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Illinois Symphony Orchestra Appoints New Music Director

The rising Japanese-American conductor Taichi Fukumara receives his first Music Directorship


Conductor Taichi Fukumara has been appointed to lead the Illinois Symphony Orchestra (ISO) and will begin his time in the post on July 1, 2024. The search process lasted for two years, and Fukumara was elected unanimously after four finalists for the position led the orchestra in concert during the 2023/24 season.

Fukumara was previously a Freeman Conducting Fellow at the Chicago Sinfonietta (2020/21), and he then served as the ensemble's Assistant Conductor for the 2021/22 season. For the past two seasons, Fukumura has been the Assistant Conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

He received Second Prize at the Bamberg's Mahler Conducting Competition for 2023 and is also a four-time recipient of a Career Assistance Award from The Solti Foundation U.S.

Born in Tokyo, Fukumara studied the violin with Peter Zazofsky at Boston University, before receiving master's and doctoral degrees in conducting in the class of Victor Yampolsky at Northwestern University.

"I am thrilled to join the Illinois Symphony Orchestra as its next Music Director," Fukumara said. "Getting to know this dynamic organization last season has already been such a joy, and I look forward to continuing our shared musical journey."

"There is tremendous dedication and engagement from every aspect of the ISO family: from the musicians, the staff, the board, our supporters, and the incredible communities of Springfield and Bloomington/Normal. The ISO plays an important role in the life of these communities, and I am honored to join this organization. I can’t wait to work together to share inspiring musical experiences with central Illinois and beyond."

"I am elated that Taichi Fukumura will be the ISO’s next Music Director," said Dr Daniel Brownstone, ISO Board President and Co-Chair of the Music Director Search Committee. "His love of music spans many genres which will help us reach new audiences who may not be familiar with orchestral music."

"Taichi understands the role that music plays in bringing communities together and he has the unique ability to communicate the power music has on people when speaking to audiences. He is excited to begin his tenure with the ISO and we look forward to introducing him to the community leading up to our opening concerts in October and throughout our exciting 2024-2025 season."

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