Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” featuring Shai Wosner, plus works by Hindemith and Mason Bates in Southfield, Monroe, and Beverly Hills
July 13-16: James Blachly conducts works by Julia Perry, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Ethel Smyth, and Samuel Barber featuring soprano Laquita Mitchell in West Bloomfield, Livonia, Bloomfield Hills, and Grosse Pointe
Also on July 10: Piano Trio at the Steinway Piano Gallery of Detroit features DSO musicians Hai-Xin Wu and David LeDoux plus pianist Zhihua Tang
Tickets on sale now at dso.org
Detroit, (May 24, 2023) – This summer, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) will present the final two programs of its 2023 William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series. Across two weekends, the DSO will be conducted by Francesco Lecce-Chong and James Blachly, respectively, at community venues across Metro Detroit.
On June 15, 16, and 18, Lecce-Chong will lead the DSO in a program including Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” with soloist Shai Wosner. The piece moves from heroic grandeur to quiet reflection before erupting in a boisterous dance. Also on the program is Hindemith’s Symphony: Mathis der Maler, which is inspired by the work of a German Renaissance painter, full of transporting brass sonorities. The program opens with Garages of the Valley by Grammy Award-winning American composer Mason Bates. The concerts will take place on June 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, June 16 at 8 p.m. at the Meyer Theater in Monroe, and June 18 at 3 p.m. at the Seligman Performing Arts Center in Beverly Hills.
The Neighborhood Series continues July 13 to 16 with Blachly conducting powerful works by historically underrepresented composers including Julia Perry, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, and Ethel Smyth, plus a performance of Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 featuring soprano Laquita Mitchell. The concerts will take place on July 13 at 7:30 p.m. at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield, July 14 at 8 p.m. at NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, July 15 at 8 p.m. at Kirk in the Hills Church in Bloomfield Hills, and July 16 at 3 p.m. at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Grosse Pointe.
Also in July, DSO musicians Hai-Xin Wu (Assistant Concertmaster) and David LeDoux (Cello) and pianist Zhihua Tang will conclude the 2022–2023 chamber recital season at Steinway Gallery with two piano trios from the Romantic era. Clara Schumann's Piano Trio in G minor is a deeply expressive work that showcases Schumann's skill as a pianist and composer. Paired with Brahms's Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, both pieces display a lively and intricate interplay between piano and strings. This concert will take place on July 10 at 7 p.m. at the Steinway Piano Gallery of Detroit.
Tickets start at $30, with $10 tickets available for students and educators. Tickets can be purchased at dso.org/neighborhood or by calling the Box Office at 313.576.5111. The Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Currently in its twelfth year, the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series brings world-class DSO performances to seven Metro Detroit communities each season. Featuring repertoire curated especially for intimate venues, the series creates musical impact by connecting with audiences in their communities. DSO Chamber Recitals feature DSO musicians in a variety of settings in Detroit and across the entire metro area. In addition, DSO musicians regularly perform at schools, hospitals, senior living facilities, places of worship, parks, and other community gathering spaces.
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. Renamed in 2014 in honor of philanthropist William Davidson, the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series brings even more opportunities for Metro Detroiters to experience the DSO close to home. In October 2017, the William Davidson Foundation made a $15 million gift of support to the DSO–one of the orchestra’s largest ever–including continued sponsorship of the series.
BEETHOVEN’S “EMPEROR” CONCERTO
William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series
Thursday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Shaarey Zedek (27375 Bell Rd., Southfield, MI)
Friday, June 16 at 8 p.m. at La-Z-Boy Center – Meyer Theater on the Monroe County Community College campus (1555 S. Raisinville Rd., Monroe, MI)
Sunday, June 18 at 3 p.m. at Seligman Performing Arts Center on the Detroit Country Day School campus (22305 W. 13 Mile Rd., Beverly Hills, MI)
Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor
Shai Wosner, piano
Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto, played here by pianist Shai Wosner, moves from heroic grandeur to quiet reflection before erupting in a boisterous dance. Also on the program is Hindemith’s symphony inspired by the work of a German Renaissance painter, full of transporting brass sonorities.
