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Press Releases

Chicago Sinfonietta congratulates Former Freeman Conducting Fellow and Assistant Conductor Taichi Fukumura being named Music Director of ISO

June 6, 2024 | By Laura Grant, Grant Communications


Taichi Fukumura, newly announced Music Director of Illinois Symphony Orchestra, former Sinfonietta Freeman Conducting Fellow and Assistant Conductor.


Chicago, IL – For the second time in almost as many months, Chicago Sinfonietta is proud to congratulate a former Freeman Conducting Fellow on a music directorship. Former Fellow and Sinfonietta Assistant Conductor Taichi Fukumura was today named Music Director of central Illinois' largest professional orchestra, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, serving the communities of Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, and the surrounding region, following an extensive two-year search.

President and CEO Blake-Anthony Johnson congratulated Fukumura, "Congratulations Taichi! We at Chicago Sinfonietta are thrilled for you. We are proud to have been a part of your journey as a conductor, and to witness you grow from strength to strength and see the impact you are making in the symphonic field. We wish you all the best in your new tenure, just down the road from us.”

The Freeman Conducting Fellowship, created by Music Director Mei-Ann Chen as part of the overall Freeman Fellowship program (formerly called Project Inclusion), has helped to launch over a dozen careers in the decade it has been running. The program, launched in 2008 under late Sinfonietta founder Maestro Paul Freeman, has expanded under Music Director Mei-Ann Chen and President and CEO Blake-Anthony Johnson. Introduced by Chen in the 2013-14 season, the Freeman Conducting Fellowship fosters the development of conductors of diverse backgrounds who are on the verge of professional careers. Since its launch, young conductors who have gone through the program have gone on to expand their careers, sharing the mission of Chicago Sinfonietta, with approximately 95% of graduates going on to work within the industry.

A member of the Freeman Conducting Fellowship Class of 2020, Mr. Fukumura said of Chicago Sinfonietta's part in his conducting career, "Truly none of this would have been possible without the Chicago Sinfonietta. ...It was through the fellowship at I received warm, supportive but rigorous training which was necessary to push me forward. This is where I got to dive deep and learn about the inner workings of the professional orchestra, and everything that happens behind the scenes to make it all possible. …The mission of the Chicago Sinfonietta emboldens so many of us as young artists when we haven’t quite found our voices yet.”

A Freeman Conducting Fellow from 2020 -2021, Taichi Fukumura also served as Assistant Conductor of Chicago Sinfonietta for the 2021-22 season, where his debut with the Sinfonietta was praised by Classical Chicago Review, which stated that he "led the intricate piece [the world premiere of Sinfonietta commissioned Freeman Composition Fellow Michelle Isaac’s Moshe’s Dream] with clarity and assuredness." For the past two seasons Fukumura has served as Assistant Conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Recognized at the international 2023 Mahler Competition, where he won Second Prize, Fukumura is also a four-time recipient of a Career Assistance Award from The Solti Foundation U.S.

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra is central Illinois’ largest professional orchestra serving over 35,000 patrons symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra, and Concerts for Kids series in each community. In addition to concert performances, the Orchestra's music education and outreach programs serve pre-K and elementary schools through the Itsy Arts and Music Matters education programs and reach middle schools, high schools, universities, community organizations and senior centers through guest artist residencies and musician and ensemble performances. The ISO also has an active Around the Town Chamber Music Series and virtual Sunday at Six Recital series.

A tenured orchestra and acclaimed cultural leader that champions diversity, equity, and inclusion by creating community through curated symphonic experiences, Chicago Sinfonietta is a source of community through music, ensuring and inspiring a continued investment in diversity and inclusivity in the genre of classical music to promote fairness and equity. Recognized as ground-breaking, dynamic, and daring, with core values built around being culturally responsive and advocates of inclusivity in all aspects of the 36-year-old organization’s work, Chicago Sinfonietta’s unrelenting commitment to being at the forefront of innovation drives its high standard of symphonic experiences. The organization takes pride in leading by example with immersive audience engagement activities, impactful career development, education, and extensive community outreach programs. Details on the exciting 2024-25 season coming soon! www.chicagosinfonietta.org

Photo Credit: Ang Gao



Press Contact:
Laura Grant, Grant Communications




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