UMS to roll out free digital events, outdoor workshops this fall in Ann Arbor

University Musical Society’s 142nd season continues in October, November

UMS' You Can Dance - Outside! workshop at Ann Arbor's Wheeler Park. (Peter Smith, peter smith Photography)

ANN ARBOR – The University Musical Society has announced its fall events which include socially distanced outdoor workshops and free digital performances for the community to enjoy.

From digital artist residencies to in-person events, here’s what you can look forward to this season with UMS.

You Can Dance — Outside!

Saturday, Oct. 10 at 10:30 a.m.

Wheeler Park

This socially distanced tap dance lesson will be taught by Bruce Bradley.

UMS’s popular You Can Dance series has moved outdoors, where dancers and “curious movers” can participate while socially distanced. No dance training or experience necessary, and all levels, ages 13 and up, are welcome. Free, but registration is required and will be open until the session reaches capacity.

Total capacity will be limited in order to adhere to public safety guidelines. Sign-in will begin at 10 am and last until 10:25 am. If there is still capacity, walk-ups will be accepted after the sign-in period has closed. The classes will begin at 10:30 am.

For more information and to register, visit

Takacs Quartet

Digital Premiere: Wednesday, Oct 21 at 7:30 p.m.

Takacs Quartet. (Kiduck Kim)

Tune in through Saturday, Oct. 24 at

Due to the current State of Michigan guidelines, UMS will convert the Takács Quartet’s Rackham Auditorium performances, originally scheduled for October 16-18, to a free digital presentation. The digital presentation will premiere on Wednesday, October 21 at 7:30 pm at and will remain available on demand through Saturday, October 24. The digital concert is free and available to all.

Current ticket holders for the in-person concert may exchange their ticket(s) for a refund, donation, or gift certificate for a future UMS event.

For more information, click here.

A Conversation with Kira Thurman

Available from Monday, Oct. 19 on

Kira Thurman, U-M Professor of History and Germanic Languages and Literature, is a classically-trained pianist who grew up in Vienna. She talks with Takács Quartet violinist Harumi Rhodes about the program, and introduces the work of the two Black composers featured on the Takács Quartet’s digital presentation, Florence Price and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

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Sheku Kanneh-Mason & Isata Kanneh-Mason

Digital Premiere: Sunday, Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. with live Q&A with the artists after the concert

Sheku Kanneh-Mason & Isata Kanneh-Mason. (peter smith Photography)

Available through Wedesday, Nov. 4 at

In lieu of the City of Birmingham Orchestra and Chorus' canceled 2020/21 tour featuring soloist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, UMS presents sibling cello/piano duo Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason in a free digital performance recorded specifically for UMS audiences. The program will include an excerpt from Beethoven’s Cello Sonata in C Major and Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata. Both artists will join UMS audiences in a live chat on Facebook after the digital premiere.

This digital concert will be free.


  • Beethoven: Cello Sonata, No. 4 in C Major, Op. 102 (Mvt. i)
  • Rachmaninoff: Cello Sonata in g minor, Op. 19

For more information, click here.

A Virtual Grand Night for Singing

Digital Premiere & Virtual Watch Party: Thursday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m.

UMS Choral Union. (UMS)

Available on demand at

The U-M School of Music, Theater & Dance, along with UMS and the UMS Choral Union, present an evening of music theater, choral music, and solo vocal performances that focus on themes of community and connection.

The evening features staged performances from the archives and new virtual performances that highlight the broad vocal talent at the U-M and in our Ann Arbor community. Repertoire selected will include both traditional songs that speak to our need for communal singing such as I was glad by Sir Charles Hubert Parry and How Can I Keep from Singing (arr. by Karen Thomas), as well as, new social justice songs such as Alysia Lee’s Say Her Name and Melanie Demore’s Lead with Love that seek to raise awareness about police brutality and anti-racism in the United States.

The virtual concert will feature nine different choral ensembles, including the UMS Choral Union.

For more information, click here.

Upcoming Digital Artist Residency Events

A Talk with Wendell Pierce

Monday, Oct. 26

Wendell Pierce. (Courtesy: UMS)

Wendell Pierce will give a talk as part of the “Arts+Social Change: Building an Anti-Racist World through the Arts” summit sponsored by the University of Michigan Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

Pierce’s UMS residency will explore social justice, anti-racism, and the Black canon of performance work. Among the most ambitious of Pierce’s projects will be the production, filming, and release of a digital presentation of the recent American play, Some Old Black Man by James Anthony Tyler, which explores race in America through the lens of interpersonal and intergenerational relationships.

Chamber Music Forum with Members of the Spektral Quartet:

“What a String Quartet Could Be”

Thursday, Nov. 5 at 6:30 p.m.

Tarek Yamani. (Maria Baranova-Suzuki)

The Chicago-based Spektral Quartet actively looks for connections between traditional repertoire and contemporary works. In this 90-minute conversation, they discuss their approach to creating community-focused programming that draws in listeners with seamless connections across centuries, charismatic delivery, interactive concert formats, and bold, inquisitive programming.

Their work has ranged from commissioning over 40 composers to write ringtone-length pieces for mobile devices to performing the Chicago premiere of Morton Feldman’s String Quartet No. 2, a staggering six-hour-long masterpiece.

The Spektral Quartet will team up with Lebanese-American composer and pianist Tarek Yamani for their UMS residency, during which they’ll explore the junctures between Western Classical, jazz, and traditional Arab music and result in a new, full-length commission to be filmed and presented digitally. The residency brings these artists together for the first time, allowing audiences to join on a journey of discovery, improvisation, and collaboration encompassing both traditional and contemporary performing arts.

A New Single from Tunde Olaniran

Release Date: Mid-November

Tunde Olaniran. (Landon Speers)

Flint-based musician and activist Tunde Olaniran will release the first single from his experimental LP, Chaotic Good.

Olaniran’s highly dynamic residency will feature art-making across disciplines, community collaboration and co-creation, emergent technologies, and video animation. Through the introduction of four singles from Tunde’s forthcoming release, audiences will be invited to participate in the creative process using building blocks created by Tunde and a cohort of creatives, remixing them to create new artistic outputs.

For more information on UMS’s Digital Artist Residencies visit

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.