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Damon Gupton Guest-Hosts NPR’s From The Top

May 6, 2019


Actor/Conductor Damon Gupton guest hosts an upcoming episode of the hit NPR weekly music program From the Top, airing nationally during the week of May 6 on participating stations and by podcast. The episode, which features America’s best young classical musicians, was taped before a live audience at Interlochen Center for the Arts in March 2019. On the broadcast, Mr. Gupton interviews the young musicians, all students at the Interlochen Arts Academy, and conducts a performance by the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra. He is joined by Co-Host/Pianist Michelle Cann and Interlochen Arts Academy OrchestraConductor Leslie Dunner. For more information, visit: https://www.fromthetop.org/show/nprs-from-the-top-interlochen-mi/

WHO/PROGRAM: Airing/streaming May 6: three featured soloists were selected from a total of 61 entries in the annual concerto competition at Interlochen Arts Academy.

JunMing Wen, tuba, 17, from GuangZhou, China: performing: I. Prelude. Allegro moderato from the Tuba Concerto by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) with the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, Leslie Dunner, conductor

Esther Chae, cello, 17, from Miami, Florida performing:Pezzo Capriccioso by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), with Michelle Cann, piano

Luis Marquez Teruel, bassoon, 17, from Maracaibo, Venezuela,performing II. Allegro scherzando from the Sonata for Bassoon and Piano by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), with Michelle Cann, piano

Interlochen Arts Academy Percussion Ensemble performing Shared Space by Ivan Trevino (b.1983).

This performance is supported by Associated Chamber Music Players (ACMP).

Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, conducted by Damon Gupton, performing: Selections from Swan Lake, Op. 20 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Leslie B. Dunner, performing: Danzón No. 2 by Arturo Márquez (b.1950)

WHEN:Broadcasting the week of May 6
WHERE:NPR stations nationwide: https://www.fromthetop.org/listen/broadcast-schedule/.
ABOUT: From the Top is a national non-profit organization that supports, develops, and shares young people’s artistic voices and stories. Its national platform and leadership programs amplify the hope, passion, and discipline of today’s extraordinary young musicians.

From the Top provides young musicians with live performance opportunities in premier concert venues across the country; national exposure to over a half million listeners on its weekly NPR show; leadership and community engagement preparation; and nearly $3 million in scholarships since 2005.  From the Top’s programs are made possible in part by an award from the National Endowment of the Arts, a grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and partnerships with radio stations nationwide. Learn more at fromthetop.org.

DAMON GUPTON (Guest Host/Conductor), a native of Detroit, Michigan, served as American Conducting Fellow of the Houston Symphony and held the post of assistant conductor of the Kansas City Symphony. His conducting appearances include the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, National Symphony Orchestra, Ft. Worth Symphony, Brass Band of Battle Creek, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, and Orquesta Filarmonica de UNAM. He led the Sphinx Chamber Orchestra on two national tours with performances at Carnegie Hall and conducted the finals of the Seventh Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition. Gupton received his Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Michigan, and studied conducting with David Zinman and Murry Sidlin at the Aspen Music Festival and with Leonard Slatkin at the National Conducting Institute. Awards include the Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize and The Aspen Conducting Prize. Gupton is the inaugural recipient of the Emerging Artist Award from the University of Michigan School of Music and Alumni Society. An accomplished actor, Gupton graduated from the Drama Division of The Juilliard School. He has had roles in television, film, and on stage, including the Broadway production of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning Clybourne Park, the Ovation and LA Drama Critic’s Circle award winning Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at the Mark Taper Forum. Gupton’s television credits include series regular roles on Black Lightning, Criminal Minds, The Player, The Divide, Prime Suspect, and Deadline as well as guest or recurring appearances on Dirty John, Goliath, Bates Motel, The Newsroom, Suits, Empire, and Rake, as well as Damien Chapelle’s Academy Award-winning films Whiplash and La La Land.

MICHELLE CANN (Pianist/Co-Host) made her orchestral debut at age 14 and has since performed with various well-known orchestras throughout the United States and abroad. She recently performed the New York City premiere of Concerto in One Movement by composer Florence Price, the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer. Her performance was well received by the audience and press alike. The Boston Musical Intelligencer wrote “Michelle Cann…was a compelling, sparkling virtuoso, bringing this riveting work to life in its first New York performance.” Cann received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music and an Artist Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

LESLIE B. DUNNER is Conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra and the South Shore Opera Company in Chicago. He has served as Music Director for the Joffrey Ballet and the symphony orchestras of Annapolis, Dearborn and Nova Scotia. He spent 11 seasons at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), first as Assistant, then Associate and finally as Resident Conductor, while serving concurrently as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra. He has held principal conducting positions with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Harlem Festival Orchestra, Louisville Ballet, and was Interim Music Director of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico. Dr. Dunner began his career in music education as Assistant Professor at Minnesota’s Carleton College. The first American prize-winner in the Arturo Toscanini International Conducting Competition, he is also a recipient of the Leonard Bernstein American Conductors Award and the NAACP’s James Weldon Johnson and Distinguished Achievement Awards. Dr. Dunner holds a bachelor’s degree in Clarinet Performance from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School, a master’s in Music Theory and Musicology from Queens College at the City University of New York, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. At Interlochen, Dr. Dunner also teaches Music History and Conducting.

Erin MacCurtain, emaccurtain@fromthetop.org or 617-437-0707 x103.
Lisa Bellamore,  lbellamore@gmail.com, 323-500-3071


May 6, 2019


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