mr. Smith. It would be much appreciated.
I come from Europe, have been to an endless number of concerts and all kinds of live performances. I have no recollection of people being allowed to enter a hall after the beginning of a performance. If it is, it is after the completion of a piece (and not between movements). There should be respect for the art, the artists and the audience as well.
Thank you! That’s sums it all up.
World Class Orchestra!
I agree with everything Aaron has said. I had a lady answer her cellphone right behind me during the performance and despite people glaring at her, she continued with her conversation. Ushers continued to seat people behind me and in front during the beginning of Debussy. Endless clearing of throat, whispering, coughing. Wasn’t it customary to have some cough drops, unwrapped in your pocket, ready at hand to suppress any cough? PLEASE UMS make a suggestion at the time of online purchase that concert pieces require silence, suggest some cough drops, and have the ushers prevent anyone from being seated once the concert begins. These tickets are not cheap, please take steps to help ensure a wonderful live performance be enjoyed by all.
I am a music student at the University of Michigan, and I’ve attended many performances of all kinds at Hill Auditorium. One thing about live performances that always strikes me to the core is simply how rude and oblivious audiences are. I’ve never sat through more than 2 seconds of silence in an auditorium without someone dropping a program, whispering to their neighbor, creaking their seat, coughing at an unacceptable volume…..audiences are the worst part of live performances for me as an observer.
The beginning of the Debussy was ruined by chatting, and awful ushers that were still sitting people after Mr. Hutchins began his first note. This is unacceptable. I understand that audiences at orchestra concerts tend to be a bit older, but what I’ll never understand is the sounds that come out of peoples bodies at these most delicate performances. A cough or sneeze would be an understatement. These audience members made sounds similar to wild animals. What is seriously the issue with audiences? Do they have no clue as to what the proper etiquette is at an orchestra concert?
The works of Debussy, Prokofiev and Stravinsky are masterpieces. They deserve respect. They need silence, and a focused atmosphere in which to thrive. I attended a performances of András Schiff not to long ago at Hill, and although his artistry was incredible, the annoyances of the audience almost ruined the performance for me and my friend.
Is there a solution to this? Can audiences actually sit still for 45 minutes of a symphony? Can an audience respect silence, and not pull out their phones in the middle of a piano sonata or whisper to their friend at the beginning of Firebird?
I am about fed up with live audiences. Sometimes I wish I had just stayed home, and listened to a perfectly good recording.
A splendid concert. The Debussy was gorgeous, Prokofiev dramatic, and Stravinsky magnificent. I was amazed at the power and originality of the Firebird. The Rite of Spring is usually called his masterpiece but much of the innovation is already there in the Firebird. A performance like this shows why live performance can’t be matched by any recording.
Outstanding concert! Previous philharmonic orchestras performances and musical selections were mediocre at best. In comparison, the DSO certainly ranks ahead of New York, Chicago, and London. The Montreal Philharmonic restored my faith in UMS. Thank you, it was delightful.
We had a wonderful time! The parts of the firebird that I knew gave me goosebumps. Thanks for posting the IDs of the encore pieces!
One of the best concerts of the season. The pianist was magnificent…and so young! But the highlight was the Firebird. I had never heard it in its entirety and it was magical. I could see in my mind’s eye the whirling of dancers throughout. Nagano had such a way with his orchestra… coaxing out nuances I didn’t believe possible.
A most wonderful concert. I so enjoyed all the pieces. Thank you for bringing the artists to Ann Arbor. sb
I disagree, the Bizet was a wonderful counterpoint…send me out somewhat energized
As wonderful as Montreal’s Firebird was, I felt it was a programming mistake. Playing the entire work for ballet didn’t hold up as a concert piece – much of it meant clearly as accompaniment to actual dancing – and detracted somewhat from the incredible performance by Trifonov. Also, the final Bizet encore was unnecessary, inappropriate and shattered a lovely mood
There was a lot of noise during the opening, the ushers shouldn’t be seating anyone during the performance.
The concert was fantastic, but the audience members nearest us (Section 8, Row H, Mezzanine) were something else.
Right at the start of the Debussy, an usher tried to seat two women in our row (we would have had to stand to let them in). I motioned to them “no” and they stopped, but not before their noise and movements wiped out the opening flute solo. Later one of the women called me ‘unkind’–I guess it didn’t occur to her that she was the one being highly inconsiderate.
A young man behind me insisted on kicking the back of my seat off and on throughout the whole concert. When I pointed this out to him at the conclusion, he was dumbfounded.
Finally, during the second encore, the Bizet, a cell phone rang, audibly. An older woman near us took the call and began talking right during the music! Incredible.
Sorry to say, but this kind of behavior is enough to make me stay away from concerts at Hill for the foreseeable future.
I’ve been a musician for 45 years, and I’ve played and heard Firebird many times….as a concert band transcription. The Montreal Symphony tonight gave me my very first live orchestral experience of Stravinsky’s work. INCREDIBLE. Our seats were very close to the stage, and the location allowed me to also hear nuances in the music that I’d never before noticed in recordings; how the pulse and intention of the composition sweeps across the orchestra; how Hill Auditorium itself becomes part of the music as it augments what a listener experiences; how the orchestra breathes with Maestro Nagano. An unexpected, magnificent, and certainly uncommon and engaging experience. I am not the same person I was at 7:58 this evening. Thank you!
That you allowed it to continue – if you did – is just as bad.
We were sitting in the upper balcony. Three rows ahead of me was a U of M student who decided to sit “on” the chair instead of “in” the chair. This way she was a head and a half taller than anybody else who was sitting near her. Total interference.
Outstanding performance overall….unique in many respects.
I agree with Christopher’s comments , as I witnessed many times the lack of discipline enforcement of the management , at Hill Auditorium.
Nagano’s direction was artistic and nuanced, reminiscent of Georg Solti’s talent. The pianist was spectacular. One of the best concerts I’ve ever attended.
The encores for this evening’s performance were as follows:
Liszt, Etudes d’execution transcendants d’apres Paganini, S.140 No. 2
Ravel, Pavane Pour une Infante Défunte
Bizet, L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2: “Farandole”
– Mary, UMS
Anyone know the encore piece played by Daniil Trifonov? (The pianist)
Fabulous concert. Very entertaining!
People Are Talking: UMS presents Apollo’s Fire with Apollo’s Singers: St. John Passion:
Apollo’s Fire and Bach’s Passion are exceptional! I do think that Hill Auditorium would have been a better location as the Church’s acoustics are significantly inferior to Hill. I look forward to Apollo’s Fire, with the same cast of performers, coming to Ann Arbor and UMS in the 2017 Lenten Season with Bach’s St Matthew Passion!!
Apollo’s Fire and Bach’s Passion are marvelous. What was not good was the venue. Hill Auditorium would have been a superior location. The Church’s acoustics did not stand up to this event… and if you’re going to be seated for three hours, church pews are brutal.
Thank you to the amazing UMS audience for a very special communal experience last night! Those of us on stage really felt that you were completely immersed in our spiritual journey with us. That’s the best reward we could ask for, as performers. In a world filled with much insanity, Ann Arbor is a haven of intelligences! Love from all of us at Apollo’s Fire.
Also incredibly moving — noted in the New York Times review (March 14) — was the unaccompanied second stanza of the chorale in Part 1, Scene 2, confessing individual responsibility in response to the first stanza’s question, “Who was it, Lord, did strike Thee?”
The fulfilling of the individual responsibilities of each participant in last night’s offering brought us an overwhelming experience.
Bach’s high drama was so well expressed, especially in the interactions among the evangelist, Jesus, Pilate, and the crowd, but also when the maid and the servant were part of the action. Often it seemed that the characters were even talking over one another. I’ve both sung and played this music (viola and viola d’amore), so I understand how hard it is to pull off such rapid exchanges. Apollo’s Fire made it sound effortless! There is so much beauty that it’s hard to single out one part or another, but I found the closing chorale especially moving.
Apollo’s Fire, synonymous with “Musical Perfection”. An emotional evening in every way. If Bach could have risen for this performance, he would be amazed, humbled, exuberant at this expression of what he created. Thank you so much Apollo’s Fire, and thank you UMS.
A very beautiful, moving performance. I second all the comments below. One quibble, though: Why were the female soloists so vocally shut down? I was only 6 rows from the stage but I could barely hear the blonde soloist. Where is the projection? And hardly any emotionality … is that an early music conceit?
A beautiful performance of Bach’s “St. John’s Passion” by Cleveland’s Apollo’s Fire baroque ensemble & chorus conducted by Artistic Director Jeannette Sorrell. These folks bring music to life. This was the fourth appearance of Apollo’s Fire at University of Michigan during the past decade and each of their performances excels in academic interpretation & performance. A treat to have been able to attend.
Masterful presentation that brought the music to life. Thank you for bringing Apollo’s Fire to Ann Arbor again.
A very enjoyable evening. I had to leave a bit early but Apollo’s Fire is on top of their game. Here’s a bit of Cleveland history. In their first year, the Cavaliers played at Public Hall. They had the worst record but they did lead the league in stolen cars!
People Are Talking: UMS presents Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at Hill Auditorium:
Wish there were more opportunities for contemporary jazz. There are so many more talented, innovative, inspiring jazz artists. Unfortunate that this is the only name promoted
People Are Talking: UMS presents Nufonia Must Fall:
This is the third of the “renegade series” of UMS programs I’ve attended, and I loved all three.
Really dug the set design, story, and general attitude KK had with the audience. It’s one thing to dream big, it’s entirely another to follow through on a concept like this and get the additional talent on board to pull it off. Loved the overall visual aesthetic of the sets, kind of a twilight world.
Being a huge silent film fan, I appreciate that this story veered closer to a hand-made, no rules approach, both visually and sonically. I’ll take imagination and a creative approach over CGI any day. Even with the massive amounts of technology applied, here was an aspect to this production that left enough holes for imagination to fill in the rest.
I’m surprised there aren’t more comments. The audience seemed to be Kid Koala fans and must have loved it. I was interested in the technical part and impressed by the puppeteers and the videographers. Less impressed by the Kid although he had the concept presumably. I thought the story was a little weak. Why does the inventor of the hexabot go for the robot hero?
I’m surprised that the little robot wasn’t slinging poutine to bar goers. The White House chefs served this French Canadian staple at the state dinner w the Trudeau’s and the Obama’s this week. It’s a favorable time for Americans to travel to Canada. Having been to Fan -Expo in Toronto twice am tempted to go again this August. It’s the Comic-Con of Canada. The show was simple and sweet…Kids these days don’t need anymore toxic interaction. I’m glad our nice neighbors came over this weekend w their cute show.
People are Talking: UMS Presents The Chieftains:
Hello! In case you didn’t catch it below, here it is one more time:
The set list for Saturday night, March 5 at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor was as follows (note that groups of songs were performed as “suites”):
Opening – Gaith Aneas – King of Laois – 9 Points – Violin solo – Chieftains Magpie – Dance Pretty Girls
Bodhran solo – Cotton-Eyed Joe
Vocal/Dance solo – Foggy Dew – Puirt a Beul
China – Full of Joy – Flute solo
Mandela – Ballyfin Polkas
(Ann Arbor Grail Singers) Never Give All The Heart – Shenendoah – Anthem – Kerry Reels (dancers)
Fanny – Harp solo
March to Battle (Glen Erin Pipe Band)
Male dancers (Joe & Nathan Pilatzke)
Finale: Paddy solo – Saxophone solo
Encore: An Dro (with Glen Erin Pipe Band)
I would love to have a copy of the set list too. that is how I found this page – looking for a list of the music 🙂
Hello! We’ll see if we can track down that set list for you!
Loved the Chieftains!!! I enjoyed the bagpipes and kids dancing. I was not a fan of the adult choir-Made me feel like I was at a community concert rather than a professional event. Would like to have heard more from the Chieftains. We have a few of their CDs and really enjoy their music.
Hi, Mark Jacobson, here, from UMS Programming.
Thank you for your participation on the UMS Lobby!
The music was great and the dancing was fabulous!
I did feel the show was too short, no intermission was also not good. The intermission at Hill is so fun.
The short show and no intermission made me feel like the Chieftains just wanted to make their money and run as fast as possible. I will not pay their high price to see them again if this is how they do their shows!
The show was a bit short, at only an hour and a half, but it was really, really good. They were funny, as well as incredibly talented. Great show; would definitely go see them again.
Thank you for a wonderful evening! I’d love to know the names of the tunes that were played last night, especially the one that ended the evening. Could you please send us the set list, or as much of it as you can?
Thank you again!
I am so happy that they offer the 10- buck tickets. On a tight budget, I took a 45-minute( free) bus ride. Thanks for making this affordable for most people!
I don’t go out much. I received an e-mail this week offering discounted tickets for this concert. I decided to get out of the house and take advantage of what the University has to offer. I bought the least expensive ticket because I knew from a lecture I heard about Hill Auditorium that there are no bad seats in the house. I sat in the balcony and yes, it was tight quarters, but I could see and hear everything. I didn’t mind the shrieking. It was the type concert that was conducive to energetic outbursts. I enjoyed the enthusiasm. The parking was a pleasant surprise. Most places I go charge $10 and $20 to park. I appreciated the reasonable $5 to park in the near-by Dental School structure. Thank you for a most enjoyable evening.
Beautiful singing, wonderful instruments. Such a nice bonus to have both the adults and kids dancing! Loved the harp. Pipe and drum band wonderful. The choir number was a favorite. Just outstanding. Makes me want to take Rec and Ed Celtic dance!
Spectacular show, but too short! I also wish the Chieftains didn’t feel the need to jump on the 21st century bandwagon of make it louder make it faster make it edgier. They are capable of doing all those things, and yes, folk musicians do compete for speed and dexterity as part of their tradition, but the romantic ballads got cheated. I could have done with a little less race-to-the-finish and a little more of “Women of Ireland” (still their greatest hit), “The Sea Maiden,” “Summertime, Summertime,” etc. The dancers were great, but it wasn’t necessary to wire their feet. Finally, bravo to Moloney for still kicking it at 78 the way he did at 35 (when I first got to know the band). It’s nice to see young people and women up there, too. Overall a thrilling show.
We enjoyed the music, dancing and the collaborative incorporation of local groups. A terrific evening.
I agree with you, Mike. I was facinated by the dancing. This type dancing is actually part of the rhythm section.
Wrongo. The jig and toe tapping was just as musical as all else, including that of the female fiddler. Every aspect of the show was fantastic and especially the female singer, the piper band, and the snake dance at the end. I did nit notice any shrieking or whistling per se, but I was on the main floor and not the balcony. Some of the hoots and hollers were from the band. Response from the audience, including the rhythmic clapping added to the show.
The publicity photo does not match those who appeared.
The music was great. I could have done without those two guys dancing the jig. It was fine for a couple of minutes, but I came to hear the music.
Thank you The show was amazing!!
I was on the Balcony, I wasn’t that much conforntable in my seat, since I got there a bit late, I couldn’t remove my coat to not bother the neighbor…
I was waiting to hear more pipe…but overall the show again was fabulous and they were fantastic able to captivate me and bring my imagination to travel to Ireland!!
I agree with Bonnie, a lot of shrieking and whistling can be annoying
Who doesn’t want to be Irish in March? The lemmings were on the beach and we had town to ourselves! Good to be alive!
The Chieftans were FANTASTIC! ! ! From the first melodic tune to the last bow with members of the audience dancing all around and winding up onstage, the whole concert was one of the best musical evenings I’ve experienced in a long time!
BRAVO— a million times!
Loved the performance, HATE the shrieking and whistling some concert goers seem to need to do. I wish when we are reminds to turn off our phones we could also be reminded to be considerate of patrons’ ears!
My seven-year-old’s first UMS performance. He was captivated, especially by the dancers. Thanks for a wonderful night, and for bringing one of my favorite groups back to A2!
UMS Director Michael Kondziolka to Receive Chevalier Award:
People are Talking: UMS Presents Sir András Schiff, piano:
“Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain tops that freeze,
Bow themselves when he did sing:
To his music plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.
Every thing that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads and then lay by.
In sweet music is such art,
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or hearing, die.”
Thank you, Sir Andras, and Mozart, Haydn,
Beethoven and Schubert, and UMS!
The original of version of Mozart’s Adagio for Glass Harmonica, K. 356/617a sounds like this.
The encore Saturday night was a transcription of Mozart’s Adagio for Glass Harmonica, K. 617a. The instrument, or at least one version of it, was invented by Benjamin Franklin.
What was saturday feb 20 encore?
People are Talking: UMS Choral Union: Love is Strong as Death:
I was very interested in hearing the Durufle Requiem because I will be singing it with the Oakland Choral Society in April. I am sorry to say I was disappointed in the performance. The Choral Union sang wonderfully well; but I felt the rhythm and commitment to the piece was lacking. This is an inspiring and commanding piece. Unfortunately, it lacked inspiration. I enjoyed the Brahms and Vaughn-Williams.
People Are Talking: UMS presents The Triplets of Belleville:
Unique and engaging – absolutely loved it!
Outstanding collaboration of film and music. Loved it!
Very enjoyable! A fascinating experience. Great movie, fantastic music!
I love cartoons, all different kinds. Triplets of Belleville is sort of unique though. I was out on my bike a bit today. The wind was high and in good biker fashion, I rode into the wind so the ride home would be a breeze. The musical score was fabulous. No, I really mean that. We could smell a winner from the time it was announced last Spring. A shame it is only a one night stand.
My favorite part was leaving after 50 minutes. Hideous imagery: absolute ugliness! And unlike most in the audience frog torture doesn’t make me laugh. PUKE!
Again, bravo! Mozart’ performed with dynamic shading, agogic accents, discrete ornamentation. I’m looking forward to Saturday’s recital–
Last but not least: Pianist Sir András Schiff on Last Sonatas Project:
Hi Rainey, the encore was the second movement of Schubertt’s final sonata, which will be performed on Saturday night at Hill: the Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 760, Andante sostenuto.
The encore for Thursday night’s concert was the second movement of Schubert’s last sonata, which will be performed at Hill on Saturday night: the Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 760, Andante sostenuto.
Another beautiful evening with thanks to UMS and Mr. Schiff. Could someone please share the name of the piece he offered as the encore? Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.
We attended because of Alto Rhapsody. I have a great recording with Dame Janet Baker. Haven’t heard in concert since DSO when in Ford Auditorium many years ago. Mr. Hanoian(?sp) and the organ/choir did a grand job. Remainder of program excellent.
Though I loved the concert, I thought it a very strange way to present the music. The 4 different works were played not only with no intermission, but with almost no pause between them, not even one allowing for late seating after the Haydn, and no time even for listeners to digest a work, its thematic or tonal expression. Sitting close, I could see Schiff looked extremely tired and worn, even before he began, and wondered if he were simply trying to get it all done quickly and efficiently. But the encore piece made it obvious that even if he were sick or over-fatigued, he could bring incredible strength and musicianship to a complex and subtle work, even after playing nonstop for 95 minutes. I too was impressed by the embellishments to the Mozart. Schiff’s elegant control at times seems detached, and his emphases random. Unlike Igor Levit’s playing, it was impossible to detect any personality in Schiff’s. He strives to express only his musical perfectionism and a composer’s formal intention, as it is written, achieves it, and then he seems to disappear. Viewed up close, it can sometimes be disconcerting, if you’ll excuse the pun.
As I recall, Sir Andras did some remarkable pedaling in the Haydn–
Few performers can successfully ornament Mozart’s music–
Thanks, Timothy! A preview of the next recital! Sweet !
The encore was the second movement of Schubert’s A Major Sonata, D959
What was the encore?
The whole program was well-chosen, like different movements in a sonata. I remembered the sublime Bach he played as an encore a couple of years ago and was hoping for more this time, but what he played seemed absolutely right.
I’ll remember the captivating Beethoven, especially! Also, the ornamentation in the repeats of the Mozart and the remarkable (!) placement of agogic accents in the Haydn. OK, the sense of drama in the Schubert. All in all a wonderful experience, and quite the lesson in piano playing and music making.
Brilliant fast, furious, and short performance. As usual I let my mind wander….thought about gravity waves and subatomic particles. The cieling of Rackham hall has arcs of gold radiating out from the stage. Massive black holes ( the piano) sending waves to my eardrums. I’m reminded of the joke about the Higgs Boson that tried to enter the church and was denied. It replied, “How do intend to have mass.” Bravo Andras Schiff!
Excellent performances, of course. However, the programming was depressing and far too grim for Valentine’s Day. The Brahms in particular was a poor piece to open with, despite the wonderful singer.
Congratulations to all of the performers on a skillful, nuanced rendering of the music. I especially liked Durufle’s Requiem. It captivated me from start to finish. Thank you all.
My wife and I loved the whole program. The Brahms was, well, BRAHMS–deep, thoughtful. The V Williams music wonderfully embraced and magnified G Herbert’s poetry. And how many times does anyone hear Durufle? The opening themes in Gregorian chant then amplified and rendered new by Durufle’s exposition–all very accessible and late 20th century.
The soloists, the organist, the Union made memorable music together.
Thank you for this program.
Loved the Durufle Requiem, a favorite and rarely heard. Thank you, Choral Union…. also kudos to the C Union for programming the Alto Rhapsody during the DSO’s vocal-and-choral-less Brahms Festival (no Requiem, DSO? what a missed opportunity.)
Excellent choice of music. Excellent quality of voices, balance, intonation,
pronunciation, musicality, precision. Conductor,organist, soloists: all excellent.
My wife was initially suspicious of a Valentine’s Day outing with the theme “Love as Strong as Death.” But we were glad to have the chance to hear some rarely performed but ethereal music. I still think the first seven minutes of the Durufle Requiem may be the best of any modern Requiem.
Found the Brahms to be rather dirge like; not much life outside the choir.
Liked the Mystical Songs a lot – although the piece does need the typanies orchestrated for the big choral sections. Lancaster’s presentation was a little precious, but his voice was great. Herbert’s poetry is wonderful and V-W paints it beautifully.
Generally disappointed in the organist – good keyboards, but slow with his feet and clumsy with the swell and manual/stops transitions.
Mr. Lancaster demonstrates the most beautiful, precise vocal technique and lyric voice yet fails to execute understandable language, even in English! I wonder if balcony seating allowed clarity.?
This afternoon’s concert was a superlative musical experience on every count.
For those who are being starved for decent music on Sunday mornings, it was a transcendent afternoon.
Lovely program. Pure voices from the soloists and choir.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Camille A. Brown & Dancers: Black Girl — A Linguistic Play:
Beyond fabulous! I thought the q&a was excellent and offered a way to share and learn
Thomas Sheets (1952-2014):
What a honor to have sung with the UMS Choral Union for many years under the directorship of Thomas Sheets from 1993-1997 and former direcfor Thomas Hilbish.for a number of years also. Both of these fine, gifted conductors are no longer with us, but I do have fabulous memories, which i now cherish.
Virginia Smith (Ginny) Bradenton, Florida
Agreez, cher Michel, l’expression de mes sentiments les plus distingues!!
Arf! Arf! That is off the chien! Congratulation Michael. Bon Chance!
People Are Talking: UMS presents Taylor Mac:
I too enjoyed the colorful performance art of Taylor Mac and the incredible musicians backing him. The first two hours were the best; the third hour was slow and boring- too much time spent on back-room sex and groping of the 1980s.
I loved that we were permitted to take photos. I loved that we got to acknowledge our sexual orientation early in the performance when he had the straight folks stand up and move around the auditorium and the queers, queens, bisexuals and lesbians move into the center section and dance! I’d guess that the audience appeared to be about 50-50 . . .
Student Spotlight: Embedded with Mariachi Vargas:
Thank you Christina for sharing your experiences in San Antonio with the world. Your grace, beauty and talent had an incredible impact on us all. We are so grateful for your generosity in the time you shared with our MPR team and for all that you shared with our youth. Thanks a million and we look forward to seeing you in March/April during the Vargas concert at the Hill!
People Are Talking: UMS presents Igor Levit, piano:
Let’s call Mr. Levit’s recital “interesting.” He took a two-hour program and, by skipping two applause exits each half, and by starting both halves of his program briskly, was able, with his inward and deeply personal playing, to turn it into a nearly two-and-a-half hour recital. I have never heard any of the four works on the program played more slowly, with greater variations in pacing and volume, and with a more willfully conscious shaping of every phrase. That does not mean the music-making was bad, just very unusual, idiosyncratic, and attention-getting. I heard things in each work that I had never heard before, thanks to Levit’s focused attention to detail. Would I want to hear pianism like this very often? Definitely not. But why not hear an artist with a very unique view of his art provide something different, thought-provoking, and challenging!!
This is performance art of a high caliber that works in vital ways, even transformative. With this marvelous nudge from the creative and production teams and, especially, the performers, I hope to become more compassionate and more humane. If at all feasible, please, UMS, bring us the entire A 24-Decade of Popular Music.
Thank you, Mr. Needleman. We SO agree.
By far the worst performance of a Bach partita I have ever heard. Sounded more like a Chopin Nocturne. Pretentious and too slow–it’s supposed to be dance music. Tempos uncertain and strange. As for the Schubert, I never realized that Bach and Schubert were the same person.
One does not have to be a purist to find fault. Turreck gives a wonderful classical performance and Pinnock another on the harpsichord. I don’t know whether Richter has ever recorded the partita, but his WTC is–like Levitt’s playing–very non-tranditonal. However, Richter gives an imaginative performance which while probably far from what Bach sounded like originally, is intellectually imaginative and emotionally ingaging. So I am not criticizing from the viewpoint of the original performance narrative…..
Students TalkOut After Abraham.In.Motion:
Exactly where you can uncover hundreds of young independent Paris escorts of distinct origins, as nicely as escort agencies all through France.
Igor Levit gave an absolutely gorgeous performance. Introspective, insightful, meditative, beautiful. We loved it!!
Many thanks to Professor Ilene Forsyth for generously endowing a Choral Union concert annually in perpetuity.
I am pleased to find that someone who clearly knows the material better than I feels as I do about the performance and its limitations
Beautiful music last night. So glad my daughter and I could be there. sb
One of the most intelligent and informed reviews I’ve read in a long time. I agree with most of what you say, but nevertheless loved the concert, the program and the energy and thought Levit put into the performances, even if over-interpreted certain portions of them. I like his attitude, not always his execution. I do agree that the Bach Gigue was over the top but believe Levit will get it right when he matures. He seemed very proud of himself when that was over. Gould wouldn’t have preened. We have already seen many artists who break down doors everywhere but in A2. I’m sure Schiff will do well. Limiting the size of the hall the doors open into may be the secret.
This was the first time I have heard Igor Levit. They say “he is the future” (LA Times), however, to my ears, he sounded 2000 and late.
The Bach gave a basic impression – the D Major opening didn’t seem particularly triumphant or festive. The runs that some might consider brilliant were about as blurry as the background image on the cover of the program notes. The sublime Allemande, with all of Mr. Levit’s tempo changes, fell apart into pieces. The most exciting thing was the brief memory slip in the left hand during the B section. Toward the end, there was a spark of energy in the Gigue, but the tempo was too brisk to hear any definition in the individual lines. Perhaps Mr. Levit wanted to present an intimate Bach – but it was simply quiet, like looking at a 1:144 model airplane instead of the real thing.
What always amazes me about Schubert is the omnipresence of the vocal aspect in the music. Mr. Levit’s interpretation reminded me of Meek Mill’s attempt to vocalize and publish a diss track aimed at Drake last Fall. What did he mean to say? Perhaps he was thinking along the lines of Alfred Hitchcock (“messages are for the Western Union”). I certainly didn’t get a message. Maybe that’s a good thing. The silence Mr. Levit held after the final piece was dramatic, but seemed more like awkward theatre given the circumstances.
The Beethoven started with an extreme pianissimo – an effect that Mr. Levit revisited several times during the piece, and paid a high price for in the Recitative – the extreme effect backfired and he lost two notes to complete silence before the return of the allegro, the return of which was not in tempo and needed to accelerate back to the original pace.
Mr. Levit took the movement out of the second movement. It was either so bad it was good, or so good it was bad, I’m not sure. In the third beat of measure 6, I’m pretty sure there is a b natural in the left hand instead of the b flat we heard tonight.
The allegretto was more of an allegro con brio. But who cares about tempo? The painful sighs at bar 42 were played harshly, and the primary motif enunciated with careful attention to the sixteenth note rests – Mr. Levit was true to the score and clearly serving the music and composer. Would Beethoven have been proud of that?
Prokofiev gave a larger sense of scale of sound, and showed a peek of the dimension Mr. Levit was missing up until this point in the program. But this too left more to desire – the loud sections peaked quickly, and the finale came to an end before I realized there was a build up.
Mr. Levit received several ovations, and the Polka encore deserved a C for contrast given that earlier in the evening we were supposed to live through Beethoven’s only Sonata in D minor (that’s a big deal), and Bach’s D Major – happiness that can only be felt after having lost everything.
I guess the only question left is – do we really need another recital series endowed in perpetuity? Or do we need to find an Artist for whom we would break down doors to come see and who would sell out the hall within 10 minutes of the announcement?
Astounding show! Creative, moving, thoughtful–Taylor Mac did say at the night school conversation “this is MY church!” And judy did preach– about acceptance, activism. I loved the energy, the balloons, and am so pleased I was in row M and got to dance in the orchestra pit with a lovely young woman. Lovely and fun performance
since i know so little about the technical aspects of music, i know i should be reticent to say anything about this amazing pianist–especially with the detailed responses i see others have made–i just can’t stop from saying the concert i heard tonight was pure genius thoughtful enriching emotionally satisfying pretty serious what a great touch the happiness of the encore a perfect ending to a most wonderful experience thank you ums for bringing this to us….
Levitt displayed a delicate and graceful touch, with exaggerated contrasts in tempos, especially with largo passages in the Beethoven. It worked.
I had never heard of Igor Levit and came to this concert on the strength of the program. I was thrilled by his fresh, imaginative approach to the Bach Partita and Beethoven sonata, both pieces I’ve heard many times. I found his playing to be personal and intimate in a way that really engaged me. The Prokofiev piece, new to me, was profound. I’d love to hear him do more Shostakovich; that encore was terrific!
What an unbelievable talent. His vocals are incredible, his wit and intelligence undeniable, his delivery so expressive, one of my favorite performances. I’m coining a new word…outlandofits… for his costumes. I warn you Taylor may have some establishment issues. Well maybe some others as well. Lots come to think of it. And that’s part of the fun.
Thanks to the artists and UMS!
Soft numbers were great! Loud ones were too much for my ears–
People Are Talking: UMS presents Lyon Opera Ballet at Power Center:
Thank you, UMS for this avant-garde ballet. This performance was captivating and left a lasting impression.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company: Untitled Feminist Show:
Did I miss something?
Cutting edge performance art for the drag queen bingo crowd.
Wow – great show!
What an amazing, fabulous, creative, moving performance! Everyone should go to this!!! Judy is so creative and actually I do not have the words for how moved I am! Loved every minute – audience participation, his charisma and PRESENCE!Fabulous! UMS I am proud that you brought Taylor Mac to Ann Arbor! Thank you!
Student Spotlight: Embedded with Taylor Mac and Pomegranate Arts:
Can’t wait to see you Friday!!!!! AM bringing friends and hope for opening of heart and mind!
Study Up: Tanya Tagaq Teaches You to Throat Sing:
I enjoyed the film. It is amazing that in 1922 it was possible to operate a movie camera in the extremely cold temperatures. Even today, gear often fails in the arctic and antarctic. I enjoyed the throat singing. I wish there had been more of it during the vocal performance, part of which seemed not to be throat singing. The drum set didn’t add much. The violin may have been a plus but it often couldn’t be heard. I don’t think the vocalists’ gestures and movements on stage were a plus. They just distracted from the film. However, overall, a performance worth seeing.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Tanya Tagaq in concert with Nanook of the North:
I am amazed at the energy Tanya puts out to all of us! She seems to go into a trance and emote, express what she feels during her story. I was distracted at times by the film and words but also it was a juxtaposition with Tanya’s soul. Powerful images and incredible life! To have to hunt and kill for your food – survival – everyday! I left feeling many things – one of the lessor feelings was “I have nothing to complain about”. I LOVEd her voice and her movement and her total embodiment of her expression. She could have been exhausted from the show or so connected to spirit that she was invigorated! Only she knows! Thank you Tanya
I did not understand this “performance” but I could feel it. I did not applaud because I had nothing comparable to refer to from experience. It didn’t seem all throat singing because a vocalist I recognized aerated notes from her head. I enjoyed the instrumentalists. The film was great.
Fantastic! The performance was powerful, expressive, and unapologetic. At time’s I wasn’t sure if Tagaq’s voice represented human, animal, or environment – or if it reflected eating vs. being eaten. It was dense, provocative, and spine-tingling.
I mostly ignored the film, however, as I found it distracted from the music. Particularly jarring was trying to follow a rationalized narrative on screen, especially one told by text, without losing the emotional response of the music.
What an astounding performance! My knee tapped through the whole performance in response to Martin’s rhythm that created heartbeat for Tagaq’s super energized vocalizations often harsh as is the climate, landscapes and life there. I’m so glad I shared this experience.
Nanook is so impressive a film that I remembered many frames as i watched it this evening, 45 years after seeing it for the first time. It was perfect as it was.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Ms. Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton:
Putting us together is the vision and work of our manager Linda Goldstein (she is also Bobby Mc Ferrin’s manager)
Lisa: “It is wonderful to release energy through sound.”
Me: “It is wonderful to be released through Lisa’s voice.”
Soaring, improvisatory, rapturous.
Lisa took us to a higher place. No more “background” for you. You have placed yourself squarely in the forefront.
And … The Grand Baton… well… WHAT A blend. What genius put Lisa Fisscher and The Grant Baton together? Thank you!
Musically this concert was truly unique. Lisa Fischer’s vocal range is astounding. She “sounds” sacred. There’s not another living soul I would describe that way. Her band is fabulous, too. Unfortunately, sometimes their musicianship overpowered her voice. I found that distracting — disappointing, even. It’s nothing adjusting her microphone wouldn’t correct. Otherwise, it all worked very well together. Their original takes on Rolling Stones hits were especially creative. And Fisher’s performance of “Ease the Pain” left no doubt why she won a Grammy for it.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center:
Friday evening’s encore was the Scherzo (3rd movement) from Dvorak’s Piano Quintet, No. 2, Op. 81, and was performed by Wu Han, Ms. Lee, Mr. Lee, Mr. O’Neill, and Mr. Canellakis.
Some further information on the setlist….
The second song of Ms. Fischer’s set was:
“Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down” (Eric Bibb cover)
“Miss You” is another Rolling Stones cover.
“Last Goodbye” closes Lisa Fischer’s 1991 album “So Intense.”
Hope this provides further clarity!
-Mark Jacobson, UMS Programming
Thank you for attending Wednesday evening’s concert by Ms. Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater!
Below is the concert setlist:
Breath of Heaven (Amy Grant cover)
Bird in the House (Railroad Earth cover)
Rock ‘n’ Roll (Led Zeppelin cover)
How Can I Ease the Pain (Lisa Fischer)
Fever (Peggy Lee cover)
Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Rolling Stones cover)
Addicted to Love (Robert Palmer cover)
Wildflower (Fischer)/Last Goodbye
Thank you for your participation on the UMS Lobby and hope to see you at a future UMS concert event.
Agree strongly with everything you say. Sublime is a good word. How about when that person in the balcony sang? Lisa’s rapport is palpable.
Truly one of the most creative, present/connected, and eclectic performances I have ever seen. The vocal and band were sublime. I was deeply moved, mesmerized and felt like part of the music, not just an observer. Heartfelt and incredibly talented, just WOW!
YES YES YES!!!!!
Lisa Fischer was ASTOUNDING–AMAZING–WHAT SHE GAVE
WAS A GIFT FROM HEAVEN! I was transported beyond my
ability to describe. She and the band were in a total grove and
I was right there with them…from the first lovely and hypnotizing number–to the world of ROCK–to R & B –as they say–“A Whole ‘nother level” PLEASE GET HER BACK AGAIN.
Wow, wow and wow. Great band– glad that all three members had opportunities to shine– but Ms. Fischer’s performance was beyond wonderful. Several well-deserved standing Os! She included some oldies (absolutely killed “Ease the Pain”– totally made it new!) The sound mix was a bit off (esp in the rock numbers) and the lighting was too dark (especially when the artists went on the stage apron). Acoustics were excellent. This show was really great. I am thrilled that Lisa Fischer is touring and moving forward. Looking for a new album and hoping for many more concerts!
Great concert…a once in a lifetime voice. The mix at the Michigan did not due Ms. Fischer justice. When the instruments are louder than the vocals it’s a bad mix!
Do you really want me to say what I think? It was Fantastic! The band was first rate and could sound like a jazz. Trio or a Keith Richards jam band. Ms. Fischer crafted each somg in her own way…it’s about time woman get to belt out the tunes.
Three patrons, three perspectives: The Cripple of Inishmaan:
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I adored it! I thought they did an amazing job at easing you into things for it starting out with them butt naked. There were definitely parts that made me uncomfortable, but the way they did it made me warm up to them every time.
I was taken in as soon as these courageous, generous performers made their way down the aisles, breathing over us as if in blessing. I loved that the cast was all different ages, colors, and sizes, and very quickly “forgot” they were sans clothes. I liked the changes of tone and pace, although I felt some sections might have been extended/deepened to match the poignancy, humor, or richness of the best sessions. I also felt some fear for both the actress who plunged into the audience as well as the audience members who found themselves with a naked woman on their laps. The assaultive loudness of the pre-show music did not seem in keeping with the feeling of co-participation that the show itself generated. While I did not attend a show followed by a discussion, I would have welcomed the opportunity to talk with the cast afterwards. I found an on-line interview with Young Jean Lee helpful in framing the performance.
I passed on this show when I subscribed but bought a ticket when UMS offered a discount. I didn’t expect to be impressed but I was. The women showed many talents: dance, mime, acting, ability to make us laugh and ability to make us feel uncomfortable. Since the show has been performed over 60 times in several North American and European countries, it was certainly time for it to come to Ann Arbor. I wonder if the show has an overall theme and, if so, what it is? I suggest Freedom. I also wonder if 10, 20 50 years from now, the show will be a classic or irrelevant?
People Are Talking: UMS presents Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company: Straight White Men:
For those curious about the pre-show playlist, here’s the track listing. Warning: Adult Language.
1. Azealia Banks – Van Vogue
2. Rye Rye – Dance
3. Njena Redd Foxx – Silly Bitch
4. Tadow – Pussy Wet
5. Rye Rye – Hotter
6. Azealia Banks – Heavy Metal
7. Rye Rye (ft. MIA) – Bang
8. Njena Redd Foxx – Hold My Purse
9. Lady – Yankin
The first thing to do, even before a rewrite is to change the music. Bring the audience in w Eric Clapton, Motherless Children. Can that techno except the scene w the wierd Euro-Dance. I’m not sure she has an age in mind for these guys….they act like Freshmen but were involved in years of graduate school. People like that listen to Bob Segar & the Eagles. Where was this play set? Janesville, Wisc., lotta tall Yoopery guys there.
Occassionally I watch a new sit-com on TV. Tonight’s show was like a pilot. Proctor &Gamble would buy in and advertise. I didn’t believe that anybody was a banker or went to Harvard. I have three brothers and we moved a family member this weekend. The energetic lunacy I can relate to. The ending was a rough landing on a long flight, the wheels hopped of the runway at least three times. But you know, I kind of like it!
