Young People's Family Concert Series continues with Tale of the Firebird conducted by Na'Zir McFadden, December 3

DSO Assistant Conductor and Phillip & Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador Na’Zir McFadden leads orchestra performance for children ages 6 and up

Kris Johnson Group hosts What is Groove? Tiny Tots performance in The Cube for children ages 2-6

Tickets on sale now at

Detroit, (November 10, 2022) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) will continue its Young People’s Family Concert Series with Tale of the Firebird conducted by Na’Zir McFadden on December 3 at 11 a.m. at Orchestra Hall.

The family-friendly program will tell the musical tale of Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird, which features great orchestra color, wild rhythms, and an iridescent finale. McFadden, who currently serves as the DSO’s Assistant Conductor and Phillip & Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador, will lead the program. Young People’s Family Concerts are orchestra performances featuring the DSO that are designed for audiences age 6 and up.

Prior to the concert, at 10 a.m. in the Peter D. and Julie F. Cummings Cube, trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Kris Johnson and his group will host a Tiny Tots concert titled What is Groove? The program will cover the foundation of Detroit music from swing and blues, to Motown and hip-hop, while introducing children to the role various instruments play in collectively making music. Tiny Tots performances are fun-filled, interactive concerts designed for children ages 2-6 and their families. Please note the DSO does not appear on this performance.

Tale of the Firebird will take place Saturday, December 3 at 11 a.m. at Orchestra Hall. What is Groove? will take place Saturday, December 3 at 10 a.m. in the Peter D. and Julie F. Cummings Cube (The Cube). Both Orchestra Hall and The Cube are located within the DSO’s Midtown Campus: the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center (3711 Woodward Avenue).

Tickets for the Young People’s Family Concert Series performance start at $20; tickets for the Tiny Tots performance are $12. Tickets to both events 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.

2022-2023 SEASON DSO SAFETY POLICIES: The DSO no longer requires audiences to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend performances. Masks are optional although strongly recommended at DSO performances, particularly when Wayne County and surrounding communities are in the high or "red" category as defined by the CDC. The DSO asks audience members to do their part to create a safe environment for everyone and encourages those who are not feeling well to stay home.

The Young People’s Family Concert Series is sponsored by Sun Communities.

Young People’s Family Concert Series
Saturday, December 3 at 11 a.m.
Orchestra Hall
Na’Zir McFadden, conductor
Get to know the DSO and discover all the orchestra can do! Young People's Family Concerts are an exciting introduction to classical music that often include dance, theater, storytelling, and video. Young People's Concerts have introduced generations of children to classical music—a friendship that lasts a lifetime.

Tiny Tots
Saturday, December 3 at 10 a.m.
The Peter D. and Julie F. Cummings Cube
Kris Johnson, trumpet
Join the Kris Johnson Group for a fun morning of music where you and your kids can learn about the foundation of Detroit music: GROOVE. From swing, and blues to Motown and hip-hop, “What is Groove?” will get the audience to feel the beat in a whole new way. Led by trumpeter Kris Johnson, this presentation will introduce you to the role of various instruments in a band and how they work together to make music.

About Na’Zir McFadden
American conductor Na’Zir McFadden is the newly appointed Assistant Conductor and Phillip & Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

In this position, he works closely with Music Director Jader Bignamini and guest conductors on both the PVS Classical Series and William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series. Additionally, he leads pre-concert lectures at Orchestra Hall, and conducts a variety of programs on the Educational Concert Series, Young People’s Family Concert Series, PNC Pops Series, and DTE Community Concerts.

Commencing with the 2022-23 season, Na’Zir will serve as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra. Together, they’ll present three programs—exploring the symphonies of Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, and Florence Price, respectively.

An advocate for arts education, McFadden strives to provide access to the arts for students in underserved communities. This season, McFadden will make appearances with youth ensembles in Salt Lake City and with the Philadelphia All-City Music Festival. In the past, he’s worked with youth ensembles in Chicago, New York City, St. Louis, and Los Angeles.

Recent engagements include a recording project with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago as part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Notes for Peace’ initiative—which featured Hilary Hahn as guest soloist.

McFadden was the inaugural Apprentice Conductor of the Philadelphia Ballet Orchestra from 2020 to 2022, working with Music Director Beatrice Jona Affron. He also served as the Robert L. Poster Conducting Apprentice of the New York Youth Symphony from 2020 to 2021.

