I just finished my internship at a small, private liberal arts institution and although it was an incredible experience, I looked forward to returning to my two homes... moving into Ann Arbor again, and visiting New Jersey." One of the great things about working in higher education is the commonplace acceptance of multitasking. Often when I’m performing my duties as the Orientation intern this summer, I’ll put on music. However, since I’m using the desktop, I must rely on radio stations broadcast over the internet. This means that I end up listening to approximately 9 hours of pop radio a day, and waxing nostalgic about the arts mecca that is Ann Arbor. If you don’t believe me, in 2006 and 2009 American Style magazine ranked Ann Arbor “One of the Top 25 Arts Destinations” in the country.
With the abundance of performances and galleries around the city, it’s not altogether shocking that there are a great number of venues to host artists of both local and national renown. As a former choir nerd, music will always have a place in my heart and I seek out opportunities to attend a show. I’ve seen musical performances at the Blind Pig, The Ark, Circus, and these are only locations downtown. On campus, I’ve been fortunate enough to frequent Power Center, Lydia Mendelssohn Theater, and Hill Auditorium to see both University of Michigan performances and national tours. To date, my favorite has been Hill Auditorium.
Hill Auditorium on North University Avenue is where many of the University’s sponsored events occur. Beyond the University’s direct occupation, Hill Auditorium is also used for many University Musical Society performances. The University community directly benefits from their synergy and plays captive audience to many of the organization’s presentations in Hill. Often, tickets to these events are subsidized through the generous “Passport to the Arts” program run by Arts at Michigan, Half-Price Student ticket sales offered once at the beginning of each semester, or Student Rush Tickets offered the day of performances. For college students (and especially graduate students), this is an incredible deal that allows students to simultaneously support their friends, broaden their cultural horizons, and be exposed to world-class performances in one fell swoop.
Hill Auditorium plays host to all these events by creating a majestic but intimate setting where a range of performances can be held. In November, I was fortunate enough to see “A Night in Treme,” featuring many of my favorite New Orleans brass bands. Hill was packed to the gills, and people took to their seats by start time to uphold concert-etiquette and watched raptly. As the concert went on, they slowly dropped their inhibitions and by the end people were dancing in the aisles, as the music was meant to be felt. A mere month later, I saw Handel’s Messiah performed by a national cast of soloists, one of whom had graced the stage as an undergraduate! While Messiah was more of a formal performance, it was equally moving. It also gave a reason for me to dress up, which is a rare occurrence for graduate students!
Hill is an incredibly versatile venue that is easily accessible (economically and otherwise) for students. Furthermore, it is capable of fostering an environment where students and others interested in its offerings can appreciate them in whichever form they are so inclined. Whenever I am missing out on some cultural immersion in my life, Hill is the first place I look for a quality performance across any media or genre. I can’t wait to get back to Ann Arbor, and take advantage of all the opportunities the University can provide!
To hear more about the acoustics, aesthetics, and history of the building, please visit http://www.music.umich.edu/about/facilities/central_campus/hill/
About the Author
Jackie Cohn, Master's Student, Higher and Postsecondary Education
Published in: Student Voices