I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one who related to Matt.
I was emotionally moved by this performance in an unexpected way. I quickly related to Matt, the son living with his father, who just wanted to be helpful. His brothers could no longer relate to him, and their unwanted attention brought him and me to tears. The boyish, silly antics were welcome comic relief. I loved the freedom of just being that their late night dancing and drinking brought. I left the theater needing to release the emotional tension, as I thought about families that are close to me.
The other two sons were just there to celebrate Christmas. He wasn’t there because of the divorce, his kids weren’t there because of the divorce.
I just couldn’t believe that white liberal guilt would paralyze anyone as Matt is paralyzed. Why was it never mentioned in what field he spent 15 years in a PhD program (did he ever finish?), or how big the student debt is? And would the father really be so happy to have his sons home when the cause is Jake’s divorce? Are we to assume that the banker married a Black woman as his way of evading privilege? Why no attention to that?
I extremely enjoyed the play and was simultaneously laughing and thinking deeply the entire time. I was captivated and on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the family’s discussions would unfold.
One unique aspect of the play was that it wasn’t about how SWM privilege affects others, but rather how it psychologically affects SWMs themselves. And for each of the characters, the effects were very different.
There were numerous themes and questions brought up. What does it mean to be an educated, socially-conscious SWM who wants to be part of the solution, when prevailing social narratives say that your existence, success, and happiness is the problem itself? How are SWMs socially sanctioned to deal with their own issues and problems, and what are the consequences? Is it possible to reject privilege – what would that even look like? Lots of food for thought.
Women, dancing naked is not something I see everyday. But, once I got past that, I really started to enjoy the show. It took me on a deeper journey. I realized how the stripping away of the clothes actually makes me look at them; clothes can sometimes give labels too. (which I realized when they came out to the after show talk). But what really made me uncomfortable was when I saw them naked, I looked for other signs so I could label them; i.e. their hair, the way they were build, it was like I had to be able to identify them, instead of accepting them. That made me feel ashame.
Disappointing. A bit hard to tell whether the problem resided in the script or the acting, or an unfortunate combination of both. The ideas were clear enough: What does straight white male privilege mean in the day of identity politics? What are the different ways of enacting or resisting that privilege? The rough housing and the mock interview did a reasonable job of exploring such questions. As did the set itself, including the costumes and the people who cleaned the set between acts — showing this was excellent, as it made clear the work that SWM generate for invisible helpers (wives, sisters, servants).
But the whole thing felt extremely wooden. The characters were caricatures – little more than the ideas or pathways they were meant to embody. Straight white men are people too (and no, I’m not any of those categories), and the play would have done better to portray them as living breathing individuals. On this front, it was especially difficult to tell whether the problem was the script or the actors – one could imagine strong actors doing a better, deeper job with an otherwise fairly wooden script. I actually dozed off toward the end (and no, that’s not typical for me — the acting was just incredibly uncompelling.)
Huge disappointment after the exuberance and originality of Untitled Feminist Show.
It didn’t help that someone’s phone started ringing right near the end…
I agree with other commenters who found the guys’ rough-housing and traditions/memories fairly believable and entertaining. However the theme of privilege was implausibly rendered and confusing. The play ended with a complete thud.
What I experienced was not what I expected… and I enjoyed it. The dialogue and physicality between the brothers and father were strikingly realistic (at least, in my experience as someone with multiple siblings). I saw myself and my brothers in the characters.
Although I thought I was pretty conscientious about issues surrounding white male privilege, the production provided other, very specific issues that I did not consider.
Though I could not tell you the overall message of the show, I can tell you that it was an emotional rollercoaster. I think it’s up to the audience to decide for themselves what “Straight White Men” means, in the same way “Untitled Feminist Show” is pretty open-ended.
Would definitely watch again if I had the chance.
Very disappointing. The script is a mess. Clunky exposition, dreadfully poor staging, and ho-hum performances. Ideas are certainly worth exploring, but not effectively executed.
It was a fantastic performance – an almost full-house standing ovation!! yes, we want more of this type of performance – a regular event!!??
Most unusual, very interesting, and obviously talented performers.
Beautiful concert. Beyond expectations.
I heard the Beilman siblings play Mozart ten [?] years ago at the U of M Museum of Art.
When they came on stage I saw two middle-school [?] players and said to myself in doubt, “Who are these kids?”
And then–their technically accomplished and eloquent playing put me into a state of stunned disbelief.
Some years later Benjamin Beilman gave a creative recital of Bach and Beethoven at Kerrytown Concert House.
Last night his work–and everyone’s–was beyond praise.
I am guessing there was a message in the play somewhere, but it was very difficult to find, perhaps something about white male privilege. Three very immature guys (and their father) acting out off-color junior high hi jinks for 90 minutes is not my idea of enjoyable theater going. This play needs a total rewrite!
Exquisite, nearly perfect, as expected. Why a group like this programmed the Schubert – a trivial, boring work – is beyond me. The Mendelssohn was somewhat more interesting, but still juvenalia, unworthy of their sophisticated talenst. Luckily the Dvorak encore left me with the same joy, gratitude and admiration that the Mozart had. Let’s hope the next time they come they choose works that are all interesting as well as diverse.
A friend of mine heard the Q&A on Thursday night, and I was, likewise, expecting them to talk about their experiences at the end, which would have made it more meaningful to me. There was so much I didn’t understand. I appreciated the shame-free nudity and the grace and confidence of several of the actors.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, trumpet:
Disappointed in the lack of an encore by Wynton as he usually performs, but otherwise a pleasure as usual listening to these great musicians.
I was not offended by the nudity but thought the show was quite boring. I thought the performers were brave but way short on talent.
I truly enjoyed the show. A bit disturbed that I was NOT as disturbed as I wanted to be. Am I too much like these characters? Yes! So related to the father. My house is 63, I put candy and sox in stockings, I care so for my boys, etc. Loved the rough housing. Still this showed how affluent this privileged family is.
Is Matt the one that women of color wanted men to be like? I found him to be the description of what his mother would have thought. But his brothers sure thought higher of him.
I expected the sons to be more like TRUMP than the partially evolved, conscientious guys they were.
I’d like to hear more from the people who attended on Thursday. We Friday people didn’t get the chance to hear the performers speak.
By far the best concert we have attended this academic year. I do not usually give a standing ovation but tonight this old fogey jumped to his feet. The Schubert was wonderful!
I completely understand what you meant by feeling like you were in a dream. Numerous times I was so enamored by the performers that I suddenly had tunnel vision and I could not see nor care about any of my other surroundings. This show was something unlike anything I have ever experienced, and I am so glad that I got the opportunity to view it. The messages were stark and unapologetic. I will never forget the way that I have been impacted by this celebration of the female.
Rarely if ever have I seen such a brave, bawdy, thought-provoking work or such brave, bawdy, bold performers. The experience is akin to a dream–you wake the next morning not quite convinced you’ve spent an evening in such company, with so many strange yet obviously meaningful images and encounters, arranged in some semblance of a narrative that only you can finally interpret. Thank you for taking a chance that A2 audiences would rise to this provocative occasion.
I had the pleasure of watching this show tonight. It was inspiring, confronting and deeply stirring. I had so many internal experiences and thoughts throughout the performance–but mostly an awesome sense of how brave and beautiful these women were. MUST SEE!
I agree with comments of others, especially Laura, about this unique and thought-provoking show.
In addition, it appeared that many other folks were intrigued, curious, and looking for expanding their learning, both emotional and intellectual, since a huge contingent of the audience stayed for the Q & A.–which, by the way, was helpful in “digesting” what we had just seen.
brilliant! I loved the audience participation and rapid change of mood. One moment I was laughing my ass off, then enjoying a beautiful song, next, a thought-provoking expression of raw emotion. the slow-motion sequence was very well done. bravo.
Outstanding show! It was so interesting to see the emotions portrayed and how the audience perceived the dancers and nudity in the first 10 minutes and then how I felt an ease to the audience as it progressed.
One of the best I’ve seen all year – I loved that the bodies on stage mirrored those in the audience – surprising to me how I gravitated toward each one of the dancers during the show in various ways – all gorgeous, all emotive, all incredible – thank you!
I enjoyed last night’s show Untitled Feminist because the nudity was just there – refreshing – and loved the different shape bodies and how each person carried themselves. Because there were no words I imposed my own experience on what was being expressed. Sometimes it was of young girl fun skipping, playing, wanting to be part of the fun. One scene struck me as rape. Another castration. The performers were claiming themselves.
The Q&A was helpful to me. Hearing them talk about feeling genderless; about how the show has evolved! I would love to have heard the dialogue in the beginning shows and then witnessed the growth.
I am going to White Men tonight. I heard she wanted to “disturb” folks with this show. White privilege IS disturbing. So I am looking forward to seeing how she attacks this.
The miming in many of the sketches was not clear enough to understand the points. The concept of the play is fine, it just needs some clearer direction.
People Are Talking: What’s in a Song?:
It was a truly magnificent and thoroughly enjoyable performance, but I have a suggestion about the subtitles. They added greatly to the enjoyment, but, because I couldn’t see my program in the dark, I never knew the title/composer of each song as the singer began to perform it. Why not precede each song’s text with a display of the title, composer and poet?
Theywere really great renditions of pop songs. I listen to 60’s on XM six when I am in a real funk. Even though I’m from Cleveland CKLW boomed across Lake Erie at night from Windsor. I had a ball shaped transister AM radioand a mono plug….Boy wouldn’t that fetch a price on EBAY!
Thank you all for attending last evening’s concert by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Below is the concert setlist:
JLCO January Tour 2016
January 20, 2015
Ann Arbor, MI
Street Life by Will Jennings & Joe Sample, arr. Vincent Gardner
White Room by Jack Bruce & Pete Brown, arr. Carlos Henriquez
All in Love is Fair by Stevie Wonder, arr. Sherman Irby
Sugar Lee by Donny Hathaway, arr. Chris Crenshaw
Eleanor Rigby by Paul McCartney, arr. Ted Nash
Smile Please by Stevie Wonder, arr. Irby
Another Star by Stevie Wonder, arr. Gardner
Wooden Ships by David Crosby, Paul Kantner, & Stephen Stills, arr. Wynton Marsalis
Blame It On the Boogie by Mick Jackson, David Jackson, & Elmar Krohn, arr. Gardner
Thank you for participating on UMS Lobby!
Mark Jacobson, UMS Programming
It isn’t like I haven’t been to the Rock & Roll Museum a couple of times. I grew up with that music. I think the band is just trying to connect with a wider audience. I see the merit of bringing more listeners into the fold gradually. That said, I would have prefered jazz from the 1950’s. Maybe they can do that next year.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Royal Philharmonic Orchestra:
That’s pretty funny! I felt exactly the opposite. I hope I never have to hear the Beethoven Violin Concerto again in my life – to me it’s one of his least accomplished works – and I thought Zuckerman’s interest in it as a performer sounded forced. I’m surprised he programmed it, but I suppose he felt most audiences want at least one thing they can sink into like an old sofa.
The Beethoven pieces were great. The Elgar pieces were so BOOOORING. And they were at the end of the program. I went mostly to listen to Zuckerman play and he did not play at all in the Elgar pieces.
I completely agree. It was a masterful treat. The principal players kept their pizzicato parts perfectly together while he played the Beethoven.
Humbled. It’s the only word to describe the feeling of watching someone masterfully conduct a wonderful orchestra, and beautifully play a Beethoven violin concerto solo, at the same time, and without music to read. Utterly humbled. To witness an orchestra conducted by mere looks, hip movements, and head nods while the conductor was consumed by fingering complex music on the violin was nothing short of stunning.
The Enigma Variations were an emotional roller coaster that was just wonderful. I had hoped an English orchestra might bring extra soul to this piece, and the way many players swayed while playing only confirmed this most English piece was deep within their bones. It was magnificent.
The encore reminded me of of a great cup of coffee after an amazing meal. It was the perfect denouement.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Jamie Barton, mezzo-soprano:
Opera Singers are often classified as divas. This stereotype was instantly negated when Ms. Barton (and Mr. Katz) made their entrance super casually dressed, with a graceful and natural introduction that charmed the audience.
And followed by singing that was anything but ordinary. Songs by 5 composers, in 5 styles, and 5 languages, and smoothly and elegantly moving from one to the next.
A beautiful program indeed, made more so by the orchestra’s rich, nuanced and unhurried playing, drawing out not only every clear note, but every emotion as well.
While one might think of Elgar as a come-down after Beethoven, the Enigma Variations served well as a lush compliment. I’ve always enjoyed the piece, though never more so than last night.
And of course a sublime pleasure to have Zuckerman as a soloist and conductor.
An opulent program performed with opulent artistry!
My husband and I truly enjoyed the concert. The supertitles were helpful. Since the screen is already in use, I would like to suggest displaying the name and composer of the song before it starts. The people next to us kept using their cell phone flashlight to look at the program after every song started. They were discreet, but it was still distracting. With such a varied collection of short songs, it was nearly impossible to hold them all in memory. I second the suggestion of using a microphone for the spoken word.
Thank you! It was the most perfect encore to a concert I’ve ever heard. Though I’ve loved Elgar for many years, I didn’t know he could create such beauty, and it seemed perfectly suited to the the Royal Philharmonic, and to Zuckerman’s masterful touch.
Hi, Fellow Readers,
Last night’s encore by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Mr. Zukerman was the slow movement (2nd movement) of Elgar’s “Serenade for Strings,” Op. 20.
Thank you for both attending the concert and for reading!
Fantastic!! This was one of the best concerts we have heard—engaging, lovely, and unique. It was a tribute to Martin Katz to see the affection and esteem in which he is held. The singers were terrific and the Coda was a delightful surprise.
Thank you to all who made this possible.
Thanks for joining us for the first concert of Song Remix: A Biennial Songfest!
Please see below for the songs performed in the “Coda” section which were announced from the stage:
Louiguy: La vie en rose (Ms. von Stade)
Frishberg: Another song about Paris (Mr. Ferguson)
Wilder: Blackberry Winter (Mr. Daniels)
Berlin: Always (William Bolcom and Joan Morris)
Arr. Hogan: Give me Jesus (Ms. Brugger)
Cipullo: Another reason I don’t keep a gun in the house (Mr. Blumberg)
Puts: You need song! (All)
Three winners in a row. First, Martin Katz with an ensemble on Friday. Then Jamie Barton on Sunday. And now this. Like, wow.
To start at the end, this was the best performannce of the Enigma Variations I have ever heard in decades of listening. The Royal Phil under Zukerman brought out features of the score (and, by implication, of the people these variations portray) that have never been heard and sketched so well – so somberly, so amusingly, so blusteringly, so lovingly. (It may be that these Britsh players have a special feeling for Sir Edward: the movement of the Elegy they played as an encore was also most moving.)
Before the intermission we heard Mr. Z. in the Beethovem Violin Concerto. This, too, was played lovingly and in nicely subdued tone. No showing off – just the music. A crescendo of rustling in the audience reminded us that Beethoven was in no rush to bring the first movement to a close.
The Egmont Overture waa played in suitably robust fashion.
What was the name of the encore piece?
We enjoyed the concert enormously. The warmth between the singers and Prof. Katz extended to the audience as well, and it turned into a regular love fest. Back at home we were still basking in the afterglow for another hour or so.
I’ve attended lieder and song recitals for 45 years, and this was the most satisfying and moving recital of the sort I’ve ever attended. What an excellent selection of newcomers and all-time favorites! The music was superb, but the love–love of song, love for the marvelous Martin Katz, and obviously warm feelings shared all around–made this a very special evening for me and, I believe, for UMS. Thank you.
Loved the Chausson & the Dvorak about the Mother weeping as she taught her daughter the songs. Her “triangle was ringing passionately”, as she sang in another of the Dvorak songs. Is that a euphemism of sum sort?
A really wonderful concert; we came away feeling uplifted by the songs, and by the artistry of the musicians, and by their obvious love for what they are doing.
Thanks to the featured artists and UMS for an evening beyond praise!
And to Joan Morris and William Bolcom for their so-nostalgic “Always” —
I remember Marilyn Horne singing “Always” to Martin Katz when she was feted here at a Ford Honors program–
We hold Professor Katz in our esteem and gratitude–always!
Loved the singing, and thank you for the sur-titles. Why not on the second half?
One suggestion for future performances:
Have some sort of a mike for the spoken word. I was under the balcony and could understand very little of what was said, especially since it was said in a conversational volume. maybe just a hand held mike that could be turned on and off readily??
Enjoyed the wonderful concert by Jamie Barton and Martin Katz. Due to lost luggage that arrived in late afternoon, Jamie Barton had a different look for the first half and the second half. Fun to see both looks! We especially enjoyed the Dvorak.gypsy songs.
A very satisfying concert! Lesson: you don’t need the celebrities du jour or even great voices – although Ms. Brugger is a gem — to entertain an audience if the program is as thoughtfully composed and as carefully rehearsed as this one was. There were no war-horses last evening but rather a mixture of more or less unfamiliar songs, some serious. some lighthearted, presented by engaged artists willing to take risks. Just think what the Choral Union series would be like if we had such clever novel and varied programming each time rather than the routinized, often listless and perfunctory performances of the most popular works by the most popular composers. (Ok, strike me dead, dear lord, for this blasphemy!)
But if you yearn for refreshing fare on all programs, honk.
This concert was wonderful — I am still singing.
We loved this concert! Kudos to Martin Katz, and the wonderful artists he brought together for this very special event celebrating music, song, and poetry.
People Are Talking: UMS presents National Theatre of Scotland: Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol:
A most wonderful way to spend New Year’s eve. I’m spoiled having experienced this production. I wanted to experience it again. Thank you to everyone involved.
Refreshing. A Christmas Carol is done so often, and often so poorly, so it was beautiful to see such a spectacular production. I loved it. The clown/mime inspired opening was amazing. The puppetry was absolutely superb (not to mention the wide variety of vocal qualities the actors used in their characterizations of each puppet). The set was one of the most beautifully detailed things I’ve ever seen. Lovely!
We hope they come back next year.
Jim and Molly Walker
Brilliant production from every aspect! I usually loathe audience participation but this was done with such great spirit and fun before the actual “show” began that it got everyone in the mood. I am familiar with the Power Center Stage and was completely enchanted with its transformation. Actors/puppeteers were incredible! Thank you for this wonderful entertainment!
It took a little nudging to get our 14 year old son to his first professional theater production. After the play, he summed up his experience by saying, “Wow, that was 1,000 times better than I thought it would be!”
We wish to thank National Theater of Scotland a thousand times over for making this the beginning of more family time at the theater.
I was so overwhelmed by the intimacy and energy of the set when I walked in with my two sons that I started to tear up! We were seated in the front row and laughed and clapped and deeply felt every spirit’s message and the transformation of Scrooge. When we left, I announced that my life will never be the same—and I meant it! I will have a hard time finding such a professional, interactive and engaging experience for my family again. Thank you for sharing your time and talents with us.
I’ve seen three National Theatre of Scotland productions – Black Watch, Prudencia … and now Christmas Carol. They were all unique in concept, venue and staging and were supported by great acting. I look forward to any future productions from this first class, innovative organization.
And now for something completely different! What a delight on New Year day. And we can be proud of the U of M football team too! Great start to 2016. Go Blue!
The puppets were awesome. The actors were awesome. Very well done for New Years Eve. Pricey but well worth it. Good job. May be back next year.
I enjoyed it very much. The whole mystery of where we were going, and why, as we waited in line, others in the room down the hall were laughing so much–gave me such a feeling of anticipation. And the actors were so playful with each of us as we entered the room.
The puppets were amazing! I think that’s what will stick with me the most.
Bravo!!! This is hands down the most unique, inventive and enthralling performance of “A Christmas Carol” that I have ever seen. The cast is absolutely stellar. The addition of the puppets does not detract from the story, on the contrary, the artistry of the actors in acting and manipulating the puppets in congruity with their individual (multiple) characters is astounding. Mr. Scrooge is amazing and endearing. The cast is so tight and such a team and are all very true and organic, a true ensemble, and really ACTORS actors. A pleasure to watch. RUN, don’t walk to the production! Plan on seeing it more than once. We did. It’s a priviledge.
What an absolutely delightful performance experience! A Christmas Carol will never be the same…
Attended the “sensory” performance. Appreciated that this option was offered. I’ve seen a lot of theater, but this was simply amazing. The set and staging were incredible. I highly recommend.
Yes, bravi! An intense, experiential form of theatre. Has a2 seen anything so intense since the Living Theater (approx. 44 years ago) brought their art to our public places on campus (bank, flagpole, other ‘symbols’)? Fun interaction with audience to begin the show, before the show. The puppets were very compelling, especially the Cratchits. Loved the ways that actors found their ways into and out of the theatre space— through closet, crannies and cabinets. Great voices, tech support superb, very effective use of space and sound and shadow/light. Memorable humor added to Dickens’ text. Uplifting. Thanks UMS, and thanks NTofScotland!
Brilliant staging, puppets & actors–from the moment the audience walks towards the intimate venue to the very last moment of the curtain call. Thrilled I got to experience this. Get a ticket & go!
This was an amazingly engaging production. The audience was in the thick of the action, and the players made sure we were included. The creative use of lighting, music and puppetry made this a very special performance. We went to the Christmas Eve show and it’s hard to imagine a better way to kick off Christmas!
This was an amazing afternoon of theatre, but was much devalued by the young children seated behind us. The adults who were rude enough to answer their constant questions instead of shooshing them ruined the experience for all of us seated nearby. I find it interesting that we have detailed instructions on how to make the performance enjoyable to the point of unwrapping candies before entering the theatre, but then completely ignore the type of disruption we experienced.
Listening Guide in Samples: Bob James:
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People Are Talking: UMS presents Jake Shimabukuro, ukulele at Hill Auditorium:
Was ffcr ein wundervolles Geschenk. Habe glceih auf Deinen Link geguckt und bin nun, dank Unmengen an schf6nen Steinen aus De4nemark, ganz motiviert. Steinanhe4nger, ich komme 🙂 Grudf, Tanjav
Saw it on Christmas Eve. Best theater performance I have seen ever!
This was truly amazing show. One of the best I have ever seen! Bravo to the entire cast and crew. Very entertaining!!
We had a blast at the Sunday matinee. Perfect play to render the intimate experience of a night with the spirits of past present and future. brings out the kid in all of us. congrats on bringing this pure magic to AA.
You can’t have A Christmas Carol without the inclusion of Fezziwig. Also the little boy at the end “Today, today is Christmas Day”. Just can’t omit this scene
Extraordinary integration of puppetry & live action 2 tell the classic tale of Scrooge & his redemption. Don’t know who had a better time, me or my 6 yo. granddaughter.
This was the most incredible piece of theater I’ve seen all year, and definitely one of the coolest performances I’ve seen in Ann Arbor. Thanks for bringing the National Theatre of Scotland to town!
I’m so glad I caught this performance. There is nothing I can compare this to. The venue was intimate and the performers did a great job of engaging the audience. An amazing experience!
What an amazing, ASTONISHING, gasp-worthy production! I never expected to be completely transported by a story I know by heart and which I’ve performed myself. This is an INCREDIBLE experience. RUN, do not walk, to see this!
Really enjoyed this! Very different from anything else I have ever seen. Thought I knew this story very well, but it was presented in such a novel way that I was mesmerized. Very well done!
Simply fantastic! I was sulking at the price of tickets being used to purchasing student tickets most of the time, absolutely no regrets now. Thank you UMS – you are a significant part of the enriching experience and countless beautiful memories I will have of my time here at UM/Ann Arbor. Go blue!
A truly unusual and original presentation of the Christmas Carol that no other group has done. The cast really had fun engaging with the audience. The almost invisible appearances and disappearances of the cast and puppets added to the ghostly and magical quality of the performance. Having each small audience group be applauded was unique and engaging.
It was a truly amazing show, from the introduction to the set to the acting. It was one of the most entertaining UMS programs I’ve had the privilege of attending.
Amazing. One of the best theater experiences I’ve had (rivaling War Horse at the National Theater). Bravo!
I’m not a Christmas Carol fan, but the puppets were superb and I realized that of course Scrooge should be a Scot.
Thank you UMS for tonight performance and the others. I’m a Christmas Carol fan and this was one if the best.
Possibly the most amazing bit of theater I’ve seen in the past 40 years; it brought tears to my eyes. I’m so glad the UMS is bringing us such high quality non-musical performances to balance their bill – I just wish I could afford to attend more of these.
Delightful, inventive, just what we know we will experience with the National Theater of Scotland.
Bravo Bravo Bravo. What an extraordinary evening of theatre. Thank you so much for bringing this to us. The performances and production values are all stellar. This is a fabulous evening of theatre and I hope every house is sold out, as it should be. Thanks again to UMS for bringing this kind of performance and so many others, to us here in Ann Arbor. Makes having left my home in NYC a bit easier! (a bit!)
People Are Talking: Royal Shakespeare Company Live in HD: Shakespeare’s Henry V:
Thank you for presenting Henry V. Enjoyed it tremendously. sb
This was a great performance, and vastly different from the Olivier “gold standard.” One feels much closer to this King Henry, as he struggles to shake off his youthful playboy-like life and take on the responsibilities of Kingship. The commentary during the intermission made it clear that Shakespeare was doing his part to bolster English nationalism at a time when national cohesiveness was needed, mentioning how the play has been used since at times when nations have been threatened by or involved in war. I didn’t consider seeing the play to be a ratification of violence but rather one more step to understand both war and leadership.
I customarily anticipate ‘Live in HD’ telecasts from the Globe theatre quite eagerly but tonight, for its presentation of ‘Henry V’, I left my comfortable home with dread. I particularly dreaded hearing men bellow, for three hours, about the necessity, onset, and prosecution of war.
Shakespeare composed ‘Henry V’, an historical play about a young king organizing for war (against the French) amidst England’s own preparations for war (against the Irish). Moreover, the play’s director noted that other famous productions of the play, such as Laurence Olivier’s and Kenneth Branagh’s, occurred while Britain was at war. He however contrasted his production with previous efforts because this production occurred during peace-time (for Britain) and thus the audience could grapple with the play unburdened by the extra-curricular supplement of contemporaneous war and could thus focus more exclusively upon the play itself. Alas, ‘Henry V’ offers a forever timely examination of states’ feverish anticipation of, and preparations for war: audience members noted, in the weeks since this production was recorded, that Britain had launched missiles at ISIL targets and its current leader had exhorted his peoples to be ‘patient and persistent’ since the extensive new military operations would ‘take time’.
More generally, I thought about waking daily to the news that yet another African-American had been slain or otherwise violated by an agent of the state, that increasing numbers of ‘radicalized’ people were inflicting hate speech and hate crimes upon Muslims and their places of worship, that Republican presidential candidates had uttered still more grotesque sentiments about entire populations, and that U.S. mass shootings generally constitute mere local news precisely because of their banal commonality. I didn’t wonder why the rousing St. Crispin’s Day speech, a speech exhorting men to fight for honor and glory, curdled grotesquely in my mouth: my daily being is saturated with news of violence and I am simply exhausted by it. Departing early did not constitute a comment on the (fine) production itself but rather like a necessary act of self-preservation.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Handel’s Messiah:
oops – Blackstone, not Blackgrove.
The annual UMS performance of MESSIAH is our favorite date, and we loved the variety offered by Sheets and Blackgrove. We wondered how it would change under a new/younger conductor – Mr. Hanoian certainly did not disappoint! The crisp tempo and clarity of Sunday’s oratorio was superb. Beautiful trumpet solo! The vocal soloists were great, but our favorite is always the chorus. THANK YOU for all your hard work and practice!
Handel’s Messiah: A history in photos, programs, and video:
It was an excellent performance after enjoying many of them, however, the first time for a female trumpet soloist…BRAVO!
I loved the tempi. Chorus was wonderful. My favorite – Blessing and honor, glory and power. So moving.
And I especially loved the mezzo soloist. What a rich, full, round voice, and remarkable coloratura for so big a voice. She is phenomenal!!
While the baritone was somewhat weak in terms of voice projection, the conductor’s punctuation of key phrases throughout the performance not only compensated, but served to lend new meaning to many of the sung lines. It was almost fugue-like at times, which was brilliant. Indeed, the occasional improvisations of both the soprano and tenor were artistic delights, and highlighted their mastery of thr music beautifully. The more pronounced use of the pipe organ than in prior years was both refreshing and exhilarating, leading some to comment after the final bows were taken that this performance had such amazing drama and pomp. I do wish, though, that the solo singers had stood closer to the stage front edge, as their voice projection, standing somewhat behind the line where the conductor stood, was often blocked by the conductor. But that’s a small complaint. On balance, the performance was a tour-de-force.
You may have set a new record for speediest performance this afternoon!I enjoyed the different interpretation. The chorus pieces were particularly lovely. The sound carries so beautifully in Hill, although I must agree the seats are dreadfully uncomfortable.
Glorious. Wonderful soloists, superb orchestra (as always) and the Choral Union was the icing on the cake. What a way to start the holiday!
Uninspiring and quite bland, not to mention the seating in the auditorium is very uncomfortable. Hill audortuim needs to be updated especially the seating which is awful.
Saturday’s Performance was wonderful. The choir was sharp and the tempi were brisk!
We’ve been attending performances of Handel’s Messiah for 20 years, and found this one to be particularly beautiful and inspiring, and excellent in every way. We love what Mr. Hanoian has done, especially with the choir! It was crisp, clear and exhilarating. Overall, an A++++
(PS: we vote for red poinsettias…)
My 36th year of the Messiah. This performance under Mr. Hanoian ranks among the best. I could hear how he changed it in subtle ways compared to past performances. My compliments to all and BRAVO!
People Are Talking: UMS presents Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at Hill Auditorium:
People Are Talking: UMS presents Takács Quartet:
Terrific. What one expects of the Takacs. Disappointed they did not give an encore’ but maybe they had to get the bus.
“I’ve been increasingly obsessed with the idea that longer pieces can actually be made out of less stuff as a way of supporting the weight of their structures.” These are not the words of some grim critic, but of the composer himself. Such candor is disarming. Imagine a novelist saying this. And – did I hear right? – the first movement is modeled on a junkyard?
I haven’t fathomed the attractions of the minimalist school of composition, and I wish someone would explain it next time. I found the second movement of Strong Language appealing. But the rest seemed aimless and uneventful; there was no obvious reason why it stopped when it did. Most admirable was the evident conviction with which our Takacs friends played the piece.
Nothing uneventful about the Haydn and Dvorak quartets! They are both full of ingenious invention, and they got fine readings this evening. The Haydn especially is a work quite astonishing and unlike most others of his quartets in mood and spirit and form.
And the Dvorak was played with all the appropriate sentimentality of longing and joy. Never a dull measure in either of these works. Also Ken Fischer was right; we are lucky to hear this group year after year. Their performances are invariably stylish, tasteful, and bare of affectation.
As regards programming, sure, let’s have plenty of modern music along with the older, more familiar in each concert. But before we dip into the latest untried hot-off-the-press pieces, how about taking our selections from the second half of the 20th century? There’s plenty of satisfying adventure there, and it’s been too long neglected.
Watching Antigone: The Most [Blank] City in America:
Such a thoughtful response, Andy. I DO hope The Most _City in America manages to present the hopeful aspects of the Flint story. All too often in the past, community projects about this authentic place have rested in the negative. Best to you as you continue to listen to and shape the story.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Paul Lewis (replacing Leif Ove Andsnes):
In short, this concert went way beyond music.
Naturally, we were disappointed that Leif Andsnes was ill (and we wish him speedy recovery), but our hearts jumped on learning that Paul Lewis would play instead, having know of his huge reputation for Beethoven and Schubert.
It was a deeply moving performance. Mr. Lewis has a clear humility in his interpretations and avoids gimmicks. This surely was a key element in how immediate Beethoven’s soliloquies were to us in the audience. He gave us pure music, and allowed Beethoven to speak without us being aware of who was playing.
Thank-you to UMS for engaging this truly great artist, and bringing him to Ann Arbor.
Throughout Lewis’ performance, I was fascinated with his power of expression through what I believed to be such a limited medium. His physical involvement with the piece, his mastery of the instrument, and the passion with which he performed all combined to keep a relatively single-minded repertoire nothing short of invigorating. I was surprised when Lewis’ performance stirred an emotional reaction out of me, as I had never experienced that in any music that was not choral. My favorite piece, in particular, was his third, as I felt that it bounced around between opposites: lively and melancholy, quick and slow, piano and forte. That contrast proved to bring variation to a set list that may have superficially appeared to lack it. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Although I was sad to miss Leif, Paul Lewis most definitely did not disappoint!
In c minor, D. 915
Schubert called it Allegretto.
For my first attendance to a professional classical piano concert I was pleasantly surprised. Although hearing that Leif was cancelling last minute disappointed me, what did not disappoint was Lewis’ performance last night. He received a very brief introduction that honestly could have been replaced by just more beautiful music if I had it my way. All three of Lewis’ pieces were performed absolutely remarkably and although the type of music is not what I would typically listen to, after hearing how Paul Lewis played I will definitely begin looking more in to the classical genre. The way he composed himself during the performances was very entertaining, as seeing him absorb himself entirely into the piece with his whole body was very powerful and showed me how connected he was to his music. Overall, it was a beautiful concert and I hope to see Paul Lewis return to Ann Arbor in the near future.
Disappointment yesterday turned to sublime pleasure this evening with Paul Lewis’ delicate yet clear touch on the last three Beethoven sonatas.
I’d like to know which Schubert piece he played as an encore.
From the moment Paul Lewis’ fingers touched the keys, he had the audience hooked. He courageously tackled three Beethoven sonatas with intensity, charm, and absolute beauty. His body language distinguished each piece from one another. I loved how he slouched when playing a legato melody, snapped his head to a particular note, or stiffly sat at attention while sharply hitting every key. The long pauses after each piece created an almost holy atmosphere of appreciation for the music and the musician
My personal favorite was Sonata No. 32 in c minor, Op. 111. It immediately started with a jarring tune that made it stand out from the first two pieces. The contrast between the sections of music played in the lower and higher octaves created an image of a sort of battle going on between dark and light forces. Lewis’ rigid posture emphasized the seriousness of the piece.
Additionally, it was so kind of Lewis to come all the way from London to play for one night here in the U.S. He was extremely humble, yet he really engaged the audience when he played a Schubert piece as an encore. While I was disappointed I did not get to see Leif Ove Andsnes, I can’t think of anyone better that could have replaced him. I hope I get the chance to see Lewis perform again, and I encourage anyone who has the chance to attend one of his performances.
Aside from the heroic logistics of Mr. Lewis’ short-notice fill-in for the ear-infected Mr. Andsnes, I’m happy to say that we heard a recital with many pleasures and surprises, moments of joy and solemnity. The last (Arietta) movement of op. 111 was magical — worth all the rest of the program. Mr. Lewis played the slow movements of all three sonatas especially beautifully, coaxing the finest sounds from the piano. He has extraordinary control of dynamic effects — not so much of rhythmic tact. In the fast movements there were occasional clunky or murky passages, and the accelerandos were often super-accelerandos, giving the music an undeserved levity. But, hey, he probably hadn’t slept for about three nights.
As to the chosen program itself, I would rather have heard any one of these three piano sonatas mixed in with works by other composers. That’s what Mr. Andsnes had intended to play — some Chopin, some Sibelius, some Debussy, and a Beethoven sonata smack in the middle.
Especially in this age of distractibility and shallow multi-tasking, I bet quite a few listeners found it hard to keep concentrating when it came to the last of these late Beethoven sonatas. And if you ever want to introduce an inexperienced college freshman to Western concert music, who has never been to an orchestral or chamber concert or to a solo recital, you would rather have him/her hear a wide sample of this art’s range – a little from this period, a little in that style? Maybe the Mozart will grab her or maybe the Prokofiev – who knows!?
However, in recent years, we have seen a trend in programming that works against this. Recently we’ve had all-Bach evenings and concerts with only one large complex work. I don’t think this will attract a new young audience. It may not even be the most satisfying offering to the old audience!
I grant you, such marathon programs are admirable artistic feats by the performers. But…
But if we want to attract and retain a new generation of concert-goers and help preserve the classical music tradition, we can’t afford this sort of thing; no matter how fine the artist(s), we need multi-period, multi-style programs such as that planned by Andsnes because they will appeal to a range of appetites.
Paul was amazing and we would love to have him back.
For my first ever piano concert this was absolutely beautiful. I was at first very much disappointed that Leif was sick and was unable to make it to the concert. Whereas, I believe that he made the right decision since he has both a viral and ear infection. Fortunately, Paul was able to make it in place of Leif. Thanks to all the sponsors and the managing director of UMS for making this concert go on.
Paul definitely won my heart over. I feel as though he represented his personality in a beautiful way through his music and his presentation of the music. I felt that touch he contained when he played the piano; his touch was something that intrigued me a lot and I appreciated tremendously. Although one has to say kudos for his astonishing transitions, his transitions were as smooth as they could get and varied throughout. During all his pieces none of them followed a certain pattern that one could follow. I always thought I knew what was about to come and he suddenly changed it up. This keeping me engaged and engrossed.
Another interesting trait of Paul was his technique of showing the emotions for the piece that he performed. Paul made sure to vary the tempo, pitch and body movement making his performance thoroughly appreciated by everyone in the auditorium.
Overall, Paul I think was an amazing replacement for Leif. Although, things should change for him and I hope UMS calls him back often for many other performances. He was an absolutely amazing pianist in my eyes; especially him being able to portray his skills and emotions as a package when playing the piano. The hill auditorium fit his acoustic style perfectly. His low pitch notes were heard perfectly and his high pitch notes weren’t too high. I have to say for such an impromptu performance he did well. Tonight was just graceful and pleasing from the way he walked to the way he played the piano. I recommend anyone to attend his concerts when you get a chance. I know that I would definitely be back when Paul returns to UMS.
Well lets not stop there. Very similar to Paul’s action of coming back after the immense amount of applauses, I’m here writing about this moment. Paul decided to come behind from the curtains to play us another piece which caught everyone by surprise since we all thought that it was time to go back home. This gesture showed me that he really wants us the audience to have a good time. Also portraying the love for music and his love to please his audience. Overall I would definitely return to watch Paul perform. BRAVO.
A dear old friend used to tell me that jazz is the art of surprise and you never know which cats will show up for a gig. Classical music is more subtle but tonight we got a real treat. Paul Lewis was playing in the middle of the night per his body clock. It was an amazing & expresive performance of Beethoven. Given the circumstances it was a perfect evening. Did anyone else think of the column of white roses as the Eifel Tower? Happy Thanksgiving to all!
People Are Talking: National Theatre Live: Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
Hamlet was marvelous, and such a different and humorous version. Loved it! sb
People Are Talking: UMS presents Youssou N’Dour and Super Étoile:
Mark, thank you so much for posting the playlist! Adela
This was a wonderful production of Hamlet. I’ve seen multiple productions of Hamlet including one at the Stratford festival and even the various film productions. The play has never been a favorite and I had yet to see one that really illuminated the text for me… until this production. Benedict Cumberbatch was superb indeed; funny,witty,droll,outrageous, all while expressing the doubts,anger and complexities of the character. The cast was strong across the board and I felt the technical design of the show was exceptional.
I think there is no substituting for what can happen being in the audience when witnessing such a powerful piece of theatre but the live broadcast makes theatre more accessible and gives everyone the best seat in the house.
My husband and I saw this marvelous production with and outstanding cast and loved it.
