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University Musical Society in Ann Arbor announces changes to 2020-2021 season

Digital performances, workshops among anticipated changes

Sheku Kanneh-Mason will perform with sibling Isata Kanneh-Mason in a digital event offered by UMS. Photo courtesy of UMS.
Sheku Kanneh-Mason will perform with sibling Isata Kanneh-Mason in a digital event offered by UMS. Photo courtesy of UMS. (Jake Turney)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Modified in-person events and digital events are among the changes recently announced by the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan for its 2020-2021 season.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), travel restrictions and tour cancellations, many in-person performances have either been canceled or rescheduled. Instead, UMS audiences will be able to connect with performers through digital presentations, outdoor workshops, digital artist residences and modified in-person events.

“Some have asked us why we aren’t simply canceling our fall season like so many other organizations across the US,” said UMS president Matthew VanBesien in a statement. “Put simply, we feel that UMS has both a unique opportunity and responsibility to continue delivering on the promise of our mission, to engage our audiences with exceptional and compelling artistic and educational offerings.”

At 5:30 p.m. on July 7, Van Besien will co-host a Q&A session through YouTube and Facebook Live to answer community questions and discuss the organization’s fall plan.

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Here are changes audiences can expect:

Modified live performances will now include new safety protocols like reduced capacity, required face masks, timed entry and exit for performances, frequent cleaning and disinfecting and social distancing.

Digital presentations will be produced and streamed online for UMS audiences. Anticipated performances are by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre and the Takács Quartet.

Digital artist residencies will take place with artists like actor Wendell Pierce, U-M alumnus Brian Lobel + Friends and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. Through a digital platform, artists will be able to casually interact with audiences, offer mini-performance experiences, make digital art and offer a look inside their creative process.

A free “You Can Dance” workshop series will be held in Wheeler Park and taught by local dance professionals. Community members need to register in advance for workshops on Aug. 29, Sept.12, Sept, 26, Oct. 10 and Oct. 24.

The UMS also intends to offer a free outdoor concert in West Park in the fall. Details have not yet been announced.

Subscriptions requirements for Series:You, a concert subscription package offered by the UMS, have been reduced. Audiences can purchase a three-concert package and receive 10 percent off total ticket prices.

Find the full list of changes, safety protocols and new programs at ums.org.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.