Acclaimed mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard makes her DSO debut with conductor James Gaffigan, January 30 - February 1

- Leonard performs Ravel’s Shéhérazade and Alex Temple’s Liebeslied; program also includes Mozart’s Overture from Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio) and Schumann’s Symphony No. 4

- February 1 concert will be webcast for free at and via Facebook Live

Detroit, (January 15, 2020) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) welcomes conductor James Gaffigan and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard to Detroit for a program of Ravel, Mozart, Schumann, and Alex Temple on the Classical Series.

The program will begin with Mozart’s Overture from Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio). The Grammy Award-winning Leonard is featured soloist in Ravel's Shéhérazade and returns for Alex Temple’s Liebeslied, a 2011 work that electronically distorts love songs of the 1950s, rendering them surreal and unrecognizable. The program concludes with Schumann’s expressive Symphony No. 4.

The concerts take place Thursday, January 30 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, January 31 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, February 1 at 8 p.m. at Orchestra Hall, within Midtown Detroit’s Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center.

Watch Live around the world: the Saturday, February 1 concert will be webcast for free at and via Facebook Live, as part of the DSO’s groundbreaking Live from Orchestra Hall series. The series is presented by Ford Motor Company Fund and made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

One hour prior to each evening performance, guests are invited to enjoy an informative onstage Concert Talk about the program. These lectures and discussions will be made available for later viewing on the DSO’s YouTube channel.

Thanks to a generous grant from the FCA Foundation, the charitable arm of North American automaker FCA US, the DSO welcomes military veterans, active military, and their families to access discounted tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance on Thursday, January 30. See below for more information about the ticket discount. The FCA Foundation and the DSO thank our veterans and active military members for their service.

Throughout the 2019-2020 season, the DSO will celebrate Orchestra Hall’s 100th anniversary with special programming and events, a commemorative book written by former Detroit Free Press music critic Mark Stryker, a documentary series produced by Detroit Public Television, a two-site exhibition created in collaboration with the Detroit Historical Society and Museum, and more. Learn more about the centennial at

The DSO would like to thank the Honorable Avern Cohn and Lois Cohn, Bernard and Eleanor Robertson, Aaron and Carolynn Frankel, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, and Varnum LLP for their leadership support of Orchestra Hall’s centennial, and all Centennial Club members who generously contributed.

The DSO Classical Series is generously sponsored by PVS Chemicals, Inc.

About Orchestra Hall

Built for the DSO at the request of then-music director Ossip Gabrilowitsch during the summer of 1919, Orchestra Hall was designed by noted theater architect C. Howard Crane (who also designed Detroit’s Fox Theatre and the current Detroit Opera House) and is renowned for its historic beauty and perfect acoustics. After the hall’s opening on October 23, 1919, the DSO entered a twenty-year golden age, which included its Carnegie Hall debut, its first records for RCA Victor, and making history as the first orchestra to perform a live radio broadcast concert, on February 10, 1922, from Orchestra Hall. 

When the DSO left for the larger Masonic Auditorium in 1939, Orchestra Hall took on a new life as the Paradise Theatre from 1941–1951, serving as Detroit’s premier venue for jazz, blues, and R&B. The hall was then long-dormant and nearly demolished in 1970 to make way for a fast-food burger chain, before a group of musicians and civic leaders rallied to save it from the wrecking ball and raise money to restore it over the course of 20 years. The DSO returned to a refurbished Orchestra Hall in 1989 and expanded its footprint in 2003 with the opening of the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center.

About James Gaffigan

James Gaffigan is chief conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and he recently concluded his tenure as principal guest conductor of the Gurzenich Orchestra in Cologne. Earlier in his career he served as associate conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra.

In addition to these titled positions, Gaffigan is in high demand to work with the leading orchestras and opera houses throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. In the United States, Gaffigan has guest conducted the Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, the New York Philharmonic, and the Pittsburgh, St. Louis, National, Dallas, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Milwaukee symphonies, among others.

Gaffigan’s international career was launched when he was named a first prize winner at the 2004 Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition in Frankfurt, Germany. Born in New York City in 1979, Gaffigan attended the New England Conservatory of Music and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston.

Gaffigan most recently appeared with the DSO in January 2018, conducting a program of Liszt and Wagner and the world premiere of Britta Byström’s Many, Yet One.

About Isabel Leonard

Isabel Leonard is a Grammy Award-winning American mezzo-soprano who thrills audiences in the opera house and on the concert stage. She has appeared at the Vienna State Opera, Carnegie Hall, Glyndebourne Festival, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, and Aix-en-Provence Festival, among many others.

Opera highlights include Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Charlotte in Werther, Blanche de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites, Costanza in Griselda, and the title roles in La Périchole and Der Rosenkavalier. Leonard has had the great fortune of working with eminent conductors including Valery Gergiev, Seiji Ozawa, Antonio Pappano, Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Yannick Nézét-Seguin, Franz Welser-Möst, Edo de Waart, Marin Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Leonard has won multiple Grammy Awards, most recently for Ravel’s Les sortilèges on Decca (2016) and The Tempest from The Metropolitan Opera on Deutsche Grammophon (2014). She has also appeared in film and on television. Leonard is the recipient of the Richard Tucker Award and is a proud supporter of the Prostate Cancer Foundation in honor of her late father, who died from the disease.

These performances mark Leonard’s DSO debut.

Ticket Information

Tickets for Ravel's Shéhérazade begin at $15 and can be purchased at, by calling (313) 576-5111, or in-person at the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center Box Office (3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit).

Groups of 10 or more can save up to 30% on the price of a single ticket for most DSO concerts. For more information, contact Group Sales Manager Jim Sabatella at (313) 576-5130 or

Veterans, active military, and their families may use the code HEROES1920 to unlock $10 tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance on Thursday, January 30. The code can be used at or by calling the Box Office at (313) 576-5111.

Performance Details

Thursday, January 30 at 7:30 p.m. EST
Friday, January 31 at 8 p.m. EST
Saturday, February 1 at 8 p.m. EST

Orchestra Hall at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center

James Gaffigan, conductor
Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano

MOZART                   Overture from Die Entführung aus dem Serail
                                  (The Abduction from the Seraglio)

RAVEL                      Shéhérazade (Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano)

ALEX TEMPLE          Liebeslied (Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano)

SCHUMANN             Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120

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 institution. Conductor Leonard Slatkin, who recently concluded an acclaimed decade-long tenure at the helm, 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 America’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, Orchestra Hall will celebrate its centennial in 2019-2020. In addition, the DSO presents the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in seven 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.