Benedict Cumberbatch is Hamlet. Well done!!!
Youssou N’Dour’s performance was one for the books. A unique and inviting experience for all who were able to attend. In my opinion there were several great elements to the performance – the drumming, cultural integration and audience participation.
I would have attended this performance just for the drumming itself. The talent that was on the stage in the percussion section was awe-inspiring. Each beat and hit was precise and passionate. I loved how the lead drummer acted as an emcee and got the crowd going.
In addition to the percussion, as a young college student with millennial tastes, I had never been exposed to this kind of music. To me it had a great 90’s jazz pop feel, at times, somewhat along the lines of Gwen Stefani’s “Underneath It All”. Youssou’s music being more diverse and culturally unique, of course.
And unlike any UMS performance i have attended, I loved the audience participation. Being able to be a part of the performance, watching people dance and have a clear appreciation for the music was the highlight of my night.
UMS, please bring back Youssou! In the highlight of recent events, the community and fellowship was warming.
All last Summer the NY Times ran articles about how difficult it was to get a ticket to this production of Hamlet in London. It was in fact very good. The castwas very capable & B.C. Was superb. There were a few red herrings. I would lose the David Bowie t-shirt. Also, try to keep the set about 100 years old. Too many phones and modern conveniences….although they may have been rotary dial. It gave me great cheer to see high school students on up through senior citizens in attendance. A near capacity crowd bodes well for the replay on Jan. 17.
Mark Jacobson, here, from UMS Programming. Thank you for all of your contributions and posts on UMSLobby.org.
Below is the set list from Hill Auditorium by Youssou N’Dour and Super Étoile de Dakar on Saturday night:
Dem + Immigre
Shaking the Tree
Thank you for attending Saturday night’s UMS Global Series concert event.
-Mark Jacobson, UMS
People Are Talking: UMS presents Chicago Symphony Orchestra:
I’m a prof., and I thought it was great.
Yea, right. And since our classroom buildings are also a part of the University, why not start all class meetings with a brief and rousing audio of the Victors? It would just take a couple of minutes and perk up everyone’s attention. Grades would go up for sure. Some profs would object. But we know what snobs they are!
You and I must have been at different performances. I thought it was the most interesting interpretation of the 5th I’ve heard.
Being a huge fan of all Beethoven works, I was gravely disappointed by the performance of the 5th. There were several measures which sounded “mushy” at best, as if the entire section hadn’t rehearsed together yet (violins especially). Muti’s interpretation of how the horns fit in left much to be desired – he even seemed to de-emphasize the horns, to some extent. Very disappointing.
As for Mahler, I’m at best a temperate fan. Still, the performance was even mushier. The opening measures, while admittedly difficult to play at such a quiet level, were barely tolerable. From there, my disappointment grew. The percussion section was the only redeeming aspect of the work. The timpani were exceptional.
Needless to say, I’ll skip the next Chi Symphony performance in Ann Arbor, and especially maestro Muti. Thank goodness the NY Philharmonic will have residency for the coming several years!
I was very impressed by last night’s show. This was the largest band I’ve seen him with since 1987 when I saw him in Dakar, Senegal. I’m wondering how he’s paying all those musicians and dancers. I’m sure it’s not through ticket sales alone.
Thinking about Youssou N’Dour’s performance at Hill Auditorium really just puts a smile on my face. From the beginning of the show, the crowd was bobbing their heads and clapping their hands. As the show progressed, more and more people stood up to dance and just let the music take over them. The crowd’s reaction was inspiring, however, the music itself was purely amazing. Youssou is one of those types of artists that you can just feel his music in your bones. I was just in awe the entire performance. There was so much goodness and happiness happening on stage and off. Kids and adults alike were just feeling it and moving to the beat. I was also amazed by the drummer, moving his hands so fast. When “7 Seconds” came on, I got so excited because we listened to the song in class. It was very emotional and slow and was a nice break from the crazy dancing music. It’s hard to even put into words just how cool this entire performance was. It was definitely my favorite that I’ve been to at U of M and I would definitely recommend to any person of any age.
The performance was a great experience. Youssou N’Dour’s talent is outstanding, and his passion to singing and being a performer was very apparent when he turned on the lights just so he can see everyone and lighten up the mood. Also, I loved how they took the time out to highlight different musical instruments because that is when I realized it is really about the music to him, not the fame or hearing his name in the crowds. My favorite part was the dancer because he was so eccentric and he was having such a good time, especially when he was jumping over the drum man. The whole performance was amazing and I am really happy I went.
Youssou N’Dour’s concert tonight was absolutely amazing. He had this great ability to make everyone get out of their seats and dance to his upbeat music. The performance started off in a great, positive mood and ended the same way. There were also some very talented musicians who backed up Youssou N’Dour. The one musician that stuck out to me the most was one of the drum players. His intricate rhythms were incredible to watch and his use of dynamics really pulled us closer to the music. I also thought the amplification of the instruments was very well balanced. There was just enough of every instrument to support the vocals of N’Dour. Overall, I thought that Youssou N’Dour was a wonderful performer who was able to reach out to every member of the audience and help them connect to his music.
Youssou N’Dour’s performance tonight was incredible. Youssou N’Dour’s beautiful voice and African Rock music fitted really well. Even though I didn’t understand most of the lyrics, I still felt the passion he and his band brought to us. It really demonstrated that music had no national borders. And the audience had the most diversities compared to several other UMS performances I had been to. The interaction between the performer and the audience was fabulous. All the people were so engaged and danced with the rhythm, from the beginning to the end. I also liked how Youssou N’Dour’s let some instrumentalists perform their solo part, which really showed their unique talents. However, I didn’t quite get why the performer asked to turn all the lights on near the end of the show. For me, I felt less motivated to followed the beats when the lights were on.
Youssou N’Dour’s performance tonight brought us a lot of happiness. It is the first time for me to see so many people stand up and follow the beats in the Hill. The performance really had a great connection with the audience. Some were clapping hands; some were waving arms and some were even dancing on the aisles. The rhythm definitely lighted up the whole auditorium.
Personally, I prefer the first half of the performance. I feel that the first half was more carefully organized. The second half turned to be a little bit repetitive and had a rush end. But overall it was a successful performance. The band showed a really impressive teamwork. Each member in the team was very talented. Besides, the sound was well amplified in the Hill Auditorium. It is winter at Michigan, but it felt like summer in the Hill Auditorium. The whole performance cheered up a Saturday night.
Youssou N’Dour and Super Etoile de Dakar brought the energy to Hill Auditorium tonight! I walked in expecting to watch a singer perform, but ended up watching variety of different acts take the stage. Not only did the main singer give a stellar performance, but there were solo performances by many different musicians in the band, and a lot of dancing to go around! The whole audience was standing up and dancing, and those who weren’t were moving along to the beat in their seats. It truly was a performance that got the audience involved. It was nice to see the wide variety of ages that came: children, students, adults, and the elderly; you name it and they were there. I liked how each performance started off with a musician clapping his hands to engage the audience. I was standing up, moving along, and just having a blast. I loved the atmosphere, and the songs made me happy. The colorful spotlights added a fun touch, and the performers seemed to be happy, energetic, fun people even outside of the performances. On stage I saw some cool, new moves I can try at the next party I go to. I enjoyed the unique beat and style of music. The performers’ love for what they do on a regular basis could be seen by the audience. If there was one thing I could change, it would have been my seat. I sat in the back right mezzanine, and it was hard to see the performance at times. At some instances, I looked down at the floor and it looked as if they were all standing and dancing when we were sitting. I think it would have been even better to be down there and be closer to the music; it would have been a completely different atmosphere. Overall, I had a great time and by looking around me, I could tell the others did too.
The positive energy from Youssou N’Dour and Super Étoile de Dakar completely turned my day around! During the entire concert, I was either clapping my hands, tapping my feet, nodding my head, or dancing. Youssou was extremely talented, had so much confidence, and was very smooth. He is a very loved and influential man and he could have easily had the whole show focused on himself, but instead he showcased and made a big deal out of how talented the band members were. The solos that the band played were so impressive. Youssou is amazing, but the backup singers were spectacular and enhanced his talent.
I loved how they truly got the audience involved, especially towards the end. Turning the lights on was weird to me at first but it was awesome that they wanted to look into the crowd and see everyone having a great time. Youssou wanted to show that the audience was a big part of what made the show so great.
Youssou N’Dour and Super Étoile de Dakar had everyone shaking off all their worries and responsibilities and just having a great time. At some points, they had almost everyone in Hill Auditorium on their feet. It was a great atmosphere to be a part of.
Thank you so much for bringing Youssou N’Dour here. It was a wonderful evening and such a great experience to see him and the super talented Super Étoile de Dakar perform live. I laughed, I danced, and I might have cried a little 🙂
Youssou N’Dour’s music was evidently beautiful. I have to say this was one of the best performances I have attended hosted by UMS. Without any doubt this man shows the overwhelming emotion you require in order to succeed in the music industry. He performs exactly what he feels and definitely keeps it as genuine as possible. I commend the way he found a way to include the audience into everything. Undoubtedly everyone in Hill were on their feet dancing and clapping along with the beat. When Youssou knew that he had to change it up half-way he made sure to turn on the house lights so we again intertwine and join him in making music. I also applaud his accompanies for being versatile throughout. Without anyone noticing performers were switching instruments and playing them like experts. And a gold star for Youssou for making sure everyone gets an opportunity to shine in front of the crowds. A gesture not many performers undertake. Overall it was a life changing experience. A genre of music and a performer of music I have never heard of has come into my life. I hope follow Youssou’s music through his journey of music and see what else he possesses within him.
The house did not open right away but the Indiana football game was in the second overtime, nobody cared. Wolverines fans were in dire need of a Dhakar-ri. Ann Arbor is a sister city of Dhakar Senegal. And it seems that Orchestra Baobab is from there too. I was a big fan of Peter Gabriel in his hay day and I had heard of Youssou N’Dour. I felt like I was on a two hour Summer bike ride along a palm dotted beach. Loved the colorful dress of fellow concert goers. Go Blue…or is it Turn Blue! We won!
Astonishing. That’s all I have to say about Youssou N’Dours concert tonight. Not only was it something that gave me the opportunity to experience the art of another country’s culture, but I was a whole lot of fun too. Never have I seen such a wide range of people of different ages, from children to some senior citizens, all dancing and having fun simultaneously. It really was a performance that I feel like I could see every day this week and not get tired of it. There was just something about how he was able to work the crowd that really made the performance something I will never forget. Absolutely astonishing.
In my life, I have never felt as included and integrated in a community as I did in a giant concert hall packed to the walls with people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and ages, enjoying a genre of music I may have never considered on my own accord. It was inspiring beyond words to look around me and see, on one side, young girls, maybe 3 or 4 years old, dancing with a long-haired middle age man, and on the other, elderly caucasian women moving around with African women dressed in traditional clothing. The sense of community and pure joy in the room was overwhelming, incredible, and unmistakeable. Youssou N’Dour’s performance demonstrated the sheer power of music in its ability to fill a room of thousands with a shared feeling of total happiness. This is a performance I did not originally choose to go to, but nonetheless, one I would never have wished to miss, and one I will surely never forget.
This performance was absolutely incredible. Youssou N’Dour has a beautiful voice and sings with such passion. You can’t help but feel his intense emotion when he performs. The whole concert was such an uplifting experience. I was overcome with happiness while watching the performers do their thing up on stage. From the dancing and acrobatics that was happening on stage to the enthusiasm of the audience, this concert was quite the entertaining experience.
For most of the concert, the music was very upbeat, and people were up on their feet dancing. At one point, Youssou slowed down the tempo and sang his internationally famous song “7 Seconds.” This song was very emotional and really showed off the strength of his voice. Soon after the song ended, the music became more intense, and people were back up on their feet.
I was particularly impressed by the drummers also. These musicians have such an amazing talent. I could never in a million years learn how to keep a rhythm like that. I absolutely love watching such talented people show off their skills.
Youssou N’Dour’s performance tonight was simply incredible. Throughout the entire performance, the audience was on its feet dancing to the catchy music. The performance flew by and at the end I could not believe it was over already. It was clear that Youssou is not only an extremely experienced singer but also an outstanding performer. He was able to keep the audience completely engaged throughout the entire performance and ensured that everyone was having fun. I loved how they turned on the house lights midway through the performance, so that Youssou was able to see each person individually. It was a very personable experience and was highly effective. I also thought that he did an incredible job at really showcasing the other performers’ talents and highlighting them with a solo part. It not only allowed these performers to show off their insane talent but also got the audience riled up. The icing on the cake was the dancer that came out occasionally to add even more excitement to each piece. This performance is one that I will never forget and something that I would definitely go see again. Out of all of the UMS performances that I have seen this season, this was definitely my favorite.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Danish String Quartet:
As a 25+ year chamber series subscriber, I would like to say that this was perhaps the most thrilling, flawlessly rendered, soulful, and enriching string quartet concerts I have ever attended.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Sankai Juku: UMUSUNA:
Hello all, just wanted to point out two more reflections on this performance, by two of our artists in residence:
#1 “My body becomes similarly constricted, mirror neurons blazing. I am a potato expanding under duress against hard dark granules.” http://bit.ly/1PDZqly
#2 How do we stay vulnerable to art? http://bit.ly/20OGnu9
People Are Talking: UMS presents Chucho Valdés: Irakere 40:
Love the concert, especially the New Orleans number. I woul see them again!
Fabulous concert and great energy. The horn and sax solos were some of the best we’ve heard. Would buy tickets to attend another Irakere concert in a heartbeat!
Prior to last week, I had never heard of Chucho Valdes’. However, my husband had. I’m so glad we went. This was – hands down – one of the best concerts I have ever attended! Mr. Chaves’ is so talented. I’d go so far as to say gifted. I hope that UMS considers bringing him back to the jazz series next year.
Mark Jacobson, here, from UMS Programming.
Below is a listing of compositions that were performed at Sunday afternoon’s UMS Jazz and Global Series concert by Chucho Valdés and Irakere 40 at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater:
New Orleans Blues
Bacalao con Pan
Thank you for attending and for your participation on UMSLobby.org!
Thank you for attending yesterday’s UMS Jazz and Global Series concert by “Irakere 40” and for posting on the UMSLobby.
We hope to have a set list of pieces performed by the end of today… Stay tuned!
Does anyone know the names of the songs that were played?
Hi Maya! We’ll look into getting a set list!
The music and the musicians were amazing. Really enjoyed it. But, the sound system was way too loud.
This was a great concert. In the same realm as John McLaughlin and Chick Corea. Now I am looking forward to Youssou N’Dour.
What an event and what a privilege to be there….. Chucho and his band were great!
At the same time I thank UMS for organizing this, have to ask to make sure having him again next season 🙂
Tonight’s concert with Chucho and his band was spectacular! It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to!
This was the Goldilocks concert of the semester! Just right.
Loud, but not too loud. Intense, but not too intense. Wild, but not too wild. Controlled, but not too controlled. The Michigan Theater was just barely large enough to accomodate the demand & there are liberties you can take there that University venues do not offer. I saw Chucho once at the base of the Space Needle in Seattle. He took me back there this afternoon.
A night of beautiful music and musicians. Thank you.
Thank you, Danish String Quartet and UMS!
A luminous performance throughout — never a harsh tone — even in Beethoven’s moments of ferocity–
When they came back on stage after the Beethoven quartet I unexpectedly teared up–
Bring them back please, UMS!
Besides the beautiful music, what I enjoyed most about this performance was watching the musicians as they played. I was drawn in by their seemingly coordinated and fluid movements. The group breathed together and moved together, giving the illusion that the sound was originating from one source. I think this was most impactful during the Ades piece. As much as I loved watching the members of the group move as they played, I found myself looking away from the stage in order to allow the music to surround me and forget that there was four different people producing the sound.
Correction: Not two movements, but theme and variations in the wind quintet.
A splendid concert by four wonderful musicians, every one of them. The Haydn quartet was played with rare expressiveness, and the playing was lucid throughout.
This is the first time I ever saw a work by Adès on a program, and he really is as renowned as the violist told us. The experimentation with sound textures requires better acquaintance. Some of us were also wondering about the names given to the movements – in one case, the title is borrowed from a Schubert lied – a rather remote reference. But there must be an explanation; I don’t believe Adès is pulling our leg.
The Beethoven, too, was very fine. Overall, I vote for the Haydn as the best entry. People, we have stumbled on a fine group of performers. Let’s hope we hear them again soon.
And then they gave us a welcome encore. Nielsen must have really loved the first theme of this movement. He also used in his wind quintet – in fact, in two movements — with different time signatures.
I greatly enjoyed the Hayden and the second quartet, but I’m pretty fussy about how Beethoven is played, having heard the Cleveland Quartet play the complete cycle several times, and I was not happy with their interpretation. I thought they made it sound too much like the Hayden. The encore was beautiful!
The encore for this evening’s program was:
Min Jesus lad mit hjerte få / Sænk kun dit hoved, du blomst / Tit er jeg glad
(Carl Nielsen, arranged by Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen)
Mary Roeder, UMS
Oh, please. I have been to hundreds of concerts in my life and it is quite common to start off a concert with a light bright appetizer of a work. And since they were not going road it anyone between movements it made perfect sense tostada with something short and then seat the late comers and then GO!
I think the main issue has to do with expectations. There are many, many appropriate venues for the Victors. This concert wasn’t one of them, IMHO. That doesn’t make me–and those who agree with me–snobs and curmudgeons. I also think there is a difference between leading off with it and using it as an encore.
The audience obviously loved the Victors as the lead off. You did hear the audience reaction did you not? Trite? At a University-owned facility? I and almost everyone in the audience thought it was great. You are a snob and a curmudgeon.
I agree; I am just so ” fight songed” out! Trite and passé!
Great concert! That’s an understatement.
The 5th was lovely and OMG Mahler’s 1st was spectacular!
I too could do without Hail to the Victors.
I sat very near the back as I did for the NY Phil. The CSO had much more balance that the NY Phil. Especially the horns.
Cell phones? I had no qualms gently tapping the young woman in front of me and gesturing for her to turn it off. Smiling all the while. I urge others to do the same.
Although it would have been nice to hear an encore I loved how Mr. Muti adorably waved “bye bye” to us all. I’ve hear CSO at least once before at Interlochen and they also did not play an encore. Maybe they don’t play encores? Then again after the Mahler who would have energy for anything?
Hello sir or madam,
I am the front of house/usher coordinator for UMS and I would be interested in speaking with you further about this matter. Please feel free to call or email me so we can resolve this issue.
Thank you for assisting UMS….but can you tell me why the row in front of me is filled with ushers (before paying audiences are seated & this the third concert this has happened,) and why they have to be so tall as to impede orchestra visibility by me and my guests. It’s almost as this priority seating is planned and executed….it’s just bad form and politically distasteful.
MAGIC HAPPENS! I know, because Thursday night’s concert by the Chicago Symphony was magical.
Let’s put it this way—if ever there was one performance of Beethoven’s Fifth that should be the STANDARD by which all performances (live or recorded) should be measured, it was the one the CSO gave Thursday night. Oh My God—BEAUTIFUL. Beyond words.
At 57 minutes length, Mahler’s Titan can be a bit of a drudge to sit through. But, not Thursday night. The first movement started so softly—pastorally, if there is such a word—with the clarinet and flute playing a duet that mimicked birds chirping. Gorgeous. The final movement is labeled “Stormily,” and Oh My God. What a finale!
Given the rapt attention of the audience during the CSO’s performance, I think that some coughing and shifting in seats by the audience between movements is acceptable.
I am afraid I have to agree. Victors was a pleasant surprise as an encore–played by an orchestra doing a residency. It indicated an “all in” attitude on the part of the orchestra. As a prelude to the Beethoven, however, it didn’t work.
The tone color was sometimes amazing. Ricardo Muti’s body language often gave a beautiful interpretation of the music. My standard when listening to familiar pieces is whether the performance makes me hear something new that I hadn’t noticed before – whether the performance refreshes my interest in familiar music. This was the case with both symphonies last night.
The UMS audience often lacks restraint. The obsession with cellphones is remarkable, but irreversible, I fear. One should not let in latecomers before the intermission. It is disrupting others’ focus.
Opening the concert with the Michigan song was not a good idea. It did not set the right tone. We don’t come to the concert so that we can clap to some marching song. We come to the concert focus and to quietly appreciate.
My wife, Marilyn, and I were at Hill Auditorium last night to usher for the University Musical Society (UMS) here in Ann Arbor. This is now our fourth year ushering. We’ve been able to enjoy many fabulous concerts over the years by internationally renowned musicians in one of the great concert halls in the world! UMS is a university-based performing arts presenting organization that was founded in 1879. It was recently awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama.
Last night we heard Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardio Muti. This has always been a favorite of mine because it introduced me to the world of classical music when I was just a freshman at Cullman High School. I bought a recording conducted by Leonard Bernstein which included a tutorial on the music of Beethoven and the Fifth Symphony that premiered in Vienna in 1808 when Beethoven was only 38 years old. When I first heard the Fifth it sounded very strange, and I really couldn’t understand why it was considered a masterpiece for so many over the past two centuries. I listened to it again and again. Then I began to read about Beethoven’s life and the history of music in Vienna at the time he lived there. About that time my father bought a new stereo and I continued to listen to the Fifth over and over. I turned up the volume more, and then slowly it began to make sense and stirred feelings in me that I had never known before. I began to understand the struggle Beethoven and most thinking people in the world undergo when faced with the reality of their own mortality, their imperfections and limitations, the search for meaning in their lives, and the discovery of true freedom. The late husband of a friend of mine, Ernie Kurtz, called this the “spirituality of imperfection” in his book of the same name.
All those feelings came rushing back to me last night. The acoustics at Hill Auditorium are just incredible! It was a sellout crowd last night and the response of the audience was almost as incredible as the performance itself! People leaped to their feet after the finale and then gave multiple standing ovations. I knew I was in good company when I saw that so many appreciated the gift of genius that Beethoven had created for all humanity. Last night I gained new insights into the music and my own life. Today I feel very lucky to be alive, to be in good health, and to be living in such a great community as Ann Arbor! UMS made this possible. Thank you UMS, Maestro Muti, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra!
Oh, my. It can’t get any better than this, can it? The dynamic range of such a large organization was baffling. The Beethoven and Mahler interpretations–superb in every way.
We got our tickets as a prize from the Dexter Library’s summer reading program. What a wonderful git.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Tenebrae:
The perfect chorus, Tenebrae, in the perfect venue, St Francis, for them. Astounding sound. Great blend, perfect diction, heartfelt singing. Thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
The clarity pitch and blend was incredible. The allegri miserere soared!! Reassuring to see so many in attendance for this kind of (gorgeous) music
Excellent ensemble! I love all the professional choirs UMS and other organizations bring to town; I wish there were more! There’s just something special about that level of blend. I loved the Reger and Bruckner pieces, as well as the Lobo.
Absolutely phenomenal, Best choral concert ever. PLEASE bring them back again.
The Padilla mass was one of the most memorable discoveries I’ve made in a UMS program in quite a long time.
This was a fabulous concert from start to finish. One of the highlights of the decade thus far.
World-class choir performance. Never heard anything remotely close to the Tenebrae from Britain. It was the time to rise above mortal attachments and sit alongside the highest power.
It was the first time for the 12-year-old and 10-year-old children
of our son and his wife to go to a concert.
My husband told them to listen for the conversations among the
instruments. Afterwards, the 12-year-old said, of one point in the Mahler,
” The drums told the violins to be quiet.”
And that is what it sounded like.
The symphonies were so different from each other.
We feel privileged to have been there for such a soul-searching
Agreed. It is incredibly disruptive to the mood of the music, whatever the piece. If all that coughing meant complete silence during the performance, it would be tolerable, but it doesn’t. How can this culture be adjusted?
I really enjoyed the whole concert, but I am confused by the amount/volume of conversations and coughing that occurs between each movement of a work. This seems to be a regular occurrence in Hill and it tends to ruin the mood.
Actually the student section was quite respectful 🙂
Sorry to be “that guy” but I’ll probably remember the stunning inability of the people to my left and right to refrain from pulling out their phones (in the third row from the stage) and taking pictures of the conductor and orchestra in the middle of the performance. Not just one of them, but both. I’ll also remember the people directly behind me who had some nicely audible conversations in a foreign language while the performance was underway. I’m not sure why I upgraded to an $80+ ticket when I could have just got student tickets for the same experience. I guess I can’t blame anyone but the offending patrons, but the experience was pretty frustrating and disappointing.
The oboe guy tho ???
Fourth row, center, age 62, lawyer, reasonably well-traveled; if I were to die tomorrow, I could honestly say, after the CSO and Muti, I have been to, seen and heard something — great.
Overall, better than New York Phil. I agree that performance of orchestra was too constrained but then perhaps that was due to the musical retenence of the conductor. Found the hall lighting problematic and detracts from musical ambient. Would be nice if a vender was permitted to sell wine or a beverage during intermission at the main lobby as they do at the DSO in the Max Fischer. After listening to these last 2 orchestras, the DSO ranks equally and perhaps better. I am pleasantly surprised.
I have always speculated that the coughing between movements is from people who have raised their hands to mistakenly applaud, and attempt to cover their embarrassment by “covering” their “cough”.
I am very familiar with the Beethoven and Mahler, but my 12 year old granddaughter was not. So, my wife and I took her and one of our daughters to this concert to give them a new and fabulous musical experience. It was everything I hoped it would be. Fabulous. Thanks.
The Beethoven was Beethoven but the Mahler was Supercalifragalisticexpalidosic ! Thank you Mr Muti !!!
I can hear it now. Mr. Muti says to the stage manager: “Listen, mio amico, I don’t want any late seating between movements of the Beethoven. It breaks the mood.”
“Oh, but Maestro, you don’t know: these are dark nights, it’s cold, people leave the house late because they can’t find their scarves, and parking is tight. So they get here a bit late.”
“Well, we could first play a little Rossini overture or the Egmont Overture and then seat the latecomers e basta.”
“I have a better idea, Maestro. The New York Phil forgot to take the music with them to the arrangement of our academic anthem, and we still have it backstage. If you play that, our audience will be thrilled. It will show them that your players are Wolverines at heart. Yes, I know, they just heard it from that other orchestra. But it’s a fact of life that one can never play it enough.”
As it turned out, the Mahler received the longest applause of the evening, but The Victors got the loudest. Hmmm.
After all that banging, clapping, hooting, and whistling, Beethoven’s 5th had a hard time, and fate knocking at the door sounded a bit lame. Ah well, it got a standard performance. A little more gravity would have been fine. Beethoven was a grim fellow. The tempi were reasonable, and I was happy that the dynamics were life-size and not humongous.
The Mahler, however, was exceptionally fine. The orchestra was in nice balance; nobody stuck out who wasn’t supposed to stick out. Especially gratifying was the idiomatic playing – the seamless transitions from one mood to another, from Viennese lilting and swaying to klezmer high jinx. It was all there – the painful yearnings, the drunkenness, the joy, the resignation, and, of course, the famous Mahler cry opening the last movement – the cry that occurs somewhere in each of his symphonies, loaded with tearing agony.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Hubbard Street Dance Chicago: Works of William Forsythe:
P.S. Literally everyone who saw me there commented about how much they hated this performance – people of various ages, genders etc.
It was awful….not the incredible skills and athleticism of the performers but the choreography and the sound. Unfortunately, I have seen / heard this kind of performance before and was greatly disappointed that Hubbard Street would join this boring, style of performance. I’ve loved them for their variety, humor and creativity. After the first few moments of each piece, the monotony was painful. In addition to essentially no variation among pieces (except at the surface) and the sound / “music” was excruciating; really abusive, with the second piece just repeating and repeating (and repeating and repeating) its depressing theme and the third piece loud, atonal. Even plugging my ears barely helped. At least the level of sound could be toned done to avoid hurting the ears of many in the audience. I hope that UMS will reinvigorate its dance program. It has overemphasized this style in recent years. I hope that Hubbard Street will return in a more interesting form the next time.
The Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Performance created interesting combinations and contrasts throughout the performance, with aspects both accentuating and working with each other. There was both smooth and choppy movements within every dance, making each type of movement noticeably different from the other. The dancers would flow together in smooth movements, but their limbs would be moving in a quick, jerky manner. In the first piece, there was no music, and the silence allowed the dancers breaths and grunts to be more exaggerated and noticeable. In the last two pieces each dancer was in their own solid color costume, separating each dancer from another more in your mind. Overall, the performance kept me visually interested with the various elements that worked together to contrast and complement each other.
Most amazing choreographer kudos to him a wonderful
addition to Hubbard
Today’s performance by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago was underwhelming at times, yet also entertaining. It seemed to take some time for the audience and dancers to warm up to one another. The first piece was redundant in its themes and the lack of new ideas left the performance falling flat. I don’t think this is representative of the performers and more accurately attributed to the choreography. While I found the movements interesting,there was too much repetition with very little variation. If the ideas expounded upon themselves more, I think N.N.N.N. could have accomplished more. However, the two latter pieces (Quintett, One Flat Thing) were entertaining in their overall themes and brought me to the edge of my seat.
I thought the performance tonight by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago was spectacular. I was absolutely blown away by the creativity and thought process that went into each of the three pieces. William Forsythe was able to put a modern and unique twist on ordinary ballet. In the first dance, N.N.N.N., the dancers did a great job of coming together as a whole, spinning off of each other and reacting to each other’s dance moves. I liked how in the performances, the audience could see everything: slow motion, fast footwork, and long dramatic pauses. By changing the pace, it kept it interesting. Tonight at the show, they incorporated tables, a motion picture, and a repetitive song sung by an older man- all things most ballet performances would not include. I enjoyed the imaginative out-of-the-ordinary approach that they took. Although the dancers were very talented, without the interesting manipulations of the dance and additions of nontraditional dance objects, I felt like I would have been bored. In addition, if I could change one thing, I would have added a tiny bit of background music in the first piece, but other than that it was great. I think the inspirations behind these pieces could be felt throughout the performance. My personal favorite dance tonight was One Flat Thing, reproduced. I liked the intensity and complexity of the piece. There was never a dull moment and I enjoyed how they started and ended boldly. Overall, I would highly recommend this performance.
The three pieces in Hubbard Street Dance Chicago tonight were definitely unique and creative. N.N.N.N. quite challenged my understanding of dancing. It was not music, but the flashed sound and the deep breath that leaded the body movements. Besides, it was notable that each movement switched between a slowly one and a rapidly one by using flinging arms. The second performance Quintett was my favorite piece tonight. In addition to the dancing, the first remarkable thing was the combination of the song and the orchestral music. What also attracted me was the using of light and shadow. The ending part was especially impressive when the projection of background was turned on and the shadow of the dancer reflected on it. The choreography of all three performances were sophisticated and amazing and tonight’s performance really worth to be recommended.
(continued)… One Flat Thing was also a piece that kept my attention for the entirety of it. The tables were a phenomenon on their own as they stayed still while all the activity was going on around them, under them, on them, and in the gaps in between. I loved the synchronization and even appreciated the abrupt ending. Overall, The Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performance left me unexpectedly surprised as to what a completely different interpretation of ballet is.
The Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performance moved me in a way that I really did not expect. Although my preconception was that the moves were sharp and did not fit with any type of music, the actual performance flowed impeccably. Quintett was executed with such intensity that I was able to visualize an emotion with each kick. It really did challenge the conceptions of ballet – I did see the basis of the style but the subtle differences and the true passion with which they performed it was scintillating.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago was simply amazing. My favorite performance was Quintett because I don’t think I ever looked away from the stage once; I was captivated the entire time. I found the song, amplifying throughout, to be very moving. At first I thought the song was saying “Jesus Christ never found me dead” but then I began thinking it may have been saying “Jesus Christ hasn’t failed me yet.” I thought their dancing was beautiful and the sky projection at the end was mesmerizing. I also thought each performance was pretty similar in dance styles. It makes sense because it came from the same choreographer and performed in a series together, however, I found this to be a little boring after a while. In general, I loved the performance, but this was one criticism I had.
For being one of the only dance companies to perform all-year long domestically and around the world, the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago company did a swell job tonight. The first piece N.N.N.N. intrigued me but I wouldn’t necessarily say in a positive way. Starting without the music though really changed the game, almost everyone was expecting a few tunes at some point of the performance. Although the woman who kept speaking at the beginning did send me on a loop; for a second I thought this woman was part of the performance. Overall, the technique used by the performers in N.N.N.N. was flawless but It needed an overall message which wasn’t very clear due to the repetitive steps. Quintett was the most engaging dance of the night it mostly caught my attention through actions and reactions of the dancers and fantastically timed moves which were immaculate. At the end the performer just kept leaning back hoping that the other had made his way onto stage by then. Overall I applaud the techniques, such as the breathing and clapping instead of music, that the choreographer acquainted the dancers with. I also commend how the dancers showcased these techniques as a accustomed attribute used in the ballet world . All-embracing, I would definitely recommend a visit when time provides. It would be a wondrous affair to attend for a ballet connoisseur.
great insight !! 😉
Tonight’s performance by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago was absolutely brilliant. All three pieces were so unique in their own way and were something that I had never seen before. My favorite piece was “One Flat Thing”. The way each dancer was able to incorporate their movements with the tables and the other dancers was remarkable. The music that was paired with the choreography added intensity to the dance as well. Throughout the entire dance I sat on the edge of my chair because the performance was so engaging. I loved how there were dancers doing different routines simultaneously at different places on the stage, so there was always something to see. After watching this performance, I have developed an even greater appreciation for dance.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presented an outstanding show tonight. Among three excellent performances, I really liked one flat thing, reproduced. The play was really energetic right from the beginning, where all the dancers dragged the tables to the front, to the end, where all the dancers dragged the tables to the back. Symmetries and sequences were everywhere. I couldn’t image how the choreographer managed to put twenty dancers together in such ordered and at the same time disordered way. And it was mind blowing when I was reading the explanations of organizational structures after the show. Link: http://synchronousobjects.osu.edu/content.html
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago left me in awe at the end of each piece. The dancers moved with such grace and precision. I was fully engaged in each performance and I am still amazed at how talented they were. The piece that sticks with me the most is “Quintett”. In this performance, I could tell how extremely athletic they have to be in order to dance so brilliantly. The dancers were able to stay in character and focused while making fluid movements that took strength and agility. My favorite dancer was the woman in the orange dress. I found myself following her even while other dancers were on the stage. I enjoyed how her motions, especially with her legs, were always elongated and dramatized. At first I thought that the repetitiveness of the song would distract from the dancers but it ended up fitting in very well.
The Hubbard St. Dance Company did an absolutely spectacular job tonight. In the first piece each dancer seemed like a piece of a clock that couldn’t even figure out how they worked, let alone how they functioned in the scope of the whole. It was very entertaining to watch them try to figure out how they worked. The third piece was also very interesting, I could see how the choreographer was influenced by Scott’s trip to the South Pole. But my absolute favorite piece was the second. I came in expecting the repetitive tune the homeless man is singing to become tiring after a while, but the music constantly changing in volume and speed made the piece seem new in every repetition. The second piece overall felt very intimate which was escalated by the fact that the women were wearing what looked like nightgowns. Overall just an amazing way to spend an evening.
I couldn’t agree more! 🙂
Hubbard Street Dance impressed me beyond anything I could have foreseen. Normally I find it hard to appreciate dance that fails to directly tell me a story, however, the dancers were so passionate that I was able to interpret a unique story in each piece. My favorite was “Quintett,” which possessed an elegance and fluidity that contributed to an overall beauty that captivated me throughout the entire performance. Additionally, there was an apparent wariness among the performers that leads the audience to believe in the intentionality of their choices, further developing the overall grace of the performance. The entire piece seemed to function as a transformation, be it in style, structure, or partner choices. The only constant in this piece was the accompaniment which, although repetitive, still contributed to the beauty of the piece.
While I found the movements interesting, I became bored after 5 minutes as all of the performances were repetitive in the extreme. There was no feeling of anything artistically, i.e.- inducing a deep sensual feeling. Much less worthwhile than their previous appearance here.
Tonight’s performance was absolutely outstanding. All three pieces had its own unique aspects to it. The one that really stood out to me, however, was Quintett. Although the music for this piece was very repetitive, every movement in the choreography had something to add to the entire message of the piece. This took away the feeling of repetition regarding the music. I could also feel the intensity of the dancers with every breath they took. Breath had a big part in communication and I thought that the dancers did an incredible job at communicating with each other when there weren’t clear cues in the music. I would definitely recommend watching their performances.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago made me reevaluate my perception of professional dance. The absence of music in N.N.N.N. allowed the sharp breaths of the dancers to be emphasized while also having an inconsistent tempo. The stiffness and fluidity of the movements (which were not traditional ballet moves) made me realize how much control the dancers had over their limbs. Quintett was, by far, the most intriguing for me to watch. The quietness of the music in the beginning made me lean in and pay closer attention. The tenderness that the dancers touched each other with contrasted beautifully with the rapid pace of the movements. It allowed me to connect with the dance on a intimate level. I am unsure of what to think of One Flat Thing, Reproduced. I don’t know how to interpret the purpose of the tables and the vague audio sounds. While it was the most visually energizing, I think the other performances brought an equal amount of passion and energy.
I found the hubbard street dance Chicago performance to be very entertaining and vividly creative. Every performance was completely different from any of the others, but the one thing they did share in common was how enjoyable to watch. Each dancer was unbelievably talented. The way that forsythe utilized his performers’ talents was remarkable and made for a very entertaining performance. I was astounded at the end of every dance and left the performance wanting more. I would definitely recommend this performance and would easily consider going back a second time.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago was breathtaking tonight. The first performance, N.N.N.N., was the most memorable for me. During this dance, I was mesmerized by the sharp movements. Every gesture seemed to have intense purpose, influencing each movement to come afterwards. When I finally realized that no music would be playing for the entirety of the dance, I was a bit confused. The breathing, sniffing, and clapping sounds that ended up symbolizing the music intrigued me very much. It must have taken a lot of practice to learn this dance as well as to memorize the sounds to make while dancing.
People Are Talking: Sankai Juku:
I think that seeing Sankai Juku was a very fascinating experience. It was definitely unlike any other performance I’d seen before, which I appreciated, as I enjoy having my paradigms challenged when it comes to art. Due to the nature of the performance, any meaning one might find in it has to be carefully drawn from very subtle elements of the show. Thus, it is very likely that no two people have the same idea about what any individual part of Umusuna really “means”. However, to me at least, it seemed that various acts of the show represented different fundamental aspects of human life. The first act likely represented birth or the beginning of time, as the hourglass-like sand first began to fall from the sky. The second act, with more obvious symbolism, represented pain and suffering, with red lighting and characters frequently appearing to be screaming. The next act involved a lot of laying on the ground and leaping upwards, only to fall back down again and shift around in place. I believe it represented the cycle of sleep and waking, but it also could more abstractly make a statement about success and failure. I was actually able to deduce one of these human facts from each act of the show, so if anyone wants to know the others, please ask me! Of course, you may have come to different conclusions about what the dance represented. Let me know!
