Craig Rifel has been a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since November 1980. A versatile musician, he has performed with the Orchestra on piano, harpsichord, celeste and organ in both classical and pops concerts, on bass guitar for pops performances, and on banjo in Europe. In January 1995, Rifel was soloist with the DSO in a performance of Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3, “Organ,” with Eiji Oue conducting, and more recently, in 2004, with Thomas Wilkins conducting. He also joined violinist Nigel Kennedy jazz encores following Kennedy’s DSO appearances in 1998.
Prior to his post with the DSO, Rifel served as Principal Bass of the Florida Orchestra in Orlando from 1976 to 1978, and as a bassist with the Syracuse Symphony from 1978 to 1980. Born in Chicago and raised in Wausau, WI, Rifel began studying piano at the age of five and organ at 12. He took his first church organist position in junior high school and has played church services ever since. He received his formal education at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, where he studied bass with Minnesota Orchestra bassist, James Clute, and received a Bachelor of Music Education degree -- cum laude -- in 1976.
Currently, in addition to his duties with the DSO, Rifel is a member of the Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings and does substitute church organ playing throughout the Detroit metropolitan area. His interests outside music include woodworking, motorcycling, and his most recent pursuit: working toward his private pilot license. Rifel lives with his wife, DSO cellist Carole Gatwood, and three sons in Huntington Woods.