Maestro Michael Goodwin, Musical Director 1995-2012
The Auburn Symphony is being increasingly recognized as among the best community orchestras in the United States. Much of the credit for this is due to Maestro Michael Goodwin, who has directed the orchestra since 1995. Hailed as “a musician of strength and sensibility” and praised for his “felt-to-the-bone interpretations” of the central works of the orchestral repertoire, Maestro Goodwin has relentlessly striven to develop the orchestra to its highest potential, leading performances which invariably draw standing ovations from the enthusiastic, loyal and ever-growing audience. His sincere and passionate musicianship, and his ability to draw the best out of musicians, continues to attract northern California’s finest instrumentalists to play in the orchestra. Maestro Goodwin’s policy of inviting internationally acclaimed soloists, such as pianists Brian Ganz and Gwendolyn Mok, violinists Bin Huang and David Garrett, and soprano Svetlana Nikitenko, has resulted in many spectacular concerto performances, while the brilliant concerto solos by principal players in the orchestra have demonstrated the extraordinary richness of talent which he has attracted.
Maestro Michael Goodwin’s tenth anniversary season as Music Director of the Auburn Symphony was a landmark season, for the maestro himself, as well as for the orchestra. Maestro Goodwin led the orchestra in triumph through two of the most challenging major works of the repertoire: Sibelius’ 5th Symphony, and Mahler’s 1st Symphony, the latter performed in both Auburn and at the Mondavi Center of UC Davis, where the large audience gave maestro and orchestra an unprecedented ovation. He also prepared the orchestra to play Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, Opus 45 under the baton of distinguished Mexican guest maestro, Enrique Batiz, who confessed that he kept forgetting that the orchestra was not fully professional. Maestro Goodwin’s highly successful concert in Toluca with Maestro Batiz’ Orquesta del Estado de Mexico was broadcast on Mexican national television, and repeated in Cuautitlan Izcalli, Mexico City.
Michael Goodwin was born in London in 1946. He began piano lessons at age 6, and also learned flute and cello. He gained the degrees of Bachelor of Arts (Music) at Leeds University and Master of Arts in Music (with Distinction) at California State University, Chico, where his principal study was Renaissance and Baroque performance practice. He studied conducting at the Guildhall School of Music, London, the Mozarteum Summer Academy, and the London Opera Centre, where he also trained as a repetiteur (opera pianist and coach). Maestro Goodwin feels particularly indebted to the late Rudolf Schwarz, formerly chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and to the distinguished conducting teacher Otto Werner-Mueller.
After completing his studies in England, Michael Goodwin emigrated to Australia, where he taught music at Sydney Grammar School and conducted numerous amateur and semi-professional choral and instrumental ensembles. He became the first winner of the national auditions of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to find a young Conductor-in-Training. He worked with ABC ensembles for two years, conducting broadcasts and concerts with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the ABC Training Orchestra and the Adelaide Singers. He also directed a summer season of operetta at the Adelaide Festival Theatre.
Maestro Goodwin’s first full-time opera conducting position was with the Teheran Opera in Iran, working with Music Director Alun Francis. He subsequently held positions with the opera companies in Trier and Hagen, Germany, working as Chorus Director and conducting operas, operettas and musicals ranging from Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady.
Attracted by a unique philosophy known as The Fourth Way, Michael Goodwin accepted an invitation in 1981 to build the Apollo Orchestra and Chorus for a private organization in California. He continues to direct these ensembles in repertoire ranging from Baroque masterpieces by Purcell, Handel and Bach to Romantic works of the 20th Century. An esteemed concerto accompanist, maestro Goodwin has attracted soloists to this orchestra of the caliber of pianist Menahem Pressler, cellist, the late Zara Nelsova, and guitarist David Tannenbaum. He is also Music Director of Apollo Opera, with which he has conducted a series of acclaimed full productions of grand operas including Carmen, Faust, Don Giovanni, Madama Butterfly and Rigoletto.
Recent guest engagements have included concerts with the Southern Illinois Symphony, Orquesta del Teatro Argentino, La Plata, Argentina, and the Chico State University Orchestra (now California’s North State Symphony.” Goodwin also conducted Puccini’s La Boheme for Nevada Opera in Reno, and was praised in review for making the opera “sing from beginning to end.” In addition to conducting, he frequently performs as piano accompanist, especially with singers, and continuo harpsichordist.
Maestro Goodwin was recognized for his work with the Auburn Symphony in 1998 with the Most Valuable Player Award of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras, and in 2001 with a Certificate of Recognition by the California Arts Council. His tenth anniversary season was recognized by both the State of California, and by the City of Auburn, which honored him with the 2006 State of the Community Award for Cultural Excellence.