April in Paris: LSO plays free French-themed concert on April 24

LSOSpring2016flier2Vocal and organ soloists join LSO on works by Puccini, Poulenc and Gershwin

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 operaLa 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.

Roberto Kalb

Roberto Kalb, LSO Music Director

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.

For more information on the concert or the LSO, visit http://lso.med.umich.edu/ or www.facebook.com/umlso, send e-mail to orchestra@umich.edu, or call (734) 936-ARTS.

Celebrate April in Paris at our upcoming concert

On Sunday, April 24, at 4 p.m. in Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium, the LSO will present a free concert of French- and French-inspired works, to close out our 16th season of blending art and science.

All are welcome, and no tickets are required, for this performance conducted by Roberto Kalb. A pre-concert lecture will begin in the lower level of the building at 3:15 p.m.

On the program:

Puccini – La Bohème – Act 1, featuring Joshua Wheeker, Ann Toomey, Zachary Crowle, Michael Miller, Glenn Healy and Stephen West
More about our vocal soloists

Poulenc – Concerto for Organ in G minor, featuring Naki Kripfgans, DMA, LSO Concerto Competition winner
More about our soloist

Gershwin – American in Paris


More details coming soon!


Announcing our vocal soloists for La Bohème

Our April 24 performance will begin with a concert-style presentation of the first act of Puccini’s immortal opera La Bohème. We’re pleased to announce our vocal soloists!

Rodolfo: Joshua Wheeker, a Kentucky Opera young artist and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Gerdine Young Artist

Mimì: Ann Toomey, a Chicago Lyric Opera Ryan Center Artist and winner of the Central Region of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions

Marcello: Zachary Crowle, a master’s degree student in voice at U-M’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Schaunard: Michael Miller, a U-M senior voice major and Glimmerglass young artist for 2016

Colline: Glenn Healy, a master’s degree student in voice at U-M’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Benoit: Stephen West, chair of the Department of Voice at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance

We are thrilled and privileged to partner with these fine performers. Mark your calendar now and plan to attend our free performance, at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 24 at Hill Auditorium.

Get your program notes here!

Roberto Kalb

Roberto Kalb, LSO Music Director

LSO music director Roberto Kalb has written program notes for the concert, which bring the pieces to life.

Read them here in PDF form! Or print to bring to the concert.

Read them here to prepare for your listening experience – and learn more at the pre-concert lecture starting at 3:15 in the lower level of Hill.

The concert begins at 4 p.m., and doors to the auditorium will open for general seating at 3:40.
See you at the concert!

Paging Dr. Violin?


devare violin 2 blog

Dr. Jenna Devare “scopes” her violin

If you could see Dr. Ellen Janke or Dr. Jenna Devare in action in a U-M operating room, you’d probably notice how confidently they handle the complex equipment of 21st Century surgery.

You’d see how every operation is a team effort, with surgeons, anesthesiologists, residents, nurses and technicians each playing their part to help every patient.

But if you come to Hill Auditorium this Sunday afternoon, you can see Dr. Janke and Dr. Devare engaged in another kind of teamwork: the kind it takes to play in a 70-member symphony orchestra.

Dr. Ellen Janke, LSO

Dr. Ellen Janke checks her violin’s “vital signs”

Together with dozens of other medical and scientific professionals and students from around the university, they’ll present a free concert as the U-M Life Sciences Orchestra.

The LSO will kick off its 15th season of blending music, medicine and science with works by two of the most famous composers from Scandinavian countries: Jean Sibelius, from Finland, and Edvard Grieg of Norway. An overture by Beethoven will start things off.

Both doctors, and other LSO musicians, brought their instruments to work for these fun photos taken by another LSO member, retired physician and viola player Dr. Bern Mueller.

The team, the team, the team

Engelke trumpet patientsmjpg

Carl Engelke, who’s pursuing both an M.D. and a Ph.D. at the Medical School, is the LSO’s lead trumpet player

The entire LSO “team” has been rehearsing for this performance every Sunday night since October, giving them a weekly release from the demands of caring for patients, performing research or studying technical fields.

When they come to the LSO’s Sunday evening rehearsals, the orchestra’s doctors, nurses, dentists, graduate students, medical students, engineers and research staff leave behind their workplace identities and ranks.

