October 2023 video message

Hello colleagues and friends across the U-M community!

There are so many reasons that the University of Michigan is such a special place, and one of them is our great strengths in music and the performing arts.

That strength drew me to U-M a year ago, since few activities provide greater joy than immersing myself in music and playing the cello.

And through our Arts Initiative, we will make the arts central to U-M’s identity and mission. For I’m convinced that as one of the nation’s foremost universities, we must shine as brightly academically as we do creatively. I’m especially excited about our upcoming opportunities in the arts.

Our UMS is off to a fantastic start.

Renée Fleming, one of the most highly acclaimed singers of our time, recently performed at Hill Auditorium.

Later this fall we can look forward to events that are part of the Arts & Resistance Theme Semester including Ireland’s Druid theater in a weeklong residency featuring Sean O’Casey’s trilogy about the Irish Civil War, and Ukraine’s DakhaBrakha.

And next semester, we’ll experience the trio of Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, and Yo-Yo Ma, along with the extraordinary jazz singer Samara Joy and many others.

Our School of Music, Theatre, & Dance also has an outstanding season ahead. It will include performances such as Band-O-Rama, Collage Concert, and Annual Dance Concert, in addition to numerous plays and musicals; all of which will showcase the incredible talent of our extraordinary students and exceptional faculty.

We’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy a performance by the “President’s Own” United States Marine Band. That legendary band is currently being led by Jason Fettig, who will join us next January as our Director of Bands.

The President’s Own was long led by March King John Phillip Sousa. And in 1899, after retiring from the Marine Corps, Sousa and his civilian band gave the first public performance of U-M’s fight song, The Victors. Sousa later called it “the best college march ever written.”

We’re so honored to have Jason continue that tradition. As he observed, “There are many parallels between this marvelous institution and the one from which I am coming; a clear reverence and pride for the tradition that was built before us, but also an incredible commitment to moving art forward in an inclusive and innovative music-making community.”

That reverence, that pride, that commitment are what make the School of Music, Theatre & Dance so exceptional.

So does its leader, David Gier, Dean of SMTD. He’s this month’s Portrait of a Wolverine, and he’s going to talk for a few minutes about why he’s so passionate about the school, and its incredible opportunities.