"I work with a lot of very good orchestras and I’ve done a lot of good concerts. But the best atmosfera, the best energy I’ve found is in this orchestra, in these musicians, in this concert hall, with this audience. It’s almost impossible to find situations like this.This kind of chemistry is very special."
When Jader Bignamini was nine years old, he became fascinated by the cover of one of his brother’s books. It was a photo of a boy playing what he thought to be a flute, and Jader became determined to play the same instrument. The only problem was that the photo featured a boy playing a clarinet. Jader may not have recognized all the instruments, but that image was the spark that ignited a lifelong love of music and a passion for performing, first as a musician with Orchestra Sinfonica La Verdi in Milan (clarinet, not flute), and later as the group’s resident conductor.
Jader studied at the Piacenza Music Conservatory. He was drawn to operatic arias, captivated by the power and complexity of symphonic music in masterpieces by legends like Mahler and Tchaikovsky. For the Crema, Italy native, it was thrilling to explore that complexity, and to puzzle out the role that each instrument played in making that larger-than-life sound. Even as a young musician, the seeds of a future conductor were present.
"I started to conduct in my bedroom, with recordings playing, using a chopstick from a Chinese restaurant. My mother thought I was crazy.
I know there are a lot of opportunities for young people and young musicians in Detroit. I’m curious to meet these young people who want to learn music, to learn an instrument."
In the years since, Jader has conducted some of the world’s most acclaimed orchestras in venues across the globe. His 2019-2020 season includes debuts with the Toronto, Houston, and Dallas symphonies; Minnesota Orchestra; Canadian Opera Company conducting Aida; Bayerische Staatsoper conducting La Traviata; and a return engagement with Stadttheater Klagenfurt conducting Eugene Onegin. He continues to tour with soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Yusif Eyvasov.
Other recent engagements include debuts at the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, and Dutch National Opera conducting Madama Butterfly; La Traviata in Tokyo directed by Sofia Coppola; return engagements with Oper Frankfurt conducting La forza del destino and Santa Fe Opera conducting La Bohème; Manon Lescaut at the Bolshoi; Turandot at Teatro Filharmonica; Il Trovatore and Aida at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera; and La Forza del Destino at the Verdi Festival in Parma. Memorable engagements for Jader have included 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.
Jader’s passion and enthusiasm are infectious. And his warmth and joyful spirit animate an engaging personality as prodigious as his musical talent. 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.
"I love to conduct by heart because it’s so important to have eye contact with the orchestra. With a score I see the paper and not always the musicians. Without a score you can see the musicians and you can do much more with your ears. You listen with your ears, not with your eyes."
A jazz aficionado and amateur chef, Jader is excited to immerse himself in Detroit’s rich jazz scene and to explore his new second city with his wife Lidia—also a clarinetist—and their two children, who play trumpet and trombone. But above all, he can’t wait to make more extraordinary music with the DSO musicians he has already established close relationships with. It’s an opportunity that, like the picture on the cover of a book that once caught his attention as a boy, was love at first sight.
"Music is so important for my soul. Each time I conduct I try to get better and better. And in Detroit I found a group of musicians that want to do their best. They want a challenge. They’re so professional. They have a great energy, they’re always smiling. And they love to make music – not just notes."
A NEW ERA UNFOLDS IN 2020-21 WITH MUSIC DIRECTOR JADER BIGNAMINI2020-2021 Classical Series