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Elgin Symphony Orchestra Music Director Chad Goodman

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Elgin Symphony Orchestra

Chad Goodman lands his dream job as Music Director for the ESO

With a flair for inventive programming and a bold presence on stage and in the community, Chad Goodman has been praised for “bringing innovation to classical music,” according to Forbes. He most recently conducted with the New World Symphony in Miami and has served as an assistant conductor to the San Francisco Symphony. His 2022-2023 season included debut performances with the Baton Rouge Symphony, Greensboro Symphony, and San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.

This summer, after being hired from over 100 applicants within a global pool, Goodman brings his talent and ambitious energy to the Elgin Symphony Orchestra as its new music director. After narrowing down their selections to 20 interviewed via Zoom, a panel of ESO board members and musicians invited seven guest conductors as finalists who were vying for their music director position during a two-year search. Ironically, Goodman was last to guest conduct, in May, and had the least amount of time to wait for the big decision. “I thought our final candidate review meeting would be a long one following Chad’s visit,” ESO Executive Director Marc Thayer said. “But it was not a difficult discussion. The musicians were determined to bring in Chad. Musicians know in 10 to 15 minutes if they connect with a conductor.”

Thayer said that the team was looking for an up-and-coming talent who could grow with the ESO and bring energy to the orchestra and community. “Over the past 50 years, the role of the orchestra conductor has changed,” Thayer said. “In addition to helping build the programs and conducting the orchestra, they must be able to connect and engage with their communities. Chad has a great personality as well as tremendous experience.”

The New Face of the ESO

Goodman 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. Goodman says the gateway into his music career was through playing the trumpet.

And as ESO’s music director, a cornerstone of Goodman’s leadership style is knowing when to let others take the lead and to serve as a mentor to others. In addition to his performing career, Goodman leads workshops to teach young musicians the business and entrepreneurial skills needed to successfully navigate the music world.

“I was living in San Francisco after I earned my master’s degree, trying to figure out how to pay the rent,” Goodman says. “It often takes years and endless auditions to get a job as a musician. In addition to freelance work with orchestras around the Bay Area, I began building a private teaching studio, but I had to figure out the business side—renting space, how to find students.” In 2022, he published a book from this experience titled “You Earned a Music Degree. Now What?”

Goodman’s preparations for the 2023-2024 season are under way, with the first concert in early October. His fellow musicians are a family, invested in each other’s lives, something he noticed during the interview. Together they will hone their craft into a unified vision.

“Great orchestral music is filled with emotion—joy, heartbreak, struggle, triumph. Our biggest goal is to share those timeless feelings with our community through our performances. We want people to experience each concert as a true community celebration.”

uncommon ground

B Y  M A R Y  K L E S T

Dr. Orazio Bartolomeo

Easy Ridin’

Summer bids us to get outdoors. The nice weather fills the area with walkers, hikers, and cyclists. Getting from here to there is never easier. Horseback is an option for some, a boat is for others, but it’s the roar of a motorcycle that tells me summer is here. This ongoing symbol of freedom and independence makes me want to hop on and ride. When I see Dr. Orazio Bartolomeo, a family medicine physician in Barrington, on his special edition Harley Davidson motorcycle such a desire only grows.

He bought the motorcycle in 2003 when Harley Davidson was celebrating its 100th anniversary. “It was so beautiful,” he says of the purchase. A centennial insignia appears on the gas tank and the liquid metal effect paint scheme shines. Features most important to him are a sleek look, strong engine and the sound. “The sound of a Harley is patented,” he says. He searches for words to describe the sound and says: “It’s exhilarating.” I agree.

He doesn’t consider himself part of the motorcycle culture, but he likes the camaraderie between motorcyclists. “We wave in acknowledgement of each other,” he says. For him, every trip is fun. He rides with his wife Maria and son Bernado, who own motorcycles, and with friends. “It’s a great way to be with friends and family,” he says.

Riding is also a time just for him, his ‘me’ time. He finds riding a motorcycle to be relaxing. It’s something that connects him with the environment. “I can feel the air. I’m focused. At one with nature. I leave any worries behind and my mind doesn’t wander when riding,” he says.

“How is it different from a bicycle or a car?” I ask.

“I can ride much farther on a motorcycle than a bike. Cars confine you.”

Okay. Like every motorcyclist I talk with, Dr. Bartolomeo reminds me that it’s not about getting from here to there. It’s about the journey.

“Have you made any mistakes or misjudgments while riding?” I ask, wondering if he sees this as a dangerous activity. His answer conveys a laid-back attitude, but also cautionary.

“I stay very focused. Once I didn’t see a stop sign early enough and fishtailed but I didn’t fall. When on a motorcycle you have to be vigilant. Always be aware of what other people are doing and also lookout for animals.”

With that, he starts the engine, lets it roar, and takes off for the hills and curves of summer.

Mary Klest is a Barrington-based writer and local journalism advocate. She can be reached at mary@maryklest.com.

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