Na’Zir conducted his hometown orchestra—the Philadelphia Orchestra—in their “Pop-Up” series in 2017, meeting their Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who has been a mentor ever since. The Philadelphia Inquirer praised his “great stick [baton] technique and energetic presence on the podium” in their review of the concert.

Upcoming engagements include a series of commissions with Orchestra 2001 and appearances with the Utah Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Ballet.


About Kris Johnson
Kris Johnson is an award-winning trumpeter, composer, and educator based in the Detroit metro area. His work focuses on music that spans the depth and breadth of Black American music. The influences that have shaped his artistry include Terence Blanchard, Thad Jones, Nicholas Payton, Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews, Clifford Brown, Roy Hargrove, and many others.

 As the leader of The Kris Johnson Group, he has recorded several studio albums including Odd Expressions, Journey Through a Dream, and The Unpaved Road with Lulu Fall. Many of his projects in recent years have combined his music with technology and often address poignant themes, including his 2020 self-produced and entirely self-performed audio-visual album SAFE, which features his abstract illustrations and animation and explores childhood memories. In 2021, Johnson compiled the music produced for a social media series, which examines the idea of breaking free from generational trauma, into an album, #looptherapy, vol. 1. Lighter in mood but no less impressive is his series of videos with the Kris Johnson Big Band, a project dreamed up during the pandemic of 2020, which uses clever video editing to create a an entirely virtual large ensemble, the players of which were gathered from Johnson's diverse circle friends and professional contacts from around the globe.

​Besides his own projects, Johnson's career has been filled with incredible moments working as a trumpet player for hire. He toured the world with the illustrious Count Basie Orchestra from 2008-2019 and has performed at some of the world’s most prestigious jazz venues including the Apollo Theater, the Blue Note Jazz Club (US and Japan), Sydney Opera House, Blues Alley, and the Hollywood Bowl. Johnson has also had the opportunity to perform with many jazz greats including the Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Tony Bennett, Patti Austin, Wes Anderson, Wycliffe Gordon, Jon Hendricks, Monty Alexander, Christian McBride, and Jamie Cullum, and was featured soloist in the 2013 standup-comedy film Make Me Wanna Holla, starring Sinbad.

​Johnson has a keen sensitivity to the nuances of film and a knack for storytelling through music, as is evident in his award-winning film scores for various web series, documentaries, short films, and feature films, and the two full-length musicals he has written. Johnson scored the Dui Jarrod web series King Ester, which was picked up by the “Issa Rae Presents” YouTube Channel. The series was nominated for four Daytime Emmy Awards in 2020. Johnson received an Outstanding Score award for his work on the comedic web series The PuNanny Diaries at the 2011 LA Webfest, and wrote the score for Searching For Shaniqua, which won HBO’s Best Doc Award at the 2016 Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival.

​The Plowshares Theater (Detroit, MI), in partnership with the Kresge Foundation, recently commissioned Johnson to compose a musical influenced by Detroit’s historic Black Bottom and Paradise Valley neighborhoods. “Hastings Street: the musical” is currently in development with music/lyrics co-composed by Johnson and playwright/actor John Sloan III, who also wrote the book. Johnson was awarded a grant in 2014 from New Music USA to fund a studio recording of his original musical “Jim Crow’s Tears” with a book by Gary Anderson of Plowshares Theater (Detroit).

 In addition to his work on film scores and musicals, Johnson has been commissioned to write compositions and arrangements for the Count Basie Orchestra, Ken Thompkins (Principal Trombone, Detroit Symphony Orchestra), Arts League of Michigan, Karen Clark Sheard, Yolanda Adams, the Clark Sisters, Farmington Community Band, Detroit Symphony’s Civic Ensembles, Ferndale Community Concert Band, Motor City Brass Band, Troy High School, New Trier High School, and many others. In 2012, Johnson received an ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers award and was selected as one of 25 Detroit performing and literary artists to receive a $25,000 Kresge Artist Fellowship.

Johnson’s journey as an educator began with his own education at Michigan State University, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Jazz Studies in 2005 and 2007, respectively. He has gone on to serve in the role of Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Utah from 2015-2019; a Project Director for Pontiac School District, leading a U.S. Department of Education Arts in Education - Model Development and Dissemination Grant; and as the Education and Digital Programming Manager for the Motown Museum. Additionally, he has served on the teaching faculty at The Ohio State University, Detroit Symphony Orchestra Civic Youth Ensembles, and as an Artistic Liaison for JazzEd Detroit through a partnership with ArtOps and the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation. Currently, Johnson is the Director of Michigan State University’s Community Music School - Detroit.


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. 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.