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When the lights go down

Hai-Xin Wu on Community Support Month

November is Community Support Month at the DSO. Below we hear from Interim Associate Concertmaster Hai-Xin Wu on why your support matters. 

Playing with the DSO is quite amazing because of the quality of sound that surrounds us all, bringing everyone together for a moment in time. When you are on the edge of your seat and listening with your full heart, we feel connected with you and our performance level rises. I strive for those great performances when I know we succeeded in captivating the room.

"My favorite moment is at the start of every performance, when the lights go down. It is a moment of anticipation, where the work we’ve put into practice and rehearsal gets to come to life for you, our loyal and generous audience". 

On stage, we are a sea of people moving as one, but each DSO musician is a world-class talent in his or her own right. Whenever a position opens up in the orchestra, hundreds of applicants are narrowed through three harrowing rounds of auditions. Sometimes this process is repeated multiple times because Detroit audiences deserve unparalleled artistry, and we hold out for only the very best. Winning a job at the DSO is truly a feat, so every member of the orchestra has incredible respect for their fellow players.


When I auditioned for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1995, I was a kid from China studying music in New York City. After my audition at Orchestra Hall, I was standing on Woodward, my arm up, waiting for a taxi for what seemed like forever! When a cab finally pulled up, I asked the driver to take me to a movie theater. I’ll never forget my surprise when he told me there was not a single movie theater downtown.

Since then, my family and I have put down roots and proudly call Detroit our home. Detroit has been transformed by so many restaurants, shops, cultural events, and everyday conveniences that weren’t around 25 years ago. In fact, a new movie theater is being planned just blocks from Orchestra Hall. Excitement is in the air, and it fills me with pride to know that all the DSO supporters who fought to bring back Orchestra Hall not only re-energized the orchestra, but also sparked the Midtown resurgence.

Just as Downtown and Midtown have evolved around us, our orchestra has evolved, too. Yet the incredible quality of musicianship at the DSO—the quality that made me take a chance on Detroit all those years ago—is as high as at any point in its long history. We have patrons like you to thank for making this possible through your enthusiasm—which shapes every concert—and your support of our extraordinary outreach and education programs through your gifts to the DSO’s Annual Fund.

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I believe in the power of live, intimate musical performance. It’s impossible to duplicate that experience with artificial intelligence or in a stadium with 20,000 people. But that is part of what’s endearing about classical music: it still takes so much effort to create every performance, not just from the musicians, staff, and crew, but from the entire community that makes it possible.

Today’s audiences have countless entertainment choices, so when you choose the DSO—whether at Orchestra Hall or venues big and small around Metro Detroit—my colleagues and I absolutely appreciate it. We know there is no music without you, and we are grateful that you allow us to live our lives through music.

Interim Associate Concertmaster Hai-Xin Wu on Community Support Month

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