Music Director Jader Bignamini returns to Detroit, conducting Brahms and Rachmaninoff program with pianist Sergei Babayan and American music with saxophonist Branford

- November 4-6: Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto with Babayan and Brahms’s Second Symphony

- November 12-14: American program with Marsalis in John Adams’s Saxophone Concerto, a world premiere from composer Jeff Scott, and music by Copland and Gershwin

- November 6 and 13 concerts will be webcast for free at and on Facebook as part of DSO’s Live from Orchestra Hall series; November 5 concert broadcast and streamed live on 90.9 WRCJ in Detroit and network of stations across Michigan

Tickets on sale now at

Detroit, (October 28, 2021) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) will welcome back Music Director Jader Bignamini to Orchestra Hall on November 4-6 and 12-14 for two weekends of concerts on the PVS Classical Series with Armenian American pianist Sergei Babayan and three-time Grammy Award winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis.

The first weekend features Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor with Babayan as guest soloist. At nearly 45 minutes in length, the piece is known as one of the most fiendishly difficult works ever composed for piano. The program also includes Johannes Brahms’s picturesque masterpiece Symphony No. 2 in D major.

In week two, Bignamini will lead the DSO in a program exploring music by American composers, opening with Aaron Copland’s El Salón México and concluding with Porgy and Bess, A Symphonic Picture—orchestral highlights from George Gershwin’s opera arranged by Robert Russell Bennett. A pair of newer works will be played between: John Adams’s 2013 Saxophone Concerto—an energetic, jazz-inflected work that the composer has referred to as “nervous bebop”—with Marsalis as soloist, and the world premiere of Jeff Scott’s Paradise Valley Serenade, commissioned by the DSO and inspired by the Paradise Valley in Detroit’s historic Black Bottom neighborhood. Paradise Valley Serenade will feature DSO musicians Hannah Hammel (flute), Sarah Lewis (oboe), Ralph Skiano (clarinet), Michael Ke Ma(bassoon), and Scott Strong (horn). 

To protect the health and well-being of its patrons, musicians, and staff due to the ongoing pandemic, the DSO has implemented new safety policies including mask and COVID-19 vaccine or test requirements for all guests and contactless e-ticketing. Visit for more information.

Jader Conducts Rachmaninoff will take place Thursday, November 4 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, November 5 at 10:45 a.m., and Saturday, November 6 at 8 p.m. at Orchestra Hall. Bignamini & Branford will take place Friday, November 12 at 8 p.m., Saturday, November 13 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, November 14 at 3 p.m. at Orchestra Hall.

The November 6 and 13 performances will also be webcast for free at and via Facebook Live as part of the DSO’s Live from Orchestra Hall series. The November 5 concert will be broadcast and streamed live on 90.9 WRCJ in Detroit and a network of stations across Michigan.

Tickets for these performances start at $15 and can be purchased at or by calling the Box Office at 313.576.5111, open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The title sponsor of the DSO’s Classical Series is PVS Chemicals, Inc. DSO Live is presented by Ford Motor Company Fund and made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Digital programming is produced from the Al Glancy Control Room. Additional support for the November 6 performance is provided by the Musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Fund for Artistic Excellence.



PVS Classical Series

Thursday, November 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, November 5 at 10:45 a.m.

Saturday, November 6 at 8 p.m.

Orchestra Hall

Jader Bignamini, conductor

Sergei Babayan, piano

Wise pianists fear Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto, one of the most fiendishly difficult pieces ever composed for piano. Sergei Babayan, hailed as "one of those chosen few artists capable of transporting us to their universe, of taking us to a different world," summons Rachmaninoff's fireworks. Jader Bignamini also leads the DSO in Brahms's beloved Second Symphony, a picturesque masterpiece from its sunlit first moments to its rousing finale.

SERGEI RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30

JOHANNES BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73



PVS Classical Series

Friday, November 12 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, November 13 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, November 14 at 3 p.m.

Orchestra Hall

Jader Bignamini, conductor

Branford Marsalis, saxophone

Hannah Hammel, flute                       

Sarah Lewis, oboe

Ralph Skiano, clarinet

Michael Ke Ma, bassoon

Scott Strong, horn

DSO Music Director Jader Bignamini welcomes three-time Grammy Award winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis, for a program exploring American music. The 1930s saw composers such as George Gershwin giving their take on folk music in works such as Porgy and Bess. Meanwhile, the Paradise Valley thrived as the entertainment center of the Black Bottom neighborhood. This era in Detroit’s history serves as the inspiration for a world premiere from composer Jeff Scott.


