School of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan


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University Symphony Orchestra

Hill Auditorium
March 18
8:00 pm
Free - no tickets required

The University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by its music director, Kenneth Kiesler, performs one of the most beloved works in the repertoire for orchestra, the Second Symphony by Finnish composer, Jan Sibelius.

The program also features percussion soloist James Koo, Winner of the 2023 SMTD Concerto Competition, playing the virtuosic and colorful Percussion Concerto by Chen Yi. The first woman in China to receive a master’s degree in composition, Chen Yi received her doctoral degree at Columbia University and joined the faculty of the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 1998. The following year she became a United States citizen, and, in 2001 she received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives Living, a cash grant awarded with the sole requirement of full-time composing. She has written major works for the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The concert opens with an evocative out-take from the opera Nixon in China, The Chairman Dances, subtitled a Foxtrot for Orchestra, by American composer John Adams. The word “Dances” in the title is a verb, not a noun. The music depicts Madame Mao “crashing” a presidential banquet, hanging paper lanterns, and performing a dance; Chairman Mao Zedong descends from his portrait, and the two dance a foxtrot, going back in time together.



Featuring James Koo, percussion, Winner, 2023 SMTD Concerto Competition

John Adams, The Chairman Dances
Chen Yi, Percussion Concerto
Sibelius, Symphony No. 2