Michael Ke Ma, born in Shanghai, China in 1979, started studying the violin at the age of five and switched to bassoon at 11. He obtained his bachelor’s degree at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 2000 and after graduation was appointed as principal bassoonist of Shanghai Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra.
In 1999 and 2000, Ma filled the principal position with the Asian Youth Orchestra on tours to many countries, took part in the Olympic Arts Festival in 2000 in Sydney, Australia, and received scholarship to study at the Banff Centre of the Arts in Canada.
In 2001, Ma entered the Thornton School of Music at University of Southern California as a full-scholarship recipient, studying with professor Stephen Maxym. During the past three years he has played principal bassoon with the USC Symphony, Chamber Orchestra, American Youth Symphony, and YMF Debut Orchestra. He was the Grand Prize winner of the Leni Fe Bland Award (Santa Barbara) in 2002, 2003 and 2004, and the second prize winner of the Pasadena Showcase Instrumental Competition in 2002.
In March 2003, he performed the world premier of Ezra Laderman’s Elegy –“For Stephen” during the USC Wind Ensemble Concert, dedicated to Ma’s dearest teacher professor Maxym. He also has been a featured soloist with many orchestras, including Shanghai Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, Washburn University Symphony and USC Chamber Orchestra. Most recently, Ma won first prize at the annual Concerto Competition at USC and 2nd place at the 49th Young Musicians Foundation National Debut Competition. He was a recipient of a Dean’s Scholarship and was awarded the 2003-2004 Stephen Maxym Memorial Music Scholarship by USC where he recently received his Master of Music degree in Bassoon Performance. Ma won his position at the DSO in 2005.