As a former dancer and current student in a School of Music, Theater, and Dance “dance for non-majors” class focused on improvisation and composition, I was thoroughly impressed with the performance this past Friday. As I read the program booklet before the performance began, I was immediately intrigued by the references to gravity, birth, and death as major themes. Such ambiguous topics lend themselves to a wide variety of possible interpretations. There were some distinct pieces of the performance that I thought clearly represented one of the major themes. For example, the “death” piece involving loud, disturbing music, red lighting, and performers in red skirts seemed fairly self-explanatory. However, in multiple pieces with moments of more pleasant music, brighter lighting, and performers in white skirts, pinning down what theme was being represented was a bit more difficult. As I attempted to classify these segments of the performance, I realized that I was completely disregarding everything I’ve been taught in class this semester – especially from viewing Jennifer Monson’s Live Dancing Archive – about improvisational and more “modern” dance. Dance is composed of much more than just a staged routine; it can be a vehicle for archiving personal memories, breaking societal norms, and gleaning insight into different cultures. UMUSUNA, and butoh in general, touched on all of these varied facets of dance. From what I’ve gathered, modern butoh stemmed from a need of the Japanese, as individuals and as a larger community, to express the horrors of WWII through movement. As I look back on the performance, I can easily see how the fear and discomfort I felt during the “death” performance and latter hope and ease I felt during the more well-lit, mellow performances could be woven into a larger story of the terror the Japanese experienced and their ensuing resilience as a community. Furthermore, the elaborate and slow movements of the dancers from the “death” piece onwards reminded me that just because the performance could be telling an intricate story of life and death, there is no reason as to why it needs to rise, climax, and fall à la traditional storytelling form. While I think that the extremely slow pace of the performance made focusing difficult at times, it only served to enhance the emotions stirred both audibly and visually when I was truly tuned-in. What are your thoughts on the themes of the performance? Did certain pieces seem objectively easy to classify? Of the pieces that didn’t, do you think they were hinting at a more overarching comment on dance as a form of creative expression?
There is one point that stands out to me in Bobby’s response, and that is that Butoh is not aesthetically pleasing. As I read the rest of his response, this idea stuck in my head forcing me to reread parts because I wasn’t able to focus on passage. At first I agreed with him. I remember thinking that the dance was harsh and vial while at the performance, but now in reflecting on it and recalling parts of the performance I feel something different. Now I recall all the movements as being purposeful, composed, elegant, and most importantly genuine. In hindsight, the movements the dancers made struck the incredible balance of being soft and gentle while also being deliberate and controlled. To me, these qualities are fundamentally aesthetically pleasing. We discussed that a performance can only survive in the present, and attempts to recreate the performance through conversation or reflection results in creating a new performance altogether, but I think this is fallacious. One of the criteria that we, as a Great Performances class, came up with for how a performance should be judged is the way that it makes the audience feel. To restrict a performance to only the present thus contradicts our method of evaluating it. I did not like Umusuna when I saw it live. It was weird, creepy, and the performers didn’t really doing anything, I thought. But now looking back, I feel much better about Umusuna, and I feel I can now much better appreciate the striking visuals and the entwinement of odd music. It is just my opinion that Umusuna was aesthetically pleasing, and I think it would be absurd if this opinion was invalidated by the fact that this was not my opinion as I sat watching it.
Butoh does not contain pirouettes, jazz squares, or beautiful costumes. Instead, brace yourself for shaved heads, sand, screaming, and confusion. While viewers of traditional dance performances respond in awe, viewers of butoh react with shock. In my opinion, Sankai Juku’s butoh performance was not aesthetically pleasing, nor do I think it was meant to be. The dancers made jarring expressions, the intense volume of the music at times hurt my ears, and many of the dance moves were repetitive. However, by doing so, this performance was inherently human. Painted in off-white and sporting shaved heads and exposed upper bodies, the dancers looked as if they had emerged naturally from the earth covered in clay. Without flashy costumes to distract the audience from the dancers’ gestures, it was easier to focus on what the dancers were attempting to convey. The human experience. In the real world, as this performance demonstrated, our appearances are flawed, many sights and sounds can be painful to experience, and many of our actions are repetitive. In one scene, four dancers stood around a stream. They dipped their toes in the water and witnessed their reflections. To me, this scene exhibited curiosity and calmness. The dancers slowly moved around the stream in silence, observing it with intense focus. I viewed their movements similarly – with patience and without distraction.
I must confess that I didn’t really understand the Sankai Juku performance. I kept searching for an underlying story or plot, and being unable to do so was oddly frustrating. Nevertheless, I found myself enthralled by the performance. In the second part of the performance, the white body paint and red stage lights caused the dancers to look like they were glowing, giving them a creepy, haunting look. The dance itself was vastly different from the first part, with fast, frantic, seemingly random movements that conveyed a sense of frenzy, as compared to the slow controlled movements of the dancer in the first part. At one part, the dancers spun around close to the ground, looking upwards with gaping mouths, evoking a sense of despair. This part of the dance was quite unnerving and made me feel uncomfortable, lingering at the back of my mind for the rest of the night. What fascinates me is that although I could not understand the dance, I was still affected emotionally. Butoh is unlike any dance I’ve ever seen before, and watching this performance was a new experience.
I also noted the unity (or lack thereof) of the dancers. Your interpretation of the reason for the slight differences between each dancer is interesting! While watching the performance, I was mostly distracted and annoyed because I couldn’t tell if they were trying to be in sync and failing, or if they were intentionally out of sync. Since they are dressed to eliminate any distinguishing characterisitics, the out-of-sync movements present an interesting paradox of individuality versus anonymity within the dance.
Everything about the Sankai Juku group displayed unison such as their stark white skin, shaved heads, and matching costumes. All of these details were meant to help the audience from concentrating on the individuals characteristics of the dancers, but instead on the movement of the dancers. However, when it came down to the movement itself, there did not seem to be great cohesion within the group. The slower a dance is, the easier it is to pick up on discrepancies in the flow between performers. Butoh is an extremely slow dance and therefore it was very easy to tell if one person was slightly off from the rest of the group. There were many times in which the dancers had separate roles within their group, but most of the time the group danced as one. At least one dancer was almost always a little bit off during the group parts. I found this interesting because I’d have thought that group would concentrate more on being very cohesive. However, Butoh is also considered an inward to outward dance, where the dancers do not need to be taught the style. It exists within everyone and the dancers are supposed to use previous memories and experiences to release the dance from within them. When considering this, it would make sense for each of the dancers to all have slightly different styles because each dancer is basing their dance off of different memories/experiences.
Umusuna was certainly a memorable performance, living up to its name. But what was truly profound during such an abstract performance? For myself, this dance performance was made memorable in its dancers’ connection to the stage. The lighting, sound, and stage set up all played an integral role in the performance. The lighting was brilliant, highlighting the different moods of different parts in the performance. A standout moment in the dance was the low yellow lighting, accenting the marks in the sand on the stage and casting long shadows. This stark contrast in lighting seemed to emphasize the marks made by the dancers as they moved across the stage. Due to the name of the performance, I like to think this emphasized the memories and experiences created in a lifetime, and how we shape the world as much as it shapes us. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the dance much more than I expected, and was glad to have the opportunity to experience this unique art form.
Thirty seconds into the play, and all I feel is confusion, intrigue, and perhaps a little bit of fear.
While these were my first impressions, they later gave way to an experience that can best be summarized as ethereal. The dancers themselves seemed to draw as little attention on themselves as possible, garbed entirely in pure white with shaved heads. Instead, all there was to focus on was what seemed to be a “dialogue of gravity” in Ushio Amagatsu’s words. The dance, to the best of my understanding, was a collection of hyper-deliberate motions, slowed down to the point where the dancers seemed as if they were almost moving in slow motion. Combined with the accompanying music, the only detail accessible to me as an audience member was emotion. Sometimes there were seven people on stage, and other times there were only one. Other than that, I really had no idea what was going on, and I think that’s what the whole point of the dance was: an entirely novel experience. Today, in an entirely interconnected world (thanks to the internet), we know so much more about the culture and events all over the earth almost instantly. And yet, in this nearly omniscient internet culture of ours, Sankai Juku manages to provide us with an experience entirely novel and unexpected. Everyone in the audience, regardless of how much experience they may have in the theater or in the art of dance, was seeing such a performance for the first time. I personally felt that I couldn’t enjoy the art as much because it was too abstract for my personal tastes, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it was still an entirely new experience ripe for exploration.
One of the most confusing, yet unmistakably interesting performances I have ever seen is Sankai Juku. Even at the beginning of it all, as the first dancer slowly made his way to the center of the stage, I was taken aback. Although I knew some basic background information about the dance and what the dancers would look like, I was still startled when I saw the dancer covered in white and fully bald. As the dance continued, I became more and more confused. The style of dance was very new to me and I had never seen anything like it in my entire life. The way that the dancers moved their bodies seemed strange and awkward, like when they flailed their arms repeatedly as if grasping for something that was out of reach. Yet, it seemed much more profound and meaningful than what it was at face-value. Reading the program description of the dance, I was intrigued by the relationship that the dance seemed to have with gravity. This relationship was especially evident when the dancers fell to the ground and danced with their backs to the ground. It was difficult for me to understand what exactly the dancers were trying to depict with their movements, but the moves felt so mysterious and thought-provoking that I knew there was something special about the dance. Though I cannot say I thoroughly enjoyed the performance, I can definitely say that I was interested to say the least.
By the end of the dance, I was almost convinced that the performers weren’t human. Aside from the ghastly appearance, the movements they made were so far from any normal human function. The way they ran was short and quick, more like a scurry than a run. The way they moved so slowly and deliberately. The way they widened their mouths without making a sound was almost hard to watch, as if they were straining to speak but were unable to get anything out. Movements like these were so prevalent that by the end, it was hard for me to look at them as performers. It felt far more like I was watching strange but curious creatures up on stage. And perhaps that was part of the point of the dance, to throw the audience into a powerful area of discomfort. The themes of Sankai Juku’s performance weren’t human like a Shakespeare play or a symphony; they were clouded and abstract. The meaning behind their movement was incredibly alien, and I had to reach much further to grasp it. It really was like nothing else I’d ever seen, which made it a very interesting experience. I’d go again.
I was unfamiliar with any form of Japanese dance until learning about Butoh in my lecture class, thus I was unsure what to expect from Sankai Juku’s performance. It was definitely different from the only dance performances I have ever viewed-those demonstrated in musicals. Umusuna was very slow, smooth, and the dancers had very fluid movements. Most of the time, it was as though they were moving through water. By far the most exciting and shocking part of the overall show, to me, was the second part, “All that is born”. The dramatic music, red lighting, and the red-tinted outfits were almost horror-like. The dancers opened their mouths whenever there was a roaring sound in the music, as though they were the ones roaring, and I found that to be very interesting. It was my favorite part. I only wish that the program insert had included more background about each individual parts of the performance. Overall, I felt that the performance was very different from what I am used to and intriguing, and I left with an almost meditative feeling. I enjoyed it!
Amazing control, but too abstract. Reading up on the group’s work and their performance style of butoh had gotten me very excited for the performance: They appeared to be a group that uses abstract movements and style to convey the most elementary emotions and forces of nature. For this particular performance, “the birth of earth” sounded like a very promising title, where a lot could be explored, from the beginning of earth itself to the time of our entry into it. However, when it was time for the performance itself, I could not relate any particular part to its theme. I think the flaw in the performance (if it can be called a flaw) is that no context is provided for the audience. And when the audience has absolutely no context for interpreting an abstract work, then the movements and the emotions that could otherwise be called brilliant become simply nothing more than confusing randomness. One particular scene I can think of is one where one of the dancers was laying with his back to the floor, his knees bent, and one of his arms stretched out to the sky, and he appeared as if he was dying, his soul ready to leave his body. However, that theme did not seem to fit in the context of the events surrounding that scene, and so I had no idea if that was indeed the theme discussed. Overall, the movements were incredibly controlled, but I wish there was more context for interpretation.
You know that feeling, when you know you are witnessing an incredible work of art? When you just know that there is some deep significance and artistry that you know you should feel privileged to be witnessing? You try desperately to grasp the abstract concepts presented before you, trying glean any meaning or interpretation of something beyond your tiny thought process. And yet, you resign yourself to defeat, and you have absolutely no idea what’s going on. That was me during UMS’s production from Sankai Juku. I tried to prepare myself as best I could, through extracts of past performances, reading the background of butoh, and trying to get a sense of what was supposed to be very abstract, interpretive, and even grotesque. When the first section began, I actually found it quite pleasing to watch and listen to. Looking back, it did feel very much like a meditation, watching a form move so slowly and methodically with sweet music in the background. I thought to myself, “Huh, maybe this won’t be so bad after all.” I spoke MUCH too soon, as the lights suddenly turned to read and music because very disturbing, dissonant, so unlike the previous section. In all honestly, I could not wait for it to end.
While I watched the rest of the performance, I often switched between discomfort at the more outlandish sections and relief at the more traditional and peaceful sections, much like the “Mirror of the forest.” Perhaps it was not my favorite performance I’ve seen, but I do still recognize that I have to appreciate the art form, especially in regards to the context for its creation: a reaction to the horrors of WWII. I will say that I was proud of myself for making some connection to the dances as far as a storyline – to me, the various sections, in relation to “birth,” “earth,” and “death,” constituted the creation of a primordial form, emerging from the water, and evolving to become a modern human. Did I do wrong trying to make a connection instead of letting the performance just inspire me and affect me? Maybe. But that is what helped me appreciate it more. I think truly that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this performance was certainly no exception.
This performance is going to give me nightmares. I doubt I have the words to properly describe my experience. The dance was somehow an emphasis of human form, and at the same time completely alien. The combination of the loud, dissonant music, and the bizarre, unfamiliar dance moves was completely unnerving. At more than one point, the dancers barely looked like people at all, let alone individual humans in paint and costume. I could barely look away, and at the same time I didn’t want to watch. At one point, the dancers were lit all by red light, and kept mouthing roars in time to jarringly loud clashes from the music, like demons trapped inside of ancient Greek statues. Frankly, I found the performance terrifying, but for those who are comfortable with getting out of their comfort zone, 10/10 would recommend going if the opportunity presents itself.
The use of sand was magical. The clouds of dust that followed the movement of the dancers suspended time, allowing the dance to exist for just a little bit longer. It was like the dancers left a three-dimensional shadow, a tangible ghost, in the wake of their every step. This effect was especially powerful in the first dancer’s performance. His solo featured very gentle motions and facial expressions, with an occasional brisk movements highlighted by the sand. His delicate, controlled movements (synchronized with the peaceful noise of the music) transformed him into a God-like character, I thought. This was then contrasted with a highly painful and disturbing performance that was jarring in both sight (bright red lights and demented figures) and sound (screeching, discordant music). It felt as though the God-like soloist had made a perfect creation that was promptly dismantled by evil and demons.
I loved how Sankai Juko felt like both a modern art/performance art experience in some ways and a classic dance show in others. I almost felt like the set and the lighting could have stood on their own in a modern art exhibit, with the sand falling and the weights going up and down indicating shifts between harmony and imbalance. I thought the expressiveness of the different colored lights and the different music in indicating the different phases of the world’s development was so cool. I experienced the show as a classical dance through focusing on the human connections and the beautiful rhythm and harmony but I was also able to look at it aesthetically and see the dancers as something other than dancers, as sculpture, as components of a visual and kinetic landscape. Their movements were at times very animalistic and I was especially struck by their assumption of fetus like positions on the stage and the evolution they expressed and how they seemed to become something more than human. Overall, I thought the performance, though not what you’d expect from a generic dance performance, was a very thought provoking performance and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Going into this performance I purposefully refrained from having expectations because I really didn’t know what to expect. In this performance there were no movements without a purpose. The dancers moved with incredible precision, allowing the entire performance to flow effortlessly. Although I can appreciate the technique of this dance, I feel like I understood and appreciated the style after the first three segments. After that, the slow movements became indistinguishable from those in earlier segments. I am glad I had the opportunity to see this performance and be exposed to such a unique form of dance, and I may even try another performance of this style if I have the chance. However, this performance did not make an immediate fan out of me.
After all the articles I read about Sankai Juko and Butoh, I felt so prepared for the performance. However, once the dancing actually started, I realized that no amount of Wikipedia pages could have prepared me for what I was seeing. The movements were slow and controlled, yet complicated and powerful. I admit, I did a poor job analyzing the symbolism in the dance, but I was able to interpret it in my own unique way. I became immersed in the movements and found the whole dance to be a meditative and reflective event. It was interesting to see a dance that works with gravity instead of against it. I am so glad I had the opportunity to see this side of Japanese culture and I am grateful to the Sankai Juko company for coming to the University of Michigan.
Thoughts on Gravity
I find it fascinating that Amagatsu, the director of Sankai Juku, referred to butoh as a “dialogue with gravity.” I have never encountered a dance form that seeks to hold on to gravity – in contrast, most dances have leaps and lifts, elements that actually try to defy gravity. Watching Umusuna really opened my eyes to how the visual arts can be depicted in other ways. I was awed by the ability of this dance to use an interaction with gravity to represent different ideas. During the blue phase of the dance for example, when the dancers were huddled on the floor in fetal position, I could really feel the weight of gravity pulling the dancers down every time they tried to get up. This phase came right after the red phase, where I associated the movements to terror and pain; as a result, I interpreted the blue phase as a struggle to survive or find the will to live again. I saw this as a depiction of how sometimes pain can cause people to close up, and it takes a lot of strength to move on. I never thought about how this idea could be expressed with gravity until I saw this performance. It really demonstrated that there are infinite ways to convey an idea or present an art form. So, was this performance “great?” I feel like Umasuna was a great performance because it not only left a lasting impression on me as an art form, but it also got me to think about certain ideas like pain and recovery. I am left with these ideas to explore, and I think that is what makes butoh powerful – it is simple, yet through this “dialogue with gravity” it leaves the audience with a new perspective to think about.
With all the high expectations I had for this performance, I left feeling rather unsatisfied. I sat on the edge of my seat for the first 15 minutes, yearning and searching for a quickening of pace that never quite happened. There were definitely some moments that resonated with me. For instance, when the dancers lay curled on the ground—I believe in the beginning of the third movement—I felt a lot of pain and vulnerability as they shifted positions to the violent music; they struck me as childlike and new, not yet accustomed to life and the feeling of isolation. I also loved the simplicity and stylistic choices of stage set up, lighting and costume. It all felt very raw and elemental, which was a type of beauty I could appreciate. Overall, however, the performance simply couldn’t hold my attention. Perhaps as some of the other critics have said, in a better mindset and a more intimate space I could have better appreciated the dance and the intriguing culture it reflects, but that just wasn’t the case on Friday night. Instead, I left with a far greater portion of boredom than the inspiration I had been so looking forward to.
A swift flip of the hand and the performance was underway! When the first dancer came on stage and started moving ever so slowly towards the back of the stage, I thought I was in for a long evening. However, as soon as he motioned the lighting changed drastically and more dancers entered to join him on stage. I was struck throughout this performance by the intricate light displays. From the balcony, the patterns they cast across the stage were truly stunning, especially during the “in winds blown to the far distance” scene. To me, the lights carried the performance. They gave a sense of the time and place of each scene and added helpful visuals to aid my understanding of the dance. I wonder if the lights were as visible from the main floor! I enjoyed being in the balcony for this performance. By nature, it relies on looking at the motions of the dancers as a group, which was very easy to see from the higher perch.
I had difficulty watching Umusuna; I don’t particularly like abstract works, and western media heavily influences my ideas of entertainment and art. My expectations of performance are fast, straightforward, and literal. Sankai Juku defies all of these, and my experience of watching their dancing was therefore filtered through an earnest attempt to understand butoh. I spectacularly failed at this comprehension, and came away from the show more confused and disorientated about the nature of the art form and what I had witnessed than when I had entered the theater. Nonetheless, I believe it was an experience worth having. The most striking elements of the performance were the visceral depictions of the underlying themes of birth and life, and unsurprisingly, I connected most heavily with those depicted in a near literal fashion. The image of the dancers scuttling in the fetal position, both exposed and yet so patently alive, stuck with me as true look into the intentions of the performance. Their movements were confusing and conceptual, and yet drew the mind to the vulnerability of life and its beginnings. While I left Umusuna feeling like I “didn’t get it,” it still gave me plenty to think about.
Sankai Juku’s recent performance at the Power Center left me both intrigued and confused. I had never seen a performance like this before, and so I went in excited to learn a little more about Japanese culture. However, the loud screeching noises and the strange set left me confused. What did the sand falling from the ceiling represent? Also, I was confused by the music. Having no prior knowledge of Japanese culture, I was confused by the loud, disturbing sounds that were coming out of the speakers. What was the meaning of this, if there was any at all? Overall, I left the Power Center wondering what exactly it was that I had just sat through. I can’t say I really enjoyed the show, as most of it made absolutely no sense to me. What did everyone else think about the performance?
Ah, and that should be Sankai Juku, not Senkai Juku.
I was pleasantly surprised by Senkai Juku’s ability to combine the beautiful and the grotesque into a powerful performance. I found their minimal set and use of sand to be particularly impressive. The continuous stream of sand filling the stage was very striking, and the large sanded areas reminded me of Zen gardens, the dancers bodies creating the garden patterns. I’m unsure of the intentionality of that, but with Japan’s history of Zen Buddhism, I found it plausible. An audience member near me, who was Buddhist, also commented that many of the dancers’ movements resembled Buddhist prayer and meditation poses, a thought that also ties nicely into the show’s themes of life and death. The dancers interactions with the sand (rolling, running, sifting through it) also suggested an intimacy with the environment or a “dialogue with gravity” in an elegant way, while the streaming sand made time a omnipresent force of its own. They connoted much with a minimalist set—very impressive. And while I found the moments of more meditative movement to be extremely beautiful, the grotesque, ridiculous aspects of the dance were equally striking. Those rapid, almost violent sequences and gaping mouths combined with the show’s moments of peace to suggest the beauty and absurdity of life and death in a succinctly powerful way.
I couldn’t help but try and imagine what it would be like to be a Butoh dancer, as the performance seemed to be quite a transformative experience for the dancers. As a woman, however, I had to wonder: why is Butoh traditionally performed with male dancers? Will Senkai Juku or other modern Butoh dance companies ever incorporate female dancers in the future, or does tradition trump inclusivity? Overall, a wonderful, powerful performance.
For me, the experience of this performance was overwhelmingly intriguing, disgusting, captivating, and boring. I tried to do some thinking on the meaning behind the dance post-performance. I think that in the butoh-inspired dance work UMUSUNA: Memories Before History, Ushio Amagatsu, the choreographer, designer, and director of Sankai Juku, explores the development of humanity and its universal relationship while also suggesting that life is simply a dance with space and time. Amagatsu implores this concept by invoking physical constraints of the human body and using free-falling sand to symbolize the constant, irreversible passage of time. Amagatsu also reflects on the uncontrollable and unexplainable forces of nature, such as gravity. The relationship between Earth (through sand) and the living (through the performers) is highlighted in order that the audience may be enlightened to the superficiality of their own existence and their reliance on nature and its seemingly unchangeable laws. Amagatsu elaborates on this meaning in the program, stating that “dance is composed of tension and relaxation of gravity just like the principle of life and its process,” illustrating the elemental nature of human interaction with regular natural laws. Using music that is either wholly cacophonous or recognizably pentatonic, UMUSUNA mixes butoh’s traditional slow, decisive movements with the occasional sprint to both captivate and shock the audience. Color is also a factor of the performance; outside of the bland pale shade (much like the color of clay) that was painted on the skin of every performer, clothed their bodies, and masked stage, a red light could be cast to indicate terror, or a green light to reference nature through forestry. Amagatsu’s work is aimed towards humanity in order that one may simply reflect on the reliant (and sometimes grotesque) humanity in which one is irrevocably involved. Overall the performance was incredibly deep, but due to my inexperience with butoh and dance in general, I don’t know that I was able to fully appreciate the performance at the time of its showing, and I found its “weirdness” relative to the Western art that I’m used to both repulsive and tiring while still quite interesting.
This brings up an interesting and thought-provoking idea. Why is it that in Western dance style and performances in general, we always look for a story? We are in this never-ending search to know “what the plot was”. I can completely relate to what you are saying in this pos Kelly. I love ballet as much as the next person but Butoh was a new dance style that I have never seen before and that I really enjoyed, but only after I stopped thinking about what the story was. Instead, like you said, only once I stopped looking for a meaning and let my mind wander a bit was I enlightened by what the dance represented to me. No plot could show the importance of rebirth, beauty and roots quite like Butoh.
I can’t say I totally understood the performance by Sankai Juku. I have never seen anything like it. When I was reading Rachel’s blog post about her time in Japan, I really liked how she talked about her first experience with a Japanese performance. She said it made her realize that she’d only been exposed to a very small scope of literature. It’s the same with performance art. We’re confused by Butoh, I think, because it is so different from Western traditions. It’s very different from Western dance. In Western dance traditions, the dancer entertains the audience with leaps and jumps- things the audience probably couldn’t do themselves. For the most part, the Butoh dancers didn’t use their bodies in any spectacular way, except when they moved very slowly and showed spectacular control. It’s a different kind of entertainment. I think we might also be confused because there is no solid narrative. In the West, dances tend to accompany a story. Ballets definitely have stories. We are more comfortable with a performance if the meaning is laid out for us. In Butoh, the dance seems to be symbolizing something much bigger. I have no clue what that is, but I was able to enjoy the performance more when I stopped searching for one clear meaning.
Sankai Juku’s performance was so distant from the ordinary that it completely transformed my definition of theatre and dance. I recently watched a UMS production of Antigone, which was a modern take on Sophocles’ classic play that made extensive use of the set, stage and props in order to create a “world” within the performance. However, Sankai Juku made minimal yet effective use of props. The pan balance, which kept altering, seemed to be a metaphor for the world’s balance. For example, when it wasn’t in equilibrium, the lighting was a deadly red and the dancers’ movements became much more restricted and unnatural. When equilibrium was restored, the lighting turned to green and the movement was almost like a merry dialogue with gravity, as Butoh is often described. In terms of interpretation, “Memories Before History” leaves the door wide ajar. Having read about the origins of Butoh, I related the first part of the dance, which seemed to depict suffering, to the war. The second part could be related to resilience post the war. However, something that stayed constant throughout the show was what I’d call the “stream from the heavens”, which goes on to signal hope is what keeps mankind going. While it got difficult to follow at times due to the slow movements, the performance was a great platform for thought and introspection. The dance leaves the audience with various interpretations that can be applied generically and personally, which makes me wonder if this is one of the features of what could be classified as a “great performance”- a dilemma we are trying to get around in my course.
i agree totally
As a dancer, I can appreciate the muscle control, synchrony and precision that the dancers showed. The motifs and themes that were enacted — life and birth, terror, the vulnerability of humanity (all my interpretations, mind you) — were powerful and truly challenged me. In the digital age, we're so used to being bopped over the head with obvious themes and parallels; this required me to do more mental work.
On the whole, however, the performance was not enjoyable to watch. The movements were painfully slow and the power of the delicate movements was lost on a large stage. In current context, this was more performance art than dance, and I think the stage setting set up viewers for a much more dynamic performance. As I sat there, I couldn't help but think that the emperor was not wearing any clothes, and no one had the guts to admit it. I know butoh dance is an ancient medium, but I couldn't help but think the performance could have done a better homage to the old form by taking into account current sensibilities and modifying it to appeal to a modern eye. I venture to guess more people in the Ann Arbor area are now turned off to butoh dance than now devotees.
Having never been exposed to butoh before, this performance was a new experience for me. What I found especially interesting was how the dance focused on remaining on the ground, which contrasts many other dance forms that aim to get off the floor as much as possible. Instead, the butoh performers were more strongly rooted in the ground, either standing with a firm stance or on the floor itself. Because of this, much of their movement was done with their arms. Sometimes these motions were very slow, but it was clear every one had a distinct purpose and demonstrated the dancers’ fine control over their bodies. Besides being deliberate, I thought their movements succeeded in conveying the theme of the dance; for example, in the “Mirror of Forests” dance, the four dancers (two pairs mirroring each other) were often moving their arms in a manner similar to trees swaying in the wind. Although this might not have been a performance I would normally have attended, I found it interesting due to the fact that it was so different than the other dances I’m accustomed to watching.
I think that we can all agree that there was one particularly captivating segment in the butoh performance by Sankai Juku. Personally, the only segment I found true meaning in was the second skit; the one with the four performers, red background, guttural screaming, and general atmosphere of unease. I, personally, saw various aspects of deep symbolism that led me to believe that this was the director’s vision of Hell. The first aspect of the dance that gave me the impression that they were representing Hell was the incredibly harsh, dark red light. The lighting itself was not only blood red, but also created sharp contrasts on the bodies of the performers, making them seem even more grotesquely inhuman than they already looked. Then came the guttural, agony-ridden screams from the speakers, with the actors mimicking the screaming. The dancers were also in a group of 4, with 4 symbolizing death in Japanese culture. Similarly, the scales shifted from an equal position to a position in which one was higher and the other lower. This was reminiscent of the Scales of Justice, further indicating that this scene was more than just horrific, but rather that it related specifically to retribution. This dance was unique in that the dancers moved relatively quickly; compared to the other dances, which were all very controlled and slow, this dance involved a lot of scurrying and sharp movements, making their movements seem inherently more violent and inhuman. It seemed to me that each dancer represented a unique demon, demonstrated through the fact that each of them spun in a unique way. What I got out of the dance was a narrative of the transformation of 4 sinners who had died into horrific demons; the recently perished sinners begin by screaming in agony and using rapid movements in a desperate attempt to escape their Hell. However, as the dance progresses, the 4 sinners not only accept, but also embrace their fate as they are transformed into ungodly, inhuman beings when the other three dancers move in a circle around the dancer as she spins in a unique way. They were transformed by the unique sin that brought them to that Hell into a unique demon that represented that sin. The combination of the discordant screaming, harsh red light, and eerie costumes of the dancers truly made me feel more than uneasy, almost afraid.
What is a dance? It’s generally defined as moving rhythmically to music, typically following a set sequence of steps. I’m not exactly sure what I expected before going, but nothing could have possibly prepared me for the dramatic sequence of movements that is Butoh. The movements are powerful, bound to the ground without any springy leaps as ballet does, but combined with the lighting, there is just that amount of feeling that tells you that what you’re looking at is not human – the word that I’m looking for is ‘unworldly’. The feeling is much more animalistic and dangerous; the whiteness of the dancers’ painted skins and their shaved heads made me feel as if I were looking at a ghost or a corpse. The music changes from act to act and while some are booming out loudly and keeping you awake, the other scores crawl up on your backside and gives you the creepy crawlies. But the whole thing only does so much to keep you awake. The red lighting and the turn of the head as the dancers open their jaws wide in time with the animalistic screaming of the music is enough to grab your attention once, but only that once. Repetition is deadly to the attention span of the viewers, even if there are loud, shrill noises in the background, and I feel as if this was the case with Sankai Juku. While it was a unique performance and it was certainly nothing like I had ever seen before, at the end the performance left me very confused. Is the performance more leaned towards giving a message to its audience, or is it to find a way to express oneself? I am unsure of the answer.
I am not good with dance. When it comes to the fine arts, I love theatre, I always appreciate classical music, and modern art is fascinating to me. Dance, however, while often interesting, is not something I ever care to see. The only form of dance I know a thing about is ballet, and even then, not much. As a result, I was hesitant about the performance by Sakai Juku. In the end, however, I was fascinated by the whole thing. My difficulties with dance were certainly a hindrance, as I couldn’t always tell what was meant by most parts outside of relating actions to the title of the scene. That said, the actions by the dancers were captivating. Watching them go from very slow, careful movements to sudden twitches to fast, fluid spins were wonderful to see, even if I wasn’t sure why they were done. The skill and practice involved was worthwhile on their own. The “Mirror of Forests” section in particular was interesting; parts of it felt like an “ordinary” dance sequence, rather joyful even, but then the performers suddenly become alert and aware of their surroundings. I only have a tenuous connection to how that applies to the title, but I certainly felt the emotion involved. I enjoyed the entire show, and if I had enough experience to interpret it instead of being confused, it likely would have been fantastic for me.
I find the Japanese Dance UMUSUNA performed by Sankai Juku was meditative, enduring, and transcendental for me personally. Firstly, it was meditative because there was no words during the entire performance. The only components were images and non-verbal sounds. The lack of words left a lot of space for my imagination to wander, yet at the same time, I never felt empty or lost. I’d like to describe how I felt as all of my emotions that I went through in the past 19 years rushed through me one by one, while I’m able to detach from them. It’s exactly what mindful meditation is all about—to passively observe your thoughts and emotions without casting judgement on them. I had ample space and time to reflect on my life as I actively seek meanings and answers behind the seemingly perplexing exotic performance. Secondly, the performance was also enduring for me. The sheer length of it (1.5 hours) and the slow pace of the performance were quite a challenge for some people, especially for those who never meditated before. To be able to sit through with your mind awaken and mindful of every detail of the dance was a big achievement for all of us. I believe many people felt immense relief after it was over, not because of the “boringness” of it, but rather for its sublime meditative qualities. Lastly, the performance was also transcendental. I interpreted two hanging things on the back of the stage as two parts of a giant scale from heaven. Whenever it’s unbalanced, the theme of the movements reflected the worlds beyond our understanding. When the left side was lower than the right side, the theme was endless pain, horrifying torture, and absolute darkness, reflected by the red color. When the left side was higher than the right side, the theme was long-waited freedom, ultimate salvation, and overwhelming brightness, reflected by the blue color. When the scale was balanced, the theme shifted back to our mortal lives, projecting different categories of life events and emotions, such as birth, death, joy, or frustration. In a word, Sankai Juku’s UMUSUNA was indeed a magical and supernatural experience for many of the audience. The inexpressible, complexing feelings brought to me could not be perfectly put into tangible words, but I know it’s there. And it will always be. That’s the power of Japanese dance.
Despite genuinely enjoying the performance, moments during the Sankai Juku were disturbing to me as well everyone in the audience: I know this because we share a common history. The choreographed convulsing of the hairless painted dancers send chills down my spine as their bodies spun in sand. Left. Right. Bend up. Crawl to the other side. Fall back down. Comprehension of their cryptic movements was interrupted by a combination of senses ranging from confusion to disgust to admiration. Why was I so troubled? I am a firm believer that many human reactions are rooted in an evolutionary history. I am disturbed by the hairless pale bodies of the Sankai Juku troupe because those traits are indicators of disease, sickness, or even death: “Stay away!” The unnatural twisting and squirming of the trio in sand conjured an unconscious threat response within my body: “That is not healthy, normal human movement!” I am disturbed because I am pre-programmed to be. We are disturbed because we share a common evolutionary history.
Watching this play had the feeling of being on the outside of two people having an inside joke. As I sat in the Power Center utterly confused by the movements on the stage, I tried to comprehend this extremely different dance form what I was used to. After being perplexed for the first twenty minutes into the show I realized that the reason for me not understanding was because the dance was devoid of Western culture. Since my whole life has been immersed in Western culture, it was refreshing to watch something I had no familiarity with. So from this outsider’s aspect I thoroughly enjoyed the play, especially the music, yet I do not feel like I actually understood the messages that were being expressed. While I am able to appreciate the dance for the experience it gave me, I was just unable to grasp anything beyond the aesthetic and sonic planes.
If you are willing to put some effort into understanding the performance, you might find it interesting. But that is the problem. It seems that, for better or worse, there is no concrete plot, which definitely turns many people off. I was certainly wondering at times, “why are these scantily dressed older men rolling around in the sand?” However, it dawned on me that this should not be looked at like a play or a movie even if there are “actors” on stage. It is much more closely related to music in that there is no need for literal interpretation although there may be a theme. It is focused on how the performers move: very slowly and deliberately, but I was dismayed at how frequently they seemed out of sync with one another, and often their movements were, to me, excessively slow and repetitive. For someone who does not understand the intricacies of dancing as a performance, UMUSUNA is far too arduous to appreciate. As they say in show business, “I don’t see a lot of money here,” but that’s too bad, because it was a very artistic and thought provoking performance.
I left this performance feeling both touched but also confused. The emotional connection I felt to the dance stems from an understanding of the context in which Butoh, as a dance form, was created: In post-WWII Japan, where a decade of war had resulted in the most lethal single act of war in history, (the dropping of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and the complete upheaval of a political system that had been in place for centuries. And the beginning of the performance, I thought, communicated to the audience so much of what people in Japan must have felt during that time: A mixture of confusion, anger, fear, and despair. Perhaps more concisely, the beginning of the performance communicated a strong sense of anguish. This did not last long, however. I’m not familiar with the technical language of such a performance, but when the first dancer left the stage, and was replaced by a quartet of other dancers, the performance began to go downhill. From that point on, it seemed somewhat incoherent. The majority of the movements that dancers performed after that change were so subtle that, from the balcony, it was often difficult to tell whether they were moving at all. Such small, slow movement didn’t provoke emotion from me. When the dancers did perform faster, more exaggerated movements, they seemed, although visually captivating at times, somewhat out of place— a direct result of being in contrast with the rest of the movements, and being so few and far between. After the power of the first part of the performance, I was somewhat disappointed with the remainder of it. That being said, the beginning was powerful enough to ensure that attendance was not a negative experience. It simply was not the overwhelming positive experience I had hoped it would be.
Today, someone attempted to justify why they wore only one contact in each eye, for twice as long, alternating eyes. There were some arguments that had a semblance of logic, chiefly saving time or money. However there were some that made no sense. My favorite was the response to my claim that he would harm his vision unnecessarily, and have a rather poor prescription when he got older. To which, his rebuttal was, “Do you actually trust old who have good vision?” If you are confused at what you have just read, then you understand how I felt after attending the Sankai Juku performance of Umusuna on Friday night at the Power Center.
Ushio Amagatsu, leader of the Sankai Juku dance troupe, paints this Butoh style of dance as a “correspondence with gravity” and a “primordial conflict”. The dance was as abstract as the words Amagatsu used to describe it. There were parts where three dancers would lay down on the ground, and would coordinate their spins with each other to provide an interesting visual. In another portion of the performance five dancers would congregate in a far corner of the stage, only to sprint in different directions, perform more dancing, and move back to their starting location. Taken as individual “scenes”, I see the potential to be able to reflect and attempt to make some sort of understanding as to what was happening, but as whole I could not see what united the work and made it cohesive. The novelty of the dance wore off after half an hour of disjointed lighting and mood changes, and I found it difficult to pay further attention to it.
In other words, if the piece was half an hour long, or had some explicit structure to draw the piece together, I would have found it much more enjoyable. Perhaps adding a pre show discussion would have enhanced my understanding of the piece, but the way I saw it was much too abstract and outside my realm of understanding.
I have never seen a butoh performance before, so I had no idea what to expect going into this one: I wasn’t even sure if I would be capable of appreciating it. However, I surprised myself: as soon as the dance began, I was mesmerized. I think part of this was due to the fact that the music they chose as accompaniment for the first movement was instrumental and elegant, and did much to emphasize the already-present grace in the dancers’ movements. Since the first movement was not grotesque or uncomfortable in any way, I felt at ease and was able to see the beauty in the dance, and this allowed me to more easily appreciate the subsequent movements, especially the second one. That was, perhaps, the hardest to view, since the music was heavy and dissonant, and the dancers embodied this by opening their mouths in time to the music. I was also surprised during this movement (and some of the later ones) that the movements were so quick. There were, of course, plenty of movements that were so slow they almost appeared jerky, and movements that were slow but expressive—but this performance, especially movement 4, had lots of quick movements too. This was interesting, even though I knew going into the performance that Sankai Juku incorporates a little more Western influence than is traditional, because it added another dynamic element to the dance, and maybe made it more accessible to Western audiences.
