Kenneth Thompkins

Artist Picture

Kenneth Thompkins


Principal, Shari and Craig Morgan Chair

DSO member since 1997

Kenneth Thompkins was appointed Principal Trombone of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra by Neeme Järvi. Prior to this appointment, he held positions in the Buffalo Philharmonic and The Florida Orchestra and performed with the New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. A former participant in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s African American Orchestra Fellowship program, he has served as a mentor to several orchestra fellows.

Thompkins has been invited to perform and conduct masterclasses at many music schools including the Curtis Institute of Music, the Mannes College of Music, the University of Michigan, and the Interlochen Arts Academy. An active chamber musician, Thompkins performs frequently in recitals and is a member of Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings. He has performed concertos with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and New World Symphony.

Thompkins has toured Europe with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and has performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He can be heard on recordings with the Detroit Chamber Winds, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. His solo trombone recording; Sonatas, Songs and Spirituals, features the music of Alec Wilder, Philip Wharton, Stephen A. Taylor, and William Grant Still. Sonatas, Songs and Spirituals is a 2018–2019 winner of The American Prize in Instrumental Performance. He has also contributed a chapter to The Brass Player's Cookbook: Creative Recipes for a Successful Performance.

Thompkins received his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University studying with the late Frank Crisafulli of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and his master’s degree from Temple University studying with Eric Carlson of the Philadelphia Orchestra.