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Mahler Symphony No. 4

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Mahler Symphony No. 4

Thursday, October 17 — Saturday, October 19 2019

Thursday, October 17 — Saturday, October 19 2019
Orchestra Hall
2 hours

Mahler built his Fourth Symphony around his own song “The Heavenly Life,” which borrows text from a Bavarian folk poem. “The angelic voices gladden our senses,” the poem proclaims, “so that everything awakens for joy.” Mahler’s sunniest symphony features bells, harp, and woodwinds; in keeping with the lightness of the work, Mahler insists the soprano perform “with childlike, cheerful expression.” 

Guest conductor Jader Bignaminiwho stepped in for Leonard Slatkin to conduct Puccini’s Turandot to close the DSO’s 2017-2018 seasonreturns to lead this program, which also includes Bruch’s Violin Concerto in the hands of DSO violinist Yoonshin Song.


Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla
Violin Concerto (Friday)
Symphony No. 4
Click to hear an audio preview of this program


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. He kicked off his tenure as DSO Music Director with the launch of DSO Digital Concerts in September 2020, conducting works by Copland, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, and Saint-Georges. His infectious passion and artistic excellence set the tone for the season 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, Jader 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 will return in May 2021 to conduct four programs including performances with violinist Midori and pianist Orli Shaham.

A native of Crema, Italy, Jader 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, Jader 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 Jader 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.

Yoonshin Song


Janai Brugger


American soprano Janai Brugger’s recent engagements include Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the role of Pamina in Die Zauberflote for performances at Palm Beach Opera’s first Outdoor Opera Festival. She made her US television debut with a Laura Karpman composition for the soundtrack of HBO’s renowned ‘Lovecraft Country,’ and more recently appeared as Michaela in Carmen at the Cincinnati Opera. In the Netherlands she appeared at Dutch National Opera in their acclaimed Missa in tempore Belli (Haydn) conducted by Lorenzo Viotti and directed by Barbora Horáková, and she returned to the Metropolitan Opera of New York for further performances of Clara in Porgy and Bess. 

Future engagements in 2022 include Mahler’s Second Symphony with CBSO under Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla; Zerlina in Don Giovanni in concert with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood Festival under Andris Nelsons; Servillia in La Clemenza di Tito at Ravinia Festival under the baton of James Conlon, Kaddish also at Ravinia Festival with Marin Alsop, and rounding out the 2021-2022 season, Hayden’s The Creation at Grant Park Music Festival with Carlos Kalmar. 

In a recent season, Brugger appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in the role of Clara in their celebrated new production of Porgy and Bess in which she’d previously appeared at Dutch National Opera. At Lyric Opera of Chicago, she sang the role of Ilia in Idomeneo and at Cincinnati Opera she appeared as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. In her artistic home at Los Angeles Opera, she sang the role of Servilia in La Clemenza di Titoa role she previously sang at Dutch National Opera. Brugger travelled to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden for her Covent Garden debut as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and she revived the role of Liù in Turandot at Lyric Opera of Chicago.  

In 2012, Brugger won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions which led to her Metropolitan Opera debut as Liu in Turandot; other Met appearances include Jemmy in a new production of Guillaume Tell, Michaela in Carmen, Helena in The Enchanted IslandPamina and Marzelline (c) in Fidelio. Additionally in 2012, the artist won all three First Prizes at Operalia—the Opera Prize, the Song Prize, and the Audience Prize. 

Brugger’s symphonic engagements include Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Elgar’s The Kingdom with American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Mass in C with Louis Langree at Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Haydn’s Theresienmesse at Grant Park Music Festival, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla; in her hometown of Chicago she starred in Emmy Award-winning composer Laura Karpman’s multimedia setting of Langston Hughes’s epic 1961 poem, Ask your Mama, with Chicago Sinfonietta. She made her Salzburg Festival debut in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with musicAeterna conducted by Teodor Currentzis and journeyed to St Petersburg to record it with him. Early in her career she sang High Priestess in Aida with Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel.  

Other roles in the artist’s repertoire include Juliette in Roméo et JulietteNorina in Don PasqualeNanetta in FalstaffMusetta in La Boheme and Glauce in Medea. She appeared as Pamina in Barrie Kosky’s celebrated cinematic production of Die Zauberflote at Los Angeles Opera. A native of Chicago, the artist obtained a master’s degree from the University of Michigan where she studied with the late Shirley Verrett. She received her bachelor’s degree from DePaul University, participated in The Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, and went on to become a young artist at Los Angeles Opera for two seasons. 


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The sensitivity and excitement with which the orchestra responded illustrated the communication and cooperation Bignamini elicited from the musicians. ”

San Diego Union Tribune
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