Hello Writers and Editors!

December at UMS features two beloved holiday traditions — the UMS Choral Union's 140th presentation of Handel's Messiah, plus an HD broadcast of the Bolshoi Ballet's iconic production of The Nutcracker.

We'll also enjoy an evening with saxophonist Charles Lloyd and his band The Marvels with special guest Lucinda Williams, a special evening of song with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and Metropolitan Opera music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and an HD broadcast of the National Theatre's production of The Madness of George III.

Read on for more details about these events. Press images are always available at, or they can be downloaded by clicking the respective "Press Photos" buttons below.

As always, don't hesitate to reach out if I can help enhance your story with interviews, quotes, or additional photos.


Explore the Lineup
Handel’s Messiah

UMS Choral Union
Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra

Scott Hanoian, conductor
Yulia Van Doren, soprano
John Holiday, countertenor
Miles Mykkanen, tenor
Alex Rosen, bass
Joseph Gascho, harpsichord
Scott VanOrnum, organ

Saturday, December 1 // 8 pm
Sunday, December 2 // 2 pm
Hill Auditorium

The UMS Choral Union was formed in 1879 by a group of local university and townspeople who gathered together for the study of Handel’s Messiah. The group continues to perform the oratorio annually and these performances have since become an eagerly anticipated holiday season tradition. In a true community tradition, the UMS Choral Union is joined by the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and performs under the direction of Choral Union music director Scott Hanoian.

The 175-voice UMS Choral Union is known for its definitive performances of large-scale works for chorus and orchestra. The ensemble has performed with many of the world’s distinguished orchestras and conductors in its 138-year history, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Budapest Festival Orchestra, and the Mariinsky Orchestra. Notably, in 2006, the UMS Choral Union won Grammy Awards for "Best Choral Performance" and "Best Classical Album" for their Naxos recording of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience.


Pre-Performance Talk: Meet the Conductor
Sat, Dec 1 // 6 pm // Hill Auditorium Mezzanine Lobby
Scott Hanoian, music director of the UMS Choral Union, gives an insider’s look at conducting Handel’s Messiah before the Saturday evening performance. Presented by the Michigan Center for Early Christian Studies.

Supporting Sponsor: Carl and Isabelle Brauer Endowment Fund
Media Partners: WRCJ 90.9 FM and Ann Arbor's 107one

Explore the Lineup
Charles Lloyd & The Marvels
with special guest Lucinda Williams

Charles Lloyd, tenor saxophone and flute
Lucinda Williams, vocals
Bill Frisell, guitars
Greg Leisz, pedal steel guitar
Reuben Rogers, bass
Eric Harland, drums

Saturday, December 8 // 8 pm
Michigan Theater

Charles Lloyd returns to UMS for the first time since 2012 with his new band, The Marvels. The ensemble features Bill Frisell on guitar and pedal steel guitar master Greg Leisz alongside his longtime collaborators Eric Harland (drums) and Reuben Rogers (bass). Modern folk icon Lucinda Williams will front the band for portions of the program with selections from their new Blue Note release, Vanished Gardens. The album is a collection of songs that range from traditional hymns and anti-war folk protests to re-envisioned originals that appeared on Lloyd’s earlier recordings.

First elected "Jazz Artist of the Year" by Downbeat over 50 years ago and named an NEA Jazz Master in 2015, Lloyd is admired for concerts and recordings of pristine beauty and elegance, full of intensely felt emotion and passion that touch deep inside the heart. Charles Lloyd was recognized with multiple wins in the 2017 Annual Downbeat Critics' Poll, including "Tenor Saxophonist of the Year" and "Jazz Group of the Year" (for Charles Lloyd & The Marvels).

Presenting Sponsor:  Doris and Herbert E. Sloan Endowment Fund
Supporting Sponsor: Ellie Serras
Funded in part by:  JazzNet Endowment Fund

Media Partners: WEMU 89.1 FM, WDET 101.9 FM, Ann Arbor's 107one, and Metro Times

Explore the Lineup
National Theatre, London Live in HD
The Madness of George III

By Alan Bennett

Sunday, December 9 // 7 pm
Michigan Theater

Written by Alan Bennett, one of Britain’s best-loved playwrights (The History Boys, The Lady in the Van), this epic play was also adapted into an Award-winning film (British Academy of Film and Television Arts/BAFTA) following its stage premiere in 1991.

Set in 1786, the play follows King George III as he he succumbs to fits of lunacy with increasingly erratic behavior. With the King’s mind unraveling at a dramatic pace, ambitious politicians and the scheming Prince of Wales threaten to undermine the power of the Crown, and expose the fine line between a King and a man.

The cast of this new production includes Olivier Award-winners Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Wolf Hall) in the title role, and Adrian Scarborough (Upstairs Downstairs).

Presented in partnership with the Michigan Theater.

Explore the Lineup
Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, piano

Sunday, December 16 // 4 pm
Hill Auditorium

Joyce DiDonato returns to UMS after her stellar debut in Handel's Ariodante at the end of the 2016-17 UMS season. For this UMS recital debut, she performs Schubert’s Winterreise, a dramatic song cycle of 24 poems, usually sung by a tenor, that journeys through grief to despair. She is joined for this very special duo recital by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, music director of both the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera, who trades in his baton for a piano.

Winner of the 2018 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, DiDonato is a multi-Grammy Award winner and a fierce advocate for the arts. The most recent addition to her acclaimed discography, Berlioz’s Les Troyens, won the Award for Best Complete Opera Recording at the 2018 International Opera Awards, the 2018 BBC Music Magazine Opera Award, and the 2018 Gramophone Classical Music Award for Opera.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin became the third music director of the Metropolitan Opera in September 2018 and has been music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2012 and the Orchestre Métropolitain of Montreal since 2000. He has also served as chief conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra since 2008.

Winterreise, D. 911

Performed in German with English supertitles.


Pre-Performance Talk: How Singers and Pianists Collaborate
Sun, Dec 16 // 3 pm // Hill Auditorium Mezzanine Lobby
Matthew Thompson, SMTD professor and U-M alumnus of Martin Katz’s studio, will speak about the collaborative relationship between singer and pianist, shedding light on the behind-the-scenes process of preparing a song concert, with a focus on the songs and legacy of Franz Schubert. He will be joined during this discussion by a graduate student currently studying in U-M’s renowned voice program.

Patron Sponsor: Susan B. Ullrich Endowment Fund
Media Partners: WRCJ 90.9 FM and WGTE 91.3 FM

Explore the Lineup
The Bolshoi Theater, Moscow Live in HD
The Nutcracker

Choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich

Sunday, December 23 // 2 pm
Michigan Theater

Featuring Piotr Tchaikovsky’s cherished score and some of the Bolshoi’s greatest artists, Yuri Grigorovich's The Nutcracker made its premiere on the iconic Bolshoi Theater stage in 1966. More than 50 years later, this cherished ballet will be broadcast to cinema audiences across the globe.

The ballet follows the unforgettable adventure of Marie and her wooden nutcracker doll, who comes to life at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve and transforms into a prince.  

Presented in partnership with the Michigan Theater.

2014 National Medal of Arts recipient

University Musical Society
Burton Memorial Tower
881 N University Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1011
United States