When he raises his baton, doctors & scientists become musicians

Adrian Slywotzky, the LSO's Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D. Music Director, leads the orchestra's dress rehearsal for the January 2015 concert

Adrian Slywotzky, the LSO’s Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D. Music Director, leads the orchestra’s dress rehearsal for the January 2015 concert

U-M Life Sciences Orchestra conductor holds unique post, now funded by generous gift


Orchestra conductors have heard every excuse in the book from musicians who miss rehearsals.

But this one topped them all: Emergency surgery.

Not having it – performing it.

But not to worry, the member of the U-M Life Sciences Orchestra told conductor Adrian Slywotzky by email. If all went well, and the patient was stable, there should still be time to get to orchestra practice that night.

That’s the kind of thing that can only happen in the LSO, which for 15 years has given members of the U-M medical and science community an outlet for their musical talents.

And Slywotzky wouldn’t have it any other way. He led the orchestra in a free concert last Sunday afternoon, at Ann Arbor’s famous Hill Auditorium.

Together, the band of medical students, graduate students, doctors, dentists, nurses, scientists, hospital staff and engineers played Beethoven’s famous Fifth Symphony, and a trio of works by American composers.

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Triumph of the human spirit: LSO marks MLK Day with free concert Jan. 18 (Official press release)

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and more

The power of music to express the human spirit, and triumph over adversity, will come to life on Sunday, Jan. 18, as the University of Michigan Life Sciences Orchestra presents a free concert at Hill Auditorium.

With themes befitting the eve of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the performance will feature works both famous and less-recognized, played by an orchestra made up of medical, health and science faculty, staff, students and alumni from across U-M.

U-M president Mark Schlissel will give opening remarks, as part of U-M’s celebration of MLK’s legacy.

The concert will begin at 4 p.m., and is open to the public with general admission seating. No tickets are required. LSO music director Adrian Slywotzky will give a brief pre-concert lecture about the works on the program at 3:15 p.m.

The centerpiece of the LSO’s performance will be Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, one of the most famous – and stirring – works of all of classical music. Beethoven composed the now-immortal work amid war and political upheaval, and his own increasing deafness.


Three works by 20th Century American composers will make up the concert’s first half. Most famous among them: Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait”, which combines uniquely American melodies with excerpts from speeches by Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln’s words will be spoken by narrator Carmen R. Green, M.D., who in 2013 was named the inaugural U-M associate vice president for medical affairs and associate dean for Health Equity and Inclusion, a position that leads the U-M Health System’s effort to identify and address inequality in health care and health professions across U-M’s clinical, educational, research, and public missions. Green is a professor in the U-M Medical School and School of Public Health. A noted anesthesiologist and pain medicine physician, she has a national reputation for her leadership on achieving a representative population of women and minorities in the biomedical pipeline, and an international reputation for her seminal research on health and pain care disparities and health policy.

The concert will begin with the “Festive Overture” written in 1944 by William Grant Still. Though he studied medicine as an undergraduate, Still’s musical talents won out and he switched to composition – eventually becoming the first African-American composer to have his work played by, and to conduct, major symphony orchestras.

Samuel Barber’s “Music for a Scene from Shelley”, inspired by Percey Bysshe Shelley’s “Prometheus Unbound”, will follow. It evokes the call for the release of Prometheus from captivity, and the return of sympathy and love to mankind.

Slywotzky holds the newly named 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.

Now in his second season of conducting the LSO, Slywotzky is a graduate student 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 15 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.

For more information about other U-M events honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., visit http://mlksymposium.umich.edu/


A great poster for our Jan. 18 concert!

Continuing a new tradition of using works of visual art to publicize our musical performances, the poster for our January 18 concert is now available  – thanks to designer Carrie McClintock of the UMHS Gifts of Art staff.

Featuring a work by American artist Edward Hopper, “The Lighthouse at Two Lights”, the poster has started popping up around the U-M campus and social media too. Please share this post to continue to spread the word!


Rehearsal & concert info for LSO members: January 2015

Happy New Year! Here are key pieces of info for LSO members going into the final stretch before our concert:

Sunday, Jan. 4 – Rehearsal as usual, School of Music. Brass bring treats. Posters available.

Sunday, Jan. 11 – DRESS REHEARSAL – NOTE LOCATION: Hill Auditorium

Enter at the back of the hall by 6:45 and be ready to play at 7 p.m.

Remember to allow extra time for parking. The Blue parking structures near Hill/Power Center are free on Sundays unless there is a special event, in which case everyone without a Blue pass must pay $5 to park there.

