Executive Director Terell Johnson

Terell Johnson, Executive Director of the Chicago Philharmonic and Crain’s 40 Under 40 Awardee, is a leading figure in Chicago’s performing arts scene.

Deeply invested in supporting Chicago’s performing arts community and shaping the future of the classical music industry, Terell Johnson not only serves as the Executive Director of the award-winning Chicago Philharmonic but is also both the Board Director of the Illinois Council of Orchestras and a Co-Chair for the Harris Theater for Music and Dance Committee on Resident Companies. On the national front, Johnson was also selected to join other elite Black and Latinx arts leaders as a member of the third cohort of Sphinx LEAD (Leaders in Excellence, Arts & Diversity), a 2-year leadership program designed to evolve the classical music industry landscape by empowering the next generation of executive leaders. As a Sphinx LEAD Alumnus, Johnson continues to serve as a role model and mentor to the next generation of young arts leaders of color.

According to Musical America, the leading classical music industry publication, “Chicago Philharmonic is fast becoming the savviest programmer in Chicago’s symphonic firmament under the leadership of new executive director Terell Johnson.” Named one of thirty nationwide “Professionals of the Year” in 2021 by Musical America, Johnson has guided the Chicago Philharmonic to new peaks in multiple areas during his first two years.

Johnson has blazed a trail for more inclusive symphony concerts with genre-bending programming featuring a range of diverse artists, including the sold-out Chicago Premiere of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther in Concert featuring Senegalese tama drummer Massamba Diop, the American premiere of composer Tan Dun’s guitar concerto performed by leading classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, and a multi-media performance with indie music star Kishi Bashi analyzing Japanese-American internment during WWII. In summer 2023 Chicago Philharmonic expanded its longtime partnership with Ravinia Festival to present the inaugural four-day Ravinia El Sistema-inspired “Seminario”, where students from around the country were mentored by Chicago Philharmonic musicians and famed conductor Marin Alsop. Also in summer 2023 was “Somos Un Solo Pueblo” at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion celebrating the vibrant Mexican and Puerto Rican communities in Chicago. Johnson looks forward to continuing to diversify the Chicago Philharmonic repertoire, audience base, board membership and roster of musicians as he and the Philharmonic shape the future of classical music in Chicago.

Terell Johnson

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