Jader Bignamini was introduced as the 18th music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in January 2020, commencing with the 2020-2021 season. He kicked off his tenure as DSO Music Director with the launch of DSO Digital Concerts in September 2020, conducting works by Copland, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, and Saint-Georges. His infectious passion and artistic excellence set the tone for the season ahead, creating extraordinary music and establishing a close relationship with the orchestra. A jazz aficionado, he has immersed himself in Detroit’s rich jazz culture and the influences of American music.
A native of Crema, Italy, Jader studied at the Piacenza Music Conservatory and began his career as a musician (clarinet) with Orchestra Sinfonica La Verdi in Milan, later serving as the group’s resident conductor. Captivated by the operatic arias of legends like Mahler and Tchaikovsky, Jader explored their complexity and power, puzzling out the role that each instrument played in creating a larger-than-life sound. When he conducted his first professional concert at the age of 28, it didn’t feel like a departure, but an arrival.
In the years since, Jader has conducted some of the world’s most acclaimed orchestras and opera companies in venues across the globe including working with Riccardo Chailly on concerts of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in 2013 and his concert debut at La Scala in 2015 for the opening season of La Verdi Orchestra. Recent highlights include debuts with the Houston, Dallas, and Minnesota symphonies; Osaka Philharmonic and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo; with the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, and Dutch National Opera (Madama Butterfly); Bayerische Staatsoper (La Traviata); I Puritani in Montpellier for the Festival of Radio France; Traviata in Tokyo directed by Sofia Coppola; return engagements with Oper Frankfurt (La forza del destino) and Santa Fe Opera (La Bohème); Manon Lescaut at the Bolshoi; Traviata, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot at Arena of Verona; Il Trovatoreand Aida at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera; Madama Butterfly, I Puritani, and Manon Lescaut at Teatro Massimo in Palermo; Simon Boccanegra and La Forza del Destino at the Verdi Festival in Parma; Ciro in Babilonia at Rossini Opera Festival and La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, and Elisir d’amore at La Fenice in Venice.
When Jader leads an orchestra in symphonic repertoire, he conducts without a score, preferring to make direct eye contact with the musicians. He conducts from the heart, forging a profound connection with his musicians that shines through both onstage and off. He both embodies and exudes the excellence and enthusiasm that has long distinguished the DSO’s artistry.
Grammy Award winner Jeff Tyzik is one of America’s most innovative and sought-after pops conductors. Tyzik is recognized for his brilliant arrangements, original programming, and engaging rapport with audiences of all ages. In addition to his role as Principal Pops Conductor of the DSO, Tyzik holds The Dot and Paul Mason Principal Pops Conductor’s Podium at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and serves as principal pops conductor of the Oregon Symphony, Florida Orchestra, and Rochester Philharmonic (RPO) — a post he has held for over 20 seasons.
Frequently invited as a guest conductor, Tyzik has appeared with the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, Milwaukee Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
In May 2007, the Harmonia Mundi label released his recording of works by Gershwin with pianist Jon Nakamatsu and the RPO, which stayed in the Top 10 on the Billboard classical chart for over three months. Alex Ross of the New Yorker called it "one of the snappiest Gershwin discs in years."
Committed to performing music of all genres, Tyzik has collaborated with such diverse artists as Megan Hilty, Chris Botti, Matthew Morrison, Wynonna Judd, Tony Bennett, Art Garfunkel, Dawn Upshaw, Marilyn Horne, Arturo Sandoval, The Chieftains, Mark O’Connor, Doc Severinsen, and John Pizzarelli. He has created numerous original programs that include the greatest music from jazz and classical to Motown, Broadway, film, dance, Latin, and swing. Tyzik holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Eastman School of Music.
Learn more at jefftyzik.com.