Come early to help set up if you can. Anyone can bring snacks to share (get rid of those last holiday treats). Rehearsal should end at our usual time of 9:30.


6:30 – 9:30 p.m. at North Campus Research Complex (former Pfizer) dining room, Bldg. 18

Pizza and pop will be provided beginning at 6 p.m. First violins: Your turn to bring snacks

Find a map here – enter near the “Egg” sculpture. Parking is free after 5 p.m.

Please note: the only U-M bus serving this location (Research Link) ends at 7 p.m. If you will be taking the bus to rehearsal and need a ride home, please email orchestra@umich.edu .

Sunday, Jan. 18 – CONCERT – Hill Auditorium

Onstage pre-concert warmup at 3 p.m. Allow extra time for parking!

What to wear: Tuxedo or black suit with white shirt and black tie for men, long black skirts or black pants for women, with a long-sleeve black shirt or white shirt under a black long-sleeve sweater or jacket. Don’t have good concert attire? Put it on your holiday wish list!

For your friends and family: Adrian will give a pre-concert talk at 3:30 downstairs while Joe leads us in the pre-concert warmup. We will open the doors to the lobby at 3 and the auditorium at 3:40. The concert begins at 4 p.m.

Post concert dinner fundraiser: Knight’s Steakhouse – Bring a coupon; present it when you pay. The fundraiser does not include alcohol proceeds – you must order food even at the bar.

Sunday, Jan. 25 – Rehearsal as usual, School of Music

Sunday, Feb. 1 – NO REHEARSAL (Super Bowl Sunday)



Announcing the winners of our Concerto Competition!

On Saturday, Dec. 6, we held a concerto competition – a tradition for the LSO. Music director Adrian Slywotzky, Gifts of Art director Elaine Sims and Elliott Moore of the Detroit Medical Orchestra report the level of playing was remarkable, and faced an extremely difficult decision.

The winners of this year’s LSO concerto competition are:

Eric Dluzniewski, euphonium, playing Weber’s Bassoon Concerto in F Major

Naki Sung Kripfgans, organ, playing Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Timpani and Strings

Congratulations to both! More to come on the plans for their performances…

Announcing our 2014-2015 Concerto Competition

Kara GavinOur orchestra has been fortunate over the years to have excellent soloists from among our members perform great solo works with us at selected concerts, through our Concerto Competition.

On November 22, we’ll hold a competition to choose a soloist or soloists for our May 10, 2015 concert.

In addition to the LSO’s current members, the competition will be open to members of the U-M life sciences community who are classical vocal performers  or play an instrument that is not traditionally represented in the orchestra (for example, saxophone). Unfortunately, piano and percussion soloists will not be eligible.

For complete rules and eligibility criteria, visit this page: http://lso.med.umich.edu/members/concerto-competition/

Those interested in competing this year should indicate their interest, and the piece they hope to perform, via email to orchestra@umich.edu by October 10.

Audition results: See who’s in the LSO this year & important first rehearsal info

Thanks to all who auditioned for the LSO in recent days! We were so impressed by everyone’s playing, and we wish we could have accepted everyone. We’re excited to have so many new members.

The roster of musicians for this season has been posted. We may have additional openings for the spring concert so email orchestra@umich.edu if you may be interested in auditioning in January to play the second semester.

Key information for our members, both new and returning:

By accepting your position in the LSO, you are accepting the responsibility to commit to play all or nearly all rehearsals, and to practice outside of rehearsal in order to make this concert the best it can be.

Our first rehearsal is Sunday, September 14  at 7 p.m. in the Rehearsal Hall on the first floor of the U-M School of Music Moore Building. (The same building where auditions were held.)

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January 2015 Concert: Beethoven, Copland & More!

BeethovenWe’re pleased to announce the program for our concert on Sunday, January 18, 2015, at 4 p.m. at Hill Auditorium.

We’ll be playing:

  • William Grant Still: Festive Overture
  • Samuel Barber: Music for a Scene from Shelley
  • Aaron Copland: Lincoln Portrait
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5

This is our first time playing all of these pieces, and we’re especially proud to be playing them on the eve of Martin Luther King Day. Stay tuned for more about these works in the weeks leading up to the concert!

Sign up for your LSO audition now!

AuditionYou may now sign up for an audition for the 2014-2015 LSO.

Please visit  http://mysignup.com/lso14

and then:

  • 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 Adrian)
  • 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.