Detroit Symphony Orchestra announces new musician appointments and celebrates retirees

Brandon Mason joins DSO bass section; DSO appoints two new African American Orchestra Fellows

Five musicians retire after decades of service

Detroit, (July 15, 2020) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) has appointed a new full-time musician and two African American Orchestra Fellows ahead of its 2020-2021 season.

Additionally, five long-tenured musicians will retire this August after decades of service. To celebrate these musicians and their careers with the DSO, the orchestra will present a Summer Series Watch Party on Facebook Live and on Thursday, July 16, at 7 p.m. EDT. Titled A Fond Farewell, the Watch Party features repertoire handpicked by the retiring musicians and photo slideshows.

New Full-Time Musician

Brandon Mason will join the DSO bass section in fall 2020. Mason comes to Detroit from the Kansas City Symphony and fondly remembers performing as a substitute musician with the DSO during its 2017 Asia Tour. Mason is originally from Arlington, TX and studied at Boston University and Rice University.

African American Orchestra Fellows

The DSO’s African American Orchestra Fellowship is designed to enhance the career development of African American musicians. Fellows perform in the orchestra, work closely with coaches and mentors, participate in mock auditions, and represent the DSO in the community.

Cole Randolph, cello, joins the DSO as a Fellow after earning bachelor’s degrees in Cello Performance and Mathematics & Economics from the University of Wisconsin. Originally from Washington, DC, Randolph has had the honor of performing at the John F. Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the White House.

Jaquain Sloan, bassoon, recently earned a Master of Music and Performance Certificate at the University of Southern California. Sloan, a North Carolina native, also studied at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.  

Retiring DSO Musicians

The following musicians will retire from decades of service this August:

Joseph Striplin, second violin – A Detroit native, Striplin studied at Cass Technical High School and Wayne State University. He taught high school music and performed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra before being appointed to the DSO second violin section in 1972. The DSO named Striplin a Classical Roots Honoree in 2015, celebrating his long career with the orchestra and his impact and leadership as an African American classical musician. Striplin is also a talented conductor who serves as music director of the Grosse Pointe Symphony Orchestra. He is currently the longest-serving DSO musician.

Stephen Edwards, bass – Originally from New Jersey, Stephen Edwards grew up in the Philadelphia area and graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music. Upon graduating he was appointed principal bass of the Louisville Orchestra, where he performed for one season. The following season, in 1972, Edwards joined the DSO, fulfilling his childhood goal of performing in one of the world’s great orchestras. He has had the pleasure of playing under the baton of six DSO music directors as well as Jader Bignamini, the orchestra’s incoming music director.

Robert Williams, Principal Bassoon – Robert Williams has served as Principal Bassoon of the DSO since 1974. Prior to his appointment he was principal bassoon of the Winnipeg Symphony, Winnipeg CBC Orchestra, Colorado Philharmonic, and Tucson Symphony. Williams is originally from Tucson, AZ and studied at the University of Arizona and the University of Southern California. In addition to performing with the DSO, he teaches at Wayne State University and operates Womble/Williams Double Reeds – a home business that specializes in bassoons, cane, and supplies.

Paul Wingert, cello (Victor and Gale Girolami Chair) – A Detroit native, Paul Wingert studied at Cass Technical High School and the University of Michigan before joining the DSO in 1979. Prior to his appointment in Detroit, Wingert was a member of the cello section of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. When not performing with the DSO, he is active as a chamber music recitalist and music teacher. Wingert founded the Civic String Quartet, one of the DSO’s Civic Youth Ensembles, in 1996, and still serves as one of the group’s coaches.

Randall Hawes, trombone and bass trombone – Randall Hawes joined the DSO as bass trombonist and member of the trombone section in 1985. He grew up in Battle Creek, MI and studied at Central Michigan University. Prior to joining the DSO Hawes was a member of the Kalamazoo Symphony, the Woody Herman Orchestra, and the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra. In 1995 he was invited to join the Musicians du Monde Orchestra in Geneva, Switzerland to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations; in 2005 he joined conductor Valery Gergiev and the World Orchestra for Peace for a world tour. Hawes is also a lecturer at Northwestern University.

About the DSO

The most accessible orchestra on the planet, the acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and a deep connection to its city. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the organization. In January 2020, Italian conductor Jader Bignamini was named the DSO’s next music director to commence with the 2020-2021 season. Conductor Leonard Slatkin, who concluded a decade-long tenure at the helm in 2018, now serves as the DSO’s Music Director Laureate, endowed by the Kresge Foundation. Celebrated conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik is the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, while the outstanding trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair. Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, the DSO offers a performance schedule that features Classical, PNC Pops, Paradise Jazz, and Young People’s Family Concert series. One of the world’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, Orchestra Hall celebrates its centennial in 2019-2020. In addition, the DSO presents the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in eight metro area venues, as well as a robust schedule of eclectic multi-genre performances in its mid-size venue The Cube, constructed and curated with support from Peter D. & Julie F. Cummings. A dedication to broadcast innovation began in 1922, when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a radio broadcast and continues today with the free Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series, which also reaches tens of thousands of children with the Classroom Edition expansion. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the people of Detroit, the DSO actively pursues a mission to embrace and inspire individuals, families, and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.