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Connecting Communities through the DSO

The William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series brings the DSO to your neighborhood

When we say Neighborhood concert venues are intimate, we're talking about sitting in a familiar house of worship, gazing up at exquisite stained glass, or spending an evening at your local community gathering space in the warm fellowship of neighbors. Wherever you are, you're experiencing the remarkable sound of your DSO near to home. 

This season, the DSO’s William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series celebrates 13 years with extraordinary performances in seven metro Detroit communities. From January through July 2024, fans can experience the orchestra with esteemed guest conductors and soloists—including DSO musicians—in Southfield, Monroe, Beverly Hills, West Bloomfield, Plymouth, Bloomfield Hills, and Grosse Pointe. 

I’m discovering this work for the first time as I prepare to bring it to life with the DSO in our Neighborhood Concert Series. I’m loving it more and more with each passing week of preparation. ”

Ralph Skiano, Principal Clarinet
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The series kicks-off January 11 through 14 with a program conducted by Nicholas McGegan featuring works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Joseph Haydn, and Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor will spotlight the artistry of DSO musicians Kimberly Kaloyanides Kennedy (Associate Concertmaster, Schwartz and Shapero Family Chair) and Alexander Kinmonth (Principal Oboe, Jack A. and Aviva Robinson Chair).

Kennedy, a member of the DSO since 1998, has served as Associate Concertmaster since 2003 and soloed with the orchestra on more than 20 occasions. Kinmonth joined the DSO in 2015 and looks forward to performing with his colleague on the series. 

Soloing with my orchestra is such a rewarding experience. These musicians inspire me every day and we know each other very well both musically and personally. It’s always so freeing knowing there’s that connection and trust we’ve built over the years—it brings a sense of ease and flow to every rehearsal and performance.

Alexander Kinmonth, Principal Oboe

“Bach has always been one of my favorite composers,” Kinmonth continued. “His music is so vocal and full of intimate emotion. From nervous excitement, the pain of loss, the pure joy of life, and everything in between, Bach creates moods that are impossible not to empathize with. The two solo voices of this piece engage in some playful and beautiful ‘dialogues,’ sometimes having their own distinct characters and sometimes melding together. It's fun creating these characters with a colleague, bouncing ideas off each other, and listening to how they play a certain phrase—emulating their musicality is always inspiring!” 

Later in January, Bertie Baigent leads the DSO in a program of works by Emilie Meyer, Edward Elgar, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, plus English composer Gerald Finzi’s Concerto for Clarinet with DSO musician Ralph Skiano (Principal Clarinet, Robert B. Semple Chair) as featured soloist. 

I’m discovering this work for the first time as I prepare to bring it to life with the DSO in our Neighborhood Concert Series,” said Skiano. “I’m loving it more and more with each passing week of preparation. In this work, the clarinet seems to nearly always be singing, to the point where at times, I’m tempted to even write words to the melodies! Whether it’s the meditative music of the beautiful second movement or the moments in the third movement when the orchestra literally bursts into a folk song, I am trying to find a lyrical quality at every moment.”  

The DSO is my musical family, and I can feel it when I play with them as a soloist. I’m sure they know my playing so well by now that they can almost anticipate what I will do before I do it…it feels like a big chamber group making chamber music together! ”

Ralph Skiano, Principal Clarinet

The Neighborhood Concert Series continues in April as visionary Brazilian conductor Simone Menezes leads pianist Jeneba Kanneh-Mason in her DSO debut with a concerto Mozart likely premiered himself. The program continues with a piece French composer Jacques Ibert wrote for Mozart’s birthday and a work by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos that explores the possibilities of Mozart’s themes. Spinning stories into exquisite sounds, Maurice Ravel brings out the electric drama of fairy tales in his suite from Ma mère l'oye (Mother Goose). 

In a chamber orchestra program of Vivaldi and Stravinsky, conductor and violinist extraordinaire Dmitry Sinkovksy leads Baroque showpieces including music from Handel’s Messiah and works by Italian masters.  

In June, Hungarian conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy leads the orchestra in big, bold, and ambitious works by Beethoven, including his joyous Seventh Symphony, King Stephen overture, and iconic Violin Concerto with violinist William Hagan. 

