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Beethoven & Brahms

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Beethoven & Brahms

Friday, March 21—Sunday, March 23, 2025

Friday, March 21—Sunday, March 23, 2025
Orchestra Hall
2 hours
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DSO Concertmaster Robyn Bollinger and Principal Cello Wei Yu pair up for Brahms's robust and riveting Double Concerto, the great composer’s last large orchestral work. Music Director Jader Bignamini leads the DSO in Beethoven’s lovely, lighthearted, and occasionally stormy Sixth Symphony plus Johann Strauss’s lilting and outrageously fun overture to Die Fledermaus.

Program

JOHANN STRAUSS II
Overture to Die Fledermaus
JOHANNES BRAHMS
Concerto for Violin and Cello in A minor
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Symphony No. 6, "Pastoral"

Artists

Jader Bignamini

conductor

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.

Robyn Bollinger

Concertmaster

Daring, versatile, and charismatic, American violinist Robyn Bollinger is the newly appointed Concertmaster of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Equally at home as soloist, chamber musician, orchestral leader, and pedagogue, Bollinger is an artist at the forefront of classical music. Having made her Philadelphia Orchestra debut at age 12, she regularly performs with orchestras across the United States. Past highlights include engagements with the Boston Pops and the symphony orchestras of Brevard, California, Charleston, Grand Tetons Music Festival, Helena, Illinois, Indian Hill, Knoxville, and Symphony in C. In 2019, Bollinger gave the world premiere of Artifacts, a four-movement violin concerto commissioned by the California Symphony by composer Katherine Balch and written specifically for Bollinger.

A sought-after collaborator and recitalist, Bollinger is a popular figure on chamber music stages around the world. She is a returning participant at the acclaimed Marlboro Music Festival and has been featured in numerous national tours with Musicians from Marlboro. She has toured in Midori’s Music Sharing International Community Engagement Program “ICEP” in Japan, performing in recital in Osaka’s Phoenix Hall, Tokyo’s Oji Hall, and Tokyo National Arts Center. A prizewinner at the 2007 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, Bollinger has appeared at the chamber music festivals of Halcyon, Highlands-Cashiers, Lake Champlain, Monadnock, and Orcas Island. She has presented recitals at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, National Sawdust, Emory University, Kalliroscope Gallery, Live from Indian Hill, the California Symphony, and more. She appears regularly with the Chameleon Arts Ensemble in Boston, the Boston Chamber Music Society, Mistral Music, Spruce Peak Chamber Music Society, and Glissando Music, among others. 

Bollinger has been recognized for both her innovation and entrepreneurship. She received a prestigious Fellowship from the Lenore Annenberg Arts Fellowship Fund for her multimedia performance project, “CIACCONA: The Bass of Time,” later releasing a commercial CD and DVD of the project and presenting a national tour of the program. An examination of the history and legacy of the Bach’s famed chaconne for solo violin, the program received critical acclaim from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. Bollinger has also been recognized with an Entrepreneurial Musicianship Grant from New England Conservatory for her ground-breaking “Project Paganini,” a performance project featuring the twenty-four Caprices of Paganini. She was recently awarded a historic Early-Career Musician Fellowship from Dumbarton Oaks Museum in Washington, DC, to research and prepare her next multimedia project, “Encore! Just One More,” to be debuted in future seasons. 

A noted leader and ensemble player, Bollinger has been a frequent Guest Concertmaster with the Pittsburgh Symphony and has made Guest Concertmaster appearances with the Indianapolis Symphony and St. Bart’s Music Festival Orchestra. She is a former member of A Far Cry, the Boston-based, democratically run chamber orchestra, and she has appeared on commercial recordings with both the Pittsburgh Symphony and A Far Cry, all of which were nominated for Grammy Awards.

Bollinger is a devoted educator, having presented masterclasses at the Cincinnati Conservatory, the Longy School of music, University of California Bakersfield, Temple University Preparatory School, and a unique masterclass examining classical music in the context of Aristotle at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. She is a former faculty member at New England Conservatory Preparatory School in Boston and Brandeis University. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees with academic honors from the New England Conservatory of Music. Her major teachers included Soovin Kim, Miriam Fried, Paul Biss, Paul Kantor, and Lyle Davidson. Bollinger currently plays on a 1697 G. B. Rogeri violin on generous loan from a private collector and a 2013 Benoit Rolland bow commissioned specially for her.

Wei Yu

Principal

Wei Yu was appointed Principal Cello of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra by Music Director Laureate Leonard Slatkin in 2014. He made his solo debut performing Dvořák's Cello Concerto and has appeared as soloist with the DSO every season since. Before joining the DSO, Yu was a member of the New York Philharmonic for seven seasons.

Yu was a prizewinner at the Hudson Valley Philharmonic String Competition, the Holland American Music Society Cello Competition, the Music Teachers National Association Competition (MTNA National Collegiate Strings), Canada’s National Music Festival, Calgary’s Kiwanis Festival, and China’s National Cello competitions.

An avid chamber musician, Yu has been invited to the Marlboro, Ravinia, Great Lakes Chamber Music, and Mainly Mozart music festivals. Wei has collaborated with musicians including cellist Carter Brey and David Soyer; pianists Richard Goode and Menahem Pressler; violinists Augustin Hadelich, Midori, and Pinchas Zukerman; and members of the Guarneri, Emerson, and Juilliard Quartets. As a member of the New York Philharmonic ensembles, he made regular appearances at Merkin Concert Hall.

A successful instructor, Yu serves as a faculty member at the Northwestern University Bienen School Of Music. He has given cello masterclasses at universities and festivals in the United States, Canada, Poland, and China. During the summer, Yu teaches at the Morningside Music Bridge International Music Festival in Calgary, Canada; Carnegie Hall's National Youth Orchestra, and the Center Stage Strings Summer Institute at the University of Michigan.

Born in Shanghai, China, Yu began studying the cello at age four and made his concerto debut at age 11, performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. He received a Bachelor of Music from North Park University in Chicago and a Master of Music from The Juilliard School. His principal teachers include Mei-Juan Liu, John Kadz, Hans Jørgen Jensen, and David Soyer.

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