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May 05, 1993 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1993-05-05

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8- The Michigan Daily Summer Weekly - Wednesday, May 5,1993
SHO : 'I don't like to write. I don't c
I've gotten the story in my mi
Diversity, Eartha KItt
and the May apocalypse

are what the fuck happens after I write. Once
nd, the rest is pain.'
- Hunter S. Thompson

By MICHAEL JOHN WILSON
Bestialoutcries,EarthaKitt-andthe
apocalypse? Welcome to the 100th
installment of the May Festival, an
anniversary celebration which willbe,
if nothing else, the most diverse ever.
The four-day event, beginning to-
morrow night, features two major or-
chestras, a cabaret ball, a gala dinner
and a picnic -quite a break from the
traditionalone-orchestra-for-four-con-
certs arrangement of the past99years.
"We really wanted to have the wel-
come sign out for this May Festival to
people thathadnever gone through the
doors of Hill Auditorium," explained
KennethFischer, executivedirectorof
the University Musical Society. "And
another objective was to celebrate, to
recognize that we've been around a
hundred years."
Thepartyingincludes theGalaCen-
tennial Dinner, Saturday at Rackham,
followed by the Cabaret Ball at 8:30
p.m. in the Michigan League. The
Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Barbara
Cook, Bess Bonnier and yes, the
Catwoman herself, Eartha Kitt, willbe
on hand to perform.
It's a far cry from the old four-
concert formula,but the UMS seems to
becompensating for theballroomdanc-

ing with the most difficult and interest-
ing orchestralprogramsinyears.Thurs-
day and Friday at Hill Auditorium the
Metropolitan Orchestra under James
Levine will perform not one, not two,
but three pieces by Alban Berg. To
lighten things up a bit, Stravinsky's
"Rite of Spring"will be thrown in -a
piece which caused a riot at its first
performance in 1913.
"Levine is a great fan of Berg and
his orchestra performs it very well,"
Fischer said. "At first, he proposed an
even different program than the one
we've got. We went back and forth to
try to spread the twentieth-century
works out a little more. There was
some give-and-take, but we were well
aware that this kind of programming
may be a challenge to some of our
patrons."
A "challenge" may be an under-
statement. Of Berg's "Lulu" suite, one
of the works to be performed, a con-
temporary critic said, "Berg utters tor-
tured mistuned cackling, a pandemo-
niumof chopped-uporchestralsounds,
bestialoutcries,bellowing,rattling and
all other evil noises ... Berg is the
poisoner of the well of German mu-
sic."
Poisoner or not, Berg's rarely per-

formed pieces, which also include his
violin concerto(to be played by Itzhak
Perlman) and his "Wozzeck" suite,
can be surprisingly moving despite
their serialism. In the violin concerto,
Berg even quotes a Carinthian folk
tune and a Bach cantata.
Hearing the Metropolitan Opera
Orchestraisjustasrare a treat."Levine
wants this to be an orchestra in its own
right," Fischer said. "Its objective in
coming out of the pit two years ago
after 107 years was much like those
who brought the Vienna Philharmonic
out of the pit and the Dresden
Staatskapelle out of the pit. Here's a
terrificorchestrabutthey'rereallyplay-
ing second fiddle to that which isonthe
stage."
The Festival will conclude Sunday
with a performance of Verdi's Re-
quiem by the Detroit Symphony Or-
chestra under David Zinman and the
University Choral Union. This work
was performed at the first May Festi-
val, and once each decade ever since.
Yes, it's a mass for the dead, complete
with the onrush of the apocalypse in
the "Dies Irae" - but don't let that
scare youoff.The Requiem,likeany of
Verdi's operas, is just another text set
to music; in fact, many critics have
called it his greatest opera of all.
Though the variety of the festival
might be welcome, die-hards might
miss the four-night stand with a single
orchestra, and the sense of getting to
knowanensembleintimatelyoverthose
evenings. Fischer said that this year's
trend toward a more diverse festival
might be a permanent change.
"I think it's going to have to be a
highly unusual, exceptional situation
for us to go back to business as usual,"
he said. The original ideaof a series of
concerts came about when, in 1894,
Albert A. "Dad" Stanley decided to
multiply the UMS's revenues by mul-
tiplying the number of concerts. In the
same way, the demise of the marathon
series is caused by economic factors.
"Peoplehave beenvoting withtheir
feet that four nights of diverse pro-
gramming by the same orchestra is
losing its appeal," Fischer said.
"It's a different climate out there
now, and the fact is, we've got to adapt
... We've got to make it financially
feasible to do.What this festivalrepre-
sents is a festival that's going to not
lose money."
Certainly, a May Festival with
Eartha Kitt is better than no May Fes-
tival at all. Let's just hope that there'll

0

ltzhak Perlman will perform at this year's May Festival.
bea place forlBerg, as wellas ballroom Auditorium, Rackham and the
dancing, in the next century of festi- Michigan League. For complete
vals. information and ticket prices, call
THE J00TH MAYFE STIVAL runs 764-2538 or stop by the UMS office
Thursday through Sunday at Hill in Burton Tower

01

James Levine conducts the Metropolitan Orchestra.

David Zinman will lead the DSO in Verdi's Requiem.

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