Kenneth Thompkins

Kenneth Thompkins was appointed Principal Trombone of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra by Neeme Jarvi. Prior to this appointment he held positions in the Buffalo Philharmonic and The Florida Orchestra and New World Symphony Orchestra. 

He has also performed with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Thompkins enjoys working with young musicians and has performed masterclasses and recitals at many universities including the Curtis Institute of Music, University of Michigan, and the Eastman School of Music. In 2017 Thompkins recorded Sonatas, Songs and Spirituals featuring the music of Alec Wilder, William Grant Still and Philip Wharton. Sonatas, Songs and Spirituals was the winner of The American Prize in Instrumental Performance for 2018-2019. He has performed as a soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Chineke! Orchestra and New World Symphony.  He also premiered “Troubled Water” trombone concerto by Carlos Simon with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2023.

My Instruments

Greenhoe trombones logo

“I love the sound of Greenhoe Trombones and fully endorse using them”


My Organizations

DSO logo

Detroit Symphony Orchestra

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, America’s fourth-oldest, has a history as varied and exciting as that of its hometown. The DSO has been at the center of Detroit’s musical heartbeat for more than 130 years, but it has faced plenty of challenges – including finding stages to play on, nearing (and sometimes entering) bankruptcy, saving its historic concert hall from demolition, and a bitter strike.

Now, two decades into the 21st century, the DSO is spreading a forward-thinking, accessibility-first mission throughout Detroit and the world. We pride ourselves on artistic excellence and our commitment to the city we call home.


Kenneth is a member of the Sphinx organization and strongly endorses it. What is Sphinx?

The Sphinx Organization is a social justice organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.
Focused on increasing representation of Black and Latinx artists in classical music and recognizing excellence, Sphinx programs serve beginner students to seasoned classical music professionals, as well as cultural entrepreneurs and administrators.
Based in Detroit, Michigan, but with nationwide reach, Sphinx envisions a day where the classical music field looks like our communities: where every young person has the opportunity to express themselves and learn classical music; where audiences reflect the people we see on our streets; and where leadership—on stage and off—includes all deserving voices.

NAAS image


The National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS) is an unprecedented national initiative to increase diversity in American orchestras. It does so by offering Black and Latinx musicians a customized combination of mentoring, audition preparation, financial support, and audition previews. NAAS is made up of the Sphinx Organization, the lead program administrator and fiscal agent for the Alliance; the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy; and the League of American Orchestras, representing 700 orchestras. A group of Black and Latinx professional musicians act as thought leaders, guides, and advisors for the Alliance. NAAS is supported by a three-year grant of $1.95M from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as well as contributions from over 100 orchestras across the U.S.

NAAS Recommended Audition and Tenure Guidelines

Click here to read the National Alliance for Audition Support Recommended Audition and Tenure Guidelines

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