ANN ARBOR, Mich. — If you can’t make it to Paris this spring, the U-M Life Sciences Orchestra will offer the next best thing on Sunday, April 24.
And best of all, it’s free.
The LSO, joined by a range of talented soloists, will perform a French-themed concert that includes the entire first act of Giacomo Puccini’s beloved opera La Bohème, set in Paris, as well as French composer Francis Poulenc’s Organ Concerto and George Gershwin’s An American in Paris.
The concert will begin at 4 p.m. in U-M’s famous Hill Auditorium, is open to all with general admission seating. No tickets are required.
The LSO is made up of dozens of members of the U-M medical and scientific community, and the concert will conclude the orchestra’s 16th season of blending science and music.
Music director Roberto Kalb will give a pre-concert talk at 3:15 p.m. in the lower level of the building to help audience members get the most out of the performance.
Opera for all
For the concert-style performance of La Bohème’s most upbeat act, Kalb will lead the LSO and vocal soloists to evoke the story of Parisian bohemians in the 1830s. In addition to his role with the LSO, Kalb is an experienced opera conductor, both at U-M and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
The lively and witty lyrics, sung in Italian, will be projected in English, making the performance accessible even to those who have never seen an opera.
The vocal talent assembled for the performance includes up-and-coming singers Ann Toomey as Mimi, Joshua Wheeker as Rodolfo, Zachary Crowle as Marcello, Michael Miller as Schaunard, and Glenn Healy as Colline. Special guest Stephen West, chair of the Department of Voice at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, will sing the part of the bohemians’ landlord Benoit.
The concert’s second half will begin with Poulenc’s moving piece for organ, strings and timpani, composed in the 1930s. Soloist Naki Sung Kripfgans, a prominent organist and winner of the LSO Concerto Competition, will perform on Hill Auditorium’s legendary Frieze Memorial Organ.
The performance will conclude with Gershwin’s Jazz Age masterpiece, a symphonic poem that traces the adventures of an American strolling through the city -- and feeling homesick as well. As the composer intended, the percussion section will include a set of authentic Paris taxi horns, which will be played in accordance with new recommendations from U-M musicologist and Gershwin Initiative leader Mark Clague about the notes these horns should play. (Read more here)
The LSO is made up of medical, health and science faculty, staff, students and alumni from across U-M, and is led by Kalb with assistant conductor Jacobsen Woollen.
Kalb holds the Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D. Music Director position with the LSO, made possible by a gift from its namesake, the first U-M executive vice president for medical affairs and a longtime supporter of the LSO.
Kalb and Woollen are both graduate students in the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s nationally known orchestral conducting program, from which the LSO has drawn its conductors for its entire 16 years of blending science and music.
The orchestra is part of the Gifts of Art program, which brings the world of art and music to the U-M Health System. The LSO gives members an outlet for their musical talents and a chance to interact with one another across academic disciplines and professions. Founded by students and staff from the U-M Health System, the orchestra made its concert debut in January 2001.