I have little experience with dance outside of musical theater, but I was truly blown away by the intricacy of this performance. The dancers transitioned between synchrony and individualism with grace and precision, specifically in the section where 3 of the dancers started in the fetal position. At one point, all 3 of them were doing a worm-like move in sync, and then in the blink of an eye they had shifted to performing the move on their own time. Then, two performers synced up while one was on his own time. These different patterns seemed to mesh together like cogs in an unfaltering machine until, all of the sudden the dancers were back together, like magic. Considering the music had no established beat or time signature, how did the dancers establish counts, or any system, that would allow them to move together, separate into their own movements, and then come back together? However it may have been done, I felt the performance displayed the ideology of “power in numbers” very well. Because the white powder stripped the performers of any noticeable physical differences, and their synchrony was on point, I viewed the dancers as a single mass instead of individual dancers. I believe this amplified the emotional appeal of the performance. When the performers were in close proximity, moving together, as opposed to scattered about the stage, I could feel the focus, the intensity, but also the serenity of the movements. It put me in the heart and soul of the dancer and allowed me to catch a glimpse of what they were feeling as they presented this magnificent show of complexity and raw emotion.
Sankai Juku’s Memories Before History was an unique experience that captured the immense power of expression through dance. I loved how the performers were able to effectively communicate with the audience through their “dialogue with gravity”; the slow, meticulous movements carried (almost paradoxically) a huge amount of beauty and energy. In the opening scene, for instance, the precision of the performer as he walked down the stage was mesmerizing. Each painstakingly slow step was carefully calculated as the sifting sound of falling sand filled the stage. I felt an (again, almost paradoxically) ethereal sense of power, a journey into a sort of “humanness” (stripped of the superfluous elements of life) that could not be put into words. This idea resonated throughout the rest of the performance. Every act, in fact every movement, seemed to carry an indescribable feeling that touched at the core of our essential beings, and seemed to capture some vital part of our emotional spectrum (whether rage or ecstasy or grief). This was all despite the fact that I did not fully understand everything that was going on. I do not truly comprehend Japanese dance, and I was thus thoroughly confused at multiple parts throughout the dance. Even with my lack of understanding, I still sensed a deep sense of energy and calm, and felt that the piece touched at a “basic” element within us all. The performers, through the slow power of their “dialogue with gravity,” connected with the audience and revealed the essential parts of being human.
During the beginning moments of the Sankai Juku performance, I had a very difficult time understanding what I was watching. I couldn’t understand the message being conveyed as I tried to decipher the literal meaning behind every movement. However, as the night went on, I became increasingly aware of the broad range of emotions expressed by the dancers, despite the minimal style of the Butoh dance. Because the dance itself wasn’t very visually pleasing, I realized that it was important to judge the performance based on its ability to convey poignant emotions rather than its entertainment value. I could especially connect with the feelings of terror and pain as the dancers produced muted screams. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the performance and something that kept catching my eye was the stream of sand descending from ceiling, collecting in a pile on the stage for the duration of the performance. In a dance so abstract, it was nice to have some sort of constancy as well as something to mark the passage of time. Although at times I did find it difficult to stay engaged with the performance due to its slow and repetitive nature, I did leave the venue wanting to learn more about this unique dance form.
Irregularly and awkwardly shaking my own leg in my seat as I watched the Sankai Juku performance last Friday night, I was dumbfounded by the dancer’s steady, calculated movements for extended periods of time. The dancer’s moves were so gradual yet so graceful that even the smallest flick of the wrist in the first act was distinctly noticeable. This type of dance performance requires so much stamina and discipline that the dancers soon earned my admiration.
I was also able to appreciate how similar all the dancers looked, with their shaved heads and simple clothing, allowing me to really focus specifically on all of the movements and changes in scenery. I think my favorite aspect of the dance performance was watching the slight color changes in the dancer’s white clothing being accented with a matching background. For example, when the dancers white costumes were highlighted with a green piece of cloth, the background responded by adding a subtle green lighting. However, during the fourth act, when the middle strip between the two risen parts of the floor was flooded with blue light, the four dancers on the stage crouched next to this extraneous light in amazement, representing how any variation in the stage filled with uniformity was bizarre. As a result, the synchronization among the dancers was broken, symbolizing how they were almost unable to cope with this nonconforming aspect of the stage. These elusive messages really facilitated me to analyze even the smallest of changes and kept me actively engaged throughout the performance.
In the beginning of the show, I occasionally found myself unable to concentrate as the agonizingly slow dance moves and melodic tunes in the background had me dozing off. However, as the night progressed, I developed a newfound respect for this type of dance form that I had never been previously exposed to before. The patience required to constantly move at such a slow speed really grasped my attention and attained my appreciation.
The male dancers were twirling their fingers freely as if they were playing an instrument. Confused, I stared at the stage more alertly. At this exact moment, a rhythmical beat came from the back of my row. As the humming sounded off, the hands of the dancers stared twirling in various directions, then shortly, the bodies of the performers started twisting. In a curved path, dancers skipped across the stage in a calm yet furious wave-like fashion. Their upper bodies swung down freely, as if affected by the gravitational force. I immersed my soul in the movements, and my thoughts drifted up and down and left to right, just like an unnoticeable yet powerful tide in the vast ocean. The humming synchronizes astonishingly with the rhythm of the “finger dance” on stage. It wasn’t until my neighboring seat: a 60-year old man, annoyingly tapped and scolded that rude “noise-maker” awake had I realized the noise was from a snoring student. Sorry for disrupting the show, that student left reluctantly and quietly. I actually felt pitiful towards my fellow classmate. Maybe he was tired from an intramural sport competition, or maybe he was exhausted from midterms. The tranquil yet powerful movements on stage helped the exhausted freshman get the rest he needed. No stories were told explicitly during the dance, but implicitly, the motion of the dancers’ bodies, in a way, depicts their desire to hold on to time as sand in the hourglasses in the background and on stage run slowly. The sleeping student parallels this theme because he wanted to sleep longer. He, like everyone else, wanted time to freeze when asleep. The dancers were going against the falling sand. They were trying to prevail gravity. They were counteracting the laws of nature. I’m sure that asleep student would do the same things if he could, too. I know I would.
At first, I did not know what to perceive of the pasty white, bald dancers making internalized, yet powerful movements throughout the stage. If you desire to observe a peculiar, yet fascinating dance style, Shankai Juku is the ideal performance. I expected usual a dance performance where I leave with clear interpretations of messages and a natural connection to the pieces. I left this performance feeling unsettled, perplexed, and very intrigued. I was most engaged following the first serene section with one dancer performing slow and controlled movements and an “hourglass” of sand slowly trickling onto the stage as a visual symbol of the passing of time on earth. Immediately, a thunder sounding noise transformed the stage from a soft yellow color into a sea of red. The tone abruptly shifted from serene to distressing and disturbing. The dancers constantly swayed with sudden jerky and sharp movements. I was captivated by this movement style, yet not sure what to make of it. What did these jerky movements represent? How can they connect to the severely anguishing facial expressions of the dancers? It could represent the stark contrast between the life and death and the jerky movements represent the oppositions faced in life. A slight cacophony of electrical-sounding music and thunder-like noises continued booming throughout the theater, contributing to the unsettling mood. I understood the desolate tone of the piece; however, I could not wrap my finger around the exact causes of the dancer’s distress and what it represents. I can attribute it vaguely to the tendency for evil in human nature and humans’ ability to deceive. The intensity and wavelength of the dancers’ movements continued to increase which can represent the tendency for evil developing over time until culmination. Overall, this performance was bewildering, yet extremely fascinating.
The performance by Sankai Juku was unlike anything I have ever seen, heard, or felt! I had a hard time connecting to the performance because of this. I was quite confused about the meaning of the work. At the end of the show, I thought the way in which the performers took their bows was incredibly interesting. Each dancer bowed in their own fashion and yet they did so in union. I felt as if the performers were still in character during this moment. They still moved slowly, as they had during the show, and with a certain blank face, as they did not smile or laugh. This intrigued me because normally I enjoy seeing performers take their bows not as the characters they were portraying on stage during the performance but as themselves. This moment typically makes me feel more connected with performers as it shows their humanity. The look of relief after completing another show or a giggle with a fellow castmate demonstrates how the performers might act in their daily lives. As I did not get to see a glimpse into a different side of these performers, I felt even more separated from them. I admire what they did on stage, but I did not quite get it.
While I come from a diverse dancer background of both ballet and hip-hop, this Japanese traditional “dance” was like nothing I’ve ever seen. I found the performance of Sankai Juku unique, confusing, and, to be honest, at times, haunting. The performance was devised into seven sections which all comprehensively related to the theme “memories before history,” or, memories of the unborn. The third section, “memories from water,” will forever remain imprinted on my mind.
The memories from water section follows the “all that is born” section, an incredibly haunting and disturbing display with fiery red backgrounds and monstrous growling noises in sync with the dancers’ movement of their mouths. “Memories from water”, however, begins with a serene vibe as the dancers assume fetal position atop the sand, a blue background now replacing the fiery red. The dancers follow a set of movements that become repetitive throughout the scene: remaining in fetal position while creating circular spirals, inchworm-like crawling on the sand, and then subtle display of their hands with intricate movements of their fingers. To me, these movements were as far from a form of dance as one could get; however, the emotional affect created on the audience as a result of these dance moves was nonetheless a powerful one, as with any other performance I’ve attended or performed in.
The emotions that ran through my mind were a mix of confusions composed of being simultaneously disturbed and intrigued. More so, disturbed. The silence on behalf of the actors was piercing, the movements were confusing, and the audible “music” one could here was far from a sound with a tune, but nonetheless, this art form went greatly appreciated and reveled—I just think I didn’t get it.
“Dizzying, inebriating, and spiritually elevating” is how I would describe my experience of viewing the Sankai Juku’s performance of Butoh. During the entire performance, my body was hunched forward, trying to get closer to the stage, while sweating on the outside but cold inside due to the constant electrical current running through my body from head to toe.
One of the most memorable scenes that fits my description of the performance perfectly was the “red scene.” Among the five colors that appeared on stage (white, red, yellow, green, and blue), red, for me, was the most energetic one that I literally couldn’t take my eyes off from. The four dancers started their movement from the rear left corner of the left rectangle of the stage. Slowly turning and twisting, they resembled a flickering flame. Time to time they gaped their mouths as if to suck everything inside them. Then, as a light of a match grows into a forest fire, their movement became bolder and soon, they take over the entire stage. Like a moth drawn to a flame, I was captivated by the radiant light of the performance, and, even though only momentarily, I felt as if my core, spirit, inner-self, or whatever you may call, was caught on fire.
Overall, the performance was very abstract but concrete at the same time, depicting different elements around us, like fire, air, ground, water, and forest. However, several other elements were not so clear to me. One is the color difference of the two rectangles on stage during the “beige/yellow scene,” which seems to portray growth of life from the ground. I do not understand why the left rectangle was shone with blue light while the right rectangle, the one that the dancers moved to, was shone with beige. Also, the shape of the shadow on the rectangle is another mystery to me. The most confusing part for me are the moving scales. What do they represent? What does their movement symbolizes? Those would be my first questions to Ushio Amagatsu if I ever get an opportunity to ask him about the “Umusuna: Memories before History.”
Still strangely haunted by this ritualistic meditation/performance. I was constantly drawn in by the different aspects of the set – the sand, the two planes on the ground, and the subtle scale that was tipping in the background – surprisingly though, not by the unsettling movement happening on the stage. The set, in itself, was stunning. Walking into the performance I noticed the sand falling from the ceiling of the stage, but little did I realize that the two planes were covered in sand until the dancers began to trace shapes on the ground (specifically during the second, darker piece). The perfect stillness of the sand in the beginning has been on my mind since the end of the performance. How had they gotten it so smooth? Was it supposed to be as entrancing as it had been for me? I may be reading into it too much, however I saw it as the “before history” aspect — before there was chaos from living beings, there was pure peace. Although I still do not know entirely how I feel about the show as a whole, I loved watching the set develop. Yes, it was already on stage as I walked into the theatre; yet there was something about watching the sand fall or the scale tip to stage right during the darker scenes/ towards stage left when innocence was the theme that was completely and entirely enticing. For example, when the first piece (with one man slowly walking toward the sand) ended and the second piece (with four dancers and darker music) started, the scale upstage of the dancers tipped to stage right and the lighting over it turned red.
However, that’s entirely it. Perhaps it was the slowness in which the dancers moved or the slightly hibernation-inducing music, but my attention was fully on the set — rather than the actual show. During the pieces of the show in which I made myself focus on the dancers, I was very confused by the movements and the meaning of the pieces. They seemed very repetitive and slow, and no matter how hard I tried I was always drawn right back into the beauty of the set pieces.
The concept of “Dialogue with Gravity” that Sankai Juku interpreted was a very interesting and abstract one. I felt as though the music and movements seemed to symbolize winds — however there seemed to be not much disruption of gravity itself. Throughout the entire performance, the central pillar of sand fell in a strictly linear fashion, which gave it the characteristics of an hourglass — almost as if they were the sands of time, uninterrupted and let to flow freely. The lateral sandfalls came off as balances, with a different proportions representing a new dance scene. With each downpour of sand, the sand fell straight down — yet the music and kinetics of the performers seemed to suggest wind-like themes, which would disrupt gravity and skew the sand movement in multiple directions. If this was the intention of Sankai Juku, I was wondering why Sankai Juku chose the undeviating sandfalls rather than have them be affected by the winds.
Thank you for coming to perform at the University — it was an enlightening cultural experience.
I agree, a personal reflection from the dancers would’ve been touching, but I’m not sure it would necessarily help the audience understand much more. It seems part of the reaction the audience is “suppose” to feel from the dance is confusion. It might help to think of the dance how you want it to be, or how it made you feel. This is how Butoh “comes from within, out.” After all, it was a dream on stage: some details blurred, others sharply distinct. Time and gravity were warped, and with a variety of sounds that in the end all oddly suited the distinct dances and united them. I never understand everything in my dreams, but then again some things are never meant to be understood fully.
I did not understand the message of the Sankai Juku performance. While I was confused about the movements and sand that was on the stage, I did have a connection with the different sounds throughout the dance. The show started with silence and I thought this was a powerful way to capture the audience’s attention. Eventually, the sound effects of falling sand could be heard before turning into a song. The music throughout was very tranquil and beautiful, but did change into loud, heavy, distorted sound, which instantly altered the mood of the dancers and audience. At one point, the soundtrack featured an orchestra, and it was easy for me to see the connection between the dancer’s movements and the music. While watching this performance, I often wondered what this performance meant to the dancers and how did they feel when performing? I think that hearing a personal reflection from a Butoh dancer may help me understand the meaning of their dances.
The slow, expressive, and controlled movements of the dancers had me slightly disturbed while still being mesmerized. Their ghostly appearance made up of shaved heads and white skin made them seem like other-worldly creatures. My favorite part of the whole performance was definitely the second dance they performed composed of red lights and haunting music. The dancer’s gaping expressions reminded me of someone silently screaming which matches the vibe I got from the set, music, and dance movements. When they moved into a backwards L-shape on the left rectangle, the music brought to my mind a gun being cocked and shot. Their movements in these moments were very deliberate and matched the music. There were fast spurts surrounded by long periods of slow movements. I did notice that circles were used a lot in the performance, and in this particular dance. The dancers moved in circles, circles were “drawn” on the floor in the sand, and the spotlights and small lights in the background were circles. For me this symbolized a cycle and completion. Another thing I noticed about the set is that the sand falling from the ceiling could represent time passing, like an hourglass. This would correspond with the theme of the performance: “Memories before History”. The only negative feedback I have for the performance is that I wondered if they were supposed to be dancing differently or if they were just out of sync/ making small mistakes. Some of the dance movements seemed rather random and I question whether those moments where the dancers were moving their bodies in all different ways were choreographed or if they were made up on the spot. Additionally, by the end of the performance I was a little bored. However, I would see another performance by Sankai Juku if I had the opportunity.
I was taken aback by this performance, but not for the reason that I had previously anticipated. Rather than being overwhelmed by an intense performance that I could not relate to, I was intrigued by the ideas that the dance drew my attention to. I think that the falling sand is a great representation of time. When the first dancer interacted with the sand by reaching for the falling sand and tracing his arms, as if to bathe in the sand, I reflected upon the occasions when I have tried to make every second count, such as when visiting family or friends, only to watch time slip away in the end. I was amazed that the dance could be so controlled yet flexible at the same time; the slow dance forced me to look at the dancers’ full body movements rather than focus on the individual body parts that were moving. The slow speed of the dance allowed me to appreciate the strength inherent in the dancers as well as the power projected by the dance. I liked this performance because I found it quite thought-provoking.
Sankai Juku, a dance of vulnerability, fear, and existence was quite a unique experience to watch, especially given my lack of familiarity with dance performances. The dancers’ crisp energy and precision captivated me at times, but the abstract nature of this artistic expression also left me confused at others. Coming into the performance, I did not know what to expect from it. The movement that stood out to me the most was the second one, with the red light shining down as the fast-moving and enchanting dance conveyed sharp emotions of horror, energy, and anxiety. Each movement seemed to speak to me personally as they brought out different moods, as the performers displayed excellent muscle control and syncopation. Despite being very confused throughout the performance, afterward, I began to gain a sense of appreciation for the different elements of the performance. I realized that the sand falling in the background demonstrated the slow passing of time, which may have been relevant to the people of Japan at that time, considering the origin of the dance was from the post World War II era. This context may be important in explaining the many different themes of rebirth and horror. I also realized that the movement with the performers curled up and progressively rising up represented the process of life. However, I still had many questions about the performance. What did the two balances hanging from the ceiling represent? What was the meaning behind the costumes of the performers? This dance, captivating at times yet confusing at others, was unique in that it allowed the audience to make meaning out of its abstract nature.
Never have I ever experienced a performance that was as thought provoking as the Sankai Juku performance. It was very interpretive which contributed to both its confusing and inspiring nature. Because the motions of the dancers had no distinct, preset meaning, I was able to choose what I wanted the dance to represent. The scene I enjoyed most was the third one with the blue lighting in the background, perhaps because this was the one that I understood the most. I felt that this scene was very representative of the human life cycle. From the very beginning when the dancers were curled on the floor to their gradual progression to standing and then walking, it seemed to represent human growth starting from birth. The presence of raw emotion in the Sankai Juku performance was unparalleled to that of any other dance I have ever seen. Having had experience as a dancer, I was also intrigued by the motions of the dancers which seemed to be emotionally derived rather than systematically. For example, in ballet, the teacher can simply call out a few terms and the students will know what to do. In the Sankai Juku performance however, each motion seemed carefully constructed to have some type of meaning. It was not just the dancer’s that contributed to the performance; the setting was also an essential aspect. The constant flow of sand and fluctuation in the scale presented the analysis that as time goes on, there will be a change in what powers dominate our lives as each time the scale shifted, a new scene began. The comprehensive nature of the Sankai Juku performance made it a very unique experience.
Many of my friends felt that they didn’t understand it and therefore didn’t like it, but I rather enjoyed the dance! I found many aspects of this Butoh art form to be very unique and different than what I usually see in performances of Eastern culture, but I was still able to pull out the messages of life and connectedness to the earth quite explicitly. The strange, heavy movements of the dancers supported the idea that we are all connected to the Earth and belong to it. The sand simply (and strongly) symbolizes the Earth itself. The grotesque appearances of some performers and the background music at first was off-putting, but I took it to mean that we were connected to earth in the most primitive and natural fashions possible; we are deeply rooted to it. So, in short, many of the obscure and “scary” aspects that people associate with the performance I found to be very unique, meaningful, and I really enjoyed the performance overall.
I really wish I understood that. I really, really do. I can appreciate the imagination and creativity at play, but to be honest, I spent most of the performance being confused and slightly disturbed. The second and third segments I found particularly uncomfortable, especially when they had their mouths open as if they were screaming the music.
Something I’ve been thinking a lot about since seeing the performance is something we discussed in my theatre classes in high school: Diderot’s Paradox. While it is technically a specific question of acting, I think it is an interesting question to bring up in relation to butoh: which is more important, the emotions of the performer or the emotions of the audience? Much of mainstream Western art is focused on the emotions of the audience, which I think is one of the things that sets butoh apart. Yes, it is always nice for the audience to be engaged and experience catharsis when watching a performance. However, I don’t think that is the point of butoh. I think it is as much or even more about what the performers feel, especially given that it is supposedly an art form that comes from the inside out. If I look at the performance from that perspective, I can appreciate it a little bit more and acknowledge that my enjoyment was not necessarily the goal. I certainly hope the performers got more out of it than I did.
I left the theatre perplexed, uncomfortable, and wondering if everybody in the audience felt the same way. This type of performance is not a part of our culture, so I do not want to judge harshly seeing as I do not understand it. I can appreciate it, and I am glad I went, as I have never seen anything like this before, but I think once was enough for me.
Watching Sankai Juku perform the Butoh dance was an interesting experience. It was difficult for me to really understand what the purposes behind the different dance scenes were. I was trying to understand what the significance of the two sand pits and the stream of sand from the sky were, but could not come up with any plausible answer. The movement of the dancers did seem to try to play with gravity, as their movements were slow and gradual. One interesting thing I noticed in the performance was the relationship between fast motions and slow gradual motions of the dancers, because movements seemed to switch between these two extremes. Overall, I could tell the performance carried a lot of emotion and meaning, even if I was not able to pinpoint it exactly.
I agree. I think in Butoh, there are many juicy contradictions, and I love your description of a “moving sculpture.” I would image these dancers spend a lot of time with each other and get to know each other and themselves quite well, not just from their off-the-stage lives, but also from their inward-out performance on the stage. I am also curious as to how much these dancers rehearse, as perhaps Butoh needs some degree of improvisation and spontaneity to represent a dancer’s inner thoughts.
I think another description of the dancers I would give is “collectively individual,” a contradiction because one must sacrifice their individuality to act within a group. Many might believe that Butoh is a dance which requires many anonymous, whited-out dancers to collectively represent some abstract idea, but I believe the opposite is true. Maybe Butoh dance is the message achieved by summing the contemplative movements of the only superficially standardized men. Though they on a larger structure danced with similar movements, if you looked closely you would see each with a distinctive style and slightly off movements. I know I noticed a slightly different quality to movement, if you will, from the same dancer in different scenes.
I saw the Sankai Juku performance to be one of many contradictions. Among the most interesting was the coordination and connection observed between members during the dance, with no physical contact and rare eye contact between them. This made me wonder about the lives of the dancers outside of the performance, in terms of how much time they spend together in rehearsal or if they spend time together outside of the Butoh dance. Another observed contradiction came to me in a note I made during the performance. I jotted down the phrase “moving sculpture,” which is an inherent contradiction because sculptures cannot move. However, this phrase was how I best described the phenomenon of the dancers themselves. I am curious to hear how others would describe the dancers, and try to explain how they managed such a fluid and connected performance while moving individually.
I have very little experience with dance as a medium, and usually dance performances leave me profoundly confused, but thankfully I was able to appreciate this performance by Sankai Juku better than most. As whole, I found that it captured life and nature in a really unique but meaningful way. The opening segment, where the lone dancer was seemingly energized by the flowing sand, was a quite interesting way to begin the performance; and later, in the third movement “Memories from water”, the actors being curled in the fetal position and progressively coming out of their shell, I think reflected brilliantly the raw essence of the beginning of life. The ascending and waving movement of the dancers in the “Mirror of Forests” movement actually very much resembled the movement of trees, in a way I did not think human dancers would be able to capture. Dance can be a really abstract medium of expression, but despite the abstractionism of this performance, I really felt there was a lot to appreciate and relate to. The dancers made nature and life come alive and I really enjoyed being able to watch this.
Overall, the performance was a delightfully alien experience for me. I felt as if the dancers’ energies were in sync with the music in a manner contradictory to traditional expectations. Usually, the song provides a backdrop for the performers to showcase their talents in a flamboyant or explicit manner; however, the Sankai Juku showcased the music through the movements of the actors. For example, the blue segment of the performance utilizes the dancers to express the calm, relaxed atmosphere expressed by the auditory; the dancers themselves seem to merely mirror the music as they lay on the mat. To some, this may seem boring and lackluster; however, their movements portray the music in a manner similar to subtle poetry. While not initially accessible, one can savor the music in a more potent manner through simple, universal gestures enabling greater degree of musical communication.
The mesmerizing shapes moving around the stage, are those actually people? This was the main question running through my mind during Sankai Juku’s performance. I was amazed by how unhuman the whole production looked. All the dancers’ shaved heads and white painted bodies transported them out of their everyday lives as humans and into their role as an unnamed being. The piece that stood out to me the most was “Memories from Water” with the three men in simple skirts. On each screech of the audio, when the dancers changed positions into the next of the sequence, either spinning around on their sides, lifting only their shins into the air, or sitting up with their legs folded under them, they reminded me of slimy creatures emerging for the first time. In a lot of movements, there were limbs sticking out in places that didn’t look natural and almost made me want to cringe. What shocked me the most throughout the performance were the grotesque facial expressions. The dancers opened their eyes wide, their mouths wider, and flexed their fingers for another layer of tension. No matter how hard I thought about it, I struggled to associate the extreme expressions of the dancers to a human emotion I recognized. As the performance went on, I felt more and more like I was inside someone’s mind. Instead of humans experiencing these emotions, I felt like the dancers were the emotions terrorizing a mind. Although completely different from anything I had experienced before, I am still utterly shocked and in awe that what I saw on stage was created and executed by the human body and mind.
I found Sankai Juku not exactly to be “enjoyable,” but rather to be “thought provoking.” It’s the type of dance you enjoy thinking about afterward more than the actual performance. During the performance, I was assaulted by the seemingly pointless hand movements of the dancers and their grotesque unreal-looking bodies. I was confused by the symbols, such as the sand and costumes, and was unable to focus on any given element of the performance long enough to understand. Afterward, however, I began to appreciate the accuracy with which the play communicated to the audience its bleak view of the human condition. The frantic ineffective hand motions represent the pointlessness of so much we do in life; the sand represents the constant march of time; the dancers themselves represent a generic view of mankind. The unenjoyable aspects of the performance thus actually aided the director in communicating his method, and thus, was ultimately worth it.
The Sankai Juko performance was unlike anything I have seen before. Actors covered from head to toe in white makeup performed interpretive dances to strange music as a steady flow of sand fell from the ceiling throughout the showing. Although I had trouble finding meaning within the dances and spent much of the time confused by what was happening on stage, I found myself entranced by the performance, unable to look away, as if I were staring into the mesmerizing flames of a fire. As the actors repeated motions and formations on stage, patterns in the performance became noticeable to the point where many of the dancers’ actions were predictable. The performance was so abstract I found it hard to relate to, but it was able to evoke feelings of tranquility during the slow peaceful parts of the dance with warm lighting and made me feel panicked and on edge during the segment with fast frantic dancing under red lighting. Watching the performance was a good opportunity for me to be exposed to other cultures and arts, but with my limited background in butoh dance and related performances, I left with a sense that I was not educated enough to get all that I could have out of the experience.
I did not enjoy the performance as much as I had hoped to. I found it to be too long and pretty monotonous. It was challenging to identify the meaning of the movements, which made the dances uninteresting and hard to follow. Additionally, the dancers demonstrated almost no emotion, the only exception being when they seemed to silently scream—an aspect that I found quite unnerving—and as a result I was not emotionally invested in the performance. I am having some difficulty calling the production a dance. I think it was more performance art as the staging and lighting seemed to be just as important as the movements. I did really enjoy the use of sand on stage. I am not quite sure of the meaning, but I liked the imagery of the dancers making imprints in the sand and of the sand piling on the stage as the dances progressed.
“Psychologically troubling” would be a good way to describe my impressions of Sankai Juku’s performance. Most of the pieces were tranquil to an almost eerie extent. The movements were full of resistance and were extremely controlled and contained. The most disturbing piece was set under dark, red lighting and used unsettling music. The dancers’ mouths were gaping open, giving the impression that they were screaming. They moved their arms in a seemingly distressed way, as though they were trying to escape something. I would love to know what the inspiration for that piece was. While most of the pieces reminded me of nature, I feel like that one could have been inspired by the events of World War II. But, to my confusion, the piece is titled “All that is born.” The dancers circled each other in ways that resembled the orbiting of planets around the sun, so perhaps it is about the birth of the universe.
Even though the performance is supposed to encompass pre-history, I found it impossible not to interject my own views of the world onto the dancers. The fourth movement, in all its’ yellow glory, made me think almost immediately of hazmat suits. It was if I was watching the aftermath of a nuclear fallout and seeing humans beginning to interact with the Earth again. The performers seemed to me to be the custodians of a world where only sand remained. I understand that this was probably not Mr. Amagatsu’s intention when creating this piece, but I wonder if I should feel justified in having this reaction? Perhaps the glory of these pieces is that they are free for interpretation by any viewers as part of a joint human experience? Am I wrong to inflict my own interpretation on it and is there any one, singular way to view a performance? Indeed, Mr. Amagatsu is working in quite a specific cultural lens that my thoughts might be entirely inappropriate for this piece.
Sankai Juku is not the kind of the dance which you have to fully understand in order to appreciate, but it does inspire me to think a lot. Sankai Juku presents abundant elements of Asian philosophy, through which it integrates and reconstructs the complicated feelings of human beings towards the space-time and thus delivered a passionate eulogy towards life.
Color was a major theme of the performance. Red, blue, yellow, green, and flesh color, in Asian philosophy, represents the five basic elements of the world: fire, water, wind, soil, and human. The color red created an environment of purgatory, in which people screamed so exhaustedly and desperately as to be noiseless. The color blue was full of vigor, just like what the word “water” reminds us of. The actors curled up on the ground like tiny worms, trembled when they heard the sounds of thunders and birds, and struggled to molt, grow, and evolve. These nascent creatures tentatively stretched out their horns—dancers’ arms, drew them in, and stretched out again, demonstrating an exploration towards an outer world which every life may experience. What came then with the sound of the wind was the yellow scene. Dancers waved their arms up and down, front and back, as if they were groping for something in the vacuum. Then the color green brought to the stage a majestic music, with which dancers stretched their arms up and down as if trees were growing up overwhelmingly, embracing the light of the sun and absorbing the nutrition of the soil. The performance, named the “dance of darkness”, actually discussed how lives, created in darkness, entered this world and found their own positions here. In this new space they experienced the repression and fear, exploration and transformation, struggle and pursuit, as well as the final transcendence. Without time and life, space is nothing but a perpetually static vacuum. But the dynamics of life, along with the idea of “time” indicated by the everlastingly falling sand in the background, endowed the space with a direction towards future—only with life, could there be future. Thus, the performance, starting with a body-monologue in the flesh color, continued with the horror of red, the life of blue, the pursuit of yellow, and the growth of green, and finally ended up with the return of the flesh color. The dancers were kneeling and rotating ceremonially, worshiping towards the greatness life meant to the world with the collective identity as human beings.
The ultimate theme of the performance, “the dialogue with gravity”, was thus deepened. The dancers showed the motif of growth through depicting that lives, although restrained by the ground, explored the world unceasingly and never gave up to reach higher. The motif of time was also connected to gravity, since it was shown by the falling sand, as if the fluidity of time was driven by the force of gravity. Hence, the performance united the motif of life, time and space together philosophically in the idea of “one”, the core of meditation.
Honestly I would say that Sankai Juku actually provided many indescribable moments, because words work only for things that have limits, while the themes of the dance could be limitless. I tried very hard to interpret some of the meanings of the performance, but in fact, my most enjoyable time was when I gave up the attempt of interpretation and simply appreciated the shock that Sankai Juku offered deep in heart.
Calling UMASUNA a dance performance neglects to acknowledge the true purpose of Butoh and ignores the symbolism and importance of the set design. The style is more of a ‘meditation in movement’, a description taken from an article in Dance Teacher Magazine. As the performers moved, it appeared to be an inward experience, rather than a communication between the performer and audience. If a great performance is characterized by an interaction between viewer and performer, can this show qualify as such? The most communicative aspect of the show was the set. The scales moved with each new meditation, representing a sort of give and take between the body and mind. The stream of sand that fell at the back of the stage was reminiscent of an hourglass. This could have shown the passage of time. The most visually striking moment occurred when yellow lights illuminated the sand. Through showing the curves and footprints on the sand with shadows and lights the performance conveyed the idea that actions affect things and leave impressions. I enjoyed the visual art behind the dancers, but the dance itself bored me. I understand that the purpose of this style is to be one with gravity. However, gravity is a part of everyday life, something we all understand. Dance should show a breathtaking departure from the mundane, a new aspect of life, a way to defy the ordinary such as gravity. Therefore, this performance was more of a meditation with a wonderfully impactful setting.
Sankai Juku’s performance of UMUSUNA: Memories Before History was a completely new experience in sight and sound. There were times of very slow and deliberate movements, and times that were far more upbeat in comparison. One part of the performance that I really enjoyed was the piece pertaining to the water. There was a strip of blue lighting cutting through center stage and green lighting in the background which created for me the scene of a small stream in a forest. Eventually the blue lighted strip went away and the dancers focused on more than just the immediate area of the stream. This part of the performance had both slow and fast elements, which was a nice contrast. I really enjoyed how each performer seemed to be working from within themselves to create this beautiful work of art, and I think that really captured the essence of the Butoh style. Overall, I found this performance completely different from any other that I have attended. The unique stage elements, and the small details of lighting all added to the whole concept, and I would highly recommend attendance at a Sankai Juku event to anybody.
I did not like the Sankai Juku performance. Part of it was probably because of the expectation bias I had coming into the performance; I was expecting a grotesque, raw, post-WWII purely emotional dance. I would say that the performance made some progress to at least displaying these emotions (especially though the wide open mouths during the facial expressions), but came short of reaching that apex of emotional turmoil. I felt like each stride of motion had too much thought put into it, and not enough of the raw, grotesque emotion that was present in the Japanese people after WWII. Sure, in the faces I could see their mouths open, but I felt like alongside that, there should have been far more contortions of body. With the open mouths, I saw pain, but did not feel it.
But I felt like even more so, I was let down by the loss of what I saw as potential to really show what it meant to live after WWII. It was definitely more complicated than grotesque turmoil; there is the valiance of hope, togetherness, and all the joy of going through a horrible situation with other human beings. There were times in the performance where I almost felt like that was what was being said, but I never could really pin the meaning of the dance down, where I could feel the dancers experiencing pain together, or apart. It seemed arbitrary when they would move out of sync and into sync. (but maybe, that is really just my fault then, as a bad listener)
As a first time viewer of Bhutto dance, it is impossible to deny how much discomfort I felt during the performance. However, this discomfort was valuable, and I came to new realizations after viewing something that seemed so foreign, so bizarre at times. Unlike my initial thought that dance was meant to be viewed and not always analyzed, I found myself thunking about the dance and not focusing on what was being presented on stage. I attribute this to the performance’s confusing rather than engaging nature. As a result, though, my understanding of Bhutto dance did increase. Some of the observations I recorded were that Bhutto dance consist of generic motions we see in life, but we do not generally associate these motions with dance. For example, in the third scene with the three dancers alternating between fetal position and other poses, I recognized the motions but I was shocked to see those moves being utilized in dance form. I was also aware of the many contrasts, such as between fast paced walks and slow body motions, traditional music and modern-sounding background noises. Because I was a stranger watching another culture perform on stage, I was able to notice these purposeful imperfections and imbalances, but I never found any aesthetic enjoyment of the dance.
I had very little idea what to expect when seeing UMUSUNA: Memories before history. Likewise, as I was watching the performance, I didn’t quite understand how to interpret the dances. I decided instead to enjoy the music and movements at the purely sensual level. After I left, however, the imagery kept flashing back to me. One part of the performance that I found particularly striking was when the background of the stage became a vibrant green and the center strip a bright blue. This lighting made the stage look like a forest with a river flowing through it. At one point, the dancers gestured as if they were drinking from the “river”, and I think that this was the moment I began to understand that Umusuna was about life. There was a hanging sand-dial of sorts that fluctuated in height throughout the performance, and I think that that may have been meant to symbolize the passage of time. One thing I could not really understand, however, was the meaning of the continuous flowing of sand in the center of the stage. What was that meant to symbolize?
I was actually very impressed with the out-of-sync sections of the dancing, because it seemed to me very deliberate. Especially in the third movement (the yellow-washed one, in which they started out curled up on the sand scuttling a little bit). It is difficult to be perfectly in sync, but often even harder to be deliberately out of sync. And it does have a nice effect of a sort of ebb and flow between the dancers.
I was thoroughly perplexed by Sankai Juku: UMUSUNA. Throughout the entire performance I tried to understand what was trying to be communicated, what the dancers’ gestures indicated, and if there was a story being told. However, by the end of the performance, I was still clueless. Part of the reason I feel this way is because this performance was unlike any dance I had ever watched in my life. Almost every other dance performance I’ve seen had fast, flashy dance moves meant to entertain the general audience. The dancers this performance of butoh, however, was fully focused on presenting in their own traditional moves. Now that I think about it, this performance was less of a show and more of a display of the things butoh aims to expose, for example the unique stories of each individual dancer. It was interesting to see a form of dance where there is a deeper concern than showy dance moves, and where the performers were fully concentrating on expressing their experiences. However I wish I could know the personal stories of each individual dancer, and know exactly what compels them to express their selves in this way.
Sankai Juku: UMUSUNA was a mesmerizing and intense display of Ushio Amagatsu’s vision for Memories Before History. With lively, pleasant music during some parts, and loud, dramatic noises at other, it had an impressive variety of sounds that added to the auditory experience. I enjoyed the employment of pin-drop silence at times to help the audience focus on the specific movements of the dancers. Similarly, just the sound of sand falling made the audience put their attention on the constant stream of sand in the background, which was also able to captivate me for long periods of time. Not only that, but the performance emphasized the constancy of the sand being there, pouring the entire time, no matter what was happening on stage. This, combined with the repetition of the same movements in each section allowed for stability and consistency throughout the piece. Slower, gentle movements were used in the dance, unlike modern dances. The lingering clouds of dust help us visualize the patterns of the dancers, and could represent the lasting impact we have on history. Elements of the costumes added to the visual effect of showing the performers’ interaction with gravity, for example, the long dangly earring that always pointed to the ground, as did strings and long flowy cloths. This emphasized one of Amagatsu’s main themes of dance, the tension and relaxation of gravity. Overall, Amagatsu combined intense choreography and changing sounds, among other aspects, effortlessly to create an incredible performance.
I was not really sure what to expect from Sankai Juku before watching the performance, and though the experience was along the lines of what I had expected, I was intrigued by what I saw. The second movement of the performance – with the glaring, red stage lighting and corseted costuming – remains the peak of the production for me as not only was it fast-paced and engaging, but it also threw out explicit emotion, something I did not always receive from the other movements. I felt terror, unfiltered and pure, and based on the facial expressions and movements of the performers as well as my own thoughts during the display, I found myself unsure as to whether the dancers on stage were simply consummating horror, or if they themselves felt and were encompassed by it.
Even while watching the dance, it was clear to me that a lot of the symbolism and meaning in the performance went right over my head; I regret not having had the context behind Butoh to fully appreciate the piece. Perhaps if I had known beforehand that the colored lighting was meant to represent the four elements (fire, water, air, and earth) and that the sand piling up on stage was meant to convey the passing of time, I may have been able to better interpret the various movements, and consequently become more engrossed with the production. However, as intensive as Umusuna was, it was not my cup of tea, as I found it rather frustrating to be unable to confidently speculate on the consequence of each scene, and thus found it difficult to be fully immersed in the performance at any given time.