MASON BATES Garages of the Valley
PAUL HINDEMITH Symphony: Mathis der Maler
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor"
PIANO TRIO AT STEINWAY GALLERY
Monday, July 10 at 7 p.m. at the Steinway Piano Gallery of Detroit (2700 E West Maple Road, Commerce Township, MI)
Hai-Xin Wu, violin
David LeDoux, cello
Zhihua Tang, piano
The DSO concludes its chamber recital season at Steinway Gallery with two piano trios from the Romantic era. Clara Schumann's Piano Trio in G minor is a deeply expressive work that showcases Schumann's skill as a pianist and composer. Paired with Brahms's Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, both pieces display a lively and intricate interplay between piano and strings.
CLARA SCHUMANN Piano Trio in G minor, Op.17
JOHANNES BRAHMS Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8
William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series
Thursday, July 13 at 7:30 p.m. at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts (6600 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield Township, MI 48322)
Friday, July 14 at 8 p.m. at NorthRidge Church Plymouth (49555 N Territorial Rd, Plymouth Charter Twp, MI 48170)
Saturday, July 15 at 8 p.m. at Kirk in the Hills Church (1340 W Long Lake Rd, Bloomfield Twp, MI 48302)
Sunday, July 16 at 3 p.m. at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church (467 Fairford Rd., Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236)
James Blachly, conductor
Laquita Mitchell, soprano
Laquita Mitchell is the soprano soloist in Barber's poignant evocation of American life as seen by a young child. Ethel Smyth takes the listener on a journey from nostalgia to mirth to triumph. Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson employs an eclectic mix of musical styles; his Sinfonietta No. 1 is by turns searching and pensive, then rushes to a dramatic finale. A brooding piece for strings by Julia Perry begins the concert.
JULIA PERRY (ARR. ZAHAB) Prelude for Strings
COLERIDGE-TAYLOR PERKINSON Sinfonietta No. 1 for Strings
SAMUEL BARBER Knoxville: Summer of 1915
ETHEL SMYTH Serenade in D
About Francesco Lecce-Chong
Francesco Lecce-Chong has been described as a “fast rising talent in the music world” with “the real gift” and is recognized for his dynamic performances, fresh programming, and deep commitment to commissioning and performing new music, as well as to community engagement. Lecce-Chong has appeared with orchestras worldwide including the San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and Hong Kong Philharmonic, and collaborated with top soloists such as Renée Fleming and Itzhak Perlman. Lecce-Chong is the Music Director of the Eugene Symphony in Oregon and the Santa Rosa Symphony, performing at the Green Music Center in Northern California.
In 2019, Lecce-Chong debuted in subscription concerts with the San Francisco Symphony. The San Francisco Chronicle called his conducting “first rate” and praised the “vitality and brilliance of the music-making he drew from members of the San Francisco Symphony.” Other recent subscription debuts include the Seattle Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Utah Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic, and Xi’An Symphony Orchestra. Lecce-Chong also returned to conduct the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and Milwaukee and San Diego symphonies. In 2019, he also debuted with the New York Philharmonic as part of the legendary Young People’s Concert Series.
Lecce-Chong’s 2022–2023 seasons includes debut performances with the Kansas City Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and Knoxville Symphony; a return to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; and a European appearance at the renowned Enescu Festival with the Romanian Radio Orchestra. He continues a Rachmaninoff symphonic cycle in Santa Rosa, presents the second act of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde in Eugene, and leads the world premieres of new major orchestral works by Ellen Taafe Zwillich and Angélica Negrón.
In previous seasons that were heavily impacted by the pandemic, Lecce-Chong created and led a series of virtual performances with both the Santa Rosa and the Eugene Symphony. The full season of performances was streamed for free to thousands of enthusiastic viewers around the world. The Santa Rosa Symphony also reached over two million households in the Bay Area through its “Santa Rosa Symphony Presents” TV broadcasts through local PBS stations. The programming included over 20 works by living composers and a groundbreaking partnership with Pulitzer Prize-winner Ellen Taaffe Zwillich, culminating in a recording of her music by the Santa Rosa Symphony released in September 2022 on the Delos label.