JOHN ADAMS Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra

JEFF SCOTT Paradise Valley Serenade (World Premiere)

GEORGE GERSHWIN/ORCH. BENNETT Porgy and Bess: Symphonic Picture


About Sergei Babayan

Pianist Sergei Babayan is one of the leading pianists of our time. Hailed for his emotional intensity, bold energy, and remarkable levels of color, he brings a deep understanding and insight to an exceptionally diverse repertoire. Le Figarohas praised his "unequaled touch, perfectly harmonious phrasing, and breathtaking virtuosity." Le Devoir from Montreal put it simply: “Sergei Babayan is a genius. Period.”

Babayan has collaborated with such conductors as Sir Antonio Pappano, David Robertson, Neeme Järvi, Yuri Temirkanov, and Thomas Dausgaard. Over the years, he has performed with Valery Gergiev numerous times to great critical acclaim, including appearances at the International Festival "Stars of the White Nights," the Moscow Easter Festival, the Barbican Centre with the London Symphony Orchestra, in St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Théâtre des Champs-Elyseés in Paris, at the Salzburg Festival, and at the Rotterdam Philharmonic-Gergiev Festival, where Babayan was artist-in-residence.

Babayan is a Deutsche Grammophon exclusive artist; his latest release Rachmaninoff (DG 2020) was hailed by the international press as a groundbreaking recording and received numerous awards including BBC Recording of the Month and CHOC Classica, which said “This musical journey, born out of a limitless imagination and thought in minute detail, is one big masterpiece.”

Born in Armenia into a musical family, Babayan began his studies there with Georgy Saradjev and continued at the Moscow Conservatory with Mikhail Pletnev, Vera Gornostayeva, and Lev Naumov. Following his first trip outside of the USSR in 1989, he won consecutive first prizes in several major international competitions including the Cleveland International Piano Competition, the Hamamatsu Piano Competition, and the Scottish International Piano Competition. An American citizen, he lives in New York City.

About Branford Marsalis

Growing up in the rich environment of New Orleans as the oldest son of pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, Branford Marsalis was drawn to music along with siblings Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason. His first instrument, the clarinet, gave way to the alto and then the tenor and soprano saxophones when the teenage Branford began working in local bands. A growing fascination with jazz as he entered college gave him the basic tools to obtain his first major jobs, with trumpet legend Clark Terry and alongside Wynton in Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers. When the brothers left to form the Wynton Marsalis Quintet, the world of uncompromising acoustic jazz was invigorated. Branford formed his own quartet in 1986 and, with a few minor interruptions in the early years, has sustained the unit as his primary means of expression. Known for the telepathic communication among its uncommonly consistent personnel, its deep book of original music replete with expressive melodies and provocative forms, and an unrivaled spirit in both live and recorded performances, the Branford Marsalis Quartet has long been recognized as the standard to which other ensembles of its kind must be measured.

Branford has not confined his music to the quartet context, however. Classical music inhabits a growing portion of Branford’s musical universe. A frequent soloist with classical ensembles, Branford has become increasingly sought after as a featured soloist with such acclaimed orchestras as the Chicago, Detroit, Düsseldorf, and North Carolina Symphonies and the Boston Pops, with a growing repertoire that includes compositions by Debussy, Glazunov, Ibert, Mahler, Milhaud, Rorem, and Vaughn Williams.

As for other public stages, Branford spent a period touring with Sting, collaborated with the Grateful Dead and Bruce Hornsby, served as Musical Director of The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno, and hosted National Public Radio’s widely syndicated Jazz Set. The range and quality of these diverse activities established Branford as a familiar presence beyond the worlds of jazz and classical music, while his efforts to help heal and rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina mark him as an artist with an uncommonly effective social vision.

Some might gauge Branford Marsalis’s success by his numerous awards, including three Grammys and (together with his father and brothers) his citation as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. To Branford, however, these are only way stations along what continues to be one of the most fascinating and rewarding journeys in the world of music. 

About Jader Biganmini

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.

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 symphonies of greats 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; Andrea Chénier at New National Theatre in Tokyo; Rossini’s Stabat Mater at Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy; Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle at Teatro dell’Opera in Rome; return engagements with Oper Frankfurt (La forza del destino) and Santa Fe Opera (La Bohème); Manon Lescaut at the Bolshoi; TraviataMadama Butterfly, and Turandot at Arena of Verona; Il Trovatore and Aida at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera; Madama ButterflyI 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 BohèmeMadama 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.

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. Celebrated conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik is the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, while Oscar-nominated 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 celebrated 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 live radio broadcast of a concert and continues today with the groundbreaking Live from Orchestra Hall series of free webcasts, 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.