Chad Goodman has been named music director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Goodman was selected following a two-year international search that included a pool of nearly 100 applicants. He is the fifth music director for the award-winning Symphony, and will preside over the ESO’s 74th season, which opens Oct. 7.
“We are thrilled to welcome Chad to the ESO. He brings a wealth of experience and talent to the ESO
along with an infectious energy and enthusiasm that we look forward to sharing with the community,”
said Marc Thayer, CEO of the Symphony.
Goodman most recently was the conducting fellow of the New World Symphony, a post he held from
2019 – May 2023, where he received accolades for his energized and innovative performances. Since
2018, he has served as an assistant conductor to the San Francisco Symphony, working with Michael
Tilson Thomas, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Manfred Honeck, Daniel Harding, Pablo Heras-Casado, Simone
Young, and James Gaffigan, among others. He has recently guest conducted the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, and San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, and has previously served as conducting fellow of Festival Napa Valley and the Atlantic Music Festival.
Chad holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Music degree from San Francisco State University. His mentors include Michael Tilson Thomas and Alasdair Neale.
Following a visit to the ESO in the fall of 2022, Goodman was quickly captivated by the ESO and the Elgin community, and looked forward with anticipation to his guest appearance on the podium for the ESO’s “Rhapsody in Blue” concert on May 6 and 7, 2023.
“I was immediately charmed by the energy and passion that came from the Elgin community,” Goodman said. “The members of the ESO treat one another like family. There’s a true sense of camaraderie and it’s clear that everyone is there to push themselves to the highest level of music making.”
Goodman’s collaborative spirit has been evident in his past projects, including the Elevate Ensemble,
which he founded and served as artistic director. Elevate collaborated with photographers,
videographers, poets, and culinary artists, bringing new music and vibrant multi-genre experiences to
In addition to his performing career, Goodman leads workshops that teach musicians business and
entrepreneurial skills to help them successfully navigate the music world. His book, “You Earned a Music Degree. Now What?” was published in 2022.
In his first season with the ESO, Goodman will lead five of the Symphony’s classics concerts, and several special events, including:
- Richard Strauss’ poignant Four Last Songs on October 7 and 8, featuring Grammy Award-winning opera soprano Christine Brewer, and Rachmaninoff’s romantic Symphonic Dances.
- Brahms’ lyrical Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra, and Beethoven’s joyous Second Symphony on Nov. 4 and 5.
- The ESO’s annual Holiday Spectacular concerts on Dec. 9 and 10.
- Mozart’s dazzling Violin Concerto No. 4 with ESO Concertmaster Isabella Lippi as soloist, and Prokofiev’s monumental Symphony No. 5 on March 2 and 3, 2024.
- Robert Schumann’s romantic Piano Concerto featuring Orli Shaham, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2, “Ukrainian”, on April 6 and 7, 2024.
- Beethoven’s immortal ode to brotherhood, the 9th Symphony, on May 4 and 5, 2024.
“I am eager to build upon the incredible work the ESO has done for decades within the community,”
Goodman said. “I want everyone, from first-time concertgoers to seasoned classical musical lovers, to
feel not only welcomed but energized and inspired by their orchestra. I envision a future where every
ESO event is treated as a celebration of the community!”
The search committee, chaired by ESO Board member Martin Nobs, consisted of four board members,
four ESO musicians, the ESO’s vice president of artistic planning and operations, and the ESO’s CEO.
“I am very gratified that that we were able to make a unanimous decision among all members
of the search committee to select our new music director. The search committee, representing
musicians, staff, and members of the board, reached this decision after a very rigorous search
process … eventually picking seven candidates that were invited as guest conductors to lead the
orchestra during our most recent season and one additional candidate from the
previous season,” Nobs said. “Chad has the experience and passion to lead the Elgin Symphony
orchestra and support the organization and stakeholders into an exciting future.”