Allen Tinkham is increasingly recognized as one of the most inspiring and exciting conductors and teachers of his generation. He is hailed by the Chicago Tribune as both a conductor and teacher, described as working “wonders” as one of the most important "educators, mentors and inspirational guides in the training of tomorrow's orchestral professionals” and defined by his “communicative” conducting producing “an adrenalin rush of superior playing.”


Under his leadership as the longtime Music Director of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO), both the Chicago Tribuneand Chicago Sun Timeshave described performances by the CYSO Symphony Orchestra as "professional level,"and under his baton, the Chicago Tribunehas noted his “impressive” conducting and “uncanny control” and has compared theCYSO Symphony Orchestra's"ferocity and theatricality"to that of the ChicagoSymphony Orchestra.


Now in his second season as Music Director of the Chicago Composers Orchestra (CCO), Chicago Magazine reflected at his appointment on his “well-respected” conducting tenure in Chicago and advocacy of contemporary music, and he was recently praised by the Chicago Classical Review for leading the seven year old orchestra to perform with the “cohesion of a long-established chamber group.”




To open the 2016/2017 season, Tinkham leads the CYSO Symphony Orchestra (CYSO) and the Chicago Composers Orchestra (CCO) at the first EAR TAXI Chicago Festival of New Music. Tinkham will perform nine premieres with CCO and two premieres as well as first performances of Elgar’s In the South and Resphigi’s Feste Romane with CYSO. To end the season, Tinkham leads the CYSO Symphony Orchestra throughout Central Europe in his sixth international tour.


Season highlights with CYSO also include performances with Rachel Barton Pine at the Midwest Clinic, CYSO Composer-in-Residence Glenn Kotche, and Google Tilt Brush Artist-in-Residence Teek van ti Mach. In addition to creating the annual gala and performance program, “0070th | Featuring the Music of James Bond,” to celebrate 70 years of CYSO music and featuring Rachel Barton PIne, Tinkham leads beyond the music for the first time as a gala co-chair to raise support for CYSO.


Tinkham and the CYSO Symphony Orchestra will be presented at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Millennium Park in a kick off concert before embarking on a concert tour in June to Belgrade, Budapest, and Prague in a program including Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony. Tinkham and the orchestra will also collaborate in a side-by-side performance with the Symphony Orchestra of the Music High Schools of Prague.


Season highlights with CCO include three world premieres at the EAR TAXI Chicago Festival of New Music, a collaboration with the Chicago Composers Consortium, and a performance with pianist Marta Aznavoorian in the world premiere of Seth Boustead’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Works programmed in the CCO season also include Pulitzer Prize winners Bernard Rands and George Walker and over ten Chicago area composers.




In his first season as Music Director of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, Allen Tinkham led the Symphony Orchestra in its Carnegie Hall debut as part of the legendary Young People’s Concerts first created by Maestro Leonard Bernstein and has since led the CYSO Symphony Orchestra in five tours to Europe, South America, and China performing in the world’s greatest concert halls from the Gewandhaus in Leipzig to the Teatro Solis in Montevideo.


Tinkham leads the CYSO Symphony Orchestra throughout Chicago each season in performances in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. He has also been featured regularly leading CYSO at the University of Chicago's Logan Center and Millennium Park’s Harris Theater as well as Chicago's top summer music festivals, the Grant Park Music Festival and the Ravinia Festival.


Shortly after his appointmentas Music Director with CYSO, Tinkham conducted the orchestra in itsfirst live broadcast performancefrom the studios of WFMT and then led the CYSO Symphony Orchestra in its first official recording release. Today, WFMT regularly records CYSO Symphony Orchestra live performances for broadcast including the critically acclaimedperformance of Stravinsky'sThe Rite of Spring and Mahler’s 5th Symphony.


As an advocate and champion of contemporary music, Allen Tinkham has won nine American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers National Awards for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music (ASCAP) with CYSO. He has premiered over ten new works for orchestra including commissions from Augusta Reed Thomas, Marc Anthony Turnage, and Daron Aric Hagen as well as American premieres such as Gabriel Prokofiev’s Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra.


