Show artwork for Beethoven's First

Beethoven's First

Beethoven's First

Thursday, May 14 — Sunday, May 17 2020

Thursday, May 14 — Sunday, May 17 2020
West Bloomfield, Plymouth, Bloomfield Hills, Grosse Pointe
1 hour and 45 minutes

This event has been cancelled due to public health recommendations to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). All ticket holders will be contacted via email with options for exchanges, donating tickets, and refunds. Please contact the Box Office by emailing or by using the form on our Contact Us page. Note that the Box Office is currently unable to answer or return phone calls. Visit for more information.

Jonathon Heyward conducts a program of debut symphonies: Prokofiev’s First and Beethoven’s First, both written in the classical style. In between, DSO bassoonist Michael Ke Ma is featured soloist in Rossini’s Bassoon Concerto, which was unknown until its discovery in 2004.


Symphony No. 1, “Classical”
Bassoon Concerto
Symphony No. 1


Jonathon Heyward


Jonathon Heyward is forging a career as one of the most exciting conductors on the international scene. Currently in his second year as a Chief Conductor of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, in summer 2021 Heyward took part in an intense, two-week residency with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain which led to a highly acclaimed BBC Proms debut. According to the Guardian, Heyward was “not too exhausted, though, to lead—from memory—a fast and fearless performance of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, in which loud chords exploded, repeating like fireworks in the hall’s dome, and the quietest passages barely registered. It was exuberant, exhilarating stuff.” In Colin’s Column Ateş Orga noted: “This Prom was about Jonathon Heyward, NYOGB and Beethoven...Heyward’s a man of twenty-nine coolly heading for the stratosphere.” 

Heyward’s recent and forthcoming symphonic guest conducting highlights in the United Kingdom include debuts and re-invitations with the London Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. In continental Europe, amongst Heyward’s recent and future debuts are collaborations with the Castilla y León in Spain; Basel Symphony, Musikkolegium Winterthur, and Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne in Switzerland; Brussels Philharmonic, SymfonieOrkest Vlaanderen and Antwerp Symphony in Belgium; Philharmonie Zuidnederland in the Netherlands; Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine in France; Lahti Symphony in Finland; Kristiansand Symphony in Norway, and St. Petersburg Symphony in Russia. In his native United States in the current and upcoming concert seasons, Heyward looks forward to making debuts with the Baltimore, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, San Diego, St. Louis, and Oregon Symphony Orchestras, and with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. Following successful collaborations of past seasons, in 2022 Heyward returns to Seattle Symphony and Grant Park Music Festival. In summer 2021, Heyward made his Wolf Trap debut conducting the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC. 

Equally at home on the opera stage, Heyward recently made his Royal Opera House debut with Hannah Kendall’s Knife of Dawn, having also conducted a Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra as well as the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s new opera Wake in a production by Graham Vick for the Birmingham Opera Company. 

Originally trained as a cellist and chamber musician, Heyward went on to take up the position of Assistant Conductor for both their opera department and the Boston Opera Collaborative, where he worked on such productions as La Bohème, Die Zauberflöte, and The Rape of Lucretia. In 2013, Heyward became the youngest ever semi-finalist at the Blue Danube International Opera Conducting Competition at the age of 21, and soon after was appointed Associate Director of the Hampstead Garden Opera Company in London. Winner of the 2015 Besançon International Conducting Competition, in 2016, he completed his postgraduate studies in conducting with Sian Edwards at the Royal Academy of Music. In the 2017-2018 season Heyward was selected as a Los Angeles Philharmonic Dudamel Conducting Fellow, later stepping in to make his subscription debut with Hilary Hahn as part of the orchestra’s Bernstein @ 100 Celebration at Walt Disney Concert Hall. 

Heyward recently completed three years as Assistant Conductor of the Hallé Orchestra under the mentorship of Sir Mark Elder. Amongst highlights in Manchester, Heyward counts his first subscription concert with Benjamin Grosvenor in 2018 and a 200th birthday concert for the orchestra’s founder Sir Charles Hallé. In recognition of his extensive community outreach work and commitment to music education as Music Director of the Hallé Youth Orchestra, Heyward received a finalist nomination for Young Creative of the Year at the Manchester Culture Awards 2018. The culmination of Heyward’s tenure in Manchester was marked with the debut at the Manchester International Festival conducting a “roaringly bold account” (Bachtrack) of Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony.

Michael Ke Ma

Assistant Principal

Michael Ke Ma started his professional career in 2000 when he was appointed Principal Bassoon of the Shanghai Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra (now the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra). In 2004, he was appointed the Assistant Principal Bassoon of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra by Neeme Järvi, making him the first Chinese wind player to earn such a title in a major US orchestra.

Michael was born in Shanghai, where he started violin lessons at the age of 5. After switching from violin to bassoon for only six months at age 11, he was accepted by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music to study with Professors Zhun Zhao, Zhi-Hong Song and Zhao-Lu Liu. In 2001, he was invited by Stephen Maxym, former Principal Bassoon of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, to study in the US under a full scholarship at the University of Southern California. He was Stephen's last recruit, and upon his passing, Michael continued his studies with Judith Farmer, former Principal Bassoon of the Austrian Radio Orchestra.

Since then, Michael has given solo recitals, chamber music and orchestral performances at many music festivals and venues around the globe, including the Banff Center for the Arts, Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, Sunflower Chamber Music Festival in Kansas, Asian Youth Orchestra, Spoleto USA Festival Orchestra, Beijing International Music Festival, Shanghai International Arts Festival, and the Tongyeong International Music Festival in Korea. Michael recently served as Principal Bassoon of the Global Chinese Festival Orchestra and was invited by Maestro Myung-whun Chung to play with the Asia Philharmonic Orchestra, based in Korea and comprising elite musicians worldwide. In 2015, Michael spent 2 months with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra as their Guest Principal Bassoon. He has also made guest appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in its 2010-2011 season. Michael has been interviewed by the Shanghai OTV and Detroit Fox2News, and his performances can often be heard on the radio at KUSC and K-MZT in Los Angeles; and WRCJ 90.9 and WWJ 950 AM in Detroit.

A dedicated teacher, Michael is very active in music education. He has taught master classes at Interlochen Arts Academy, participated in the Professional Panel at Michigan State University, coached private students at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Macau Youth Symphony Orchestra, and worked with the DSO's own Civic ensembles. He has regularly been invited by Yongyan Hu, Dean of the EOS Orchestra Academy of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and Long Yu, President of the Shanghai Orchestra Academy in Shanghai, to give master classes to their students.

Michael has collaborated with luminaries such as Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Charles Dutoit, Lang Lang, John Williams, Fabio Luisi, Paavo Järvi, Kathleen Battle, Placido Domingo, and the late Kurt Masur. He currently travels between Detroit and Shanghai, where Maestro Long Yu invited him to be the guest principal with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.


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This young conductor is clearly one to watch. ”

The Daily Telegraph on Jonathon Heyward
Heyward conducts at Competition for Young Conductors
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