OUR MISSION: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a leader in the world of classical music, embraces and inspires individuals, families and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.
Leonard Slatkin, Music Director
Music Directorship endowed by the Kresge Foundation
Internationally acclaimed conductor Leonard Slatkin is Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and the Orchestre National de Lyon (ONL). He also maintains a rigorous schedule of guest conducting and is active as a composer, author, and educator.
Highlights of the 2015-16 season included a three-week Brahms festival in Detroit; engagements with the St. Louis Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and NHK Symphony in Tokyo; and debuts with Beijing's China Philharmonic Orchestra and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. Summer events included a tour of Japan with the ONL and performances of Barber’s Vanessa in Santa Fe.
During the 2016-17 season—in addition to his regular duties in Detroit and Lyon—he will return to Pittsburgh and St. Louis; tour the U.S. and Europe with the ONL; conduct overseas with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Verdi Orchestra in Milan, and San Carlo Theatre Orchestra in Naples; and serve as chairman of the jury and conductor of the 2017 Cliburn Competition.
Slatkin’s more than 100 recordings have garnered seven Grammy awards and 64 nominations. His recent Naxos recordings include works by Saint-Saëns, Ravel, and Berlioz (with the ONL) and music by Copland, Rachmaninov, Borzova, McTee, and John Williams (with the DSO). In addition, he has recorded the complete Brahms, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky symphonies with the DSO (available online as digital downloads).
A recipient of the prestigious National Medal of Arts, Slatkin also holds the rank of Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor. He has received Austria’s Decoration of Honor in Silver, the League of American Orchestras’ Gold Baton Award, and the 2013 ASCAP Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award for his book, Conducting Business.
Slatkin has conducted virtually all of the leading orchestras in the world. As Music Director, he has held posts with the New Orleans, St. Louis, and National symphony orchestras, and he was Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He has served as Principal Guest Conductor of London’s Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and the Minnesota Orchestra. For more information, visit leonardslatkin.com.
Jeff Tyzik, Principal Pops Conductor
A tremendously versatile artist, Tyzik is many things to many people. Onstage, audiences love him for his engaging podium style and stellar trumpet playing. Behind the scenes, musicians love him for his brilliant arranging, intelligent programming and straight-shooting professionalism. An anomaly among conductors, Tyzik creates every one of his signature programs from scratch—including his programs with guest artists—and he always includes opportunities to feature members of the orchestra.
Learn more at jefftyzik.com.
Fred A. & Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair
Grammy Award-winning musician and composer Terence Blanchard will serve as the Detroit Symphony Orchestsra's Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director for both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
Learn more at terenceblanchard.com.
Neeme Järvi, Music Director Emeritus
Neeme Järvi, the DSO's celebrated Music Director for 15 years, is the Music Director Emeritus of the orchestra. Following his appointment in 1990, Maestro Järvi led the DSO to new artistic and institutional heights, attracting audiences in record numbers, leading acclaimed concerts, national and international tours, radio broadcasts and award-winning recordings. Under his leadership, the DSO became a symbol for the rebirth of Detroit. Järvi is the second-longest serving music director in the organization's history (famed Russian conductor Ossip Gabrilowitsch led the DSO from 1918 to 1936).
Learn more at neemejarvi.ee.
Michelle Merrill, Associate Conductor
Phillip and Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador
Rapidly rising conductor Michelle Merrill currently serves as the Associate Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, where she also carries the title of Phillip and Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador. A passionate and dynamic artist, Ms. Merrill was named as one of Hour Detroit Magazine’s three Cultural Organization Leaders to Watch, and made her classical subscription debut with the DSO in April 2016. She is also a recipient of a 2016 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award.
Recent and upcoming engagements include the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Toledo Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Symphoria (Syracuse), Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera, Boise Philharmonic, Orlando Philharmonic, New Music Detroit, and the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, where she formerly served as Assistant Conductor before coming to Detroit. As the Associate Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, she helps plan and conduct more than 30 concerts per season, including the renowned educational webcasts, which have reached more than 100,000 students to date in classrooms throughout the nation. Ms. Merrill also gives pre-concert lectures, leads adult music education seminars, engages with students in and around Metro Detroit, speaks on behalf of the DSO throughout the community, and participates in hosting Live from Orchestra Hall, the DSO’s free concert webcast that launched in 2011 and is now watched in more than 100 countries.
In March of 2014, Ms. Merrill stepped in on short notice with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra for their performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4, which music critic Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News described as "stunning" and later named to his list of Top Ten Classical Performances of 2014. She was awarded in 2013 the prestigious Ansbacher Conducting Fellowship by members of the Vienna Philharmonic and the American Austrian Foundation, which enabled her to be in residence at the world-renowned Salzburg Festival. Recent praise came from her classical debut with the DSO conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6: "From the off this was a heavenly ‘Pastoral’…Merrill (conducting from memory) certainly has an ear for focused inner parts, and her meaningful flexibility was welcome…There was something reassuringly old-world about this performance (reminding of but not emulating such views of the music as Böhm, Boult and Klemperer) yet with a New World bloom that trod freshly-mown grass and also looked skywards…"
A strong advocate of new music, Ms. Merrill recently collaborated with New Music Detroit for their annual marathon Strange Beautiful Music 9, which featured David Lang’s “are you experienced?" and the world-premiere of Andrew Harrison’s "Hum" based on the poetry of Detroit native Jamal May. She worked with composer Gabriela Lena Frank and soprano Jessica Rivera in 2015 on Frank’s work La Centinela y la Paloma (The Keeper and the Dove), as a part of numerous community programs related to the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts. In June 2015, she made her debut at the St. Augustine Music Festival conducting the world-premiere performance of Piotr Szewcyzk’s "St. Augustine Suite," which was written in honor of that city’s 450th anniversary. The highly praised performance was later featured nationwide on NPR’s "Performance Today." Additionally, her work in the 2011/12 season with Voices of Change, Dallas’s professional contemporary music ensemble, was part of a program later named as one of Dallas Morning News critic Scott Cantrell’s Top Ten Classical Performances of 2011.
Born in Dallas, TX, Ms. Merrill studied conducting with Dr. Paul C. Phillips at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts, where she holds a Master of Music Degree in conducting and a Bachelor of Music in performance. Apart from music, she loves cooking, running, hiking, and spending time outdoors with her husband, Steve Merrill, who serves as the principal percussionist of the Jacksonville Symphony.
Learn more at michelle-merrill.com.