Your observations are very insightful. Sankai Juku’s relationship to gravity is unique, and probably one of the reasons why many people who saw it for the first time found it unsettling and unlike anything they had seen before. I too was moved by how precise their movements were, and often found myself amazed by how they remembered the dances. Your insight about the costumes representing military uniforms is also interesting and valid. The white costumes with the green waist embellishment remind me most of a military uniform. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful observations!
Many common dances appear to “defy gravity”, such as ballet where the dancers stand on their toes. Contrary to these styles, the dancers of Sankai Juku appeared to embrace all forces and act against them. The dancers exerted much strength with each movement. The audience could feel the power behind each motion. The facial expressions of the dancers appeared distressed and frustrated. At times they seemed to be screaming, but could not let out any sound. I began to question whether their movements were occurring unwillingly. The movements of the Sankai Juku performers were slow and precise—as if something was directing each part of their body. I ponder where the origin of the movements derives. Is there some external force acting on the Sankai Juku performers and if so what is the objective of the force? I considered the historical context of Butoh, which arose shortly after the end of world war II. Perhaps characteristics, such as the identical costumes, were used to embody the uniforms worn by a militia. Was the force supposed to trigger movements reflecting certain emotions? Although I was not able to understand the purpose of parts of the performance, it was still a unique experience.
This performance made me reflect on my own life more than any other performance I have ever seen. The music was intensely powerful and the movements of the dancers were very meditative. This put my mind at ease and I found my thoughts wandering throughout the performance; however, they wandered in accordance with what was happening on stage. When the red, fiery section was occurring, my thoughts turned to the various forms power in the world and some of the stresses in my own life. It was a most distressing scene. Then, while the green “life” dancers were on stage, I found myself thinking about one of my favorite sounds: the birds that live outside my window at home chirping in the morning. I felt a strong connection flowing between the dancers, the music, and me. This show helped me discover a whole new way to listen to music and understand a dancers message, all through the traditions of a different culture than my own. I was also in awe of the amazing body control of the dancers. On top of all my other feelings, the amazing talent put “the icing on the cake” for me. I thoroughly enjoyed this engaging and spiritual experience!
I am going to be blunt- I am not really that fond of Umusuna as a whole. I liked the whole concept behind the performance- the beginning of life, time, the world. The man walking towards the sand in the beginning illustrates man entering the universe, and thus time begins- this is helped by the visual of the two hourglass-like objects on the sides of the stage as well as the giant one placed center stage. I also liked that stage was covered in sand— the sands of time, one could say. But after this first scene of the individual guy walking towards the infinitely sand, I did not really understand what was happening. There were lots of other people running around, dancing, sometimes not in sync. As a performer I understand that it can be difficult to quickly get accustomed to a new stage, (for me, getting used to the acoustics since I’m a musician) that being said it was very distracting to see that one guy dragging slightly behind the rest of the group. And I realize that the performers shaved their heads so as to revert the audience’s attention more towards the dancing itself, but I found myself often looking at the dancers’ faces, as I was taken aback since they all looked so similar. All in all I appreciated the originality behind the dance in general, but I did not particularly enjoy the performance.
The Sankai Juku performance of UMUSUNA was certainly a unique experience. Going into the show, I was not very familiar with the style of that type of dance, but, nonetheless, I found it to be very interesting. I cannot claim to have understood the meanings behind all of the various movements and set pieces, but several moments did resonate with me. The opening of the show with the lone performer slowly walking towards the large scale had a very cinematic feel, and the image that was created with the help of the lights and the set really stuck with me. Some of the performance’s choices regarding color were also very intriguing. The way the colors of the costumes often matched with the lights used in the set created a very distinct mood. Especially in the latter half of the show when four performers were on stage at the same time, I felt those choices emphasized their actions and highlighted how in-sync their movements were. I will admit to being confused by the deeper meanings of many of the choreographed pieces, but the technical skill of the dancers and the emotion of the performance were still very clear.
Sankai Juku: transcending the limits of the humanistic element of dance. By removing distinguishing elements such as hair and skin tone, the performers become an amalgamation of extraterrestrial and neonatal. Overall the production emphasized the fragility of humankind: pulling memories of vulnerability from the audience through moments such as the silent grasp for escaping time as represented with the sand, the muffled screams in the red glow of darkness, or even the grown men curled into the fetal position. The non-verbal aspect of the butoh dance allows the audience to incorporate their own experiences, and share in one another’s pain without having to struggle to find words for a communicative explanation.
The explicit heaviness in the dancer’s movements shows the audience that the meaning that should be extracted from this performance is related to the human condition in the lens of Japanese history. I found that during the entire performance, my attention was focused on the fact that the audience would rarely see the dancers detached from the sandy surface on which they were dancing. I agree with the fact that the dancer’s heavy motions emphasized a stylistic point in the performance concerning their relationship to the floor and the physical weight in their bodies as discussed in lecture, but I think that we can go a step further and say that this stylistic choice also highlighted the emotional heaviness or burden the dancers were trying to express to the audience. This was particularly evident in the scene in which the dancers were laying on the ground in what looked like fetal position, shifting around in circles. It was as if the dancers were glued to the floor and couldn’t get up; to me, it seemed as if this was due to a mental burden, rather than a physical burden, due to the cowering facial expressions the dancers had during this set. A conclusion like this makes sense as Butoh dance reflects the emotions, fear, fallen pride, and suffering, felt by the Japanese community during the Post-World War II era.
Sankai Juku’s UMUSUNA was one of the most unusual, but thought-provoking performances I have ever seen. Every movement was controlled and executed with painfully precise detail. I also found the progression from small, contained movements to free and travelling movements throughout the performance effective on two points. Aesthetically speaking, it makes sense to build the energy and movement as a show progresses. Second, this development can be linked to some of the bigger ideas of Sankai Juku’s performance. Since they typically explore topics such as birth and death, the transition from restrained movements to open movements could be symbolic for these inevitable experiences. The youth typically either deny on some level the inevitability of death, or are very uncomfortable with the subject. But as humans age, death is more accepted. The beginning of the dance could represent the youth, because the looming presence of death literally presses down on them like gravity. However, as the show progresses and death becomes more accepted, gravity is lifted. This enables the dancers to move without facing opposition. Also, the sand that falls throughout the piece adds to this symbolism. Sand is typically associated with time, so as the sand falls during the show, time passes and the dancers “age”. The final pose was quite powerful, because the dancers all ended in the fetal position. This pose completes the cycle of birth and death, and shows that life goes on. I wondered what the significance of the structure of the stage was. There was a gap between the two sides of the stage. What do you think the purpose of the the separation was?
I agree with you. I enjoyed the first couple parts of the dance and the last part, but the middle seemed prolonged. The music in the middle was repetitive and very serene, which made me unable to focus on the dance; at this point I was used to the style of Butoh. I also appreciated the new style and the way that Sankai Juku was trying to portray messages, but this performance is not for everyone; you phrased this well in your last sentence.
I also wanted to say that I’m glad that I watched this performance; it was a great new experience!
There were a few satisfyingly entertaining moments, but my overall impression of Sankai Juku: UMUSUNA: Memories Before History was that of bemused boredom. The general reliance on shock value and lack of inherently impressive dancing left me unimpressed. Exactly three moments actually held my interest: When the original dancer first looks at the audience, there was a moment of self awareness which I enjoyed. When his solo ends with the entrance of red light, noise, and corresponding dancers, I jumped in my seat, and I can always respect when a performance elicits a visceral response. Finally, when the dancers interacted with the “water” on the stage, I appreciated the simple yet effective use of stage lighting.
That being said, I have been dancing competitively my entire life and am trained in or have performed the following styles: Ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, tap, hip hop, bhangra, Bollywood, raas, and bharatnatyam. I know what is challenging for the human body. Furthermore, as captain of a dance team that does a variety of styles and performs with elements of stage production, I know what it takes to put together an entertaining show. As a dancer and consumer, it is part of my paradigm that a dancer’s/performer’s first and foremost responsibility is to entertain the audience. If an audience is collectively bored at any point while you are on stage, you have failed. The dance movements I witnessed on stage left me bored. I realize that it’s kind of “the point” of butoh to contrast with refined dance styles, but at no point did their movements, formations, speed, or prowess have me on the edge of my seat. I can appreciate that they spent tens of minutes doing ab exercises in front of me and that itself is challenging, but I was not entertained.
Moreover, I generally enjoy/appreciate shock value, but this performance seemed to rely on the strangeness of the dancers’ costumes, makeup, and expressions without backing it up with actual visible skill. I’m sure the dancers can do very impressive movements, but I never got to see them. The performance surely has value for those whose paradigm of performance differs from mine, but if you look for entertainment in dance this might not be the show for you.
The Sankai Juku performance was definitely different from any other style of dance I have seen before. The main feature that resonated with me was the effect of the sand coming off their bodies with their movements. It made their movements seem more fluid and peaceful. Otherwise, however, I did not like the performance; either I didn’t understand what they were trying to convey to me, or there was nothing to convey. Either way, many of the dances that they did were off-putting. For example, the lying in the sand and crawling around, or the screaming with the mouth wide open was very creepy, and made me uncomfortable. If they came back I do not think I would go.
The slow yet meticulous forms of human nature presented by the Sankai Juku reminded me of the modern dance lessons I took when I was younger. Butoh, like modern dance, deviates from traditional forms of dance showcased by forms such as ballet, tap, and jazz. Similarities between Butoh and American modern dance also revolve around expressing natural movements of the body. For example, the third movement began with Sankai Juku dancers in sleeping fetal positions. As the music continued to play, the dancers went through a routine of sporadic movements involving kicking, thrashing, and spinning. Slow hand gestures and elegant body rolls followed these spasmodic movements. The shaved heads and white body makeup of the dancers enhanced the movements of the performance. Such movements leave the dances’ messages up for a wide range of interpretation. Throughout the performance, I attempted to connect the movements with the emotions they seemed to convey in order to find a central meaning within the dances. Previous readings from our English lecture described Butoh as “a dance of darkness,” which was influenced by the bombings and repercussions of WWII in Japan. Are the Butoh dances representative of the aggregate Japanese response to the traumatic events of the war?
Sankai Juku’s performance of UMUSUMA was startlingly moving. As a dancer and a former Tae Kwon Do student, I appreciated the immense physical control the performers displayed, as well as the melodious traditionally Japanese music that accompanied the performance. I’ve never seen a performance like this before, and was taken aback by the intense emotion displayed in the dancers gaping expressions and lethargic movements. The opening scene with the solo dancer dressed in stark white with sand pouring onto a similarly nude stage was a powerful entrance to the show. I also enjoyed the scene with four traditionally dressed Japanese dancers with green lapels, on the set with green background and a simply displayed blue light river down the middle of the stage. Both scenes emphasized the profoundness of simplicity that seems characteristic of Butoh. Both scenes made use of slow, deliberate movements using the entire expanse of the stage. The movements were quite repetitive, and without knowing more about the art form, I at times felt lost in the seemingly random steps and cacophony on stage. I think it is important to remember that the art form came out in post-war Japan. This context can serve as the basis for the tragic tone that the dance takes on. The dance seems to mimic a movement from death to rebirth, just as Japan began to redevelop after the tragedies of World War II. I felt as though the dancers embodied the idea that when you have nothing else, when you’ve been stripped of distinguishable physical characteristics around you and on yourself (the plainness of set and costume), you still have your soul. The performance seems to be an ode to that inner spirit, and the ability of expression and culture to persist through immense tragedy.
I thought the performance acted as a time machine, allowing viewers to travel back and forth at random through a human life. This was evident through the clockwise and counterclockwise spinning of the dancers, representing the forward and backward progression through time. They made circles in the dirt with their feet as they spun, creating a clock. Their foot acted as the hand of a clock, giving the illusion that as their foot made a rotation, time was progressing. Another visual symbol of time was the balance in the background. As the right pan fell further than the left, the music and movements were dark and intense, symbolizing death. When the left pan was further down, the performance brought viewers back to birth. I believe the performance also portrayed ideas of existentialism that tied to this idea of traveling through time. With existentialism, the world of the absurdity explains that at any given time during your life, anything can happen to you. This also gives us some explanation as to why the choreographer would have perhaps began at birth, shifted to death, and came back to birth again. In my opinion, the random order of the performance is a visual representation of the idea that we have no control over events in our lives or time itself.
We are able to see so many untraditional dance moves such as incredibly slow movements and gaping mouths that are unlikely to be seen in any other dance performances, but there is one thing that Butoh dancers never do, at least not in this particular performance – physical contact with each other. Why is that? I started wondering if there is a purpose behind this during the “Mirrors of forests”, where the dancers mirrored the ones on the opposite of the stage. The dancers had their arms extended forward with hands opened as if they were trying to grab the other hand in front of them. I interpreted this as a image of people trying but failing to reach their inner selves, who are what we see in mirrors, over and over again. When my mind is conflicted, I sometimes feel the inability to see clearly who I am and what I truly desire. To me, the “mirrors” portray the unsolvable inner struggles within us. With the use of white powder, the distinguishing features of each dancer are concealed. In a way, individualism is therefore diminished among the dancers as well. This implies that as humans, we are all fundamentally the same. The lack of physical contacts gives me the message that, even though we share the same cycles of life, go through the same trauma, and endure the same hardships, we are unable to reach and help each other. I walked out of the Power Center with the sense of helplessness and isolation lingering in my heart.
Dance as a moving art form very obviously requires attention to energy and its usage, but never before had I seen dance so inspired by energy itself. Each shift in body weight seemed to be a transfer of energy—conveyed to the very fingertips. Everything was centralized around how things flow together, and this concept was articulated through the dancers’ draped clothing, the steady stream of sand in the background of the stage, and the naturalistic inspirations behind the dance such as water, wind, blood, and organic growth. By the end of the performance I fully understood this energy since it had been discussed in so many different ways throughout the dance’s movements, and realized that gravity wasn’t the only force being discussed in Sankai Juku’s dialogue with gravity.
I also felt the presence of the electromagnetic force between the dancers and their environment, something most of us are familiar with through everyday dealings with static. This is a type of energy that compels objects towards one another and at the same time repulses them. The dancers never once touched one another, yet they were bound together in common energy throughout the entire performance. The dance’s movements were often grotesque, especially in the second movement where low grating screams were combined with dark, pulsing movements and gaping mouths. Despite this repulsive nature, Sankai Juku succeeded in pulling us in as an audience, physically not touching, but attracted through mutual rapture.
I was once told that contrast creates the greatest excitement and reaction from an audience, and that is exactly what the Sankai Juku Dance Group did. Multiple aspects of their performance played on this idea of contrast. However, the second movement, II All That Is Born, seemed to dance with opposing forces the most. In this section, four performers started grouped closely in the back left corner of the stage. They moved slowly, adhering to the laws of gravity. They then proceeded to spread out across the stage. Te difference in use of space cause the audience to lean back; they tried to absorb everything going on on stage. Their bodies shifted slowly at first, but occasionally they would jerk swiftly along with the music playing behind them. My eyes were drawn in every time the dancers made a quick movement. The use of space and speed as a means of opposition caused me, as an audience member, to be greatly enticed by what was happening on stage. This movement of the performance was unsettling, uncomfortable yet highly exciting and captivating. I believe this is due greatly to the contrast created on stage along with the choice of lighting and sound. Overall, as difficult as it was to grasp the concept of what was presented on stage, the mastery of contrast allowed for a wonderful performance.
I had hoped for more information regarding butoh prior to Sankai Juku’s performance on Friday night- I had personally never heard of that style of dance before. The documents and posts on the UMS website were helpful, but I feel that a more comprehensive post on the dance form would have helped me gain even greater perspective. Going into any performance, I think that it is vital to have some sort of background information- this allows one to appreciate the event to its fullest. Yes, you can connect to almost any piece emotionally even without some sort of understanding of what is going on, but just the smallest bit of information can transform how you view a performance and what you take from it.
My desire for more information aside, I was enthralled by the contrast between the synchronization of the dancers and the lack thereof. There was one moment during the “second act” of the show when the red clad men swayed together as if they were the arms of an underwater plant, rocked by the ebb and flow of the water. It was beautiful- I almost began swaying myself. However, there were also moments of individuality. The men in all white moved in circles around each other about midway through the performance and they all acted as the central node in their unique ways. Similarly, when the men in green were interacting with the water (or the blue light that I interpreted to be water), it was clear that they were doing so in an unsynchronized fashion. This allowed the unity of the body to become the focal point of the performance rather than the unity of a group of individuals.
After reading Annick Odom’s “Dialogue with Gravity: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Butoh”, I was able to make a connection between the dance form and the observations that I had made during the show. Odom asserts that “butoh lived and died in a single performance” when it was originally performed. Dancers would spontaneously express what was already within them (Odom). No synchronization would have occurred in original butoh if it was performed spontaneously. Or, if it did occur, it would have happened without prior planning. Ushio Amagatsu’s butoh has added the harmony of synchronization to the original butoh style.
Odom, Annick. “UMS Lobby.” UMS Lobby. 18 Sept. 2015. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Antigone by Sophokles:
Personally, I did not find the Sankai Juku performance to be particularly enjoyable. It took me a while to even process the situation and adjust myself to the general abnormality of what was happening on stage. I thought that the themes and the story could have been presented in a number of different formats that all would have been more effective. However, that being said, I can understand why this type of dance is respected and liked by some people, because I could see the meaning behind the dance itself, and I appreciated the message it was sending. I liked the theme of the travel from birth to death to rebirth, and the slow decomposition of living. The whole performance also makes more sense knowing that it was created as a post WWII/ post atomic bomb, which helps the audience connect the grotesque faces and themes to an origin. In conclusion, I am glad that I was given the opportunity to see Sankai Juku because it was an insight into another type of performance and it was interesting, but I don’t think I would see it again.
Bobby McFerrin on Spirituality:
I had no idea this was TWO Christmas episodes! Imagine my surspire when it arrived! I thought it was just A Christmas They Never Forgot. Anyway, I have been a fan of this much-loved series for years. As kids, my bother and I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and every Christmas I get him a DVD. I really think he’s going to like this. Every show is always perfect! Michael Landon set the bar of excellence so high that no one in the past 30 years has ever been able to even come close! These are the main cast members of this family-friendly series:Michael Landon (played: Charles Ingalls)Karen Grassle (played: Caroline Ingalls)Melissa Gilbert (played: Laura Ingalls)Melissa Sue Anderson (played: Mary Ingalls)Matthew Laborteaux (played: Albert Ingalls)Ketty Lester (played: Hester-Sue Terhune)Dean Butler (played: Almanzo Wilder)Victor French (played: Isaiah Edwards)Linwood Boomer (played: Adam Kendall)Richard Bull (played: Nels Oleson)Alison Arngrim (played: Nellie Oleson)Melissa Missy Francis (played: Cassandra Cooper Ingalls)Jason Bateman (played: James Cooper Ingalls)Rachel Lindsay Sydney Greebush (Carrie Ingalls)Wendi Brenda Turnbaugh (played Grace Ingalls) These are the 2 eps that this DVD incldues, with the original air dates show descriptions: Christmas at Plum Creek December 25, 1974The entire Ingalls family works (extra) hard to earn money for Christmas gifts. Carrie even finds a penny in an old hat box. Laura decides to trade Bunny to Mr. Oleson! Charles raises extra money, as well, by reconstructing a set of wagon wheels. Ma and Mary each take up sewing as their family contribution. And, on Christmas morning everyone gets the surspire of their lives! This ep is from Season One . A Christmas They Never Forgot December 21, 1981Mary and Adam come back to Walnut Grove (from NY) for a rare surspire visit. When the entire family is snowed in, everyone sits around the kitchen table and tells some of their fondest memories. And, one of the stories even includes is a Christmas clip from the Little House Original Pilot Movie, with Mr. Edwards! A Christmas They Never Forgot is from Season Eight . Merry Christmas!!!
UMS Documentary Wins EMMY Award:
usul aja nch buat manajemen coba seelski pemain korea Ahn Hyo Yoen yg g jd diambil persiba siapa tau cocok jd tandemx Julio Lopez. Sapa tau ntar kaya’ Park Juhn Hwan yg g produktif di Persiba malah bagus maenx di PSM
You and Your Ukulele:
I’m in total agreement with Dan, above. I’m a ncoewmer to the uke, began with a cheap soprano which was ok for messing about but wanted more. I went for a concert because of my fat fingers, and got myself an Ashbury AU60 and I’m delighted with it. For a reasonable price the quality is spot on and the sound is first class.It’s a joy to play so, as I can hardly bear to put it down, my playing has improved rapidly. Perfect for the serious beginner.OverallSoundPlayabilityValue forLooksConstruction
Student Spotlight: Embedded with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago:
Hi, Kiris and Chloe — thought you might be interested in this article by a University of Michigan student who was an HSDC summer intern/dancer.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya:
Correct! Monk continues to be of significant influence to Mr. Ibrahim. And, the jazz community recently celebrated Monk’s birthday on October 10.
Thanks for asking for the set list…see below!
Any set list available? The Monk composition was “Skippy.” Great concert last night. Thanks UMS!
Below is the set list from Wednesday evening. Thank you for attending this 15/16 UMS Jazz Series opening concert event.
Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 7:30 pm
(Note: The below set list represents the concert repertoire, not necessarily in the order performed, as the order of pieces performed is determined in the moment by Mr. Ibrahim.)
All compositions by Abdullah Ibrahim, except where noted.
• The Balance
• The Wedding
• Skippy (by Thelonius Monk)
• The Mountain
• Sotho Blue
• In the Evening
• Tuang Guru
• Water from an Ancient Well
• Kalahari Pleiades
Absolutely beautiful composition and world-class musicianship. This guy is a legend. Top notch horns and rhythm section.
This was an incredible evening: Abdullah Ibrahim is a legendary figure in the world of jazz as well as the freedom struggle in South Africa. Tonight he performed a meditative, soul-searching set that called to mind the deep chords of Township gospel singing, the penny-whistle swing of 1950s Cape Town pop, and an improvisational spirit closely akin to Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk (a composition of whose he performed at the end of his set), and Charlie Mingus. Along with his suggestive and resonant piano playing he was accompanied by a cadre of inventive, sensitive, dazzling side men. The concert was as much a pristine introduction to the pleasures of jazz improvisation as it was a valediction of how jazz has contributed to the culture of the past century–and how it continues to speak to our present and our future.
Gentle is not a word I often apply to jazz. I’m used to wild romps and more volume. Perfect for mid week. I was tired. Very soothing. A corner of jazz I seldom explore. Was reminded of a case on jury duty….driving on Ambien, they brought in the forensic scientists from Lansing to explain the chemistry. Anyway, made it home safely.
People Are Talking: UMS presents New York Philharmonic:
I agree. My guess is that the soloist played a cadenza based on Beethoven’s cadenza — but elaborating on it. That would explain the length.
Interesting. I don’t remember hearing such a long cadenza before. Is it what is commonly played?
Mr. Barnatan played Beethoven’s cadenza – that was noted in the program notes. Hope you enjoyed the concert!
WHOSE CADENZA DID HE PLAY ?
Terrific! What gorgeous phrasing and control of dynamics from both the orchestra and Mr. Barnatan. I loved the playful adventurous use of slightly over the top horns in a few paasages because, as the program notes so accurately describe, that was Beethoven’s spirit – sublimely beautiful jokester. Gilbert has brought this orchestra together to make real music. Thank you, UMS!
Student Spotlight: Rachel Stopchinski on Japan and Sankai Juku:
Hi Rachel, I really enjoyed reading your post! I worked with Pomegranate Arts over the summer as an UMS 21st Century Artist Intern, and encountered Sankai Juku’s work through that. I agree with your thoughts, and I wrote a preview post with your quote on [art]seen at Arts at Michigan. I hope you can check it out!
I saw “Antigone” and “All My Sons” on consecutive nights. On paper Sophocles is a genius and Arthur Miller is merely very good, but these two productions gave the opposite impression.
Our biggest problem was the poor sound. We only understood half of what was being said. If we hadn’t read the play we would have been even in worse shape. We sat in the fifth row and we would have been fine without the distorted microphone sound.
Still haunted by this amazing multi-dimensional production, a trance-like ritual framed by eclipses and sustained by powerful blasts of silence. Elements of Laurie Anderson, Judith Malina, Morton Feldman, Antonin Artaud and Jean Genet. Conventional pacing and well-oiled attention-sustaining techniques would have robbed it of the very magic that had us sitting stock-still throughout and delivering a standing ovation afterwards.
People Are Talking: UMS presents The Gloaming:
What a wonderful concert! I usually prefer my traditional music straight-up, the way you would hear it in a pub, but these are the world’s very best trad musicians playing just beyond the boundaries of the genre. I found it thrilling and beautiful and dreamlike. I hope that they will come back, and I hope that Nic Gareiss will be back again too. It wa a joy to see him perform.
I found a lot to think about in this performance. The set was interesting in itself, so was the off-beat beauty of the translation, and the actors were immensely skilled. I was constantly intrigued by the staging (the parallel between the rectangular door and the rectangular grave, the phases of the disk of the sun/moon). the way actors went in and out of the Chorus, the play between the classic and modern. But I wonder if it was meant to be so cerebral? it was that, even for me, and my companion was not unhappy to have seen it but puzzled. I was dismayed by the audience laughing at Creon’s line “the sacrilege that I call public policy”–which for me is the center of the play. There are many ways of thinking about the ethical dilemmas it poses–but the one that is most alive for me is: what is our responsibility as individual citizens of a state that does wrong? oppose it, yes–but is Antigone right to wreck her life? or is her absolutism the mirror of Creon’s, demonstrated by the collateral damage (Haimon, then Eurydice–). It’s pretty marvelous that the play works after 2500 years.
People Are Talking: UMS presents National Theatre Live: Othello at Michigan Theater:
We walked out at intermission, The acting was superb, but the brutality on stage, as moved to the modern world, was sickening. Give me a beating or sword play any day, over drilling through hands or ripping flesh with a hammer’s claw.
It is hard enough to read about these black op practices in the press, but we don’t need to see it on stage.
Antigone by Sophokles:
Still haunted by this amazing multi-dimensional production, a trance-like ritual framed by eclipses and sustained by powerful blasts of silence. Elements of Laurie Anderson, Judith Malina, Morton Feldman, Antonin Artaud and Jean Genet. Conventional pacing and well-oiled attention-sustaining techniques would have robbed it of the very magic that had us sittiing stock still throughout and delivering a standing ovation afterwards.
The microphones were not set adequately. Could not hear 90 percent of the dialogue in the balcony. Ruined the whole play for me. I almost walked out. I was also underwhelmed by this play.
Most over pretentious, avant garde piece I’ve ever seen. Done at a funeral dirge pace. King Kreon actor goes from soft to shouting and there’s nothing in between. Didn’t understand what was suppose to be happening as it was presented on stage since the script seems thwarted by odd use of words; and the lighting and projected images are distraction and leaves one to wonder how they fit into the story. If you want to know what the play is suppose to be about and mean, read about it in the program-then skip the show.
I wonder whether or not this was a deliberate decision. I feel that in general the performance was made less emotional than it could be. It is clear that at the end of the play, where Creon was suffering, it was the director’s intention not to let the audience to sympathize too much with this character. The music became louder and somewhat more energetic and vivid, and the last scene showed that no one on stage sympathized with Creon either.
It was unfortunate that Anne Carson kept the word “liver” in the description of Eurydice’s death and that the production didn’t change it. In Greek, the liver is an organ of emotion (in Aeschyus, “Many things touch the liver” in a heartbreaking passage about deaths in war), but in English, the line is too anatomical and sounded funny.
I wrote a review of this production (as well as the SMTD production of All My Sons) on the Arts at Michigan blog. It might be a bit long-winded for a UMS Lobby comment, so I’ll link it here: http://arts.umich.edu/seen/2015/10/16/review-greek-tragedies-classical-and-contemporary-antigone-and-all-my-sons/
I liked the performance overall, but that line did elicit a large laugh on Thursday night, which was unfortunate.
Thank you! This is exactly how I felt. I was sorely disappointed and saddened that I payed twice as much for a student as last year’s prices. I can only imagine how those in the audience who payed full price felt. I’m looking forward to seeing other performances put on by UMS that are quality and not overhyped, flat, and pretentious renderings of classical theater.
Good advertising and the hype will keep the audiences clapping for 4 nights in a row, but this is a rather underwhelming performance, if you ask me. Far flung in its distortion of the spirit of the tragedy and blithely comfortable with its ignorance of it, it offered neither a challenging modernization of the piece, nor a sensitive rendition in a classical vein. Stale, slow paced, and predictable, this piece is made for the people who go to theater because of the social prestige associated with it, not because they can recognize and demand artistic excellence. Classics seem boring and trivial, great heroes come off as pusillanimous stock characters, and the catharsis is debased to sentimental pap for the retirees and self-conscious professors. Creon’s character is completely trivialized (and he looks like Hitman!), depriving the performance of one pole of dramatic tension (without which there is no tragedy proper), and turning it into a sleazy, good girl vs bad guy “narrative”, which, of course, “Antigone” is not. Less advertising and better quality next time, s’il vous plait.
This was a disappointing production. The acting was flat. The pacing was slow. The (mildly interesting) back screen projection did not connect thematically to the show, particularly to the underutilized corporate office-style set. People were laughing at Creon’s pain (to be fair, he was wallowing on the stage like a 3-year-old pitching a fit) and Eurydice’s suicide (because of the line about the liver). The messenger’s delivery was monotone and insubstantial as comic relief. This play has so much to offer, and it was painful to see this production miss the mark so broadly.
I also was impressed that the lack of a chorus was replaced, if I am correct, by slow motion film clips of the Dutch recovery of their dead in Ukraine, based on the hint in the program notes. Subtle yet powerful.
I do not regret buying a ticket and seeing Antigone. It is a worthwhile experience. That said, this is not a production I like. The translation is too casual, parts of the set (bookcases, faucets) are barely used or not at all, video behind the actors seems mostly unrelated to the action, and the loud vocal music at the very end also seemed out of place. The acting is good (though the actors are VERY hard to hear) as we expect but the text causes them to utter lines that produce laughs when the moment is tragic. Yes, some laughs break the tension appropriately early on, but in the last 10 minutes, no – this is a tragedy.
Actually, the miking was a director’s decision from the beginning and I don’t think it had anything to do with the cast’s abilities. (I heard this from Kirsty Bushell at the panel.) She didn’t explain why, but I think he wanted the peculiar sonic distance. I wasn’t sure I liked it, but it was a deliberate effect.
The updated script was lively. I disagree that Creon’s character was trivialized — on the contrary, he was made fully human in his complexity. This was NOT a simple good vs bad rendition,not the least because Creon was brilliantly played… and, unfortunately, because Antigone was not. Binoche does not have the powers required of a stage actress. She played Antigone in an old, melodramatic style that did not match the other performances or the script.
On the up side, the updated script offered up humor, wonderfully delivered via The Guard. On the down side, Binoche clearly couldn’t project (it was downright painful when she tried), leading the whole performance to be miked. This seriously detracted from the strength of the production itself, which overall was visually stunning but sonically stilted.
The star of the show without a doubt was Anne Carson’s translation. Everybody else was good but that was great.
O.K. Big world events still occur around celestial events such as eclipses. The Supermoon eclipse brought the Pope, the leader of China, and V. Putin to our shores, plus the Speaker of the House tendered his resignation. I drifted in to a big dream that the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise took jobs at a dotcom and I was waiting for the Google bus to take them all home to the Mission at the end of the day. I think they would have stuck to antiquity at the Thurber Theater in Columbus.
Superlative acting. I found the relationship between the projections and the play unclear and, at times, distracting. Even by classic tragedy standards, script was a bit plodding at times, especially Creon’s extended mea culpa at the end. I regretted that there were titters, but I suspect they reflected that.
Evolution? Development? Future? Can we be confident that these “developments” – great old orchestras accompanying movies and providing sound pageants at sports events — WILL secure a future for something resembling what we call classical music? Are we seeing a new young audience replacing the departing one at concerts?
At Lincoln Center, by pure chance, my seat was next to the conductor’s mother (different conductor). Even with that uplift, Mr. Gilbert created as high a high as he appears to be the heart and embodiment of the future of orchestral presentations. The UMS is tracking perfectly with this evolution. Thank you. Thank you for letting us hear in person what excellent developments are occurring. David R. Bruegel
I attended the On The Waterfront /NY Phil event on Sunday the 11th – the orchestra was exciting to experience, my first time ever for the NY Phil and with one of the greatest American films ever made accompanied by Bernstein’s thrilling original film score. I couldn’t miss it. A mostly very fine experience – but, why the decision to have a 20 minute intermission in the middle of a 108 minute film containing only 45 non-continuous minutes of music? Not for the musicians’ sake surely. This was a great disservice to the film, the filmmakers, and the film-goers; it was never meant to be viewed with a big break in its middle, which couldn’t help altering the tension being built throughout the film. It was pretty startling I have to say. yet, Bravo to the NY Phil, a thrilling job.
Always ready to listen to great music in a wonderful venue.
I’m still shaken up from yesterday’s screening of “On the Waterfront” accompanied incomparably by the New York Philharmonic, “Thanks” is an inadequate expression of my gratitude to all who conceived, planned, and implemented this stupendous show!
Thrilling performance by NY Phil at Hill Auditorium yesterday afternoon, 10/11/2015. “On the Waterfront” is an experience I wish every American could enjoy, and hearing it accompanied by the NY Phil a once in a lifetime pleasure, for sure! So glad this opportunity was possible for so many appreciative concert goers in Michigan. I traveled 2 hours to Ann Arbor on a beautiful sunny October day, enjoyed a picnic lunch on a park bench very close to the auditorium, with free parking close-by. Saw an American classic movie, while I listened to Leonard Bernstein’s original score played by one of our world’s finest orchestras. Thank you U of M for providing such a rousing welcome for this fine orchestra, and thank you NY Phil for the excellence and respect you bring to your work. Awesome performance!
Saw “On the Waterfront” yesterday and was blown away. The social commentary of the times, the hypnotic performance of the actors exceeded my expectations. A super treat was the lecture prior to the show, only negative “not enough room”, standing room only, but well worth standing for lecture! Orchestra played exceptionally, would have loved a few numbers as an encore.
I lived in New York from 1971-76 and went to several NY Philharmonic concerts then. One of those was conducted by Leonard Bernstein. So I feel a connection with the NY Phil. Friday night’s concert at Hill was amazing. The Lindberg piece was the most accessible work of his I’ve ever heard. Barnaton was brilliant in the Beethoven Piano Concerto 1. But the Beethoven Seventh Symphony was a revelation. I’ve never heard such a thrilling performance of this work before. Absolutely, absolutely an amazing concert. Sunday’s concert performance of “On the Waterfront” was also one I will probably never forget.
I thoroughly enjoyed the pre-concert talks which gave me insight into how a film score is written and performed. I had no idea. Also, I had never seen On The Waterfront, and it holds up surprisingly well. I appreciated the compromise needed to have a live orchestra (subtitles and the inaudible dialogue at the most dramatic moments) and the behind the scenes work needed to come up with the score: thank you for the program notes! All in all, an excellent (and educational) way to spend an afternoon.
Well, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, The movie was good and the music was nice also. Sure beats an afternoon watching football. I think it was the first time I watched On the Waterfront straight through. Bravo!
Today’s musical accompaniment to On The Waterfront was outstanding! I hope that similar performances can happen in the future!
People Are Talking: UMS presents New York Philharmonic at Hill Auditorium:
Every note was fabulous. The blending of sounds in that hall was pure honey. The EP Solenon LA Variations -ingenious and extraordinary! Experience of a lifetime.
The performance was not what I was expecting. It was a lot more abstract and avant-garde than I prefer. If I had known what type of music they would be playing, I would have not purchased a ticket. I suffered through 3/4 of the show and then left a very disappointed patron. I have been a patron for many years and this was my first disappointment in a performance. I had traveled to Ann Arbor from E Lansing, which doubled the disappointment.
Opinions about music and everything else differ, but I enjoyed the LA Variations a great deal, and I agree that Alan Gilbert’s opening comments were very helpful. I can see that it might not be to everyone’s taste, though.
As for aging hippies, do they look more pretty and interesting if they are wearing formal clothing? I’ve been attending concerts in Ann Arbor for years and I can honestly say I don’t pay any attention to what others are wearing, but I understand that it could be a bit of an adjustment. I hope that it won’t interfere with your enjoyment of future concerts.
Welcome to Ann Arbor!
I am new to area and thought I would like to hear beautiful music and experience the “Boston” of the midwest. Truthfully, the first production was discordant, raucous, audacious, and should probably be called LA traffic. Thankfully, the mini seminar provided a better insight into the piece.However, I would not elect to hear it again. The skill of the orchestra is truly amazing and worth the ticket price. It wad disconcerting to see how poorly dressed the audience was….there is nothing pretty or interesting about aging hippies. The ushers were better dressed! I hope this casual code is not a prediction of my future in AA.
A satisfying concert! The Salonen work invites one into a wonderland of exotic marvels. Astonishing tone colors and textures arouse one’s curiosity and draw one into undreamt of neighborhoods. Often the textures are thick, and in this performance the sound level was as high as it was the previous evening so that one is hard pressed to make out what is being varied in these Variations. Maybe re-hearing the work from time to time will make it more transparent. I look forward to the chance to do so.
The Strauss work was well performed except for the many unfortunate exaggerations of dynamic highs. (One gets the impression that this orchestra and conductor lie in wait, like a cat before a mouse hole, for a chance to let loose without restraint whenever the dynamic marking remotely allows it.) The result is that people who are unfamiliar with this music will not be able to decipher such passages. On the other hand, many calmer passages, such as the final pages of “the hero’s death” were played with uncommon grace and touching sensitivity thanks in large part to the remarkable solo playing by the concertmaster.
One more thing. The audience seemed grateful to Mr. Gilbert for his introductory remarks about the Salonen work. If conductors spoke to the audience regularly, many listeners would be helped to focus their attention and come away with an enriched concert experience.
The performance was amazing!! It was a bit hard to hear what the conductor was saying at the beginning from the rear balcony. I was very disappointed to see multiple students playing on their phones in the row in front of me during the Strauss piece. One woman was playing a video game with the sound on. It would have been great if someone had been standing where they were when we entered, so they could have intervened, or the auditorium could implement some other rude patron prevention strategy. I considered throwing my program at her but didn’t want to cause a ruckus. #turnthephoneoff #veryrude The music was amazing.
The air was thick with excitement in Hill Auditorium at the end of last evening’s concert. Cries of ”mind-blowing” and “awesome” flew from aisle to aisle. Never have so many stood up in fervent gratitude for bliss beyond words. And others, fewer in number, left in a mixture of sadness and indignation.
The concert began with a score by Lindbergh on which the ink was not yet dry. Its noise level and thumping, crashing rhythms suit it best as the background music for a sword fight between Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. We might have been spared this in favor something more interesting.