During his tenure as Music Director of the two orchestras, Lecce-Chong has introduced a number of ambitious projects. He launched the “First Symphony Project” that consists of the Santa Rosa and Eugene Symphonies co-commissioning a large-scale work from a young American composer each season, complete with residencies in the communities. The Eugene Symphony has embarked on a three-part concert presentation of Wagner’s complete Tristan und Isolde and the Santa Rosa Symphony launched a cycle of the large orchestral works of Rachmaninoff paired with legendary film composers entitled “Rachmaninoff and the Hollywood Sound.” Last season, Lecce-Chong led the world premieres of five major orchestral works including an ecology-inspired work by Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty, a work for mariachi and orchestra by Enrico Chapela, and a dramatic work with actors based on the life of Olympic athlete Steve Prefontaine by David Schiff. He continues to build partnerships with local art institutions, schools and businesses to create original, multi-disciplinary experiences for his audiences.
Before his music directorships, Lecce-Chong served as Associate Conductor with the Milwaukee Symphony under Edo de Waart and the Pittsburgh Symphony under Manfred Honeck. He has also been building his opera credentials as staff conductor with the Santa Fe Opera and conducted Madama Butterfly at the Florentine Opera with the Milwaukee Symphony.
Lecce-Chong is the recipient of several awards including the prestigious Solti Foundation Award. Trained also as a pianist and composer, he completed his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music with Otto-Werner Mueller after attending the Mannes College of Music and Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Italy. He has had the privilege of being mentored and supported by celebrated conductors including Bernard Haitink, David Zinman, Edo de Waart, Manfred Honeck, Donald Runnicles, and Michael Tilson Thomas.
About Shai Wosner
Pianist Shai Wosner has attracted international recognition for his exceptional artistry, musical integrity, and creative insight. His performances of a broad range of repertoire—from Beethoven and Schubert to Ligeti and the music of today—reflect a degree of virtuosity and intellectual curiosity that has made him a favorite among audiences and critics, who note his “keen musical mind and deep musical soul” (NPR’s All Things Considered).
Committed to innovative programming, his latest project is a collaborative program of new arrangements composed with fellow performers, clarinetist Martin Fröst and violist Antoine Tamestit. Based around Mozart’s Clarinet Trio in E flat “Kegelstatt,” specifically written for clarinet, viola, and piano, the program rearranges other trios for this rarely heard configuration, including Fauré’s Piano Trio in D minor Op. 120 and Brahms’s Clarinet Trio in A minor Op. 114, both arranged by Wosner, and Brahms’s Two Songs with Viola, Op. 91, co-arranged by all three artists. This season, the trio performs these arrangements at Wigmore Hall in London, Theatre Essen, Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, and Wiener Konzerthaus.
Wosner continues his multi-season Artist Residency with the Peoples’s Symphony Concerts (PSC) in New York performing chamber music and performs his PSC-commissioned recital program Variations on a Theme of FDR—a suite of five variations by composers Derek Bermel, Anthony Cheung, John Harbison, Vijay Iyer, and Wang Lu—presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. As inspiration for their music, the composers were given a “theme:” a quote from a 1938 speech by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “Remember, remember always, that all of us… are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” Wosner’s idea of collecting variations on a shared theme from a variety of composers was inspired by the similar initiative undertaken two centuries ago by music publisher Anton Diabelli—an effort that led to the composition of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, with which Variations on a Theme of FDR is paired in recital.
In February 2023, Wosner curates and performs in the second annual Kurtág Festival at Bard Conservatory, exploring the music of Hungarian composer György Kurtág (b. 1926) while also using the composer’s works as a point of departure into musical ideas regardless of century. Highlights of the three-day festival feature Pierre-Laurent Aimard playing solo works by Schubert and Kurtág including US premieres and The Sayings of Péter Bornemisza—Concerto for Soprano and Piano, Op.7; Kurtág’s Játékok (Games) as well as the Bartók pieces that inspired them paired with Bizet’s Jeux d'enfants and music by Chick Corea; Kurtág’s quartet Officium breve in memoriam; Andreae Szervánszky with Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15, interposed with movements from Cristobald O’Marales’s 16th century Officium Defunctorum; and Schumann’s Frauenliebe und-Leben paired with Kurtág’s Messages of the Late Miss R.V. Troussova.
