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Civic Youth Ensembles

Wu Family Academy Showcase

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Wu Family Academy Showcase

Friday, November 10, 2023—7:00pm

Friday, November 10, 2023—7:00pm
Orchestra Hall
2 hours
Tickets start at {{ vm.min_price_formatted }}

The Wu Family Academy (WFA) Showcase features the premier classical ensembles of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE) program. Join the Detroit Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble, directed by Dr. Kenneth Thompson, and the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra, directed by DSO Assistant Conductor and Phillip and Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador, Na’Zir McFadden, in the historic Orchestra Hall.

Program includes works by Nicole Piunno, Charles Ives, Scott Joplin, Huanzhi Li, Maurice Ravel, and Georges Bizet.

Ken Thompson directs the DSYWE and Civic Philharmonic Orchestra and has worked with CYE for more than ten years. He serves as professor in the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH.

In demand as a guest conductor and lecturer, Thompson maintains an active schedule with engagements throughout the United States, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, and China. He has appeared as a lecturer or clinician with the International Society for Music Education, the National Conference of the College Band Directors National Association, the North Carolina, South Carolina, Iowa, West Virginia, Ohio, and Missouri Music Educators Association conferences, and many others.

Thompson studied at Limestone College and earned his Master and Doctorate degrees from the University of Iowa. He previously served as artistic director of the Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestras and associate conductor of the St. Louis Wind Symphony and Chamber Winds.


Na’Zir McFadden, 22, is the inaugural Apprentice Conductor of the Philadelphia Ballet Orchestra. Most recently, McFadden was invited by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) to direct its “Notes for Peace” program, an initiative to combat youth gun violence in the greater Chicago area. Working alongside musicians of the CSO Civic Orchestra and the Chicago Recording Company, he recorded a series of new works, each dedicated to families impacted by acts of senseless violence.

McFadden served as the 2020-2021 Robert L. Poster Conducting Apprentice of the New York Youth Symphony. During his time with the orchestra, he recorded two new compositions, available on SoundCloud and YouTube. In February 2017, McFadden made his Pop-Up debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra. Following this performance, The Philadelphia Inquiry praised McFadden for his “great stick [baton] technique and energetic presence on the podium.”

McFadden has collaborated with some of classical music’s top artists including Hillary Hahn, Ricardo Muti, Beatrice Jona Affron, and Cliff Colnot. Upcoming engagements include an appearance with Orchestra 2001 of Philadelphia.

McFadden maintains a flourishing conducting schedule and continues to develop his skills as a classically trained instrumentalist, currently serving as clarinetist in the Philadelphia-based wind quintet Opus (215), of which he is also a founding member. At the age of 21, McFadden won his first professional audition as a clarinetist in the United States Navy Band.

McFadden has performed with The Peoria Symphony Orchestra, Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra, Lakeview Symphony Orchestra, Center City Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and National Take a Stand Festival Orchestra. He served as Guest Principal Clarinetist in the Bacau Philharmonic during the summer of 2019.

McFadden is a dual recipient of the Fresh Smiles Career Grant (2017, 2018) and was invited to speak on behalf of the organization at the American Friends of Italy gala. Additionally, he received artistic direction and financial support from the Primavera Fund, Project 440, and Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth.

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