Exploring community connection through the performing arts, UMS President Emeritus Ken Fischer and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis come together in a conversation moderated by Lisa Richards Toney, president and CEO of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals.
Marsalis wrote the introduction to Fischer’s book, Everybody in, Nobody Out (Michigan Publishing, 2020), which offers a reflection on the power of the performing arts to engage and enrich communities — not by handing down cultural enrichment from on high, but by meeting communities where they live and helping them preserve cultural heritage, incubate talent, and find ways to make community voices heard. In this talk, Fischer and Marsalis will also discuss the important relationship between presenter and artist in moving the artist’s work forward.
Ken Fischer is President Emeritus of the University Musical Society (UMS) of the University of Michigan (U‑M), a position he held from June 1, 1987 to June 30, 2017. UMS, an independent multidisciplinary performing arts presenter with a long and deep affiliation with U‑M, is in the center of the Ann Arbor campus and offers 60 – 90 concerts each season, performed in up to nine University and community venues. On September 10, 2015, Fischer accepted the 2014 National Medal of Arts on behalf of UMS from President Obama at the White House. UMS is the first university presenter to receive the National Medal of Arts, which is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government. Under Fischer’s leadership UMS greatly expanded and diversified its programming and its audiences; deepened its engagement with the University and southeast Michigan communities; created exemplary partnerships with leading corporations, arts organizations, educational institutions, and community organizations; and received significant endowment grants awarded by the leading foundations in the arts. In December 2019, Fischer received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan.
Wynton Marsalis is a world-renowned trumpeter, bandleader and composer, and a leading advocate of American culture. He presently serves as Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and Director of Jazz Studies at The Juilliard School. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1961, Marsalis began his classical training on trumpet at age 12, entered The Juilliard School at age 17, and soon thereafter joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He recorded more than 103 jazz and classical recordings, which have won nine GRAMMY® awards. In 1983, he became the first and only artist to win both classical and jazz GRAMMYs® in the same year, repeating the distinction the following year. Today, Wynton is the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards® in five consecutive years (1983−1987). In 1997, Wynton became the first jazz artist to be awarded the prestigious Pulitzer in Music for his oratorio Blood on the Fields. Marsalis has received honorary doctorates from over 25 of America’s top academic institutions including Columbia, Harvard, Howard, Princeton and Yale. In 2001, he was appointed Messenger of Peace by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In 2005 Wynton received The National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States government.
Lisa Richards Toney is the President & CEO of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals. Richards Toney brings more than 20 years of experience leading a range of small and large arts and humanities organizations, managing change and building stability. Most recently she served as the Executive Director of the Abramson Scholarship Foundation, and prior to that, as the Interim Executive Director and Deputy Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. She was also the first Executive Director of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy and Director of Literature to Life for The American Place Theatre. She currently serves on the boards of Performing Arts Alliance and Mosaic Theatre Company of DC, co-chair of the Jack and Jill DC Chapter Jumoke Black History Festival, and on the Advisory Board of the American University Graduate Program in Arts Administration. She holds an M.A. in educational theater from NYU with coursework in arts administration and a B.A. as a presidential scholar from Spelman College.
This event is co-presented by PBS Books and Detroit Public Television, with support from UMS and the Association of Performing Arts Professionals.