Additional highlights of Wosner’s 2022–2023 season include Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Columbus Symphony; Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Israel Chamber Orchestra; Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations presented by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival; three appearances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, including trios by CPE Bach, Debussy, Britten, and Fauré, Brandenburg Concertos; a Peoples’s Symphony Concert; a Focus Residency with Music at Menlo; and a tribute concert honoring Joseph Kalichstein. He also performs as part of the Zukerman trio, with violinist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth.
In November, Wosner’s arrangement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral” for violin, cello and piano, performed by Leonidas Kavakos, Yo-Yo Ma, and Emmanuel Ax, will be released on a new recording from Sony. Wosner discussed choosing the Sixth Symphony in an interview for WQXR, “the Sixth was the first one that came to mind; there’s something introspective about it that I thought would lend itself to chamber music.” The arrangement was premiered by the trio at the Kennedy Center, and received its New York debut at Carnegie Hall in March 2022, and will be released on a recording from Sony in November 2022.
Other recent albums from Wosner include a selection of Schubert piano sonatas continuing his career-long, critically acclaimed engagement with the composer’s music. This double album, released by Onyx in March 2020, completes Wosner’s recorded series of the composer’s last six sonatas, which he has also performed as a recital series in New York at the 92nd Street Y; in Washington, DC at The Phillips Collection; at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; and at the Konzerthaus Berlin. Additional recordings include Impromptu, comprising improvisationally inspired works by composers from Beethoven and Schubert to Gershwin and Ives; concertos and capriccios by Haydn and Ligeti with the Danish National Symphony conducted by Nicholas Collon; an all-Schubert solo album featuring a selection of the composer’s folk-inspired piano works; solo works by Brahms and Schoenberg; and works by Schubert paired with new works by Missy Mazzoli. As a chamber musician, Wosner has recorded Beethoven’s complete sonatas and variations for cello and piano with Ralph Kirshbaum and—for Cedille Records—works by Bartók, Janáček, and Kurtág with violinist Jennifer Koh.
Wosner is a recipient of Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award—a prize he used to commission Michael Hersch’s concerto Along the Ravines, which he performed with the Seattle Symphony and Deutsche Radio Philharmonie in its world and European premieres. He was in residence with the BBC as a New Generation Artist, during which he appeared frequently with the BBC orchestras, including conducting Mozart concertos from the keyboard with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He returned to the BBC Scottish Symphony in both subscription concerts and Proms performances with Donald Runnicles and appeared with the BBC Philharmonic in a live broadcast from Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. As a concerto soloist in North America, Wosner has appeared with the major orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Berkeley, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Toronto, among others. In addition to the BBC orchestras, he has performed abroad with the Aurora Orchestra, Barcelona Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, LSO St. Luke’s, Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, Orchestre National de Belgique, Staatskapelle Berlin, and the Vienna Philharmonic, among others. Wosner has also appeared with the Orpheus, St. Paul, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras, having conducted the latter from the keyboard in a 2010 concert that was broadcast on American Public Radio. Recently, he toured with ECCO to Memphis, Philadelphia, and New York for the world-premiere performances of Christopher Cerrone’s piano concerto The Air Suspended.
