Michael Ke Ma
Assistant Principal Bassoon
DSO member since 2005
Michael Ke Ma started his professional career in 2000 when he was appointed Principal Bassoon of the Shanghai Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra (now the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra). In 2004, he was appointed the Assistant Principal Bassoon of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra by Neeme Järvi, making him the first Chinese wind player to earn such a title in a major US orchestra.
Michael was born in Shanghai, where he started violin lessons at the age of 5. After switching from violin to bassoon for only six months at age 11, he was accepted by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music to study with Professors Zhun Zhao, Zhi-Hong Song and Zhao-Lu Liu. In 2001, he was invited by Stephen Maxym, former Principal Bassoon of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, to study in the US under a full scholarship at the University of Southern California. He was Stephen's last recruit, and upon his passing, Michael continued his studies with Judith Farmer, former Principal Bassoon of the Austrian Radio Orchestra.
Since then, Michael has given solo recitals, chamber music and orchestral performances at many music festivals and venues around the globe, including the Banff Center for the Arts, Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, Sunflower Chamber Music Festival in Kansas, Asian Youth Orchestra, Spoleto USA Festival Orchestra, Beijing International Music Festival, Shanghai International Arts Festival, and the Tongyeong International Music Festival in Korea. Michael recently served as Principal Bassoon of the Global Chinese Festival Orchestra and was invited by Maestro Myung-whun Chung to play with the Asia Philharmonic Orchestra, based in Korea and comprising elite musicians worldwide. In 2015, Michael spent 2 months with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra as their Guest Principal Bassoon. He has also made guest appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in its 2010-2011 season. Michael has been interviewed by the Shanghai OTV and Detroit Fox2News, and his performances can often be heard on the radio at KUSC and K-MZT in Los Angeles; and WRCJ 90.9 and WWJ 950 AM in Detroit.
A dedicated teacher, Michael is very active in music education. He has taught master classes at Interlochen Arts Academy, participated in the Professional Panel at Michigan State University, coached private students at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Macau Youth Symphony Orchestra, and worked with the DSO's own Civic ensembles. He has regularly been invited by Yongyan Hu, Dean of the EOS Orchestra Academy of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and Long Yu, President of the Shanghai Orchestra Academy in Shanghai, to give master classes to their students.
Michael has collaborated with luminaries such as Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Charles Dutoit, Lang Lang, John Williams, Fabio Luisi, Paavo Järvi, Kathleen Battle, Placido Domingo, and the late Kurt Masur. He currently travels between Detroit and Shanghai, where Maestro Long Yu invited him to be the guest principal with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.