Opening Night 23/24

An instant classic and perennial audience favorite, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 welcomes us to the New World each and every time its melodies fill our ears. A love song to the country that entrusted him with creating a national and multicultural musical identity, the symphony at once defines the composer’s style yet allows us to experience this vision through multiple prisms.

Pioneering poetjournalist and Sphinx Organization founder Aaron P. Dworkin presents his Hear Here, a poem inspired by themes from the orchestra’s season. Violinist Stefan Jackiw makes his Ann Arbor debut with Erich Korngold’s dazzling Violin Concerto, and Joan Tower’s earthy, authentic testimony to American industry rounds out this extraordinary curtain-raiser to our brand-new year of concerts and events.

Saturday, September 23, 2023 | 8 PM | Hill Auditorium
Pre-concert talk at 7 PM

Stefan Jackiw, violin
Earl Lee, conductor & music director
Aaron Dworkin, poetjournalist

Aaron P. Dworkin Hear Here (spoken word)
Joan Tower Made in America
Erich Wolfgang Korngold Violin Concerto
Antonín Dvořák Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”

Sponsored by Michigan Medicine.

Stefan Jackiw, violin 


Stefan Jackiw is one of America’s foremost violinists, captivating audiences with playing that combines poetry and purity with an impeccable technique. Hailed for playing of “uncommon musical substance” that is “striking for its intelligence and sensitivity” (Boston Globe), Jackiw has appeared as soloist with the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco symphony orchestras, among others.

Jackiw’s 2022-23 season includes his return to the Cleveland Orchestra performing Britten’s Violin Concerto with Thomas Søndergård, and to the Vancouver Symphony performing Brahms with Otto Tausk. He will also appear at the 92NY with cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Daniil Trifonov, and embark on a multi-city Junction Trio tour that includes the group’s Celebrity Series of Boston debut, alongside performances in New York City, San Francisco, Washington DC, and more. Meanwhile, his European dates include performances with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Thomas Sondergard performing Britten’s Violin Concerto, the Residentie Orkest and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia with Anja Bihlmaier performing Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, and the Gävle Symphony and Christian Rief performing Korngold’s Violin Concerto.

In Summer 2022, Jackiw returned to Carnegie Hall to perform Bach with Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and appeared with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival leading a performance of Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, and the Bellingham Festival performing Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy.” During the 2021-22 season, he premiered a new violin concerto by Conrad Tao with the Atlanta Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony; returned to the Indianapolis Symphony to perform Korngold Concerto, and to the Oregon Symphony with Schumann Concerto. In Europe, he performed with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra and Alan Gilbert, and with Orchestre National de Lyon under Nikolaj Znaider. His Summer 2021 appearances included his return to the Cleveland Orchestra performing Prokofiev 2 with Rafael Payare, the Boston Symphony performing Mozart Concerto no. 5 with Alan Gilbert, and the Aspen Music Festival performing the Beethoven Triple Concerto, alongside Alisa Weilerstein, and Inon Barnatan.

Jackiw tours frequently with his musical partners, pianist Conrad Tao and cellist Jay Campbell, as part of the Junction Trio. He also enjoys collaborating with pianist Jeremy Denk with whom he has toured the complete Ives Violin Sonatas, which the pair recorded for future release on Nonesuch Records. He also recently recorded Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Inon Barnatan, Alisa Weilerstein, Alan Gilbert and Academy St. Martin in the Fields.

Earl Lee, conductor & music director 


Winner of the 2022 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award, Earl Lee is a renowned Korean-Canadian conductor who has captivated audiences worldwide. Earl is in his second season as Music Director of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and in his third season as Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which he has led in subscription concerts both at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood.

In addition to a full season of concerts with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and subscription concerts with the Boston Symphony in Boston and at Tanglewood, Earl’s 23/24 season includes guest conducting engagements with the Vancouver Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Winnipeg Symphony, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, The Florida Orchestra, and the Royal Conservatory Orchestra Toronto. Previous seasons have seen subscription debuts with the San Francisco Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, Hawaii Symphony, and Edmonton Symphony; leading the Lunar New Year galas of both the New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony; and concerts with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and with Sejong Soloists in both New York and Seoul.

Earl previously held positions as Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony and as the Resident Conductor of the Toronto Symphony. In 2022, he appeared with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam as a participant in the Ammodo masterclasses led by Fabio Luisi.

Earl’s 23/24 programs with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra include contemporary works by John Adams, Brian Raphael Nabors, Joan Towers, Gala Flagello, Jessie Montgomery, and Zhou Tian as well as the first installment of a multi-year Beethoven cycle with Symphonies Nos. 2, 5 and 9. He leads the orchestra in its Detroit Orchestra Hall debut in January 2024 in a concert during the Sphinx Organizations’s annual SphinxConnect convention.

In all of his professional activities, Earl seeks ways to connect with fellow musicians and audiences on a personal level. He has taken great pleasure in mentoring young musicians as former Artistic Director and Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, and as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra and is a regular guest conductor with the orchestras of North America’s top music schools such as Manhattan School of Music, The Juilliard School, and the New England, San Francisco, and Royal Conservatories.

As a cellist, Earl has performed at festivals such as the Marlboro Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, Caramoor Rising Stars, and Ravinia’s Steans Institute and has toured as a member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO), with Musicians from Marlboro, and with Gary Burton & Chick Corea as a guest member of the Harlem String Quartet.

Earl was the recipient of the 50th Anniversary Heinz Unger Award from the Ontario Arts Council in 2018, of a Solti Career Assistance Award in 2021 and has been awarded a Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Scholarship by Kurt Masur and the Ansbacher Fellowship by the American Austrian Foundation and members of the Vienna Philharmonic. He studied cello at the Curtis Institute of Music and The Juilliard School and conducting at Manhattan School of Music and the New England Conservatory. He lives in New York City with his wife and their daughter.

Aaron Dworkin, poetjournalist


Named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, President Obama’s first appointment to the National Council on the Arts and member of President Biden’s Arts Policy Committee, Aaron P. Dworkin is former dean and current Professor of Arts Leadership & Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Aaron is a best-selling writer and poetjournalist having authored his poetry collection, They Said I Wasn’t Really Black, along with four other books including his memoir, Uncommon Rhythm: A Black, White, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness, Irish Catholic Adoptee’s Journey to Leadership and The Entrepreneurial Artist: Lessons from Highly Successful Creatives. Aaron originated the terminology “poetjournalism” which he defines as “journalism in which a news story is presented in poetic form incorporating elements of emotion, opinion and creative illustration.” He serves as the Poet-in-Residence of The Rodham Institute at George Washington University, Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, Wright Museum of African-American History, Ovation TV Network and Shar Music. Hailed by critics as “powerful,” “stirring,” “passionate and heroic,” and “a tour de force,” Aaron has performed his poetry as a prominent spoken-word artist during his national tours including the Wright Museum in Detroit, Galapagos Theater in New York, Harvard University, Chautauqua, University of Michigan, Minneapolis Orchestra Hall, NJPAC and Orchestra Hall in Detroit amongst others and is a member of the Academy of American Poets. He has been featured on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, CNN, Jet Magazine and named one of Newsweek’s “15 People Who Make America Great.” He has two recording albums and collaborated with a breadth of artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Damien Sneed, Anna Deveare Smith, Damian Woetzel, Lil Buck and others. His Emmy award-winning film An American Prophecy was honored by numerous festivals, while his visual digital art project, Fractured History, has exhibited to rave reviews.

Aaron is also a leading social entrepreneur having founded the globally-recognized Sphinx Organization, the leading arts organization with the mission of transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. He also serves as host of the nationally-broadcast Arts Engines show with a viewership of over 100,000. Aaron is the recipient of honors including the National Governors Association Distinguished Service to State Government Award, BET’s History Makers in the Making Award and Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Lifetime Achievement Award and been named Detroit News’s Michiganian of the Year and the National Black MBA’s Entrepreneur of The Year.

A sought-after global thought leader and a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion, excellence in arts education, entrepreneurship, and leadership, as well as inclusion in the performing arts, Aaron is a frequent keynote speaker and lecturer at numerous universities and global arts, creativity, and technology conferences. He has served on the Board of Directors or Advisory Boards for numerous influential arts organizations including the National Council on the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Knight Foundation, National Association of Performing Arts Professionals, Avery Fisher Artist Program, Independent Sector, League of American Orchestras, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Michigan Theater and Chamber Music America. Having raised over $50 million for philanthropic causes, Aaron personifies creative leadership, entrepreneurship, and community service with an unwavering passion for the arts, diversity, and their role in society.

Aaron has a myriad of life interests including innovation, creativity, human pair bonding and is passionate about social impact having founded a homeless organization and a literary magazine. He is an avid kayaker, poker aficionado and boater, having captained multiple crossings of the Gulfstream. He is an explorer of the culinary arts and a consummate movie enthusiast watching over 100 films every year. He is married to Afa Sadykhly Dworkin, a prominent international arts leader who serves as President and Artistic Director of the Sphinx Organization and has two awesome sons, Noah Still and Amani Jaise. They reside in Michigan with their two Savannah cats, Mocha and Pekoe, and English Cream Retriever, Rondo.