American conductor Na’Zir McFadden is the Assistant Conductor and Phillip & Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, working closely with Music Director Jader Bignamini. McFadden also serves as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra. Together, they’ll present three programs—exploring masterworks by Tchaikovsky, Valerie Coleman, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Margaret Bonds, respectively.
Establishing his presence on the classical music scene, the 2023–2024 season includes a debut with the Ann Arbor Symphony and a return to the Philadelphia Ballet in addition to maintaining several ongoing engagements with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He’ll also serve as a guest cover conductor for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In the 2022–2023 season, he made his subscription debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra alongside bass-baritone Davóne Tines and clarinetist Anthony McGill. In March of 2024, he will return to conduct the DSO’s annual Classical Roots program premiering two new works by composers Billy Childs and Shelly Washington. Other conducting highlights have included debuts with the Utah Symphony Orchestra, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Ballet.
Additionally, McFadden led a recording project with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago featuring Hilary Hahn as co-collaborator and soloist. This past summer, McFadden participated in the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Conducting Seminar as part of the Tanglewood Institute under the guidance of Andris Nelsons and Stefan Asbury. In 2020, McFadden was named the inaugural Apprentice Conductor of the Philadelphia Ballet; a position he held until 2022. He also served as the Robert L. Poster Conducting Apprentice of the New York Youth Symphony from 2020 to 2021. At the age of 16, he conducted his hometown orchestra—The Philadelphia Orchestra—in their “Pop-Up” series, meeting their Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin who has since served as a mentor to McFadden.
The Philadelphia Inquirer praised his “great stick [baton] technique and energetic presence on the podium” in their concert review. An advocate for arts education, McFadden strives to provide access to the arts for students in underserved communities. Currently, McFadden is a board member of Generation Music, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization that provides classical music education to underrepresented youth in local school districts that cannot afford to do so. His efforts have led to collaborations with youth ensembles in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Salt Lake City.