And when U-M conducting student and LSO Music Director Roberto Kalb raises his baton, they become musicians above all else. Kalb is working toward his doctorate in orchestral conducting at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance. He’s assisted by Jacobsen Woollen, a master’s degree student in the same program.

The LSO is one of the signature offerings of Gifts of Art, a program of the U-M Health System that brings visual and performing arts into many areas of the medical campus. And for many LSO members, it’s the only chance they get to express musical skills and talents they’ve been developing for years.

Medical student Whit Froehlich checks his cello in for "care"

Medical student Whit Froehlich checks his cello in for “care”

“Since childhood, music has always been an important part of my life,” says Devare, who is training to become an ear, nose and throat surgeon. “The LSO provides me with a wonderful opportunity to continue making beautiful music and to collaborate with U-M physicians, scientists, and trainees in a new context, helping to balance my life as an otolaryngology resident. I am lucky to be a part of such a multitalented group!”

Janke, an anesthesiologist, says, “I never cease to be amazed by the musical talent that exists within the Health System, and in the broader reaches of the life sciences.  It is an utter privilege to play in this orchestra.  And I love it when I see colleagues in the audience!”

Carl Engelke, a trumpet player who is training for dual degrees in medicine and biomedical science at the Medical School, agrees. “Music has always been a very important part of my life,” he says. “Since I joined in 2011, the LSO has been a wonderful way to keep playing music with others even during the busiest times of medical school and graduate school.”

Olivia Palmer, a graduate student in engineering, and LSO violinist, in her lab

Olivia Palmer, a graduate student in engineering, and LSO violinist, in her lab


Take the next step:

  • Learn more about the LSO Concert, which  begins at 4 p.m. and is free with no tickets required
  • See what all the LSO’s members do in “real life”
  • Find out about Gifts of Art, the UMHS program that sponsors the LSO and much more


Music to thaw the ice: U-M Life Sciences Orchestra plays free concert on Jan. 24

LSOSpring2014flier_finalNordic composer Sibelius featured during his 150th birthday celebration

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Winter in Ann Arbor pales in comparison with the cold, snowy darkness of Finland or Norway at this time of year.

But the University of Michigan Life Sciences Orchestra will try to melt some of the Nordic frost on Sunday, Jan. 24 with a concert featuring two Scandinavian composers.

The concert will begin at 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public with general admission seating. No tickets are required.

Continue reading

Introducing: Our January 24 concert poster!

A wintry sky and a frozen lake – what better symbols for the Nordic feel of our January 24 concert? After all, Sibelius was from Finland, Grieg was from Norway, and Beethoven’s overture was premiered at a castle in what is now the Czech Republic.

Share this post to start spreading the word about the concert!

Download a high-resolution version to print here.

Kudos to Carrie McClintock of the U-M Health System’s Gifts of Art program for her poster design.


Announcing our 2015-2016 Roster

Thanks to all who came out for auditions this year – both those who had played with us before, and those new to the LSO.

Auditions were competitive on every instrument, and you can find the full roster of musicians on this page.

Please note that string seating is mixed and not in order of audition performance, and that woodwind/brass seating will rotate on some pieces.

Information for all members:

First rehearsal:

  • This Sunday and every Sunday, we will tune at 7 p.m. sharp, so please arrive in the hall at 6:45 p.m. to help set up and warm up.
  • We will provide folders with music and LSO member handbooks.
  • We will run through each piece on the program.
  • Please bring $50 in cash or check paid to U-M Life Sciences Orchestra. This is your member dues; you are welcome to give additional amounts as a gift to fund the orchestra further, and you will receive a tax receipt for the gift amount.

All rehearsals:

  • The rehearsal schedule is here; please mark your calendar now for each one.
  • This Sunday, the LSO Committee will bring snacks for everyone to have at the break. Starting next week, we will begin asking members of different sections to bring snacks.
    First violins: It will be your turn on Oct. 11!
  • Please note that some woodwind and brass players will rotate into different chairs for each piece.
  • Wind players: please help cover parts for absent section-mates whenever possible. You’ll receive copies of all the parts for all the pieces for your instrument.
  • If you already know you will have to miss or be more than 15 minutes late to an upcoming rehearsal: please email lsoabsence@umich.edu this week to let us know so we can plan accordingly.
  • Please also email lsoabsence@umich.edu about any last-minute absences or notices that you will be late for rehearsal.



  • You and your family/significant other are invited to a Season Kickoff Potluck Picnic this Saturday from 5-7 p.m. at Gallup Park.
  • This is a rain-or-shine event: We have reserved the indoor Meeting Room in the building next to the canoe rental location. Here’s a map: http://umhealth.me/galluplso
  • The LSO will provide pizza and party supplies. Bring a dish or drink to share; no alcohol please.
  • Canoe rental is open until 7 p.m.


Recap of the virtual meeting & January’s concert program!

For those who missed the kickoff meeting for the LSO’s 2015-2016 season, here are the high points of the presentation:

  • Once again, we’re asking each person who is accepted into the orchestra to make a $50 member contribution, payable by cash/check to U-M Life Sciences Orchestra at a rehearsal in September or October (or, $25/semester)
  • If you can pay more, we’ll give a gift receipt for amount above $50!
  • We will play two free concerts this year, at Hill Auditorium on January 24 and April 24
  • We’ll keep adding updates to this website and our Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/umlso)
  • If you have questions or need anything, contact the committee and music director at orchestra@umich.edu
  • We went over Key Dates for this season:
    • Auditions: Evenings, Sept. 21 & 24 and 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27
    • Roster distributed: Sept. 30
    • Audition location: See map

      • Moore Bldg.
      • School of Music, North Campus
      • Free parking evenings and weekends
      • Bus service – Pierpont

      audition map1

    • How to sign up for an audition:
      • Go to my mysignup.com/lso15
      • Read the directions
      • Scroll down. Pick a time by selecting My Audition to the right of the time you want, in the column for the day you want – you are choosing a seven-minute slot and we will call you as close to your appointed time as possible.
      • Fill out the required info. Please include a cell phone in case we need to reach you on the day/evening of your audition.
      • Download your audition excerpt from the LSO website and practice the part between the two brackets ONLY! Also prepare a short piece of your own choosing.
      • Don’t forget to write down the day and time you choose, and bring TWO copies of your chosen piece to the audition! (one for you, one for Roberto)
      • If you’re there & there are open slots before yours, you may be able to go early.
      • If you decide not to audition, or you need to reschedule at the last minute, please email orchestra@umich.edu AND change your listing on the schedule.
    • Member picnic: Oct. 3, Gallup Park Meeting Room/Patio, 5-7 p.m.
      Pizza & potluck sides/desserts/drinks
    • First rehearsal: Oct. 4, 7-9:30 pm
    • Rehearsals almost every Sunday
    • Winter 2015 Concert: Sunday, Jan. 24, 2013, 4 p.m., Hill Auditorium, 
    • Dress rehearsal: Jan. 23, afternoon
    • Spring 2015 concert:
    • Sunday, April 24, 4 p.m. Dress rehearsal: April 23, afternoon

Assistant Conductor: Jacobsen (Jake) Woollen

And what everyone has been waiting for:


January 24 –

  • Beethoven – Coriolan Overture
  • Grieg – Peer Gynt Suite No. 1
  • Sibelius – Symphony No. 2

April 24 –

  • Poulenc: Organ Concerto in G minor, with Naki Kripfgans, 2014 Concerto Competition co-winner
  • Other works TBD


Audition date/time update – and a renovated building!

rehearsalhallDue to scheduling issues, LSO auditions will NOT be held on Tuesday, Sept. 22 as previously announced. We will extend the hours for auditions on Monday, Sept. 21 and Thursday, Sept. 24 to accommodate all those who would have auditioned on Tuesday.

To signup for your audition, visit mysignup.com/lso15 any time after 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16 and follow the instructions on the site.

If your plans change, or you absolutely can’t audition on one of the available days, please email orchestra@umich.edu.

Also – if you haven’t yet been to the School of Music’s E.V. Moore building, where our auditions are held, it has just undergone an incredible renovation. Read this article in the University Record to learn more and see photos.