Since Tinkham joined CYSO, its budget, applicants, and programs have doubled to four full orchestras and three string orchestras as well as a steel orchestras and jazz program.  The Illinois Council of Orchestras has awarded the CYSO the Youth Orchestra of the Year award in 2004, 2010, and 2016 and the Programming of the Year award in 2007, 2012, and 2017, and the Symphony Orchestra today is internationally acclaimed as “one of the country’s most famous youth outfits.” (MUSO Magazine)




In 2015, Tinkham was appointed Music Director of the Chicago Composers Orchestra (CCO), an ensemble devoted to performing the works of living composers. In his first two seasons, he has programmed the works of Pulitzer Prize winners Julia Wolfe, Bernard Rands, George Walker, David Lang, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich alongside the next generation of young composers. Tinkham and CCO quickly programmed the works of Pierre Boulez in February 2016 to honor his legacy in music.




Open to exploring waysto reach new audiences with orchestral music, Tinkham has collaborated on stage with the Chicago Bulls,The Second City, and the Blue Man Group.Versatile in all music genres, he has performed withBen Folds at the Chicago Theater, My Morning Jacket to openfor Pearl Jam for over 80,000at the Lollapalooza Music Festival and with My Brightest Diamondat the Grant Park Music Festival.


In 2010, Tinkham and CYSO were selected to open FESTA MUTI! for Maestro Riccardo Muti's inaugural concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a record 20,000 crowd in Millennium Park's Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Tinkham has also collaborated with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Chicago Children’s Choir, Salt Creek Ballet, and Chicago Sinfonietta. Tinkham was appointed to serve as a board member on the Illinois Council of Orchestras starting in the 2016/2017 season.


For six seasons, Tinkham was the Assistant Conductor for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s famous holiday concerts, and guest conducting engagements have included the Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, and the Adrian Symphony Orchestra. Early in his career, he was a cover conductor for the St. Louis Symphony and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.




As a respected music educator, Tinkham is in high demand across the U.S. as a guest conductor and teacher. He has conducted for two seasons in the Chicago Youth In Music Festival in collaboration with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, over twenty NAfME All-State Orchestras including the All-Eastern and All-Northwest Orchestras, and at the Oklahoma Summer Art Institute and Sewanee Summer Music Festival. Tinkham teaches graduate conducting at Columbia College of Chicago.




Born in Rhode Islandto music teachers of Englishand Lebanese descent,Tinkham first received musictraining at home and beganthe French Horn at age elevenand Double Bass at age fifteen. Following graduation from theEastman School of Music inperformance and music theorywith conducting studiesunder David Effron,Allen Tinkham was theyoungest recipient of theHelen and Clyde WuConducting Fellowship atthe University of Michiganfor the Master of Conducting.


Tinkham’s principal teachers were David Effron, Murry Sidlin, Kenneth Kiesler, David Zinman, and James DePreist. He has also received coaching from Christoph Eschenbach, Gerard Schwarz, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Gustav Meier, Jorma Panula, and David Robertson. Tinkham continued his conducting studies for several summers at the American Academy of Conducting of the Aspen Music Festival.




Early in his career, he was one of a select few of Americans invited to the 14th International Nicolai Malko Competition for Young Conductors and the 4th International Conductors’ Competition Sir Georg Solti. He is a laureate of the League of American Orchestra’s Bruno Walter Conductor Preview and has also been a seminar faculty member for the League of American Orchestra’s Orchestra Leadership Academy. 


Following his fellowship for the Master of Conducting at the University of Michigan, Tinkham began his conducting career at the Oregon Symphony as Apprentice Conductor mentoring under the late conductor and poet James DePreist.  Before the end of his apprenticeship, Tinkham was appointed Music Director of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO), the youngest to win the post in its history since 1946.




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