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Thursday, November 4—Saturday, November 6, 2021

Thursday, November 4—Saturday, November 6, 2021
Orchestra Hall
2 hours

Wise pianists fear Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto, one of the most fiendishly difficult pieces ever composed for piano. Sergei Babayan, hailed as "one of those chosen few artists capable of transporting us to their universe, of taking us to a different world," summons Rachmaninoff's fireworks. Jader Bignamini also leads the DSO in Brahms's beloved Second Symphony, a picturesque masterpiece from its sunlit first moments to its rousing finale.

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Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73


Jader Bignamini


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.

In December, Jader returned to Detroit to lead a triumphant performance of Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst, Strauss’s Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”. He will return in May 2021 to conduct four programs including performances with violinist Midori and pianist Orli Shaham.

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.

Sergei Babayan


The meditative focus and rare stillness of Armenian-American pianist Sergei Babayan's keyboard artistry prompted the Hamburger Abendblatt to liken him to "one of those Japanese calligraphers who contemplate the white page before them in silence until, at the exact right moment, their brush makes its instinctive, perfect sweep across the paper." Babayan himself has observed that making music should be open to surprises and spontaneous insights, allowing unexpected emotions to emerge and subtle shadings to evolve naturally. His thoughtful musicianship has grown over decades of painstaking musical explorations, and during the course of his career he has built a broad and deep repertoire encompassing well over sixty concertos and other works by composers from Bach, Beethoven, Ligeti and Lutosławski to Prokofiev, Pärt, Rameau and Ryabov.

In November 2019 Sergei Babayan was Curating Artist at Konzerthaus Dortmund, where he presented a festival of performances with his closest musical partners and friends, including Martha Argerich, Daniil Trifonov, Mischa Maisky, Sergey Khachatryan, and Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra.

His plans for the forthcoming season include appearances at the Tsinandali Festival in Georgia in September, Montreal's Bach Festival in November and the Verbier Festival in July 2021; the Grieg Piano Concerto in Brussels with the La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra and Alain Altinoglu; and performances of Bach's Goldberg Variations in Meiningen and Leipzig.

Babayan's first album for Deutsche Grammophon was released in March 2018. Prokofiev for Two, for which he formed a duo partnership with the legendary Martha Argerich, comprises Babayan's scintillating transcriptions for piano four hands of movements from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet and other works. It was hailed as "the CD one has waited for" by Montreal's Le Devoir, while critic Norman Lebrecht said it took "the piano duo to a new level," adding, "if all music was like this, there would be no sorrow in the world." His debut solo album for DG – a very personal selection of music by Rachmaninov, whose work has been central to Babayan's life since he discovered the Second Piano Concerto at the age of thirteen - was released in August 2020 to worldwide critical acclaim: "A masterclass in how to put the music first" (Norman Lebrecht); "Dazzling finger-work and exquisite control" (The Telegraph).

Born into a musical family in Armenia, Sergei Babayan received his first piano lessons at the age of six from Luiza Markaryan, then was taught by pianist Georgy Saradjev, a leading representative of the St Petersburg school and former student of the legendary Vladimir Sofronitsky. Babayan subsequently studied with Lev Naumov, Vera Gornostayeva and Mikhail Pletnev at the Moscow Conservatory. As the Soviet Union collapsed in the late 1980s, he became the first artist from the USSR to attend international competitions without state sponsorship.

Babayan made his breakthrough in 1989 with a consecutive series of competition victories, generating news headlines and attracting interest from fellow artists by winning the Robert Casadesus International Piano Competition (since renamed the Cleveland International Piano Competition), the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in Japan and the Scottish International Piano Competition. Following his move to the United States, he joined the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1992 as artist-in-residence. In high demand ever since, he has performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Théâtre des Champs-Elyseés, Konzerthaus Berlin and Munich's Prinzregententheater, appeared at the Salzburg, Verbier and La Roque d'Anthéron festivals and worked with many of the world's leading conductors, among them Valery Gergiev, Neeme Järvi, Rafael Payare, David Robertson, Tugan Sokhiev, Gábor Takács-Nagy, Yuri Temirkanov, Joshua Weilerstein and Nikolaj Znaider.


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Packages start at just $105


Sergei Babayan is one of those chosen few: those artists capable of transporting us to their universe, of taking us to a different world. ”

—Le Devoir
BERLIOZ "Symphonie fantastique" – Jader Bignamini, conductor
Artwork for Orchestra Hall
Presented at
Orchestra Hall
3711 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI
Venue Information



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