PREVIEW: Intergalactic Pops

Fan of the Star Wars movies? Never seen the films but like the iconic music in it? Just a lover of music?

If you’ve ever watched The Planets, E.T., or Star Trek, you’re also in for a treat.

The Michigan Pops Orchestra is putting on a concert that will put you over the moon. Intergalactic Pops will appeal to people of all ages as it explores the music that transcends space and time. And that’s not all! It will feature a unique combination of vocal performers, multimedia, stage antics, and special effects, which will be sure to engage and entertain the audience.

Comprised of students from all fields of study united with a common love for music, the Michigan Pops Orchestra is the country’s oldest collegiate Pops orchestra and is the only student-run, student-directed orchestra on campus.

I can’t wait to hear all the talent the Michigan Pops Orchestra has to offer. Get ready for this out-of-the-world performance on Sunday, November 19 at 7pm in the Michigan Theater. Student tickets are $5 at the door or it is free with a Passport to the Arts Voucher!

PREVIEW: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Everyone nowadays knows the life of Alexander Hamilton, thanks to the critically-acclaimed musical Hamilton. But what about the life of infamous and controversial president Andrew Jackson? Sure, he forced thousands of Native Americans on the Trail of Tears, and as a result, he has recently been taken off the face of the 20 dollar bill, but he had his moments of glory and he definitely left his mark on American history. Often called the worst “great” president, maybe there is more to the life of the founder of the Democratic Party than his legacy. In this comedic historical rock musical, reexamine the facts as America’s seventh president is reinvented on stage with this production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

Textbooks can only do so much. Watch history come alive onstage at the Power Center on November 17 and 18 at 8pm and November 19 at 2pm.

Tickets are available at Michigan Union Ticket Office for $7 or can be bought online at

REVIEW: Daniil Trifonov, piano “An Homage to Chopin”

What’s better than a night of Chopin?

A night of Chopin performed by Daniil Trifonov.

There was everything a piano concert should have: the loud and the soft; the fast and the slow; the touch and the feel. There are things many piano concerts lack: the emotion, the excitement, the energy, the presence. Trifonov was very much emotional and exciting and energetic and present. He managed to accomplish everything a musician hopes to achieve in their lifetime in just two hours of wondrous harmonies and melodies.

The first half of his program was all works inspired by Chopin. My favorite from this section was the excerpt from Carnaval, Op. 9 by Schumann. It was fun and lighthearted, and Grieg’s Moods that followed afterwards created a stark contrast that really captured the range of music and style that Chopin influenced, as well as the musicianship talent of Trifonov.

My view of Trifonov from the balcony

While all the music was masterful and amazing, my favorite pieces would still have to be the Chopin works in the second half. His Variations on “La ci darem la mano” from Don Giovanni, Op. 2 were full of energy and attitude. I’m a sucker for variations, and this one was no exception.

Sonata No. 2 in b-flat minor, Op. 35 started out with a bang and it ended with a bang, and everything in between was just as grand. Trifonov showed off all the technique he has mastered, but the best moment came during Marche funèbre: Lento, when the entire room was silent, and the soft, somber notes from the piano filled the room in a way no fortissimo ever could. There were chills, and I was left speechless.

The music finished sooner than I wanted, and the entire auditorium was on its feet, cheering and clapping and whistling for more—and more is what we got. Trifonov came back out and played a slower piece, which I thought was unusual for an encore, but he pulled it off, treating the audience to this heartfelt piece. Again, it ended, but we wanted more.

And this is the point where I literally gasped and the entire night became more perfect than it already was.

For his second encore, Trifonov performed FantaisieImpromptu in C-sharp minor, Op. 66, which I myself played four years ago, and it’s been one of my favorite songs ever since I heard my older sister play it. Hearing Trifonov play it, however, was a whole new experience. The notes I knew by heart suddenly came alive in a way that’s never been played before, and I really felt this song in a whole new light.

Again, we hoped for more, but sadly, time had passed and it was officially over. However, his music has found its place into my memory and into my heart. The night came to an end, but his music lives on in me and everyone that attended this concert.

Daniil Trifonov has been called the greatest pianist of our generation, and after hearing him grace the stage with Chopin and many more at Hill Auditorium, I could not agree more.

PREVIEW: Daniil Trifonov, piano “An Homage to Chopin”

“He is, no other word, a phenomenon. Like Rachmaninoff, he is both a dazzling pianist and composer.” (The Guardian)

Chopin was a musical genius. The effects of his legacy can be found in the works of Mompou, Schumann, Grief, Samuel Barber, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff, all of whom are amazing musicians. Now, you can experience all of their music in one breathtaking night.

Six years after winning first prize at the Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein competitions at the age of 20, Daniil Trifonov is set to captivate Hill Auditorium in his UMS debut. Dedicating an entire night of music to Chopin and the works he inspired, Ann Arbor is about to be blown away with music beyond words.

Prepare to be mesmerized by the beauty of both the music and the musician on October 25 at 7:30 PM. Tickets can be purchased on or by calling the ticket office at 734-764-2538.

REVIEW: Trombone Insurgency

Insurgency indeed! Steve Swell, Joe McPhee, and Dick Griffin captivated the room at Kerrytown Concert House with their flourishes and improvisations and craziness they called music. The venue itself was really small and cozy, seating no more than 100 people, giving the audience a homey, comfortable, intimate vibe with the musicians.

With Swell and Griffin on the trombone and McPhee on the valve trombone, the trio started off on stage together warming up…or playing their first song. I couldn’t really tell as each individual did their own thing and the warmup actually sounded like the rest of their sets. There was no melody. There was no set rhythm. There were only notes. And those notes came together to make music. Their skills were amazing, and it was clear all three of them were super talented musicians. At one point in the first song, all three blared on their trombones, and I literally got chills as it vibrated throughout the room.

After the first song, McPhee and Swell left the stage and Griffin solo-ed, exploring many different techniques and playing the entire range of notes. For the final number, McPhee and Swell joined back with Griffin and they did everything musically possible, playing with mutes at different tempos and dynamics. McPhee and Griffin played multiple notes on their trombone at the same time, which fascinated me. Afterwards, I learned from my friend who plays trombone that this technique was called multiphonics, which sounded really impressive.

I for one was really confused throughout the set. I wasn’t exactly sure what was happening during it, but everyone else seemed to understand the music. However, even though I was caught off guard by the music, I appreciated it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. What made my experience even better was the fact that the audience, which consisted mostly of older 50+ year olds, was completely into it. Heads were bopping the entire time, even when there was no beat to bop to. But, that didn’t matter to them, and they took out of the hodgepodge of notes exactly what they wanted and needed.

The three trombonists played well together, and they obviously understood what they were doing, both individually and as a group. At the end, Swell, McPhee, and Griffin received a standing ovation, and it was clear that the music, cacophonic and chaotic in nature, spoke to the audience in a way a symphony or concert band never could.

This was not a typical trombone performance. This was not normal music. This was an insurgence. And it was amazing in its own way.

PREVIEW: Trombone Insurgency

Trombone Insurgency is part of Edgefest, a series of avant-garde and jazz music performances at the Kerrytown Concert House that is taking place this week until Saturday. Three leading trombonists dedicate an evening of music to recently deceased jazz patron Craig Johnson. Trombone Insurgency takes place on Wednesday, October 18 at 7:00pm with student tickets for just $5. Come on out to the Kerrytown Concert House for a night of groundbreaking music to take you into the weekend of Edgefest!