Let’s now consider the very end of the concert. I don’t mean the witty rendition of The Victors or the conductor’s donning a MICHIGAN cap, which he will surely wear during THE GAME this afternoon, but rather the last movement of Beethoven’s Seventh. No one has ever claimed that this is Exhibit A of subtlety. Right, it’s modeled on a simple country dance, a Middle European 19th century dance in which peasants, tipsy from an excess of new wine, whirl their sweethearts around on a swept barn floor. But Mr. Gilbert’s substitution of presto furioso for Beethoven’s Allegro con brio doesn’t do the trick. This is no longer a dance. And once again, no note was played a mere forte; all evening long fortississimo – fff — was the conductor’s message to the orchestra. While the rhythms of the movement were thrust home to us in unvaried thump-thump-thumps, the brass choir “clarified” the harmonies with alternating bursts of tonic and dominant, tonic and dominant, tonic and dominant. As for the opening of the work, there, too, the band lost an opportunity for displaying a gem – the introductory sostenuto section prior to the vivace. There’s nothing more satisfying than a quiet, lingering suspense being released into happy song. But if you start too fast, then the contrast is lost and the audience the poorer for it.
I cringe to write this, but the sensibilities in the hall last evening were those of the football stadium, where fans can hear the awesome NYPhil brass choir again this afternoon.
PS Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Mr. Barnatan, our pianist, won a prize last evening. No one can play that concerto faster or glitzier than he, and no one has ever played a longer cadenza. Congratulations.
Please invite Inon Barnatan back to UMS!
What a pleasant way to spend a Friday evening. The acoustics of the Hill never fail to amaze me. Mr. Barnaton and the Philharmonic played superbly and even the up-tempo 7th was rich and exciting. I’ll take a venue like this any time. Thanks UMS.
A bit rushed 7th for my preference, but otherwise nice start to residency. Love the maestro’s energy, it was a joy to watch!
Good, very good, as was to be expected, but not more than that. Solid, polished delivery of two classic works. Quite pleasing.
I had not heard Inon Barnaton before tonight, even on a recording. His performance tonight instantly converted me into a huge fan. Beautiful, sensitive, nuanced playing. The entire concert was wonderful! Thanks.
The piano concerto was lovely with its subtleties. I was sitting way high up in the balcony. The horns were loud – a little blatty in the Symphony. Maybe it was where I was sitting? Amazing to hear those two Beethoven pieces played so well. This was not the best concert I have heard at Hill but very enjoyable.
Today’s master classes were terrific! Talented UM students learning from dedicated professionals while we, the audience, sat in awe at the insights and their immediate implementation. Thanks to Carter Brey and Tim Cobb for memories that will last longer than one year!
Extremely talented musicians that play beautifully together. Felt slow for long periods. Enjoyed overall though for the uniqueness of the music. Loved the piano player for his talent and his passion.
I love traditional Irish music, but the avant-garde, improvisational nature of their performance was not really my cup of tea. However, I am always in awe of virtuosity, and they were absolutely amazing in that respect. Bravo!
I found the piano player’s affectations distracting, and his wine drinking throughout the performance rather disturbing.
Here is last night’s set list:
Pilgrim – Sheehan’s – Maud Miller – P Joe’s Lullaby e minor – Jenny’s Chickens – Hughie Travers
Oisin’s Dream – The Booley House Jig – Goose – Slides
-with Nic Gareiss
Allistrum’s March – The Girl Who broke My Heart
Freedom/Saoirse – The Sailor’s Bonnet – Toss – Wrong Key
The Mountain Lark – Bronwyn Lee – The Boy in the Gap – Music in the Glen
-with Nic Gareiss
Swallow – My Darling Asleep – Matt Molloy Jig
What a privilege to hear new music created. Their ease and facility with their instruments made every note special. I’ve followed this group since its inception, and was SO happy to be able to hear them in my own back yard. Thanks, UMS Programming staff, for bringing them to me.
Indeed! Please invite again. The music (instrumental, spoken, and sung), musicianship, and ensemble interactions were captivating … and I just finished a night of the deepest dreams I’ve had in quite a while — more of the kind I have after one of the dance companies’ performances.
I’ve already shared their Youtube link of “Saoirse” with a number of friends and family.
The Gloaming are aptly named and broke into my interior only the way the gloaming does. Thank you, [The] Gloaming guys (and Nic) and UMS!
This was fantastic. Please invite them to return.
Very Irish with a new twist! Wonderful!
Where we sat it was not too loud (row x) but the piano was dominating—when I was a kid banging on the piano like that would earn a tongue lashing.
I liked the experimental music, but at those times when the piano was being pounded it destroyed the group feel, with most of the other instruments disappearing. Overall, the sound was adequate, but could have been better, which is sad because these fine musicians were doing so much that did not come through.
A treat was seeing Nic Gareiss dance, he showed great musicality!
I wouldn’t call it “dream music”—-much more energetic and grounded in traditional Irish music than that. I loved the dynamic range and interplay between the instruments. The virtuosity of all was thrilling…and the dancer was a particular treat. Martin Hayes was the heart of the group, from the sweetness of the slower passages to his blazing dance tunes. The concert felt like an Ark performance in its informality and spontaneity (that’s a compliment).
Wow, what an amazing sound they created!! Every note is so special. I was especially impressed by the sound of piano, very very soft to full strength, etc. etc. Also traditional aspect of music is always important to me, expressing the continuation of humanities through music and poetry. I enjoyed their small talks between music.
I wonder about the amplifying the sound, too. If it is essential for them or not, because every sound was so beautiful and amazing, including the stepping shoes! (Although the shoe sound might be harder to hear to the back audience.) I want to hear them in a smaller venue next time if I have a chance.
Thank you, UMS, for bringing the Gloaming to AA!
We left before a pause; a bit rude but the sound level was way too high and the music was incredibly repetitive. We just could not endure any more.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Sphinx Virtuosi with the Catalyst Quartet and Gabriela Lena Frank, piano:
We very much enjoyed the young violinist.
Many of the compositions should have been edited/shortened.
All the words and thank you’s were a distraction from the music.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Audra McDonald:
I mean…it was Audra McDonald. It was not just a concert, it was an experience because she lived every song as if she was doing it from the show. I laughed when she told her stories and when she sand “I’ll be here” I cried WITH her cuz she had a tear rolling down. She’s simply the best, and has the Tony’s to prove it. Plus she told me I had a nice smile MID-CONCERT…I almost flew out of my seat in delight. She’s awesome sauce!
People Are Talking: UMS presents L-E-V:
Didn’t really enjoy it.
Thanks all for your stellar concert!
Inspiring repertoire and performance!
Looking forward to your next one–
We drove all the way from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to see her! (Ok..we had some other business to tend to at the University but we made sure it coincided with Ms. McDonald’s performance). She was absolutely wonderful !!! She “brought the house down” with Maybe This Time !
Thanks for the song list – the selections were a great part of a wonderful evening.
HI there 🙂 We just posted this above. Enjoy!
Audra is such a multi talented performer. She delivers a song with her entire heart and soul. Loved every minute of the concert!
Our evening with Audra was magical. She is so engaging and personable and has such a beautiful voice. We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the Concert.
Audra McDonald is a marathon runner…62 cities and she sounds that good. I particularly like that a lot of students were in the audience. She inspires them, they inspire her. I heard several people say they were going for ice cream afterwards…Perfect first show at Hill.
Audra really is the queen! What a beautiful concert taking us through such a diverse compilation of musical theater repertoire. I love how much context she provides to each of her songs and her voice is second to none. Thank you Audra and UMS!
Thank you SO much!
Song list please !!!!!
Yes! We’ve just posted it. Enjoy!
Is it possible to have the program (song title, composer, &, where appropriate, musical) added as a comment, please?
I was completely blown away. Thanks for an amazing show, UMS and Audra.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Audra 6 times,…each an incredible experience. She is the consummate musical theatre actress, with a voice that will send chills up and down your spine. I will NEVER miss any of her performances as long as I am on this planet because they all bring me supreme joy with her love and commitment to her music. She doesn’t ever just phone in a performance, she lives and recreates each and every lyric. I hope she reads this, because it certainly is a tribute to her amazing talents… thanks for coming back Audra… simply put… WONDERFUL!!!!
With her incredible understanding of what drives the human soul, Audra lifted the hearts of an entire audience and inspired every person in the room to be a kinder and more loving being. This was the most compelling concert I have ever seen. Thanks to Audra and to UMS for making this possible.
What an incredible concert – thank you so much!
Fantaxtic Show! She was grand as usual!!!
Please do provide the song list!
Every year she continues to amaze. What a magic carpet ride. She is a goddess.
So brilliant, charming, and lovely. What a wonderful evening. Thank you, UMS!
I had never seen her perform before and was absolutely blown away. An amazing talent. One of my favorite performances ever. And I have to say, one of the most charming performers I’ve seen.
Why Audra McDonald Loves Ann Arbor:
Airborn and wheels up on another UMS season….Audra McDonald a flawless take off. Decided to take UMS’s advice and wore an Hawaian shirt. Still warm at the equinox….lots of students in the balcony including a large contingent from B.G.S.U. Down the road a little over an hour. They knew our friend Doug who was a voice professor there and went to many Many UMS performances before he died the other year. Audra was glad to be with us and toshare in the delight of being the only university arts presenter to recieve the Natl. Medal for the Arts this year. Everyone seemed to enjoy the evening and heading for ice cream.
Thank you UMS for another absolutely lovely evening with Audra McDonald! She was her typical beautiful, talented, gracious self & it made for an unforgettable night!
People Are Talking: National Theatre Live: George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman:
An outstanding performance/production where the ideas, the wit, as well as the dramatic tensions came through in a typically talky play.
People Are Talking: UMS presents My Brightest Diamond with Detroit Party Marching Band:
Raising the stage would definitely be a good idea!
Other than the viewing issues, this was a high-energy, fun performance! What an incredibly powerful voice, and such a fresh musical approach!
The enthusiasm and intensity of Shara Worden, and the Detroit Party Marching Band were SO infectious! Great show — Thanks, UMS!
Spectacular show. Shara was breathtaking and the venue was a super fun setting. Thanks for making this happen!
This was not a club it was a visual happening and thus should appreciate that everyone might like to see what the performers are doing. Vertically challenged is a strange description for people, it has no real meaning for a concert. The tall people are just rude and grabby, kind of like those that scramble for the candy out a pinata.
What a total riot! An incredible band, an incredible party, and overall just exactly what my end-of-week called for. Club shows aren’t spectator sports, so I wasn’t bothered about the lack of visibility or the vertically ambitious rockers in the front row. 😉 I was super appreciative of the dance floor, the nice drinks, and all the friendly faces. Thanks UMS!
Absolutely true! We would really like to see someone with theater experience set this venue up better or move it elsewhere.
Second what others said: fabulous performance, poorly arranged for seating / viewing. Especially disappointing because of Shara’s great visuals. We were among those who stood on chairs in order to see. But would like to see more edgy performances in this venue, with more thought given to viewing arrangements.
Great show! It was nice to see Shara’s versatility in her set. She is an amazing talent – one to watch. We have a relationship with the Party Marching Band and knew they had toured with My Brightest Diamond in the Netherlands and also performed in Detroit with her. But we had not seen them together, live. It was an interesting collaboration. I too, would have liked to have seen the concert in a better space. But enjoyed the food and drinks available and the downtown space. Loved the varied ages of the crowd!
Would have been nice to be able to see-interesting how over and over again the tallest people go in front. What is that all about? Fun show, intersting music. way too small a space for the number of people though – raise the stage?
Loved the show and the Party Band. It would have been much more enjoyable if the audience had a better view of the performers. Some members of the audience had to stand on chairs. We pretty much settled for no view. Not sure there was a stage but if there was one it should have been taller.
Home is where the tooth brush stands But you can ppahres argue that you have different levels of home ; you will never loose home as where you grew up, but you also have other homes where the feeling of homeness hits you the moment you walk through the door.
What Makes a Great Jazz Trio?:
My Dad is AMAZING isn’t he?! I don’t know what I’d do withadout him — it was actuadally his idea to book a videoadgadraadpher — I was dead set against it at the start if you rememadber bucseae I couldn’t find any non-cheesy wedadding films out there! I can’t really conadvey how pleased and in awe I am at this video. And again I still can’t believe it’s mine! And I can’t believe it’s makading peoadple cry!! *blush* And yes, about the fire at the casadtle. I keep imagadinading what would have hapadpened if our wedadding had been booked a few weeks later! I’m sure we would have coped — but I applaud those who are havading to go through the comadmoadtion of movading things around at very short notice! Not an easy thing to cope with I’ma0sure! I’m woradried I’m going to watch this movie too much and get bored of it! But it brings back so many memadoadries — and plus watchading it means I kind of get to relive the day again — which I am so yearnading to do! Oh if only it were posadsiadble!a0x
[VIDEO] Messiah Memories: Jerry Blackstone, Conductor:
What a joy to find such clear thinikng. Thanks for posting!
People Are Talking: UMS presents Fred Hersch Trio at Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre:
I hate wedding lists with a paossin, particularly the ones where the cheapest item is a cheese slicer for a332. And if you dare to buy the slicer, you are openly declaring that you’re a tight-arsed/povvy git.Perhaps the hosts think that a wedding list is a fair exchange for a three-course meal in pleasant surroundings. I’ve no idea.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Angélique Kidjo at Hill Auditorium:
“Hope no one drops one of their Compact Fluorescents and spills the mrcruey inside…”The phosphor lining is fairly hazardous too, as there are usually several slightly radioactive compounds in it as well. These aren’t the light elements that are low powered and typically inert (like your tritium powered night sights, which are a mildly radioactive isotope of Hydrogen), but the heavy metal types that shrink your ‘nads and give you cancer.The ballast can be an issue too, though they are supposed to be solid-state, with no PCB oils in them, but most of these units are built (shocker) in China, famous for adding ethylene glycol to your toothpaste! Who knows what’s going into them?Finally, it is indisputable that the garden variety CFL is far more an energy hog to produce in the first place.I’ve been experimenting with some CFL lamps in my house, and my own observations are leading me to a couple of conclusions: The first is that the more expensive branded units are far better in terms of service life. Don’t believe for a minute that the store-branded ones will last you 15 years or whatever their claims are. The best I’ve done with one in continual burn is about 3 years. The second is that with multi-bulb fixtures, the parallel arrangement of the loads tends to reek havoc on the ballasts of the second or third bulb from impedence drop. The short of it is, they burn out quickly.Most importantly, CFL lamps SUCK at color rendering, making everything look sick or artificial. Can’t wait ’til they go the way of the Dodo bird.
My Brightest Diamond (Shara Worden) with the Detroit Party Band:
With apologies to Jimmy Stewart and Ralphie Parker, this is my fotraive Christmas movie of all time. If you are reading this because you have never seen Christmas Vacation , stop right now and go to the video store and rent it. Then come back here and order your own copy because you’ll want to watch it over and over again each holiday season.The undisputed gem of the National Lampoon Vacation’ series, the plot can be summed up very simply: idealistic family man Clark Griswold wants to host the perfect old-fashioned fun family Christmas. As all of us idealistic family men have discovered, there is no such thing as a perfect holiday, and that just about sums it up. The appeal of this film is that we can all relate to the disasters that holidays can become, regardless of how well-meaning we are and how hard we work to achieve them. The cast is terrific. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo (Ellen) are back as the Griswolds, with Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki assuming the roles of Audrey and Rusty. John Randolph and Diane Ladd are Clark’s parents, while E.G. Marshall and the ultimate mother-in-law, Doris Roberts are Ellen’s parents. Nicholas Guest and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss are Todd and Margo, the yuppie neighbors. William Hickey and Mae Questel (the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl) nearly steal the show as Uncle Lewis and senile Aunt Bethany. Randy Quaid does steal the show his cousin-in-law Eddie is one of the all-time great characters in recent comedy history.The self-inflicted situations that befall Clark in his holiday quest are peppered with memorable dialogue and slapstick, yet believable enough to bring flickers of recognition to most viewers. Witness his mishaps on the roof putting up the lights; getting trapped in the attic; spending his Christmas bonus before he gets it; dealing with his snooty neighbors; and getting hilariously tongue-tied at the lingerie counter and being remarkably eloquent when he gets his bonus . Admit it. We’ve all been there.A holiday movie should be one that holds up to repeated viewings, and this one does. Besides the excellent cast and the familiar situations, there is a great score by Angelo Badalamenti (Twin Peaks), the animated opening credits sequence, and some fine tunes such as Hey Santa Claus by the Moonglows! There are numerous little touches that you might not catch the first several times check out the shape of the packages in Mr. Shirley’s office when Clark gives him his gift, and see what happens to the light bulbs Clark puts in the cart at the Wal-Mart.I suspect, like in our home, Christmas Vacation has become a sort of institution in many homes each holiday season. We like to get together with friends to watch it, with everyone dressing as a character from the movie. We eat green jello with cat food in it, stand and join in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner, recite the lines along with the characters, and give thanks that our holidays are at least a little better than the Griswolds’.
Performing Objects: Beyond Puppetry:
Dude, helping ppolee is one thing but at some point we need to charge some $ for some of the services, otherwise we can’t help anymore. Helping ppolee via coaching creating all the material takes a lot of time. To offer all this to you, we need a programmer, a videoeditor, a journalist etc. and all ppolee wanna be paid because they have to feed a family.Btw. there is free stuff at our blog, quizmodule newsletter. This FREE info gets you started and points you into the right direction.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Emerson String Quartet at Rackham Auditorium:
LOL! We were practicing vliion during Earth Hour too! We did not have the slick headlamps though, we just lit the old-fashioned candles. Natta thought it great fun to practice by candlelight but when she almost dipped her scroll in the flame of one candle, I think my heart stopped for a minute. She is only three after all! 😉
The Great Pipe Organ:
You coudnl’t pay me to ignore these posts!
The New Boyfriend badge is now avaialble and it only goes to my hhsegit tipper, if they can maintain there boyfriend status for a period of time (see boyfriend page)Also now available is the Christmas Badge tip 600 tokens and get yourself a special prezzie from your princess! Happy Holidays!
People Are Talking: Frankenstein:
I just want to tell you that I’m new to blogging and site-building and alulatcy savored this web-site. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your blog . You really come with really good articles. Many thanks for sharing with us your blog.
Behind the Scenes with Steve Lehman:
Oh, I love these pictures. They are so pecfret for Sundays in my city : ). I am ever so glad you linked up Jen! Hope your week this week is just as pretty as last week : ) Stay as warm as possible!
People Are Talking: UMS presents Royal Shakespeare Company Live in HD: Richard II:
mugam vovse ne turecki.uje, uje vse berut tolko s nimi botrcoa kak? podat v sud? ili chto. nam nujno posilnee bit esho ne takoe budet.propaganda nujna silneyshaya na ves mir.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Artemis Quartet at Rackham Auditorium:
Hahaha! I agree, I can’t believe sooemne paid for this, but at the same time I can’t believe how well it works well you know, for a string quartet imitating helicopters.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Richard Goode at Hill Auditorium:
My partner has an etsixing custody order in place dated 2006. The mother has full custody and access is to be agreed between the parties.We need the orders to be changed as two of the children now live with us (15 and 18) but there is still a girl (8) who lives with the mother but we cannot see her as the mother does not allow it. Long story.I want to lodge an initial application with the Family Law Court Brisbane. Do I also need to lodge an affidavit?
UMS Staff at Motown Museum:
I tried taking a look at your wtbeise with my cellphone and the design doesnt seem to be right. Might want to check it out on WAP as well as it seems most cellular phone layouts are not really working with your web page.
Do youve got a spam concern on this irenntet site; I also am a blogger, and I was asking yourself your situation; weve got developed some great techniques and we are looking to swap options with other people, be certain to shoot me an e-mail if planning to pursue.
Announcing our 2015-2016 season!:
I am thrilled with your world class array of performances and contributing volunteering is so fulfilling and gratifying,Deciding what performances to select is daunting due to extraordinary choices.It is an honor and privilege to be part of UMMS.I can hardly wait for the season to start..
LOVe the variety of performances every year! So thankful for the UMS series
It was simply delightful: the dancing, the choreography, the expressions with the masks. What was particularly enjoyable was hearing all the children around us belly laughing at the three sisters trying on the shoe.
I was introduced to two works this afternoon that I had never heard before – the first and the last on the program. I love that — hearing something new to me, but not new in the world. How often does this happen? Sure, we hear new stuff at concerts but it was written day before yesterday, and so, of course none of us has heard it. But there are many treasures of the past that some of us can still discover afresh, and this can makes concert going all the more exciting – if it happns often enough! Let’s all express our appreciation when novelties of this kind are programmed (in addition to well-performed chestnuts.)
One often thinks of Mozart as a composer of sweet, straightforward tunes that go easily into the ear and that one can hum while taking a shower. This Adagio is neither simple nor hummable. But Mr. Goode gave it transparency and brought out lines that might have gone unheard. I’ll see if I can find it again on YouTube.
In the second movement of the Beethoven he started speeding up, and he continued to play at headlong tempos in the Brahms; I’ll eat my hat if old Johannes intended that velocity. It’s a lamentable trend. I wonder whether artists are flattering some real or imagined culture-wide impatience. But playing music faster than intended is like being taken to the Louvre or the Uffizi and having only 5 seconds in front of each painting. (“Did you like the Mona Lisa?” “Was that the female head two paintings ago?”) A pianist friend put it this way: “Brahms needs more space.” Very true. On a different point, another pianist said the sonorities in op. 76 are too homogeneous to play the whole thing at once; some pieces: yes, but not all of them. After all, it’s not a suite.
The Debussy was top-notch — everything in its place. All the humor accounted for. The Humoresque — clearly Schumannesque “handwriting” – strikes me as a bit longer than absolutely necessary; I’ll wait patiently to hear it again. Which proves that not everything that’s new to you is equally worth getting to know. Or, to put it more crassly, some works are justly neglected.
But how about that programming, ranging from the late 1700s to thee early 20th century? Did we hear a single orchestral program this year or the previous or the one before that that ranged so widely?
Season adjourned. See you in September. Some good stuff coming up.
I was disappointed. An interesting program but difficult to pull off in this environment. To my ears, Hill Auditorium is just not an appropriate venue for piano recital. From where we were sitting, (row J stage left), the sound was remote, with a cold metallic quality. Having heard Mr Goode in more piano-friendly venues, I’m guessing it wasn’t his playing that was at fault! I know UMS wants max attendance but there are much better “rooms” in the immediate vicinity.
Hello- I’m Isabel Park, a first-year U-M piano student attending several UMS piano performances this season and sharing my thoughts here on UMS Lobby after. If you’d like to read more: http://www.umslobby.org/index.php/2014/11/student-spotlight-u-m-first-year-student-isabel-park-sets-out-to-explore-piano-15982 I’d love to hear your responses!
Richard Goode’s program was ambitious in an artistically subtle way. The pieces he performed are some of the lesser performed works and for the most part, required a – for lack of a better word – childish innocence. I’ve often been told that you can only play Mozart well if you are either a child or an elderly person. There must be something about middle-aged people that’s too complicated for the purity expressed in Mozart. In Richard Goode’s rendition of the Mozart, I heard a youthful innocence with the maturity and intellect of an adult. The combination was quite special.
Another difficult aspect of Mozart is that it is stripped down to the core. There isn’t much grandeur or technical flourish to “hide” behind, unlike Liszt or Beethoven, but Mr. Goode didn’t need anything to hide behind. From the opening phrase, he garnered the audience in with an intimacy that made me feel like we were having a personal conversation. With every sforzando, I felt a jab in the chest – as if he were telling me about a sad experience. It was amazing how the rubato, essentially an imperfection in the pulse, could be used so tastefully to make it a perfect artistic gesture. Unlike mediocre pianists, the ends of phrases were attended to just as carefully as their peaks. Seeing a lone pianist on such a big stage made the experience that much more memorable for me. Sure, the massiveness and overwhelming presence of a symphony is something indescribable on its own; however, by the end I felt as if I had experienced pure joy, harrowing ordeals, and sadness. It was an interestingly introspective encounter that I think I owe to Mr. Goode’s willingness to make himself vulnerable as both a person and performer in order to provide this magical experience that’s so hard to come by.
The Beethoven was a stark contrast from the Mozart. The lyricism in the first movement made Mr. Goode’s sound come across as more vocal than percussive and the phrases were beautifully contoured. In moments where he came out of a forte section followed by a suspenseful break, and re entered with a piano sound were like walking into an enchanted forest. There was a sense of wandering throughout that kept me emotionally engaged throughout. The final movement ended with a refreshing rush of vitality. Some of the chords that ran up the register reminded me of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto and especially in those instances, Mr. Goode really seemed to dominate the piano.
When he returned on stage for the Brahms and began to play, it seemed as if he had aged 20 years. The expressiveness of the sound was so experienced and packed from the purity he had shown us in the previous pieces. From the full textures to the articulations, his unlimited range of emotions was evident. My favorite was the last Intermezzo because of how he brought out the richness of the beautiful harmonies. The moments of key change were like flowers blooming. I also liked the final Capriccio for how uninhibited and raw it was.
But my favorite piece from the entire program had to be Debussy’s Children’s Corner. I played parts of it when I was younger, but I could have barely recognized them because they were so masterfully played – no one would have guessed they were for children aside from how humorously Mr. Goode played them. Despite the repetition in Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum, the momentum was continuous and played with so much conviction. There were parts in The Snow is Dancing where the repeated notes in his right hand seemed to be talking and an unbeatable spirit dominated through Golliwog’s Cake-walk. The only childish aspect of it all was the unpredictability and excitement during the performance.
The Schumann was a thought-provoking way to conclude the unique program. It reaffirmed my opinions that Mr. Goode is truly an artist that understands that music is more than an admirable performing arts, but that it is human expression and communication. At the cost of his comfort, I was able to experience the multi-faceted nature of human emotion and experienced a reflective evening that I will not forget.
Thank you. I appreciate it when more knowledgeable listeners come to the Lobby and let us know what the encores were.
Hello! The encore was Beethoven Bagatelle #4, from Op. 126.
The performance of the Lyon Opera Ballet of Cinderella was very enjoyable, amusing and innovative. I loved the choreography especially because it veered somewhat from traditional balletic choreography to expose the playful and funny aspects of body movement in dance. The costumes were wonderful further highlighting the comic version of a new Cinderella. I would go to see the performance again and again and I wish them even greater longevity! Triple Kudos!
Yes! that scene on the stairs was great!
Once again, I was treated to a delightful experience of amazing creativity! The dancing was graceful as ballet can be, but also acrobatic at times. The audience gasped as Cinderella bounced down the stairs where she left her slipper.
Enjoyed the performance very much — it was creative and a unique take on the familiar story. The masks might have given me nightmares when I was a child, but I liked them a lot today!
I do find myself wondering why it is that a very small but annoying portion of the audience does not seem to think that the “no cell phones” and “no photography” rules apply to them. There were 3 or 4 people in my line of vision today. the ushers could not have gotten to them without disturbing everyone else even more, so I don’t fault them at all. Oh well… I still enjoyed my afternoon!
My guest was most impressed! Weird in a good way. Reminds me of opening ceremonies when the French host the Olympics. If Boston chickens out I hope 2024 will be in Paris. Good to see the flip-side of Disney. One Final Jeopardy question was blah blah blah so & so from De’ Isgnee France….& the answer was Who is Walt Disney. I’d love to go back to France….the Euro is about par w the Dollar. Great dancing!!
I was drawn because I am interested in new expressions and UMS has been good for me in finding them around the world. Also I am a committed francophile, and so it did not hurt that it was a group from Lyon. The performance was great! I loved seeing how expressive the dancers were in masks, and then loved seeing them remove their masks at the end.
Really excited about the Triplets of Belleville show!
I like the jazz offerings….Chucho Valdes….also Joshua Redmond & the Bad Plus. ….. Of course Wynton M. & Jazz @ Lincoln Center Orchestra. Theater looks strong. Symphonically muy bueno though I would like to see my hometown Cleveland Orchestra. Looks like a lot to discover!
People are Talking: Royal Shakespeare Company Live in HD: Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost:
Love’s Labours Lost was fabulous. You never get this close to the faces, the emotions, etc. You’e actually on stage with them.
And the acting was peerless.
What’s more, the clean-up crew found my wife’s lost glove.
People are Talking: Royal Shakespeare Company Live in HD: Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Won:
The Michigan Theater did not turn off the lights during the introductory remarks. Theater goers continued to talk, walk around, stand up blocking the view of the screen so that those of us who wanted to learn from the presentations about the relationship of the two plays and the reasons for setting it after WWI were unable to hear. Requests to the ushers were ignored. It’s important that this oversight be rectified in the future.
More Please! The RSC Live and NTL Live are so wonderful…please do more of these…
People Are Talking: UMS presents Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea at Hill Auditoium:
I thought the music making and improvisation was brilliant, but I must admit, I never experienced the real spine-tingling magic that I was expecting. I wish they would have played more and talked less. They might have found the sweet groove that can make you smile for a week.
They have earned the right to have a little fun on stage, but the empty pocket shtick got old and the over-the-top mutual admiration was just not necessary. I was almost embarrassed.
Yes, it was definitely cold in there. We were uncomfortable the whole time and probably would have left if the music had not been so superb.
Of course they were wonderful, as expected, though I thought the programming could have been more diversified. But it doesn’t matter to me much any more how great the performances are in Rackham because after 30 minutes it gets to be freezing in there. I can feel cold blasts of air on me. Many people have complained about this over and over for years, yet UM and UMS continue to do nothing about it but smile and shrug their shoulders. Since most attendees at chamber concerts are older, it’s even more of an issue than it should be. As a result, I and others are less able to enjoy performances, and the situation becomes not only an insult audience members, many of us regulars, but to the performers. I’m tired of the situation and of the UM blithely ignoring its patrons, and will probably cut back on how many concerts I go to there.
Since taking my son on campus visits on the east coast I continue to be thrilled with the sumptuous cultural opportunities in AA. Unparalleled in my view. Thanks UMS!
The performance was a great experience for me. The dynamic range of the musicians was unexpected – especially since almost all of the time all four were playing. Vasks was particularly delicious, since I rarely dig contemporary works.
I agree with the previous comments. I was most fascinated by Vasks and Dvoràk, but also liked the Tchaikovsky. This was a great concert, which made me miss my hometown Berlin – though it’s amazing to go to such a concert on campus in Ann Arbor. Thanks to UMS and the sponsors for bringing them here.
People are Talking: New Look for UMS Lobby:
The Artemis Quartet performance Sunday afternoon at Rackham–exciting, emotional, vibrant. The dynamic range (ppp to F and Szf, etc)–astounding. The Rackham, a perfect venue, showcased the best of this force in the chamber music world. If you missed it, sorry.
There is composition in some jazz, and then there’s making it up on the spot. Lots of interesting textures, polyrhythms, melodies made on the spot. They are both legends in their own right and it was intesresting to hear their different approach. I’m guessing some of the crowd that didn’t like this probably also hate when they both played with Miles in the late 60s. It often had little structure. It’s hard to explain jazz to someone who doesn’t play music. There are always the superficial fans that want the hits!
It is true that the Dvorak was one of the highlights of the concert. However, everything that Artemis did was exquisite, whether or not you had a favorite piece. It was amazing to see a group that is really in their “sweet spot”. They have played together long enough to truly think with a “group mind”. However, they still have the fire and vigor of a younger group of musicians. Other younger groups have played at Rackham, and they have the abandon that often characterizes such groups, but sometimes it overshadows their musical maturity. Artemis is able to bring everything at once, very special to be able to experience this.
I agree with, and can’t improve on, the first comment here.
I do wish to say how impressive it was to listen to musicians so in tune with each other.
These three works couldn’t have been in better hands. The Artemis players are without exception superb instrumentalists. What balance!
It might have been wise to play these three quartets in the reverse order since the Vasks and the Tchaikovsky pale by comparison with the Dvorak as regards inspired musical invention.
One can’t help smiling (or giggling) at the Vasks’ narrative and imagistic aspirations described in the program booklet — complete with a lighthouse, repeating life cycles, and sundry other fixin’s. But at least we now know what was on his mind as he composed. The first movement is dramatic, busy, and sounds as though it is supposed to tell a story with its quick shifting moods and motifs – but what story? The second is a touching, keening lament.
Tchaikovsky’s Quartet #1 is just not one of my faves. It’s pleasant enough, and, as one of my cousins used to say, it ain’t gonna kill ya to listen to it. But not much happens. I’m reminded of a comment Tchaikovsky once made about Brahms. “His music,“ he said, “is like a pedestal without a statue on it.” Seems am apt verdict on this work, which is not representative of the greatest melodist of the 19th century. (But, again, not to mislead anyone, the second movement andante cantabile owes its beauty to a folk song.)
The Dvorak, of course, made up for anything that was less than gripping: every movement a delight!
People Are Talking: UMS presents Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits at Michigan Theater:
Hi Georgie! We’ll work on getting that information and post here if / when we’ve got it! Thanks for attending!
Was a great show! Does anyone know the setlist?
As soon as this concert was offered I knew that I needed to see these two masters of piano and jazz on stage together, just the two of them. Anyone who knew that it was just a duet surely would have understood that they were about to hear something unique, personal, and masterful. We were witness to new music, improvised, and unique to this one night and audience, never to be heard again. I was moved by Gayle Moran’s performance. I felt privileged to be present.
For those expecting to hear the usual, to quell their need for familiarity, to feel comfortable hearing the same tunes these men have played over and over and over for the last 45 years, 45 years people! did not understand the possiblities of the night.
that was a wonderful show they are truly talented
An exceedingly joyous show!! Great spirit, heart, sounds and visuals!! Lots of energy!!
Without a doubt, one of the most amazing musical expressions that I have ever witnessed….what a blessing to have been in that room. It is a rare treat to be in the presence of such genius…
Wow what grumps! I’m a little surprised by the folks who were expecting classical jazz music at the Hill… what they gave us was what they’ve been doing as magic together since before I was born! Just check out you tube with the chronicles of their style and contributions. Art is expressive for both the player and the listener, keep live performances live. As for timing, some of us from the East could not pass through the crowded hospital and power center traffic – who knew AA on Thursday would be so gridlocked!
I was personally blessed with both joy and tears throughout the night! I was overwhelmed when Gayle shared “Someday my prince will come”… Your prince has come, and continues to shine!
Keep supporting music of all forms and styles. It’s the freedom we share!
Amen! It’s not music to eat potato chips by.
I do believe some of these people miss the point in jazz improvisation. Improvisation is what jazz is all about. That’s what Chick and Herbie do so brilliantly. Here’s 2 of the masters performing in front of you, “bare bones”, letting their audience witness how this highly crafted art is done in it’s infancy. “In other words “from nothing”, and creating it on the spot. It’s a fine art! If anything was read off of sheet of music it was very minimal. If any of you who are complaining about how they did this then try doing it yourself and see how well you fair. Maybe then you might have some appreciation for how wonderful they pulled it off.
It was fun for a while but not coherent art. Clever and technically brilliant but not satisfying. Had I known this was designed for their personal enjoyment more than ours, I would have stayed home. Even my jazz fanatic husband agrees.
It was a very interesting concert, and I actually agree with *all* the comments. It was totally awesome to hear two geniuses playing off each other, but it got rather boring after a while. As did other listeners, I began to wish for a bit more emotional content and melody.
Hi, Mark Jacobson here from UMS Programming.
Here is Thursday night’s set list from Hill Auditorium on April 16, 2015:
You’d Be So Easy To Love (Cole Porter)
Synth Improv #1
Lineage (Chick Corea)
Someday My Prince Will Come with special guest Gayle Moran (Larry Morey/Frank Churchill)
Maiden Voyage (Herbie Hancock)
Spain (Joaquin Rodrigo/Corea)
Thanks for participating in the online post-concert conversation.
I wholeheartedly agree. My first time seeing either one of the giants should not have left me scratching my head or wanting some of my money back. $90 a piece for two tickets to that “concert” didn’t leave me wanting for more. It left me wanting for something in the first place.
Though Herbie Hancock and Chick Correa are clearly masters of Jazz, this experimental format was not interesting after the second time around. My wife and I see jazz concerts regularly all over the country, but this was not what we were expecting.
Hopefully the next concert they do will take a different approach.
It was junior high band rehearsal…a format concert-goers should have been apprised of before spending such “good” money. I’m not a musician but it just as well could have been me on stage with either–or both, of them.
Agree with some of the sentiments above. Saw Chick with John Mclaughlin few years ago, and Herbie with his combo a decade ago. I much prefer band arrangements, or at least a coherent program. Jazz is already an esoteric art, so free form improvisation between two masters on the same instrument trying to simultaneously play backing and solo components was too much for me. These guys have obviously earned the right to tour in any format they want, but I would not go again.
My sentiments as well, Valerie…2000%
My husband and I were disappointed. We came to hear some oldies, but goodies i.e. watermelon man, chameleon, etc. What we heard was a lot of piano keys , being played a bit scattered.
My sentiments as well, Linda…2000%
Disappointed indeed! It felt like they were having their own fling and the rest of Hill were bystanders.
My sentiments as well, Michele…2000%
What a tremendous disappointment. I was expecting to be wowed by these two greats, but the experience was far from moving–too much seemingly improvised. Where was the sheet music? They kept joking about not having it, but there were sheets on stage. I didn’t want to watch two musicians “conversing” with each other the entire night. I wanted them to converse with the audience too, and, for me, that meant something a bit more conventional. No Chameleon? Come on!
My sentiments as well, Greg…2000%
THE Worst jazz performance I had EVER seen at $125pp! Don’t get me wrong: jazz is not on my list of favorite genres but I indulge because sometimes artists excite me with a hit that compels to dance a salsa or greystone or something. My boyfriend is a whore for jazz; he hated last night’s performance.
Ann Arbor History: Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea’s Hill Auditorium Reunion:
I was disappointed in the first half of the concert. I think a lot of people went to the concert remembering the old music of Chick and Herbie. The first half of the concert was just a cacophony of of good piano playing but with very few, if any, memorable rifs. Herbie’s accompanyment of Chick’s wife was memorable in that it let Herbie be Herbie.
The encore was the best piece of the concert. It had some semblance of a melody and this fusion of the two players made great sound.
Enjoyed this concert very much.
Sadly Ferrante & Teicher cannot be booked as Teicher is no longer with us….
The concert was incredible. Parking was deplorable. Coming from out of town I had no idea it would take me 50 minutes to park coming from a restaurant 5 minutes away. The beauty of those runs and the vocalist were worth the frustration.
Amazing concert in the very hard to manage duet format. Chick and Herbie are two of the few remaining living jazz masters and I felt fortunate to watch them interact and hit all the right keys. Jazz is improvisation and may be hard to swallow for some. Artists have to be given some leeway to explore their art to keep it fresh. There is a definite kinship between the two of them. Buy the greatest hit CDs if you strive for familiar tunes.
Pure excellence. Especially loved “Maiden Voyage”…the first jazz record I ever bought.
Two masters, showing how it’s done, and having fun doing it.
Great concert. The electronic interlude probably hit some of us who wish Herbie never found the vocoder I the 80s. The two of them have a special magic together no matter what they were doing…
That was a rare performance….maybe not what some undergraduates had bargained for….Wow, there are so many true jazz aficionados in the area. I hope we can come together like Herbie & Chick to support our jazz on public radio. Word to ourselves, try to be on time though!
December is a Great Month to Give!:
its really great thanks for share
People Are Talking: UMS presents Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester at Hill Auditorium:
Thanks so much!
