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SMTD alumnus Damon Gupton to deliver School’s 2015 commencement address


Damon Gupton, an orchestral conductor who is also an acclaimed theatre, film, and television actor, will be the guest speaker at the commencement ceremony for the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance on Friday, May 1 at 2 p.m. The event takes place at the Power Center for the Performing Arts.

Gupton, a Detroit native, graduated from SMTD in 1994 with a BA in trombone and music education. He went on to forge a unique dual career as both an actor and a conductor, with roles in many high profile television shows and films, and appearances with orchestras throughout the United States and around the world. 

Gupton held the post of assistant conductor of the Kansas City Symphony from 2006-2008. He studied conducting with David Zinman and Murry Sidlin at the Aspen Music Festival and with Leonard Slatkin at the National Conducting Institute in Washington, D.C. He served as American Conducting Fellow of the Houston Symphony for the 2004-2005 season, and has made conducting appearances with the Cleveland Orchestra (as part of a Blossom program with David Zinman), the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Princeton Symphony, the Toledo Symphony, the Monte Carlo Philharmonic, the NHK Orchestra of Tokyo, the Florida Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony, and the Brass Band of Battle Creek among others. He also enjoyed a close relationship with the Sphinx Organization, founded by SMTD dean-designate Aaron Dworkin, conducting the Sphinx Symphony as part of the 12th Annual Sphinx Competition and leading the Sphinx Chamber Orchestra on a national tour, culminating in performances at Carnegie Hall and a well-reviewed recording.

A graduate of the Drama Division of the Juilliard School, Gupton made his Broadway debut in Bruce Norris's Clybourne Park, winner of the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play and the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. He appeared in the 2015 Academy Award-winner Whiplash and had roles in such films as Unfaithful, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and This is Forty. His many TV credits include the new top-rated hit Empire as well as Suits, Newsroom, Law & Order, and Prime Suspect, and in 2014 he played the lead in The Divide, the first drama produced by the WEtv network. He is currently filming a pilot for NBC with Wesley Snipes titled House of Crime.

The Fall 2014 Michigan Muse includes an article exploring Damon Gupton’s career.

past news

September 2017
March 2014

U-M UpstART Festival Begins 03/31/2014

Students Present "Wall-to-Wall Theatre Festival" 03/27/2014

First-Ever SMTD Chamber Music Competition Launches April 5 03/27/2014

Doctoral Fellow Named MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year 03/26/2014

Theatre Student Lands Major TV Role 03/25/2014

Elizabeth Batiuk (ethnomusicology) has been chosen as a fellow at the Sweetland/Rackham Dissertation Writing Institute for spring 2014 and James McNally (ethnomusicology) received a summer and academic year FLAS for the study of Portuguese.    03/17/2014

Musicology graduate student Elizabeth McLain has been awarded a prestigious Lurcy Fellowship for research in France during the 2014-2015 academic year.   03/14/2014

December 2013

SMTD students Zoe Kumagai, Stephanie Aboukasm, and Adam DesJardins are among students profiled in an LSA article about the "Michigan in Washington" program, in which students intern at various Washington, DC organizations and businesses, including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center, and the Washington Performing Arts Society.    12/10/2013

October 2013
August 2013

Evan Zegiel, a sophomore who studies with Fritz Kaenzig, was the First Place winner in the Tuba Student division of the 2013 Leonard Falcone International Euphonium & Tuba Festival.     08/21/2013

July 2013

Professor Ashley Lucas and three Theatre & Drama students are engaged in an intensive exchange program with UniRio in Rio de Janiero, Brazil this summer, where they are blogging about their experiences in UniRio's prison arts program and more.   07/12/2013

November 2011
August 2011
June 2011
Current Student News
DMA Piano Students Perform with Ann Arbor Symphony more
2018 SMTD Concerto Competition Winners Announcedmore

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower