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Rhapsody in Blue

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Rhapsody in Blue

Friday, October 11—Sunday, October 13, 2024

Friday, October 11—Sunday, October 13, 2024
Orchestra Hall
2 hours
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Shakespeare inspired many thrilling orchestral odes. Music Director Jader Bignamini leads dances from Bernstein’s West Side Story and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture, two starkly different takes on star-crossed lovers. Moved by Othello and Macbeth, Coleridge-Taylor and Verdi created dramatic masterworks of their own. In his DSO debut, pianist Wayne Marshall performs Gershwin’s breakout hit Rhapsody in Blue.


Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Rhapsody in Blue
Ballet Music from Act III of Macbeth
Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture


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.

Wayne Marshall


British conductor, organist, and pianist Wayne Marshall is world-renowned for his musicianship and versatility on the podium and at the keyboard. He served as Chief Conductor of the WDR Funkhaus Orchestra Cologne from 20142020, became Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi in 2007, and is a celebrated interpreter of Gershwin, Bernstein, and other 20th century composers. Plans for the 2021–2022 season include his debut at the Edinburgh International Festival with special Rodgers and Hammerstein gala concerts featuring Danielle de Niese, his conducting debut with the Munich Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony, and the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestras. He will also be conducting Bernstein’s Candide at the Opera de Lyon in December 2022 as well as returns to Orchestre de Paris, BR Munich, the Tonkunstler Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, the North Netherlands Orchestra, and the Bern and Lichtenstein symphony orchestras, and concert performances of Porgy and Bess in St Gallen. 

Recent conducting highlights include his critically-acclaimed debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker at the famous Waldbuhne concert featuring Martin Grubinger, a widely-praised new production of Porgy and Bess at Theater an der Wien, the Tonkunstler Orchestra, the Czech, Rotterdam, Oslo, and Strasbourg philharmonic orchestras, SWR for a special Frank Zappa project, touring Bernstein’s Wonderful Town with Het Gelders Orkest and ReisZuid-Nederland, the Shanghai Philharmonic, a concert version of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with the Prague Radio Philharmonic, and UK touring with the Chineke! Orchestra and BBC Singers. 

As organ recitalist, he has an exceptionally varied repertoire and performs worldwide and online to an audience of millions. He gave a spectacular online recital at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg in the 2019–2020 season, and his future plans include returns to the Philharmonie de Paris and Royal Albert Hall. 

Throughout 2018 he played a key role in leading the Bernstein centenary celebrations. Highlights included Bernstein’s Mass with the Orchestre de Paris at the Philharmonie de Paris and Kaddish with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse later in the year. He also made his debut with the Zurich Philharmonie in an all-Bernstein program and conducted the rarely performed White House Cantata in Utrecht with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. He also worked with the Munich Rundfunkorchester at the Prinzregententheater and Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival. 

He conducted the first performance of the highly acclaimed orchestra Chineke! at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Other guest conducting invitations include the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, La Scala, the Taipei Symphony, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Vienna Symphony, the New World Symphony Orchestra, the Malaysian Philharmonic, the Luxembourg Philharmonic, Santa Cecilia, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, RAI Turin, the BBC Philharmonic, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Dresden Philharmonic, and the Moscow Chamber Choir. 

Marshall has conducted Porgy and Bess numerous times, including at the Opera Comique in Paris, the Washington National Opera, and the Dallas Opera. He conducted Bernstein’s Candide and Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny at the Deutsche Staatsoper in Berlin and Harbison’s The Great Gatsby at the Semperoper in Dresden. Marshall conducted Jake Heggie’s acclaimed opera Dead Man Walking at Montreal Opera and was immediately re-invited to conduct Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

Recent notable organ recitals in the 2019–2020 season included the Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles; the Kimmel Centre Philadelphia, and Symphony Hall in Birmingham, UK. He is a regular performer at the BBC Proms and appeared in the 2012 season as organist and was co-presenter of the Barenboim Prom in Summer 2014. He recently appeared as soloist in the 2016 season at the Ten Pieces Prom. 

In 2018, Marshall recorded a Gershwin CD with the WDR Funkhaus Orchestra in Cologne and a double-CD featuring all of Bernstein’s lesser-known chamber music works. His most recent releases feature all three of his disciplines: Dupre’s Passion Symphony for organ on Base2Music, ‘Born to Play’ Gershwin orchestral disc released on Avi with WDR Funkhaus, and A Flower Remembered with Marshall performing piano arrangements of John Rutter’s beloved choral works, recorded at home in Malta during the 2020 lockdown. He has recorded extensively for numerous major labels and received an ECHO (Deutscher Schallplattenpreis) award for his "Gershwin Songbook CD." 

Marshall was honored with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) from Her Majesty The Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in 2021. In 2004 he received an Honorary Doctorate from Bournemouth University and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Music in 2010. In 2016, Marshall was awarded the prestigious Golden Jubilee Award, presented by the Barbados Government for his services to music. Marshall is proud to be an Ambassador of the London Music Fund. 



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