Trumpeter, bandleader, composer, and educator Terence Blanchard has served as the DSO’s Fred A. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair since 2012. Blanchard has performed and recorded with many of jazz’s superstars and currently leads the celebrated E-Collective. He is also well-known for his decades-long collaboration with filmmaker Spike Lee, scoring more than 15 of Lee’s movies since the early 1990s. 2018’s BlacKkKlansman earned Blanchard his first Academy Award nomination, with a second Academy Award nomination in 2021 for Da 5 Bloods. In and out of the film world, Blanchard has received 14 Grammy nominations and six wins, as well as nominations for Emmy, Golden Globe, Sierra, and Soul Train Music awards.
A New Orleans native, Blanchard was childhood friends with Wynton Marsalis and studied jazz at Rutgers University. He was invited to play with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra in 1982 and later joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. He debuted his first solo recording in 1991 and has released more than a dozen acclaimed albums since; he has appeared as a collaborator or sideman on a dozen more. Blanchard’s latest album with the E-Collective, Absence, features music written and inspired by jazz legend Wayne Shorter and was released by Blue Note Records in August 2021.
Blanchard has held artistic leadership positions at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, Monterey Jazz Festival, Berklee College of Music, and Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami.
Learn more at terenceblanchard.com.
American conductor Na’Zir McFadden is the newly appointed Assistant Conductor and Phillip & Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
In this position, he works closely with Music Director Jader Bignamini and guest conductors on both the PVS Classical Series and William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series. Additionally, he leads pre-concert lectures at Orchestra Hall, and conducts a variety of programs on the Educational Concert Series, Young People’s Family Concert Series, PNC Pops Series, as well as DTE Community Concerts.
To commence the 2022-2023 season, McFadden serves as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra. Together, they are presenting three programs — exploring the symphonies of Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, and Florence Price.
An advocate for arts education, McFadden strives to provide access to the arts for students in underserved communities. This upcoming season, McFadden will make appearances with youth ensembles in Salt Lake City and the Philadelphia All-City Music Festival. In the past, he’s worked with youth ensembles in Chicago, New York City, St. Louis, and Los Angeles.
Recent engagements include a recording project with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago as part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Notes for Peace’ initiative — which featured Hilary Hahn as guest soloist.
McFadden was the inaugural Apprentice Conductor of the Philadelphia Ballet Orchestra from 2020 to 2022 working with Music Director Beatrice Jona Affron. He also served as the Robert L. Poster Conducting Apprentice of the New York Youth Symphony from 2020 to 2021.
McFadden conducted his hometown orchestra – The Philadelphia Orchestra – in their “Pop-Up” series in 2017, meeting their Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin who has been a mentor ever since. The Philadelphia Inquirer praised his “great stick [baton] technique and energetic presence on the podium” in their review of the concert.
Upcoming engagements include a series of commissions with Orchestra 2001 and appearances with the Utah Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Ballet.
Internationally acclaimed conductor Leonard Slatkin is Music Director Laureate of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), Directeur Musical Honoraire of the Orchestre National de Lyon (ONL), Conductor Laureate of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria. He maintains a rigorous schedule of guest conducting throughout the world and is active as a composer, author, and educator.
Slatkin has received six Grammy awards and 35 nominations. His latest recordings are Jeff Beal’s The Paper Lined Shack on Supertrain Records and Slatkin Conducts Slatkin, a compilation of pieces written by generations of his musical family, including three of his own compositions, on Naxos Records. Other recent Naxos releases 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 the Prix Charbonnier from the Federation of Alliances Françaises, 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 debut book, Conducting Business. A second volume, Leading Tones: Reflections on Music, Musicians, and the Music Industry, was published by Amadeus Press in 2017. His latest book, Classical Crossroads: The Path Forward for Music in the 21st Century (2021), is available through Rowman & Littlefield. He is working on two more books and several new compositions.
Slatkin has conducted virtually all the leading orchestras in the world. As Music Director, he has held posts in New Orleans; St. Louis; Washington, DC; London (with the BBCSO); Detroit; and Lyon, France. He has also served as Principal Guest Conductor in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Cleveland. For more information, visit leonardslatkin.com.
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.