The University Record, September 10, 1996

Ann Arbor native will be part of Michigan Radio's local sounds

Photo by Bob Kalmbach

By Rebecca A. Doyle


Welcome back, Lauren Wagner.

A soprano whose work has been lauded from New York to Vancouver, across Europe and Canada, returns to her native Ann Arbor this season as Michigan Radio's artist-in-residence. Wagner was born in Ann Arbor, graduated from Huron High School and from the University's School of Music in 1977.

Now an Ann Arbor resident, she has toured the world gathering praise from reviewers who say "there are moments when the sheer force of her voice is overwhelming and moments when the sound is as sweet and crystalline as spring water" (New York Times) and that she " . . . has a beautiful, controlled voice" (Phonogram, Holland). Wagner will spend the next few months producing eight shows, including two live performances.

"I have performed all over the world except Ann Arbor," says the School of Music graduate. "I love this town. This is my hometown, and I am excited to be part of the cultural offering here."

As winner of the Concert Artists Guild New York Competition, Wagner received---among many other things---a grant that will allow her to work in Ann Arbor with Michigan Radio to complete an ambitious program that features her voice in works by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Corigliano, Debussy, Brahms, Puccini, Verdi and others. A live concert early in December is planned as the pinnacle of her term as artist-in-residence.

Wagner "comes with her own grant," she says, to become part of Michigan Radio's efforts to incorporate more local programming in their current menu.

Other local musical programming will include recording and broadcasting some of the concerts from the University Musical Society's Master of Arts series, says Donovan Reynolds, director of broadcasting for Michigan Radio.

"We are going to try to bring the Ann Arbor experience to the rest of the country," he says. "It's the same with talk shows." Reynolds says that the University's experts are called upon all the time to be part of programs like Science Friday, part of National Public Radio's (NPR) Talk of the Nation program.

"Now," he says, "we will have the ISDN device to be able to have University of Michigan professors participate from our own studios." Without the hardware, U-M faculty who were asked to participate in NPR programs had to be transported to other stations in the state that had the necessary equipment and studio setup. The hardware is expected to arrive this month.

Reynolds cites a project in the works that he and producer John Hoban hope will be a well-received series. Hoban is working with David Daskal, a graduate student intern in the School of Information, to produce short pieces about new technology and its impact on society. The Digital Deli is "a snapshot in time using old-style radio"---radio with characters acting out a script---that is designed to take away some of the mystique from the more recent developments in digital technology, such as digital cameras. Hoban says the group will be working on a pilot for the show this week.

In addition, this fall Reynolds plans to launch a mid-day local program that will feature both the performing talent and in-depth research at the U-M, broadcast from the studio. If equipment is received on schedule, the one-hour local show that would allow the Ann Arbor community to call in and talk about both local and regional issues could be in place in October.

"We need to have a strong local program to be successful," he cautions. "But we have wonderful experts, great minds and great artists here. We want to be able to showcase them."