Wosner has worked with such conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Jiří Bělohlávek, James Conlon, Alan Gilbert, Gunther Herbig, James Judd, Zubin Mehta, Peter Oundjian, Donald Runnicles, Leonard Slatkin, Jeffrey Tate, and Yan Pascal Tortelier, and has performed at summer festivals including the Bowdoin International Music Festival, Chautauqua Music Festival, Bravo! Vail festival, Grand Teton Music Festival, Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, and Ravinia Festival. For several consecutive summers, he was involved in the West-Eastern Divan Workshop led by Barenboim and toured as soloist with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
Widely sought after by colleagues for his versatility and spirit of partnership, Wosner has collaborated as a chamber musician with numerous artists, including Martha Argerich, Martin Fröst, Lynn Harrell, Dietrich Henschel, Ralph Kirshbaum, Jennifer Koh, Cho-Liang Lin, Christian Tetzlaff, Orion Weiss, and Pinchas Zukerman. He has also collaborated with leading chamber ensembles, including the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet in The Schubert Effect recital series. Wosner is a past member of Lincoln Center's Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two) and performs regularly at various chamber music festivals, including Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival, Oregon Bach Festival, Piano Aux Jacobins festival in France, and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
Born in Israel, Wosner enjoyed a broad musical education from a very early age, studying piano with Opher Brayer and Emanuel Krasovsky, as well as composition, theory, and improvisation with André Hajdu. He later studied with Emanuel Ax at The Juilliard School, where Wosner is also now on the piano faculty. He resides in New York with his wife and two children.
For more information on Wosner, visit shaiwosner.com.
About James Blachly
James Blachly is a Grammy Award-winning conductor dedicated to enriching the concert experience by connecting with audiences in memorable and meaningful ways. Blachly serves as Music Director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and of the Experiential Orchestra and is a versatile guest conductor in diverse repertoire with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.
With the Johnstown Symphony, Blachly has conducted the orchestra at the Flight 93 Memorial for the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, in a former steel mill in a concert that was featured on Katie Couric’s America Inside Out, and in six seasons the orchestra has increased season ticket sales and annual giving each by more than 50%. In 2021, he received a commendation by the City of Johnstown and the Johnstown chapter of the NAACP.
With the Experiential Orchestra, he has conducted the works of Arvo Pärt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, invited audiences to dance to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, sit within the orchestra at Lincoln Center, and engage with Symphonie fantastique and Petrushka with circus choreography at The Muse in Brooklyn. Their world premiere recording of English composer Dame Ethel Smyth’s 1930 masterpiece The Prison, released on Chandos Records, won a 2021 Grammy Award and was widely acclaimed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, Gramophone, San Francisco Chronicle, Financial Times, The Guardian, and many others.
Blachly’s work on The Prison began in 2015. He is the editor for the new Wise Music Group critical edition that has not only made modern performances and this recording possible, but also contributed to a new wave of interest in Smyth's work throughout the music world. This is the first-ever Grammy Award for music by Smyth, who lived from 1858–1944 and struggled her entire career to have her music judged on its merits rather than on the basis of her gender.
In 2022, he held a week-long artist residency at Montclair State University featuring composer-in-residence Jessie Montgomery, where he taught courses on composition, conducting, and choral techniques, and delivered several keynote lectures, culminating in an Experiential Orchestra-style immersive performance. At the invitation of founder Charles Dickerson, he assisted in curating a concert celebrating works for orchestra by African Diaspora composers and was one of six conductors to lead the Inner-City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles at the League of American Orchestras conference.
In 2016, Blachly was the only conductor from the US invited to participate in the Young Conductor’s Showcase as a part of El Sistema’s 40th anniversary celebration, and he was also the only US conductor to be invited as Conducting Fellow in Maestra Marin Alsop's final year at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. In addition to the New York Philharmonic, recent guest conducting engagements include the Williamsburg Symphony, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, Malaysian Philharmonic, Spokane Symphony, Portland Symphony (ME), Danbury Symphony, and Odyssey Opera (Boston), as well as performances at Trinity Church Wall Street, Roulette, National Sawdust, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center.
A strong supporter of composers of our time, Blachly has commissioned and premiered more than 40 works by composers including Jessie Montgomery, Courtney Bryan, Viet Cuong, Michi Wiancko, Kate Copeland Ettinger, Tommy Daugherty, Patrick Castillo, Brad and Doug Balliett, and many others. In recent seasons, he has collaborated with soloists Paul Jacobs, Michelle Cann, Charles Yang, Julia Bullock, Dashon Burton, Helga Davis, Sarah Brailey, Andrés Cárdenes, Michael Chioldi, Karen Kim, Andrew Yee, and more.
