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.