Hello Writers and Editors!

UMS is thrilled to present another all-star lineup in February. We'll hear spectacular performances by musical artists like Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Las Cafeteras, and International Contemporary Ensemble. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra comes to UMS for the conclusion of Zubin Mehta's final US tour as music director of the ensemble, and acclaimed photographer and video artist Carrie Mae Weems brings her latest stage work to the Power Center. To wrap up the month, Yo-Yo Ma will join us for a two-day UMS residency, which includes a talk at Hill Auditorium and a special "Day of Action" with community members and organizations in Flint. Additionally, we're pleased to bring the HD broadcast of The Tragedy of Richard the Second from the National Theatre of Scotland, in partnership with the Michigan Theater.

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.


Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
Echo in the Valley
Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn

Thursday, February 7 // 7:30 pm
Hill Auditorium

Husband-and-wife duo Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn come to UMS to perform pieces from their Grammy-winning self-titled debut as well as their new record, Echo in the Valley (Rounder 2017). With one eye on using the banjo to showcase America’s rich heritage and the other pulling the noble instrument into new and unique realms, Béla and Abigail's music feels wildly innovative and familiar at the same time.

A 15-time Grammy Award-winning artist, Béla Fleck has the virtuosic, jazz-to-classical ingenuity of an iconic instrumentalist and composer with bluegrass roots. His collaborations range from his ground-breaking standard-setting ensemble Béla Fleck and the Flecktones to a staggeringly broad array of musical experiments.

A singer-songwriter and clawhammer banjo player who re-radicalized it by combining it with Far East culture and sounds, Abigail Washburn has drawn critical acclaim for her solo albums.
She has done fascinating work in folk musical diplomacy in China, presented an original theatrical production, and has contributed to singular side groups Uncle Earl and The Wu-Force. In addition to being named a TED Fellow in 2012, Abigail was recently named the first US-China Fellow at Vanderbilt University. She is also the Carolina Performing Arts/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's DisTil Fellow for 2018-2020.

Supporting Sponsors: Old National Bank and Leslee and Michael Perlstein
Media Partners: WEMU 89.1 FM, WDET 101.9 FM, and Ann Arbor's 107one

Israel Philharmonic
Israel Philharmonic

Zubin Mehta, conductor

Saturday, February 9 // 8 pm
Hill Auditorium

This special concert will be the last stop on Zubin Mehta’s final US tour as music director of the Israel Philharmonic — he steps down in October 2019, 50 years after becoming the orchestra’s music advisor and 42 years after becoming its first official music director. It also marks the ensemble’s ninth UMS appearance and Zubin Mehta’s tenth since their respective debuts in the early 1970s.

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1936 by famed Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman, and its inaugural concert that year was conducted by Arturo Toscanini. Two years earlier, in an effort to help fellow Jewish musicians escape Nazi persecution, Huberman set out to create an all-Jewish orchestra in Palestine. Huberman recruited and arranged for 70 leading musicians and their families to immigrate to Palestine to form the ensemble. Huberman’s extraordinary efforts ultimately saved hundreds of Jewish lives.

Ödön Pártos
Concertino for String Orchestra
Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200
Symphony No. 6 in b minor, Op. 74 "Pathétique"

Exclusive Presenting Sponsor of Maestro Zubin Mehta: The Menakka & Essel Bailey Endowment Fund for International Artistic Brilliance
Presenting Sponsors: Matt and Nicole Lester Family, Peter and Elaine Schweitzer, and
Drs. Sheila Crowley Wicha and Max Wicha

Supporting Sponsors: Andrew and Lisa Bernstein, Gil Omenn and Martha Darling, James and Nancy Stanley, and The Zelenock Family

Media Partner: WRCJ 90.9 FM

The Tragedy of King Richard the Second
National Theatre, Live in HD
The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins
Staring Simon Russell Beale

Sunday, February 10 // 7 pm
Michigan Theater

Simon Russell Beale plays the title role in William Shakespeare’s Richard II, broadcast in high definition from the stage of the Almeida Theatre in London.

Richard II, King of England, is irresponsible, foolish, and vain. His weak leadership sends his kingdom into disarray and his court into uproar. Seeing no other option but to seize power, the ambitious Bolingbroke challenges the throne and the king’s divine right to rule.

This visceral new production about the limits of power was directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins, whose previous plays include Little Revolution at the Almeida and Absolute Hell at the National Theatre.

Past Tense
Past Tense

Carrie Mae Weems, director, writer, and video artist
Crag Harris, composer, music director, and trombone
James Newton, composer
James Wang, video artist
Alicia Hall Moran, Imani Uzuri, Eisa Davis, vocalists
Carl Hancock Rux, poet
David Parker, dancer

Friday, February 15 // 8 pm
Saturday, February 16 // 8 pm
Power Center

Widely considered one of the most influential contemporary American artists, Carrie Mae Weems has developed a complex body of art employing photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and video. She has sustained an ongoing dialogue within contemporary discourse for over 30 years, investigating family relationships, cultural identity, sexism, class, political systems, and the consequences of power.

Through music, text, projection, and video, Weems's latest work Past Tense uses the lens of race and its relationship to authority to draw parallels to the classic play Antigone. The origins of Past Tense lie in Weems’s powerful work Grace Notes, which was inspired by President Obama singing "Amazing Grace" in the wake of the 2015 shooting that killed nine African-American members of a church in Charleston, SC.

Weems says, "While working on Grace Notes, it occurred to me that I was telling the story of Antigone, wherein an innocent man dies by unjustified means, and his sister fights for the right to bury him honorably. But the wider community refuses her; her right to justice, and to peace, is denied." Weems, looking for permission to "bury our brothers," incorporates video of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Eric Garner, among others, in this meditation and response to violence against Black people at the hands of law enforcement and others in authority.


The Present Effects of The Past: Artistic Responses to Police Brutality
Wed, Feb 13 // 6:30 pm // Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (315 E Warren Ave, Detroit)
Ensemble members of Carrie Mae Weems’s Past Tense join Detroit artists and activists in a discussion about creating art in response to police brutality and the systemic effects of institutionalized racism.

Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series
Carrie Mae Weems: A History of Violence, Heave.
Thu, Feb 14 // 5:10 pm // Michigan Theater
Carrie Mae Weems discusses Past Tense alongside her other works. For over 30 years, Weems has created a complex body of work through the use of image, text, film, and video, that centers on her overarching commitment to helping us better understand our present moment by examining our collective past.

Post-show Artist Q&As
Must have a performance ticket to attend; held after each performance.

Presenting Sponsor: Michigan Medicine
Funded in part by: Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Endowment Fund

Media Partner: WDET 101.9 FM

Benjamin Britten's War Requiem
Benjamin Britten's War Requiem

UMS Choral Union
Ann Arbor Youth Chorale
Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra
Scott Hanoian
, conductor
Tatiana Pavlovskaya, soprano
Anthony Dean Griffey, tenor
Stephen Powell, baritone

Saturday, February 16 // 8 pm
Hill Auditorium

The UMS Choral Union returns to Hill Auditorium for Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, a monumental work commissioned for the re-consecration of Britain’s Coventry Cathedral after it was destroyed by a Nazi bomb raid in 1940. The work, which has never been performed on a UMS concert, requires huge forces, including large orchestra and chorus, two organs, a chamber orchestra that accompanies the soloists, and a boys’ choir.

A lifelong pacifist with deeply humanitarian beliefs, Britten had been thinking about writing a work that addressed the bloodshed and sorrow of war for many years, and this work provided his most powerful demonstration of its horror, devastation, and futility.

Dedicated to four of Britten’s friends who were killed during World War II, the War Requiem mixes the Latin words of the Mass for the Dead with the poetry of Wilfred Owen, who was killed in action just one week before World War I ended.


Master Class: Anthony Dean Griffey
Thu, Feb 14 // 7:30-9:30 pm // Britton Recital Hall (U-M School of Music)
Tenor Anthony Dean Griffey coaches students from U-M’s Vocal Performance program on a variety of repertoire.