APK (and all!), here is the program listing:
Music Maestro, Please – Allie Wrubel, Herb Magidson (1938)
Wenn ich liebe brauch dann geh` ich zu – Pauline Jim Cowler, Fritz Rotter (1928)
Let ‘s Do It – Cole Porter (1928)
Marie Marie Marc – Roland Johannes Brandt (1931)
Frauen sind so schön wenn sie lieben – Erich Plessow, Bruno Balz (1936)
I’m In The Market for You – James F. Hanley, Joseph McCarthy (1929)
Wir sind von Kopf bis Fuß – Friedrich Hollaender, Friedrich Hollaender (1930)
Stormy Weather – Ted Koehler, Harold Arlen (1933)
Mein Gorilla – Walter Jurmann, Bronislaw Kaper, Fritz Rotter (1933)
Heartaches – Al Hoffman, John Klenner (1931)
Ich frag Madame Walter – Jurmann, Bronislaw Kaper, Fritz Rotter (1931/1932)
I Got Rhythm – George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin (1930)
Du hast mich nie geliebt – Will Meisel, Fritz Rotter, Otto Stransky (1929)
Ich steh mit Ruth gut – Fred Raymond, Robert Gilbert (1928)
Concerto For Trumpet – Harry James (1942)
Was That the Human Thing to Do? – Joseph Young, Sammy Fain (1931)
Bilbao Song – Kurt Weill, Bert Brecht (1930)
Love Thy Neighbor – Mack Gordon, Harry Revel (1934)
Some Of These Days – Shelton Brooks, Shelton Brooks (1927)
Who ‘s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf? – Frank Churchill, Ann Ronnell (1933)
Wie hab’ ich nur leben können – Friedrich Hollaender, Robert Gilbert (1932)
Millions Of Kisses – Peter Maurice, Jos.Geo.Gilbert (1932)
Coubanakan – Moises Simons Sauvage (1936)
Over My Shoulder – Harry Woods (1934)
Dein ist mein ganzes – Herz Franz Lehár Fritz Loehner-Beda (1929)
Dort tanzt Lulu – Will Meisel, Will Meisel (1931)
Oops!… I Did It Again – Max Martin, Rami Yacoub (1999) (recorded by Britney Spears)
Gib mir den letzten Abschiedskuss
Will the actual program be posted somewhere? I’d love to have a list of the pieces they performed so I can find them on Youtube/iTunes.
I saw Max and the Palast Orchestra the last time they were here, so it was very good to see them again. Hope they keep Ann Arbor on their agenda. Now I’m off to shop for more of his CD’s, as I did last time they were here. This was such fun.
Excellent program. To produce an intimate performance in a large auditorium was an amazing feat. Max Rabbe has a great voice and stage presence highlighted by his deadpan commentary. The musicians of the Orchester are very talented. Their ability to shift positions, instruments and perform solo showed that they are excellent performers. Hope they are brought back soon. A pre-performance lecture would be great.
My first time at the Hill Auditorium because this was the furthest east appearance for this year’s Max Raabe & the Palast Orchester USA tour. Fabulous performance, but, would have thought that UMS would have scheduled a pre-performance talk as was done at George Mason University last year or at least encouraged the audience goers to dress in the spirit of the 30s.
This is the second UMS presence of the group. First one was a couple of years ago….Except “Lulu”, this program was different, which come as a new surprise….Their first DVD is worth watching as well. Stunning performance of a music era somewhat forgot . Last but not least, the great sens of humor of Mr. Raabe. Excellent performance.
The violinist was fabulous!
Hi there! We’ve reached out for a set list and will post it here as soon as we’re able. Glad you enjoyed the performance!
A fabulously entertaining show! His deadpan humor had the audience laughing throughout, and the final song was spot on! There is something so special about the Big Band sound which just makes you want to dance. My sister hired a live “Big Band” for her wedding reception back in 1982 and we danced the night away. I was reminded of the event last night. Bring them back next year!
Wonderful! It’s hard to find live performances of music from this period. I smile when I think about last night’s event.
Really wonderful showmanship. I was thoroughly enthralled by the range of Max Raabe’s voice and the musicians abilities to shift positions, instruments and configurations. The lighting and staging were elegant and illuminating, setting moods and tones without being overbearing or calling attention to technics.
Agreed! Thank you, Michael, for bringing back Max and his gang.
Absolutely one of the most entertaining events of the season.
Enjoyed it very much!
I had a friend who toiled well over a decade to earn a PhD in German. He said one day he stumbled over the shortest book ever written, Five-Hundred Years of German Humor. Well, Max Rabbe proved him wrong. The deadpan commentary was spare and hilarious. The Orchester was very talented too. I fear I mentioned a long time ago in a Lobby post that I sat and watched Lawrence Welk in pajama’s with footies with a small bowl of popcorn every Saturday. The encore could have been David Bowie’s Golden Years…My memories of Europe are clouded with bad pop music at the discotheques. The real music came beforehand, Das Ist Der Deutscher Puntlieschkeit!
People Are Talking: UMS presents Gilberto Gil at Hill Auditorium:
Hi, Mark Jacobson from UMS Programming here. The set list from Gilberto Gil’s solo concert on Saturday, April 4, 2015 at Hill Auditorium is below:
Aos Pés da Cruz (Marino Pinto and Zé Da Zilda)
Você e Eu (Carlos Lyra and Vinicius de Moraes)
Tim Tim por Tim Tim (Haroldo Barbosa and Geraldo Jacques)
Rosa Morena (Dorival Caymmi)
Desde Que O Samba É Samba (Caetano Veloso)
Rio, Eu Te Amo (Gilberto Gil)
O pato (Jayme Siolva and Neuza Teixeira)
Doralice (Dorival Caymmi)
Abraço no Bonfá (João Gilberto)
Abraço no João (Gilberto Gil)
Gilbertos (Gilberto Gil)
Carinhoso (Pixinguinha; lyrics by Braguinha)
Máquina de ritmo (Gilberto Gil)
Milagre (Dorival Caymmi)
Eu samba mesmo (Janet Almeida)
Chiclete com Banana (Jackson do Pandeiro and Almira Castilho)
Meio de Campo (Gilberto Gil)
Desafinado (Antônio Carlos Jobim and Nilton Mendonça)
Eu Vim da Bahia (Gilberto Gil)
É Luxo Só (Ary Barroso)
Thank you for joining the post-concert conversation!
I was fun to sit with such an appreciative audience.
Great concert by a true hero! Aquel Brasil
People Are Talking: UMS presents Chicago Symphony Winds at Rackham Auditorium:
Many thanks for your nice remarks! We at the Chicago Symphony Winds are appreciative of the sophisticated and welcoming audience at UMS. We, as you, were especially delighted to have our dear colleague Liz Tiscione, Principal Oboist of the Atlanta Symphony, join us for this performance. The other repertoire you speak of is wonderful, and we hope to present it in future seasons. HONK.
Mozart was never at a loss for musical ideas. He could toss off a brilliant quartet while he was waiting for the breakfast toast to pop. So he rarely ever had to use the same material twice. But both of these works served him again in composing string quintets; he knew when he had a good thing. Indeed. they are both gems.
The performances were luminous and gorgeous – transparent as only wind ensembles can be. Everyone I spoke with loved the first oboe especially.
So, these works and the performances could not have been more satisfying.
But in this space we never talk about programming; we seem to treat this as a taboo topic. Well, here goes.
Much as we’d hate to let go of either of these Mozart works, would you have preferred a stylistically somewhat more diverse program — works that were not written a mere few years apart? Many other composers have written wonderful stuff for winds. Would you perhaps have liked to hear something by Dvorak or Richard Strauss or even Stravinsky or Poulenc along with one Mozart Serenade – and saved the other for next year? Honk if you vote yes.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Jeremy Denk, piano at Hill Auditorium:
This concert was a real treat! After years of listening to their recordings to hear and see them in person was inspiring.
Mr Denk, the man is a Wizzard in full command of his craft, there was so much joy in his playing it’s almost as if he could have willed the piano to play on its own.
The only done side to this lovely concert in this lovely hall were the two students seated a few rows behind me and to my right.
I heard every word of their whispered conversation during every second of the performance.
It was the final movement from an early Mozart divertimento, K. 116.
The encore they played last was fantastic! It definitely sunds like Mozart. Anyone knows exactly what piese was that? Thanks
It was No. 13
Does anybody know the encore that he played? I think it was one of the Goldberg Variations, but which one?
Isabel, I agree with your review. I also loved the second movement. I thought that his contemplative approach to the Bach really came through in this section. In that regard I thought that his Goldberg Variation encore was spectacular (and my most enjoyable part of his performance).
I also concur that the tempi were troubling to me, at first. My initial reaction was tempered, however, as the movements continued. I found the each tempo helped to drive the energy of the piece faster and harder. I guess that the speed grew on me and that I ended up finding what was, at first, jarring, to be exhilarating.
I had to wonder: would Mr. Denk’s playing be as thoughtful and engaging as his writing? He certainly surpassed my hopes, to say the least. The opening movement of the Bach concerto was nothing short of breathtaking. There was a contagious energy that was viscerally stimulating throughout the duration of the performance. Bach is difficult in that sense – to add a dimension of emotional appeal without tarnishing its paradoxically complex simplicity. But Mr. Denk played with such a conviction that undoubtedly did the concerto justice.
Each individual melody was attentively crafted, and delivered with eloquent contour. He was clearly aware of the homophony as shown through his well-executed decisions to bring specific lines to the forefront of his sound. The only aspect that I didn’t fully agree with were the tempi, which seemed rather fast in the quicker movements, but it was relatively minor and didn’t present much of an issue.
The second movement was contemplative and introverted in just the appropriate ways. It was sensitively played, yet uninhibited in terms of artistic flourish and expression. He didn’t fall into the tendency to polarize Bach by either oversimplifying it, or unnecessarily complicating it. Personally, it was my favorite movement – although the final movement was also phenomenal.
There was a relentless focus as Mr. Denk played the last movement. The result was a more channeled, directed energy which reflected in the intimacy of the ensemble. Unlike many concerto performances, the soloist didn’t seem to be isolated but rather a featured member of the group. The result was a special effect that was especially memorable during an interlude in which the orchestra held various harmonies under Mr. Denk’s technical passages. The members of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields only augmented the performance with their seamless ensemble. Not to mention, their sound was incredibly full and satisfying without any excess thickness or residue that enabled them to create the intimacy of a string quartet while delivering the depth of sound of a bigger orchestra.
For me personally, the most admirable thing about Mr. Denk tonight was his dual role as both a soloist and ensemble director. His depth of understanding for the music was enviable and his unique musical intelligence really shone through today’s performance. Tonight, I left Hill Auditorium very inspired as a pianist.
Great concert though I am a bit of an “original constructivist” here: Tony Scalia move over! I loved Denk’s playing and the strings’ playing, but I prefer a harpsichord for the combination. My favorite pieces were the Stravinsky Concerto and the encore from the Goldberg Variations (Denk *solo*). Bought the GV CD afterwards, have to stack it up against Glenn Gould. This guy (Denk) is really serious!!
I had not seen or heard of Jeremy Denk previously. Hearing him play the Bach concertos on a concert grand brought a vitality and excitement to the concert that was the experience of a lifetime! His exquisite and powerful rendering of these concertos blended perfectly with the string orchestra, as no rendering on original instruments could hope to achieve. The evening was positively thrilling!
A most elegant and satisfying concert, imaginatively programmed. It’s fascinating to watch the changing tastes in approaches to Bach playing, from the revolution (at the time) of Glenn Gould, through the original instrument movement, and now to Mr. Denk, who brings scholarship infused with passion and incredible pianism. I heard things in these pieces that were new to me. The orchestra’s grace, polish and seemingly effortless ensemble gave all the music a winning immediacy.
I really enjoyed the concert especially the Bach and as others have mentioned an interesting contrast ! I though Mr. Denks playing was very energetic and respectfully playful. One could see he was having fun up there and certainly had a command of the music. In closing I thought he really portrayed the musicality of Bach in a manner that most other performers are unable to do!
Hello–this is Shannon Fitzsimons from the UMS Education and Community Engagement Department. The Academy’s group encore this evening was the final movement from Mozart’s Divertimento in D. As my colleague Mark mentioned, Mr. Denk’s encore was the 13th variation of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
Hi, Mark Jacobson from UMS Programming, here.
Jeremy Denk’s mid-concert solo piano encore was “Variation 13 (a 2 Clav.)” of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, BWV 988.
Thanks for joining the post-concert conversation.
We agree with Music Lover that Sunday’s performance of the Chicago winds was superb….it was; proving again the power of up close and personal performances.
Richard & Marian
This was a superior concert for many reasons. For Marian and me, however, sitting in the middle of the second row and just 15 feet away from the closest musicians, we were able to sense their joy in performance in a way that made these pieces come alive. It is wonderful to witness in such an intimate way how dedicated artists engage with each other during a performance and how they seem to have such a good time with the music.
Richard Douglass & Marian Horowitz
Clever program – Baroque and neo-Baroque. We need clever programs.
The tempi in the Back were on the fast side. But mostly Mr. Denk made them work.
The St. Martin group is a miraculous ensemble. Played the rhythmically complicated ballet score with balance, virtuosic compaactness, and subtle colors (also in the Concerto).
This concert and the Mozart concert by the Chicago Winds the other day are something to remember over the summer and beyond.
A marvelous concert! — incomparable sonority throughout, setting forth incomparable creative genius.
I was moved to tears when the musicians began the Finale of the second Serenade we were privileged to hear.
Thanks to the Chicago Symphony Winds and to UMS, especially Ken Fischer and Michael Kondziolka!
People Are Talking: UMS presents Kyle Abraham / Abraham.In.Motion at Power Center:
This performance was fabulous. This is an important emerging star of modern dance/choreography. I was very excited to see this, and my expectations were exceeded. Saturday night’s program was outstanding. PLEASE UMS INVITE KYLE ABRAHAM/ABRAHAM IN MOTION BACK AGAIN IN FUTURE YEARS!!!
We attended the Saturday performance and were in awe of the grace and athleticism of the dancers and the creativity of movement. The underlying political and social message was timely and the music haunting. Loved it!
Terrific show. Bring him back
Fresh and innovative, but not died avant guard that it’s inaccess. The dance tells a story
Kyle Abraham was just great! What a breathe of fresh air….it seemed like a day with fresh young talent from the U of M softball game, to strolling on Liberty St., to this action packed dance performance. I though the anguish in some of the recorded music was a little over the top but the dancing was spectacular.
Job well done!
People Are Talking: UMS presents A Bill Frisell Americana Celebration at Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre:
It was a clever idea to have a performance based on music associated with film. The composition of the group was enjoyable with a proper mix of vocals or instrumentals. I was impressed with the guitar/viola dialogue and found the performance enjoyable.
Hi, all, Mark Jacobson here from UMS Programming, again, on night two of Bill Frisell’s UMS Americana Celebration residency.
Friday night’s set list was as follows:
Bill Frisell’s When You Wish Upon A Star
Music for Film & Television
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
Friday, March 13, 2015
When You Wish Upon A Star (Leigh Harline and Ned Washington; from “Pinocchio” and “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color”)
The Days of Wine and Roses (Henry Mancini)
Once Upon A Time in the West/
As A Judgement/
Farewell To Cheyenne (all written by Ennio Morricone)
Windmills Of Your Mind (Michel Legrand; from “The Thomas Crown Affair”)
Moon River (Mancini and Johnny Mercer; from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”)
Tales From The Far Side (Bill Frisell; from “Gary Larson Cartoon Special”)
You Only Live Twice (both written by John Barry)
Psycho 2 (both written by Bernard Herrmann; from “Psycho”)
Alfie (Burt Bacharach)/
Alfie’s Theme (Sonny Rollins)
The Shadow Of Your Smile (Johnny Mandel; from “The Sandpiper”)
The Godfather (Nino Rota)
Batman Theme (Neal Hefti)
Theme from the Andy Griffith Show (Earle Hagen)
Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg)
Thank you for joining us for this week’s memorable concerts with Mr. Frisell and hope to see you at future UMS events!
A Bill Frisell Americana Celebration 3/12-13:
This completes two nights of Bill Frisell for me and many others I spoke with. I consider him one of the most important artists of my generation, or any generation, for that matter. Alfie, Over The Rainbow, Batman, Moon River, Psycho…. I never wanted it to end. Thanks Bill & Company.
I am absolutely MESMERIZED by Bill Frisell’s style and the personality that he brings to the stage through his music. His solo playing is soulful, soothing, quirky, hypnotic, and spontaneous all at the same time, and he manages to bring such a liveliness and freshness to the American classics that he presents. He combines unique technique and effortless execution to intertwine a personal creative touch into familiar melodies, making them accessible to any musical taste. His style is only complimented by his witting and charming personality!
What an amazing concert––my sister and I sat entranced the whole time. It’s amazing how his music flows so seamlessly between genres. Last night’s set is what Americana should be (and thanks to Bill Frisell, is becoming).
Had the extreme pleasure of enjoying last nights performance with my 12 year old son. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Bill many times over a span of 30 years. Hearing sound check with curtain closed at a Bass Desires show 30 years ago hooked me for life. Besides having the opportunity to enjoy the show with my son, I will remember the absolutely stunning sound. The sound man deserves an award. I can only liken it to hearing the best stereo I’ve ever heard. So happy to see Bill solo. Honestly never thought that I’d ever get that opportunity. Many thanks to Mark Jacobson for pulling it off. Can’t wait for this evenings show!
This morning, Mr Frisell remembered the inclusion of
Bumpin’ on Sunset (Wes Montgomery)
…following “Cannonball Rag” and preceding the first acoustic portion of Thursday evening’s solo concert.
For further clarity regarding my above posting, Thursday evening’s set list was not written down or planned in advance of the concert by Mr. Frisell, but rather was created and determined in the moment from the stage.
Hi, all…Mark Jacobson here from UMS Programming.
To the best of our investigative abilities while delving deep into our collective memory, below is Thursday night’s set list from Bill Frisell’s solo concert.
Bill Frisell Solo
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
Thursday, March 12, 2015
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams)
It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago (Paul Motian)
Crepuscule With Nellie (Thelonius Monk)
Cannonball Rag (Merle Travis)
[Playing 1967 Martin (acoustic):]
My Man’s Gone Now (George Gershwin)
[Playing electric guitar:]
Poem for Eva (Bill Frisell) segue into “Free improvisation”
In My Life (John Lennon-Paul McCartney)
A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)/
Masters of War (Bob Dylan)/
What the World Needs Now (Burt Bacharach)
[Playing 1967 Martin (Acoustic):]
Casey Jones (Mississippi John Hurt)
Please let us know if you heard any other pieces in the set! Thanks for attending tonight’s concert…and hope to see you again Friday night.
Wonderful concert – thanks Bill, for stepping outside of your comfort zone and “going solo”! I admit to having second thoughts in the early part of the evening but as I got to know Bill a little better (or more accurately his performance style) and he began doing some amazing things with his hands and his “electronic assistants”, I was in heaven! He strikes me as both a cerebral and a sentient musician, which is a great combo. Another musical genius-virtuoso not unlike Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer, who UMS brought to town last fall. Looking forward to Friday’s performance!
Another masterful performance by Bill Frisell This was the 6th time I’ve seen him, and the first solo setting. From Hank Williams to John Lennon and everything in between, Bill can cover any genre, with his own unique touch.
People Are Talking: UMS presents Trisha Brown Dance Company at Power Center:
I loved it. To me this is what dance should be. Long Time No See was light and effortless, and Newark had all that wonderful, counter intuitive work with the floor. I also like the fact that her dances are clearly made without any relationship to the music. They can be viewed without music all together. Pure dance.
People Are Talking: UMS presents The Campbell Brothers at Michigan Theater:
Hi, Mark Jacobson from UMS Programming, here. Friday night’s set list at the Michigan Theater was as follows:
Wade In the Water – trad., arranged Chuck Campbell
Morning Train – trad., arranged Chuck Campbell, Phillip Campbell
Hell No, Heaven Yes! – Phillip Campbell
A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke, arranged, Darick Campbell, Chuck Campbell, Phil Campbell
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane, arranged Chuck Campbell, Phillip Campbell
Lord I just Want To Thank You – trad., Darick Campbell, Phillip Campbell
Jump For Joy! – Charles Flenory
Thanks for attending The Campbell Brothers’ UMS debut!
Mark Jacobson, UMS
People Are Talking: UMS presents Mendelssohn’s Elijah at Hill Auditorium:
It’s okay, I wasn’t offended by anything that was said about me. I also clearly stated that I am not criticizing anyone personally. I’m curious what it was that you thought warranted oversight of a conversation between adults?
This is the second time in recent memory that you guys have chimed in and invoked your “guidelines”, thus bringing to a halt any interesting bits that may have followed in the thread. I guess a thread where everyone agrees is acceptable, but one where there is a lively debate is stamped out in the name of “community”.
Don’t get so hung up on comment guidelines, which only puts you at risk of censoring honest reactions. This was a true conversation among people who were affected on multiple levels by a masterful work about a profound subject. If you’re interested in feedback from the audience, in this situation you’d do better to listen than to invoke guidelines.
Thank you for your post, Chris. We are absolutely interested in honest reactions and true conversation, but when that starts to veer in the direction of criticism/attacks of a personal nature, we step in to remind people of our guidelines. Annick, UMS
It is too bad the Trisha Brown performance was under appreciated by some. She was, after all, billed as part of the UMS Renegade series. She has been a renegade for half a century collaborating with avant-garde visual artists, musicians, composers and even choreographing for opera. I commend UMS and its Renegade program for bringing us work that challenges our conventional sensibilities. Keep it up and thanks for bringing renegades to our doorstep.
By far the worst performance of any genre I’ve seen from UMS in at least three years. Cerebral, sterile, sonically offensive, incoherent, uninventive, slow and simply boring. The work of an artist long past her prime. Rarely have I seen such a lukewarm, almost embarrassed, response from a (small) audience. I assume they’ll never be invited back.
I think the dancing was excellent, but the Music was just awful. If I were a dancer in that company and had to listen and rehearse to that music, I would quit. It was very annoying, hard to listen to and distracted from the beautiful dancing. I won’t attend any more of Trisha Brown’s concerts because of the poor choice of music.
Hi there! Annick from UMS here. Just wanted to step in with a quick reminder of our community conversation guidelines, which are available here: http://www.umslobby.org/index.php/2009/01/ums-lobby-guidelines-12346
People Are Talking: UMS presents Compagnie Non Nova: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Foehn:
Watching the interplay between the performer, bag people, wind and music inspired awe in me. It was truly beautiful and opened my heart. It seemed pointlessly shocking and cruel to me to then murder it all in front of us and send us home on that note. Ouch.
UMS Night School: Curious About Dance – Session 2 Recap:
Too bad the program notes didn’t mention Trisha Brown’s ground breaking performance with Ann Arbor’s own Once Group in 1965.
Check it out here: http://oldnews.aadl.org/node/79964
Too bad no mention was made in the program notes of Trisha Brown’s appearance with Ann Arbor’s own Once Group in 1965.
Check it out here. http://oldnews.aadl.org/node/79964
People Are Talking: UMS presents Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra at Hill Auditorium:
Wonderful evening. Thank you for the concert. sb
In a year I’ll remember Michigan Theater full of people all sizes, ages and colors jumping for joy and bouncing up and down on their feet as the Campbell Brothers performed ‘Jumping for Joy’ – and I’ll remember what fantastic musicians they each were solo and in their very tight, high energy group. Thank you, UMS, for introducing the Campbell Brothers to AA and for bringing them here to celebrate John Coltrane.
That was fun. It seemed like they took an interest in us and knew about out sports and weather and such. The Love Supreme was like one of those giant burritos, they all most had to serve it in a bowl….Wow! UMS turned me on to something new! I lived in Chicago when my kid brother lost his room mate. We’d go to Blues Etc. On Belmont at the first of the month….pay cover….get a slip on the way out for the sister club across from Kingston Mines on Halstead. Go over there and get a slip on the way out for Blues Etc. I was glad to catch these brothers from Rochester, NY, that city has a rich musical tradition. Do I know what I’m talking about, probably not, but I had a good time.
Very interesting both for the physics of air movement creating a column of ascending air and for the ability of plastic bags to perform ballet. The program warns us that the piece is also about destruction by man, hence the ending. Charlie Chaplin and Marcel Marceau would have had a better ending but still poignant. That is my challenge to Phia Menard. Think again!
It was interesting to hear Ravel juxtaposed with Tchaikovsky. I have to say, the former half of the concert was more appealing than the latter. It was my first time hearing Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite live, and I wasn’t disappointed. Nézet-Séguin and the Rotterdam Philharmonic really did justice to the artistic nature of Ravel’s music. French music is especially distinguished in the way it paints vivid scenes. A lot of it is inspired by nature, contrary to the music of the Russians and Germans, which typically invokes a more emotional response.
Nézet-Séguin conducted the Suite with a sophisticated artistry to convey contained drama, to effective success. He was clearly aware of the subtler harmonic depth, both as written in the score and aurally. There was a transparency in the sound throughout the suite, which I thought was appropriate overall, but personally, distastefully timed on a few occasions. For example, I thought the thinner texture would have been really magical in the opening of the final movement, but instead it was carried out with a thicker, too-complicated sound. It somehow came across as too jumbled and I couldn’t focus on any one line, or perceive it as a collective one either. However, it was extremely effective in the climax of the final movement, which made the ending truly satisfying. Also, the animalesque noises added a complete touch to the various scenes they attempted to portray – my personal favorite was final movement: Le Jardin Féerique, or the Enchanted Forest.
The concerto, featuring pianist Ms. Grimaud, was nice in that it is not nearly as overplayed or as heavy as most other piano concertos. The opening was charmingly nonchalant, and she seemed to comfortably and confidently dominate the piano. For the most part, the genuine simplicity of the music was honored through the character and sound that she delivered; but in a couple sections, it seemed tarnished with unnecessarily excited bodily movement or thickened texture. The ends of phrases sometimes lacked the grace and elegance they called for, which made them seem carelessly terminated. Nevertheless, the highlight features of her playing – relentless power and undeniable clarity – shone throughout the movement.
There was something unsettling about the jointness of Ms. Grimaud and the orchestra throughout. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it, but the soloist seemed too “separate” from the rest of the ensemble and conductor. I think there was a lack of communication, or perhaps just that Ms. Grimaud was so focused and immersed in her own playing. Of course, this goes beyond simply “good music,” is a lot to ask for from a performer. It may even be a problem innate in the nature of the concerto’s orchestration, but I felt that it could’ve been a more unified performance.
Again, the opening of the middle movement had some complications that could’ve been avoided, given the beautiful simplicity that she could’ve chosen to bring to the forefront of her playing. The attempt to deliver depth sometimes came across as plodding and just seemed unnecessary. Only two or three times did both her hands align time-wise, so that a lot of “ba-dunk” was happening. The orchestra entrance was also not too convincing. I would say the main attraction of this movement was Ms. Grimaud’s intimate interaction with the bassoonist, which I truly had nothing to say about. The sound was pure and lucid, and the key change was nothing short of beautiful.
The final movement was an exciting finish to the first half of the concert.
As mentioned earlier, the Tchaikovsky naturally called for a more emotional focus, rather than an aesthetic or visual one. I felt that Nézet-Séguin’s strength was really in the aesthetic aspect of music, which is why the French part of the program was so much more effective. The Tchaikovsky symphony was very dramatic, and well executed technically, but there was something missing… I don’t think it was visceral enough. At no point did I think that the performers crossed the bounds of what constitutes “musical” and aesthetically pleasing in order to give the audience a real jab in the chest, which I think music of composers like Tchaikovsky ought to do at one point or another. Besides that, it was a thrilling evening of great music.
I enjoyed it all. What is the name of the encore?
“Polonaise” from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin
What a marvelous concert! Another memorable gift from UMS.
The combination of composers–Ravel, the supreme colorist, Tchaikovsky, the master of sweeping musical themes; Netzit-Seguin, perhaps the rising star of the world’s younger conductors, bringing forth magic from strings, woodwinds and brass; and Helene Grimaud, a brilliantly accomplished pianist in perfect mastery and harmony with the orchestra–all made for an unforgettable evening.
Thank you UMS!
I’d be content if I could take this performance of the Mother Goose Suite to my grave and hear it whenever I want to.
This evening’s concert demonstrates that you don’t really need the august Big Name orchestras from Berlin or St. Petersburg to please audiences; there are so many other less well-known groups who perform as well or better and are even more enthusiastically appreciated.
And, of course, I could go on and on about Mme Grimaud …
Absolute magic….arrangements were in proper sequence for a true jouney in jazz and the finale was over the top will be in the second roll from the stage again next year….
Elijah was fantastic the only thing it was so late by the time it was done it was 11 is there a way you could make it earlier so injoyed handles messiah fantastic sorry to see Jerry Blackstone leave hope you get a good conductor but will be hard to get anyone to feel his shoes thanks again
This was an outstanding performance by an incredible group of musicians. Each piece was preceded by an informative introduction which gave the music it’s proper historical and musical context. Wynton’s comments were always right on the money.
Every musician in the orchestra is a genius on his instrument(s). They also had great arrangements and the collective band chemistry that comes from years of playing together. You can only earn that, there’s no other way to get it.
An inspiring and powerful concert. Kudos to every member of the band for playing so well. Your dedication to the art is much appreciated. I look forward to hearing you next year!
Glad to see I wasn’t the only one. I stayed the whole time, but by the end I wished I hadn’t. It seemed everyone stood for an ovation at the end, except for me. Normally I’m very generous with my applause, bravo’s and ovations, but I didn’t feel they deserved it – only a normal clap for a mediocre performance.
Before I begin criticizing the soloists, let me say that I thought the soprano did a great job. She was the only one who I could tell had the voice and the confidence to do the job well. If she came back to give a solo recital I would not complain.
I thought the Tenor could have been great, but he just had volume issues. It seemed like maybe he had lots of musical experience, because he was hitting all the right notes and had great expressions, but he just didn’t project very well.
The baritone was also a weak projector. A good, loud baritone voice is one of my favorite things to listen to, but for whatever reason his voice was not resonating like a good operatic baritone (although he gets an A for effort).
I got very nervous vibes from the Mezzo. I think she was probably very uncomfortable because her voice seemed very tense. At one part I could barely hear her and I was only 15 rows back. After a little while she eventually found her volume, but she never made it sound easy.
I found the performance to be a drag, the soloists failed to engage me, in fact I thought there were places where the tenor seemed off key in the beginning pieces. The entire group seemed tensed, if you don’t enjoy presenting, why should the listener enjoy what you’re presenting?! It became uneasy to sit through and we left during the intermission. By all means, there will be others who think highly of the performance; different people have different tastes and understanding, I respectfully differ.
This was a great show in a season of great jazz shows. Loved the extra encore song, which seemed like a nice gesture after last year’s abbreviated performance. Bravo! Please bring Wynton back next year. I am so glad I subscribed this year and will certainly be renewing next year.
I’m sure a lot of people liked this show, and it was indeed good, but not great. The A2 symphony orchestra was in great form, and the choir sounded great, but I mainly go to these things for the vocal soloists, and I felt that they were lacking. With the exception of the soprano and the boy soprano (great job litlte dude!) I felt the soloists did not have a full sound. They all sounded better in the second part, but I still wanted more from them. I liked the soloists who did the Messiah this year a lot better, and they were more well-known.
Also, for someone who is not religious, I found it hard to sit quietly for 2.5 hours without so much as a single round of applause during the show, even when they deserved it and there was ample time to do it. In the first part the conductor even steps off the podium for a whole minute and we’re supposed to sit there quietly as if pondering God or something. I know it’s tradition, but come on, we’re a secular society so why do we have to follow these hundreds-year-old traditions? It really felt like sitting through a church service. For someone who goes to grand opera a lot, this was a unique experience, but not one that I’m likely to repeat in the near future.
“O rest in the Lord, wait patiently for him, and he shall give thee thy heart’s desires. Commit thy way unto him, and trust in him, and fret not thyself because of evil doers.”
“He that shall endure to the end shall be saved.”
“Lord, our creator, how excellent thy name is in all the nations!”
Thank you, Jerry Blackstone, for introducing so many of us to this incredible work. But even more, thank you for sharing your faith. From my first Messiah performance under your direction the great religious works we’ve performed have felt like a worship service! What a grand finale of your service to the Choral Union!
I really enjoyed this performance. I always love when Art and Science share the stage. The shadows on the ceiling were so very cool. I do wish it was longer. For me the 25 minutes went by in a blink. I was quite mesmerized.
Personally, the fact that the puppets were torn apart was critical to the piece. To me, that moment represented the lost of innocence that naturally occurs in the cycle of life. And the aftermath showed the beauty that life can still provide once we are ‘torn to shreds” by forces greater than ourselves.
As mentioned by one of my friends, I was very lucky guy. Indeed, such an once in a life experience to have such opportunities.
It’s all about getting out and seeing/hearing things that I’ve never heard before. I like to expose myself to new things on a regular basis, without regard to whether or not it has a religious theme. For me it’s fine art, but apparently for you it’s much more than that. Quite honestly, if your church is as inclusive and welcoming as you are to outsiders, then I for one want nothing to do with it. I had criticized some of the musicians, the score, and the demeanor of the event, not the content of the libretto and certainly not you or your belief system.
Most people live their daily lives in a rather circumscribed routine that visits only a small fraction of the wide breadth of human emotion. Although some may be thankful for this, I count myself fortunate to be able to be part of an enterprise where I get the chance to regularly explore a wide emotive range but without necessarily risking life and limb. Surrendering to the masterful direction of Maestro Blackstone as a UMS Choral Union singer is a wonderful way to let the soul plunge in a wide range of emotions. Performing Elijah was a truly moving experience especially since it was our last under the direction of Maestro Blackstone. As he concludes his tenure with the Choral Union, I can only be thankful for the time I have been able to share with him. He opened astonishingly beautiful opportunities to perform with some of the best musicians in the world and revel in the widest realm of emotions. I am fortunate indeed. Thank you Maestro!
Sorry for you that you think we are a “secular society”. Curious why you would want to attend a deeply religious (ie old testament filled) performance if other than to rip on God and those of us who follow him?
Not my cup of tea at all. I didn’t expect such confused and off key music. I know this is a type of jazz that many many people love, but I never have.
I left early. Couldn’t take it.
What a wonderful afternoon with JLCO.It is the first time I watch and listen to JLCO live, although I tried to make it when I travelled to NY. The music was great! Bravo, Wynton!
Hi, Mark Jacobson here from UMS Programming.
Sunday afternoon’s set list was as follows:
Mexican Moods (excerpt), Mvt. I: “Dizzy Moods “(Charles Mingus)
Latin American Suite (excerpt), Mvt. V: “Oclupaca” (Duke Ellington)
Fiesta Mojo (Dizzy Gillespie)
Alabama (John Coltrane)
Unsquare Dance (Dave Brubeck)
Mexican Moods (excerpt), Mvt. IV: “Los Mariachis” (Mingus)
Island Virgin (Ellington/Billy Strayhorn)
Knozz Moe King (Wynton Marsalis)
Thanks for joining the conversation,
I believe that UMS should start granting college credit for attendees to JLCO and Wynton concerts! ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS does teaching come hand in hand with stellar performance quality with every JLCO performance. Watching the members of the orchestra play with such joy and being able to share in the experience is such a gift. THANK you, UMS, for bringing these moments of joy to my back yard.
What a great concert with pieces from several titans of jazz!!!
Wynton was outstanding once again. He is a true artist and every time you hear him, you hear something you’ve never heard before.
Thank you Ken Fisher for making another wonderful evening possible.
In the coldest imaginable WX we are treated to the hottest imaginable jazz. Thanks to WEMU for preparing us for this concert like they do with so many others. It was good to see some young families in the audience, this kind of music is fine for tender ears. I remember when my Dad would play Big Band music on Saturday afternoons when my Mom was grocery shopping. The stores closed at six and were not open on Sundays.
It is not unusual for a composer to reflect a reaction to events of the times. As a Lutheran with a Jewish background, the conservative M expressed his displeasure with such events in a manner most suitable considering his background and talents. I have sung Elijah several times over the last 60 years and enjoyed listening instead of being part of the chorus. I did find myself mentally singing along with the altos as I tend to do any time I attend a performance of a work I have sung. It is preferable to sit back and enjoy Elijah for what it is.
I would have liked a little background in the program on the boy soprano. He was wonderful.
I was unhappy with the program note that said M. was “troubled by the moral decay that was sweeping across the European continent.” First, I don’t know that there was any moral decay, even if M. thought there was. And politically isn’t M. thought to have been mildly liberal–in favor of constitutional reform?
It’s not my favorite piece, but I liked the soloists.
Overall, it was an amazing performance. The soloists were phenomenal, and Dr. Jerry Blackstone was super engaging. The Hill Auditorium was the perfect venue for a piece such as this. Bravo!
Glad to have braved the weather and heard Jerry Blackstone’s last UMS performance. The Elm City Choir was fantastic, as well as the young lad and female choral soloists. Not as much of a fan of the professional soloists tonight. Great evening.
My wife and I LOVED this performance. So creative and fun! I did feel, however, that the destruction of the puppets at the end was violent and unnecessary. I think that it was already clear that he was “creator” and “animator” of the puppets. I did not need to see him rip them to shreds to fully understand that. I thought that the destruction of the puppets gave a kind of fake gravitas to what otherwise was a thought provoking and very stimulating performance
Excellent. Prior to this performance I would have said I preferred Mendelssohn’s 1st oratorio Paulus but now I’m converted. This is a more mature work. A definite wow.
My friend and I were familiar with the music from several years ago and really enjoyed hearing it again. I was especially impressed with the endurance of the conductor and performers over the 2 and a half hours. The choir were enthusiastic, in tune , and (mostly) in time with the orchestra. It was obviously well rehearsed and – and even if the instrumentalists made any mistakes I did not hear any. I liked the brass in the dramatic prayers to Baal, and wondered how the percussionist retuned his drums with the many key changes (he uses pedals).
Kate, I should also mention that I didn’t find the score particularly interesting or musically unique. Like I said, I am no stranger to grand opera and classical music in general. I found the score very repetitive and actually quite boring, save for a few parts like the boy soprano and some of the climaxes. Better soloists would have made it better, but I still much prefer Wagner, Verdi, Puccini and even Handel – I guess there’s a reason Mendelsohn’s works are not very well known…
Sorry I can’t share in your joy over the performance, and that I use different vocabulary than you, but if my opinions are “outtakes” then I’m afraid for the future of free speech in this country.
Fantastic performance! It was definitely worth braving the sub-zero temps. Bravo!!
While I am glad you were able to witness this grand performance, I find your outtakes fascinating. First, Elijah is not a “show,” it is a classical Oratorio. Second, the conductor stepped off the podium not to “ponder God” but to allow for late seating. Third, it is not church tradition or religious practice to save your clapping to the end of a classical music performance. Fourth, you are correct, “little dude” was exceptional! Fifth, do come back again, you might find that classical music will grow on you.
Wonderful performance! Beautiful score. Wonderful artists.
And to think that I almost let the first version on YouTube, not to mention the weather, discourage me from attending.
I appreciated the words being printed, but did not have enough light to read them during the production. Fortunately, I often carry a tiny flashlight.
Just finished working Compagnie Non Nova and in addition to the smiles on the faces of both adults and children, Maxine Frankel shared: “What a great performance! My kids LOVED it! This is definitely a show that parents should bring their kids to see.”
School Day Performance with JLCO:
There will be a CD signing after the concert that would be a great way for young artists to see Wynton post-show!
Annick Odom, UMS
Will Wynton Marsalis have scheduled to have time to talk with young artist during his visit on the 15th of February? If so where and what time. Thank you
Will Wynton Marsalis have scheduled to have time to talk with young artist during his visit on