Formed in 1879 by a group of local university and townspeople who gathered together for the study of Handel’s Messiah, the UMS Choral Union has performed with many of the world’s distinguished orchestras and conductors over the course of its long history. First led by Latin professor and organist Henry Simmons Frieze and then conducted by the University of Michigan’s first music instructor, Calvin Cady, the group has continued to perform Handel’s Messiah in Ann Arbor annually. In May 2015, UMS announced the appointment of Scott Hanoian as the Choral Union’s music director and conductor following Jerry Blackstone’s 12-year tenure.
The 175-voice Choral Union is known for its definitive performances of large-scale works for chorus and orchestra. In 2004, UMSCU participated in a rare performance and recording of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience in Hill Auditorium under the baton of Leonard Slatkin. The Naxos Records three-disc set of this recording won four Grammy Awards in 2006, including “Best Choral Performance” and “Best Classical Album.” The recording was also selected as one of the New York Times “Best Classical Music CDs of 2004.”
Other recent highlights include a recording project with the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s choral and orchestral ensembles of the rarely-heard Oresteian Trilogy by Darius Milhaud conducted by Kenneth Kiesler. In May 2013, chorus members joined the Detroit Symphony and Leonard Slatkin in a performance of Ives’s Symphony No. 4 as part of Carnegie Hall’s Spring for Music festival in New York.
Scott Hanoian began his appointment as music director and conductor of the UMS Choral Union on July 1, 2015. In addition to his appointment at UMS, Scott Hanoian is the director of music at Christ Church Grosse Pointe. Career highlights also include artistic director of the Oakland Choral Society; faculty member at Wayne State University; assistant organist and assistant director of music at Washington National Cathedral; and a robust career as an international touring musician performing throughout Europe, Australia, and Canada. He has recorded the complete organ works of Johannes Brahms for the JAV label. A graduate of the University of Michigan (BMus ’99, MMus ’01, MM ‘01), Scott Hanoian was a student of Robert Glasgow, Theodore Morrison, and former UMS Choral Union director Jerry Blackstone.
Participation in the UMS Choral Union remains open to all students and adults by audition. For more information on how to audition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 734.763.8997, or visit www.ums.org/about/choralunion/.