Presenting Sponsor: Jerry Blackstone UMS Choral Union Performance Fund

Supporting Sponsor: Frances Mauney Lohr Choral Union Endowment Fund
Media Partners: WEMU 89.1 FM, WRCJ 90.9 FM, and WGTE 91.3 FM

Las Cafeteras
Las Cafeteras

Wednesday, February 20 // 7:30 pm
Michigan Theater

Las Cafeteras uses music as a vehicle to build bridges among different cultures and communities.

Born and raised east of the Los Angeles River, the members of Las Cafeteras are remixing roots music and telling modern-day stories, creating a vibrant musical fusion with a unique East LA sound and positive message. The group's Afro-Mexican beats, rhythms, and rhymes deliver inspiring lyrics that document stories of a community seeking love and justice in a concrete jungle.

Performing on traditional Son Jarocho instruments like the jarana, requinto, quijada (donkey jawbone), and tarima (a wooden platform), Las Cafeteras sings in English, Spanish, and Spanglish and adds a remix of sounds, from rock to hip-hop to ranchera.


Artist Talk: Bridging Art, Activism and Community
Mon, Feb 18 // 6 pm // Michigan League Ballroom
The band members from Las Cafeteras discuss how they have incorporated activism and community engagement into their musical practice in their Los Angeles community and on the road. Co-sponsored by the Center for World Performance Studies, EXCEL, La Casa, LSA Latino/a Studies, MESA, and the School of Social Work.

Post-Show Community Dialogue: Action Steps for Immigration Justice
Wed, Feb 20 // Michigan Theater
Local experts and activists will share action steps that audience members can take to get involved with immigration justice in the Southeast Michigan community. Must have performance ticket to attend.

Funded in part by: Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Endowment Fund
Media Partners: WDET 101.9 FM and Ann Arbor's 107one

International Contemporary Ensemble
In Plain Air
International Contemporary Ensemble

Phyllis Chen and Nathan Davis, composers
James Kibbie, organ
Tiffany Ng, carillon

Thursday, February 21 // 7:30 pm
Hill Auditorium

International Contemporary Ensemble was founded as an artist collective in 2001 to explore how new music intersects with communities across the world. The group’s UMS debut features an interwoven history of mechanical instruments: organ (in this case, Hill Auditorium’s Frieze Memorial Organ), harmonium, music boxes, carillons, and electronic instruments.

In Plain Air is a composition in 13 short vignettes designed to bring the sonic properties of a large organ into a contemporary ensemble context. The work also abstracts and layers a historical lineage inspired by Christ Church, Philadelphia and its 400-year history of communal music-making. The result is a site-specific journey through a diverse landscape of sonic spaces both public and private.


Meet The Musicians
Thu, Feb 21 // 6:30 pm // Hill Auditorium Mezzanine Lobby
Join members of the International Contemporary Ensemble for pre-performance demonstrations of the unique instruments being used in their performance.

Exclusive Presenting Sponsor: Helmut F. and Candis J. Stern Endowment Fund
Funded in part by: The Wallace Foundation

Media Partners: WDET 101.9 FMWGTE 91.3 FM, and Metro Times

Culture, Understanding, and Survival
Added Event!
Yo-Yo Ma: Culture, Understanding, and Survival

Wednesday, February 27 // 7 pm
Hill Auditorium

Day of Action:
Thursday, February 28
Flint Locations TBA

Yo-Yo Ma comes to UMS for a two-day residency that includes a talk on "Culture, Understanding, and Survival" as well as a "Day of Action" in Flint, MI.

In his talk, Ma will reflect on his role as a citizen artist, addressing the vital role of culture and the arts and sciences in our society, and how we can all come together to work as "cultural citizens."

The talk will be followed by a "Day of Action" in Flint, where he will work with community partners to champion culture’s power to transform lives and forge both a more connected world and a healthy and vibrant local community. Day of Action activities will be free and open the public and will include a large-scale community convening that focuses on how culture can contribute to Flint’s vibrancy; a musical event; and a community-organized event that will be planned in conjunction with many community partners in Flint. Further details about the Day of Action will be announced in late January.

Visit for updates.

This residency is made possible with support from the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor and Flint campuses. UMS also thanks Sava’s for donating dinner for the community partnership team from Flint in conjunction with this event.

2014 National Medal of Arts recipient

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