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Special Reports

MA Top 30 Professional of the Year: Caen Thomason-Redus

December 3, 2019 | By Clive Paget

Senior Director of Community & Learning
Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Caen Thomason-Redus became the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s senior director of community & learning in 2015, after playing flute in the DSO for two years as a Minority Fellow and coaching the orchestra’s Civic Youth Ensembles. Previously, he was director of corporate partnerships for the Sphinx Organization.

A native of Grosse Pointe Park, MI, Thomason-Redus studied flute in public school before earning music degrees from Rice University in Texas and the University of Redlands in California, with additional study at the University of Michigan and the Mozarteum Akademie in Salzburg. His first orchestral administration job was with the Evansville Philharmonic, shortly before he became a member of the orchestra.

“I’ve always done some combination of teaching, playing, and admin,” he explains, though he faced the difficult decision to cut back on performing when he accepted his current position. “I tried to have faith that I would feel rewarded by the deeply meaningful work and also be able to continue my playing. I’m grateful to say both are still true.”

At the DSO, he serves as chief community engagement officer, which means developing, administering, and fundraising for such in-reach activities as free concerts, in-school performances, educational partnerships, and the William Davidson Neighborhood Residency Initiative, which presents concerts across six locations in metro Detroit. “I’m incredibly fortunate to be at an orchestra that takes its role in the community seriously,” he says. “My position involves training programs teaching people to play everything from bucket-band music to symphonic repertory, numerous community engagement programs, and a good amount of work in diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Future plans include Detroit Harmony, a new initiative that has the lofty goal of providing musical opportunities for every child in Detroit, as well as creating the jobs to support that. “It’s a goal that’s way bigger than us” he says, “but it’s what Detroit deserves.”


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