In 2020, Blachly was invited to serve as the Associate Editor and Orchestral Liaison for the African Diaspora Music Project, directed by Dr. Louise Toppin. In that capacity, he has overseen the compilation of a database and website detailing more than 1,300 published works for orchestra by African diaspora composers.
Dedicated to finding new ways of empowering audiences, Blachly is in demand as a speaker on Listening as Leadership, bringing his expertise as a conductor and passion for music to Fortune 500 companies, schools, and other organizations. He has also conducted dozens of educational concerts for thousands of school children. For ten years he conducted workshops and clinics for the New York Philharmonic, served as Ensemble Director for the Baltimore Symphony’s OrchKids program, and conducted clinics and appearances throughout western Pennsylvania for the JSO. From 2010 to 2015, he performed benefit concerts of Mahler symphonies with New York freelancers to launch what is now Make Music NOLA, a thriving El Sistema-Inspired program in New Orleans.
Also active as a composer, Blachly studied at Mannes with Robert Cuckson and privately with Charles Wuorinen and John Corigliano. His compositions have been celebrated as “vigorous and assured” by Chamber Music America, and a “splendidly crafted…tour de force” by the Miami Herald, and have been performed at The Stone, Zankel Hall, in Europe, and across the US in an audience for the Pope, and broadcast live on the CBC.
About Laquita Mitchell
Soprano Laquita Mitchell consistently earns acclaim on eminent international opera and concert stages worldwide. Mitchell performed the soprano soloist in the world première of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec’s Sanctuary Road at Carnegie Hall with Oratorio Society of New York, which was nominated for a 2021 Grammy Award.
This season, Mitchell will reprise “Julie” in Omar for Carolina Performing Arts, a role she created in the opera’s world premiere at the Spoleto Festival last season and return to the role of Josephine Baker in Josephine with Music of Remembrance. In concert, Mitchell performs Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Madison Symphony, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with Sarasota Orchestra, Sanctuary Road with the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati, Verdi’s Requiem with Rhode Island Philharmonic, and Tippet’s A Child of Our Time with Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra. Next season, Mitchell will return to the role of Countess in Le nozze di Figaro.
Last season, Mitchell created the role of Julie in the world premiere of Omar with Spoleto Festival USA, in addition to performing Robinetta in On Site Opera’s production of Rachel J. Peters’s Lesson Plan and reprising the role of Josephine for the New Orleans Opera. Mitchell delighted concertgoers across the US with performances such as The Ordering of Moses for the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony for the Memphis Symphony, Brahms’ Requiem and a Bel Canto Gala with Albany Pro Musica, Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with Lima Symphony Orchestra, Sanctuary Road with Chautauqua Symphony, and a Holiday Concert for the Princeton Symphony.
Previously, Mitchell performed Tom Cipullo’s Josephine with Opera Colorado, as well as The Promise of Living, a concert program conceived by Mitchell; Bess in Porgy and Bess with Grange Park Opera in the UK, Lithuanian State Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and Baltimore Symphony; a reprisal of Sanctuary Road with the Columbus Symphony, a Gala Concert for Colorado Symphony, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Barber’s Knoxville: Summer 1915 with the Augusta Symphony.
Mitchell appeared in New York Philharmonic’s Bandwagon concerts and the Kauffmann Music Center’s Musical Storefront series in the spring of 2021 as part of New York City’s Pop-Up Arts Revival and performed Mahler’s Symphony No.4 for Rhode Island Philharmonic. In summer, 2021, she sang the soprano soloist for the opening night concert of Classical Tahoe’s 10th anniversary season, as well as in Bard Music Festival’s concert performances of Nadia Boulanger and Her World.
Notable previous engagements include the role of Coretta Scott King in I Dream with Opera Grand Rapids, Toledo Opera, and Opera Carolina; Violetta in La traviata with Opera Memphis, New York City Opera, and Edmonton Opera; and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Florentine Opera and Portland Opera. Recent concert engagements include the soprano solo in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Berkeley Symphony, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Missoula Symphony, and her return to The Philadelphia Orchestra to perform in their Academy Ball alongside Steve Martin and led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
In her compelling debut as Bess in Porgy and Bess with the San Francisco Opera, Opera News said “Laquita Mitchell, in her first outing as Bess, dazzled the SFO [San Francisco Opera] audience with her purity of tone and vivid theatrical presence.” She has since reprised the role with The Atlanta Opera, The Tanglewood Festival, Madison Symphony, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Toledo Opera, Springfield Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Sheboygan Symphony, Traverse City Symphony, the Margaret Island Open-Air Theatre in Budapest for their summer festival, and as the season opener for the Energa Sopot Classic Festival with the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra. Additionally, PBS invited Mitchell to perform a solo recital including excerpts from Porgy and Bess with pianist Craig Terry for the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Los Angeles in preparation for the broadcast and DVD release of SFO’s Porgy and Bess.
In her role debut as Violetta in La traviata with New York City Opera, she was labeled “extraordinary,” thanks to her “wide expressive range and big-hearted sound that contains just a hint of sexy smokiness. Her Sempre libera was enlivened by a rhythmic clarity that made it seem almost danceable.” Other appearances include Leonora in Il trovatore in South Carolina as well as with Nashville Opera; Countess in Le nozze di Figaro with Toledo Opera; the role of Sharon in Terrance McNally’s Master Class at the Kennedy Center; Musetta in La bohème in a return to the Los Angeles Opera; Mimì in La bohème with Cincinnati Opera, and at the Utah Symphony and Opera; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Florentine Opera, Portland Opera, and Opera New Jersey; Clara in Porgy and Bess with Los Angeles Opera, Washington National Opera, Opéra Comique in Paris and on tour in Caen and Granada, Spain; and Micaëla in Carmen with New York City Opera, Opera Pacific, and most recently, Cincinnati Opera, where the Cincinnati Enquirer hailed “Mitchell shone in the role of Micaëla, the peasant girl who loves Don José. She was a natural actress and sang with expressive beauty whenever she was onstage.”
An active concert artist, Mitchell recently performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with The Philadelphia Orchestra at Saratoga Performing Arts Center; Over the Rainbow—an evening honoring Harold Arlen at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall; Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Louisville Orchestra; a debut with the New World Symphony in Alberto Ginastera’s Cantata para la América Mágica; the world premiere of composer Steven Stucky’s August 4, 1964 with Dallas Symphony Orchestra; her Boston Symphony Orchestra debut as the soprano soloist in Wynton Marsalis’s All Rise under the direction of Kurt Masur; and the soprano solo in Tippett’s A Child of our Time with the Washington Chorus at Kennedy Center. She has also performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, the New York Symphonic Ensemble at Alice Tully Hall, and with Branford Marsalis and the Garden State Philharmonic. Additionally, she performs in recitals annually at Harare International Festival of the Arts in Zimbabwe.
Mitchell is an alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, where she performed a variety of roles including stand-out performances in contemporary operas such as Orquidea in Daniel Catán’s Salsipuedes (world premiere), Myhrrine in Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata (world première), Barena in David Alden’s production of Jenůfa, and The Water in Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince (world premiere) directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by Patrick Summers. Mitchell was previously a member of the San Francisco Opera’s world-renowned Merola Program. She then joined Wolf Trap Opera in performances as Alice Ford in Antonio Salieri’s Falstaff, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, and presented a recital with renowned pianist Steven Blier.
A native of New York City, Mitchell was a 2004 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Prize Winner and was awarded a Sara Tucker Award. She was also the First Prize Winner of the Wiener Kammeroper’s Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition, making her the first American to win this competition in over twenty years. Additionally, Mitchell was the First Prize Winner of the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers, as well as the winner of the Audience Choice award. Mitchell holds a Master of Music degree and the Professional Studies Certificate at the Manhattan School of Music and completed undergraduate studies at Westminster Choir College.
About the DSO
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. 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 PVS 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 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 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.