The series draws to a close in July as soprano Erika Baikoff, a recent graduate of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, joins the DSO to “stretch gold from star to star” in Britten’s brilliant setting of French poetry, Les Illuminations. The program, conducted by Stephanie Childress, also take us “to the other side of Alice’s looking glass” with Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte, plus Mendelssohn’s dazzling First Symphony. 

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In addition to full and chamber orchestra concerts, the Neighborhood Concert Series presents smaller DSO chamber recitals with repertoire curated especially for intimate venues. The recitals take place in a variety of unique and unexpected settings in Detroit and across the entire metro area. DSO ensembles also regularly performs at schools, hospitals, houses of worship, senior living facilities, and parks. Exploring new venues allows musicians to draw inspiration from their surroundings, producing unforgettable moments that fill our city with music. 

This season, DSO musicians perform 10 chamber recitals—free to all Neighborhood Concert Series subscribers—at venues including MexicantownCDC Galería-Café, the Steinway Piano Gallery in Commerce, and The Commons, a laundromat, café, and community gathering space at the intersection of four distinct Detroit neighborhoods. 

These chamber recitals feature DSO musicians including violinists Hae Jeong Heidi Han, Will Haapaniemi, Alexander Volkov, Jiamin Wang, Rachel Harding Klaus, Jing Zhang, Hai-Xin Wu, Marian Tănău, and Elizabeth Furuta; violists Mike Chen and James VanValkenburg; cellists David LeDoux, Jeremy Crosmer, and Abraham Feder; bassist Christopher Hamlen; flutist Hannah Hammel Maser; oboist Alexander Kinmonth; clarinetists Ralph Skiano and Jack Walters; bassoonist Conrad Cornelison; and horn player Scott Strong. 

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The origin of the Neighborhood Concert Series dates back to 2011 with a desire to reach people where they are with the same artistry presented by the DSO each week in Orchestra Hall. In 2011, this vision was realized with the development of the Neighborhood Concert Series. With the series, the DSO expanded their existing presence in six communities through full orchestra concerts, school partnerships, scheduled and “pop-up” chamber music appearances, and other seasonal programming. 

The inaugural Neighborhood Concert Series included residencies in Beverly Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Dearborn, Grosse Pointe, Southfield, and West Bloomfield, with repertoire from select Orchestra Hall concerts alongside specially prepared selections. Nearly half of the 24 concerts were conducted by then-DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin, who was instrumental in the development of this programming. 

"We consider the DSO to be a tremendous, exportable cultural asset, a sampling of Detroit’s renaissance one can literally hear," said Slatkin. "I am thrilled to take part in helping to shape the cultural landscape of Southeast Michigan."

The Neighborhood Concert Series provided a previously unavailable service, enabling new and unique opportunities for the orchestra to deepen relationships with members of metro Detroit communities, while simultaneously increasing the DSO’s exposure and accessibility. 

In 2014, the William Davidson Foundation provided new funding to expand what is now called the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series. This investment supported the series of concerts and activities throughout metro Detroit over the next three years. 

The DSO was proud to rename the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in honor of the late businessman and philanthropist William “Bill” Davidson (1922–2009). Mr. Davidson shared a long-lasting relationship with the DSO and was a generous contributor, supporting the DSO personally and through Guardian Industries, the Detroit Pistons, and his other businesses. Mr. Davidson was steadfast in his belief that the orchestra was culturally vital to the lives of Southeast Michigan residents and economically important in attracting other businesses and key employees to the region.  

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Building on Mr. Davidson’s legacy, and with his namesake Foundation’s continued support, the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series continues to thrive. In May 2023, Music Director Jader Bignamini debuted on the series with a weekend of concerts featuring violinist Giuseppe Gibboni, who in 2021 became the first Italian in 24 years to win the Paganini Violin Competition. The program opened with Overture to Il diavolo della notte by Italian Romantic composer Giovanni Bottesini, who hailed from the same hometown of Crema, Italy as Bignamini, bringing the program closer to home for the DSO artistic leader. 

Through performances at diverse venues in metro Detroit, the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series fuses music and community to create lasting impact and foster connection. Visit dso.org/neighborhood to view upcoming concerts and join us in your neighborhood! 

The William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series is made possible by a generous grant from the William Davidson Foundation. WRCJ 90.9 FM also supports the series.  

2024 William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series

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