Dance music

Feb 1, 2006 at 12:00 am
One of the "Big 10" when it comes to music as well as football, the University of Michigan is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its School of Music this year. This weekend, the University Dance Company salutes the music school with dances set to music by nationally and internationally known faculty composers.

William Bolcom is high on any music lover’s list of influential and popular contemporary composers. In the last decade or so, he’s premiered three operas at Chicago’s Lyric Opera, and composed symphonies and concert pieces. Bolcom, who is the school’s music composition professior, and his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, another U-M faculty member, have produced engaging and witty concertos for piano and vocals. In this event, Department of Dance alumnus Matthew Rose performs to Bolcom’s "Graceful Ghost," one of his most accessible and charming pieces, based on that great American musical form, the rag.

Also high on the classical hits list is Michael Daugherty, whose concert pieces have been performed exuberantly by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Faculty member Daugherty is known for his bold and galloping rhythms, thundering chords and innovative percussion. Excerpting the "Flying" section of Daugherty’s piece "UFO," dance faculty member Jessica Fogel’s work Identified Flying Objects/1-800-COSMOS* is described as "a whimsical work with a sci-fi sensibility," and lets a lots of things fly, including clothes, props and tempers.

Among the other dances, faculty member Gay Delanghe restages two of her previous works: Motor Tango to "Concatenations for 12 Instruments" by professor emeritus George B. Wilson, and her sleek 1974 work Seven Deadly Sins, in which the devil calls forth each of the dancing sins. Singer Michelle Derr narrates the text — a poem by William Dunbar — with a score by the late William Albright. Albright, who died in 1998, was known for "tongue in cheek" and "fire and brimstone" scores.

Filling out the program, Peter Sparling’s Burying Ground, inspired by epitaphs found on New England gravestones, features music by Associate Professor Evan Chambers, and Professor Emeritus Leslie Bassett’s "Six Piano Pieces" is the inspiration for How the Dark Water Flowed, choreographed by Melissa Beck Matjias. The final piece is And Their Words to the Ends of the World, a dance by guest choreographer Doug Varone, based on music by contemporary composer Steve Reich.

7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 2; 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3-4; and 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 5, at University of Michigan’s Power Center, 1221 Fletcher St., Ann Arbor; call 734-764-2538. Tickets $16-$22. Michael H. Margolin writes about theater and the performing arts for Metro Times. Send comments to