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Opening Night Gala with Branford Marsalis

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Opening Night Gala with Branford Marsalis

Saturday, September 28, 2024—7:00pm

Saturday, September 28, 2024—7:00pm
Orchestra Hall
1 hour and 10 minutes
Tickets start at {{ vm.min_price_formatted }}

Music Director Jader Bignamini leads an evening of musical escapades joined by saxophone star Branford Marsalis. Milhaud brought Brazilian vibes back to Paris with a jazz-infused vehicle for virtuosity. Bernstein’s dances give lively impressions of New York and Marsalis breathes life into John Williams’s ultra-cool score. Gershwin’s masterpiece captures the busy cafés and bustling streets of Paris.

Please note that this is a concert-only event. For an extended evening including pre-concert activities, a formal dinner, the concert and afterparty, please visit our full gala event page.


Overture from Omar
Escapades from Catch Me If You Can
Three Dance Episodes from On the Town
An American in Paris


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. His infectious passion and artistic excellence set the tone for the seasons 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, Bignamini 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 returned again in May 2021 to conduct four programs including performances with violinist Midori and pianist Orli Shaham.

A native of Crema, Italy, Bignamini 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, Bignamini 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 Bignamini 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.

Branford Marsalis

Branford Marsalis is an award-winning saxophonist, band leader, featured classical soloist, and a film and Broadway composer. Over the span of his decades long career, he has become a multi award-winning artist with three Grammys, Emmy and Tony Award nominations, a citation by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Jazz Master, and an avatar of contemporary artistic excellence.

Marsalis is increasingly sought after as a featured soloist with such acclaimed orchestras as the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, and the Chicago, Detroit, North Carolina, and Düsseldorf symphonies, with a repertoire that includes compositions by Debussy, Glazunov, Ibert, Mahler, Milhaud, Rorem, Vaughn Williams, and John Williams. He has toured with chamber orchestras such as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong.

Emerging from the global pandemic in January 2022, Marsalis first returned to the New York Philharmonic to perform John Adams’s Saxophone Concerto, which highlighted his incredible agility and the instrument’s lyrical voice. Marsalis then launched a tour with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, in a program which explored the intersectionality of jazz and classical music with repertoire selections including Debussy’s jazz-inspired Rhapsody for alto saxophone and chamber orchestra. Later that year, he performed John Williams’s Escapades in Tanglewood’s celebration of Williams’s 90th birthday. In 2023, Marsalis performed with symphonies in Miami, Greensboro, Toledo, and Corpus Christi, as well as with the Warsaw Philharmonic and Calgary Philharmonic. He also traveled to Tokyo and Kyoto to perform with the Makoto Ozone group in Japan. Marsalis recently composed a symphony commissioned by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, which premieres March 2024.

Even as he tours the world as a featured classical soloist, Marsalis continues to perform with The Branford Marsalis Quartet, which he formed in 1986. His work on Broadway has garnered a Drama Desk Award and Tony Award nominations for the acclaimed revivals of Children of a Lesser God, Fences, and A Raisin in the Sun. As a composer for film and television, his screen credits include original music composed for: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks starring Oprah Winfrey, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, Rustin starring Colman Domingo, and the Emmy Award-nominated Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre.



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