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Detroit Symphony Orchestra returns to MSU

Maestro Jader Bignamini will lead the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in concert at MSU's Wharton Center, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Marco Montovani
Maestro Jader Bignamini will lead the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in concert at MSU's Wharton Center, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will perform at Michigan State University’s Wharton Center on Thursday, May 2. The Mozart and the Seasons concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

It’s been 18 years since the DSO last performed at the Wharton Center. Jader Bignamini was named to lead the orchestra in 2020, so this will be his first time here.

Bignamini has chosen a program inspired by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. To kick things off, he’s chosen More Seasons by Michael Abels, describing it as a “relative” of the Vivaldi masterpiece with modern orchestration. Speaking via Zoom from his native Italy last week, Bignamini praised Abels for his ability to compose music in different styles, from operas to blockbuster movies like Get Out. 

“He’s incredibly flexible,” Bignamini said. “I found this piece perfect for this program, and I’m asking him (for) other pieces for the next seasons.” 

That, he jokes, could lead to “even more seasons” by Abels.

Next on the program is Four Seasons of Buenos Aires by Astor Piazzolla. Here, concertmaster Robyn Bollinger will perform a solo. Bignamini says the elite violinist proposed adding the composition to the program, and he immediately accepted.

“Of course, it’s a very demanding piece for the soloist,” said Bignamini. “But we are incredibly lucky to have Robyn with us. She plays terrifically.”

Bignamini feels these first two pieces will set the right mood for the audience to enjoy the rest of the program.

The highlight of the Mozart and the Seasons concert will be Mozart's Jupiter.
Sarah Smarch
The highlight of the Mozart and the Seasons concert will be the composer's Jupiter.

The concert will conclude with Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C Major, Jupiter. It’s Mozart’s final symphony. Bignamini calls Jupiter a classic.

“It’s classic, but it’s very modern, especially in the first and in the last movement," he said. “This symphony is incredibly complicated. The contrapunto is incredibly well done. I’m pretty sure that all this program will be very, very enjoyable for everyone."

Heading into the concert, Bignamini says the musicians of the DSO are pleased to be coming to East Lansing.

“Everyone tells me that they were incredibly happy to have this great opportunity once more,” Bignamini said. “And of course, we hope in the future, more”

Before the program, ticketholders can join WKAR music host Jamie Paisley at 6:45 p.m. in the Stoddard Grand Tier Lounge on the third floor of the Wharton Center for a conversation with composer Michael Abels about his piece More Seasons, his recent Pulitzer Prize win and working with filmmaker Jordan Peele.

The Wharton Center is a financial supporter of WKAR.

Scott Pohl has maintained an on-call schedule reporting for WKAR following his retirement after 36 years on the air at the station.
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