The Rapidian

West Michigan native lives the dream with Grand Rapids Symphony debut in DreamWorks Animation in Concert

Rockford's George Goad, newly named principal trumpet of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, performs for the first time with his hometown orchestra in DeVos Performance Hall
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DreamWorks Animation in Concert with the Grand Rapids Symphony

  • When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016
  • Where: DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW
  • Tickets:  Tickets start at $18
  • Call: Grand Rapids Symphony ticket office at (616) 454-9451 ext. 4
  • More info: Grsymphony.org
"Shrek" from DreamWorks Animation in Concert

"Shrek" from DreamWorks Animation in Concert /Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation

Being in DeVos Performance Hall for the Grand Rapids Pops’ production of DreamWorks Animation in Concert is a dream come true for George Goad.

The 2009 Rockford High School graduate won’t be in the audience, though about 25 friends and family members will be there on Saturday night to watch highlights of such films as Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda, accompanied by live music.

The 25-year-old trumpet player will be on stage with his hometown orchestra on Saturday, Oct. 22.

“I’m super excited,” he said with a laugh.

The West Michigan native, who recently won the principal trumpet position with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in Ohio, will appear with the Grand Rapids Symphony for the first time.

Guest conductor Justin Freer will lead the orchestra for one-night only with clips from a dozen DreamWorks films including Madagascar, Rise of the Guardians and Mr. Peabody and Sherman, projected on the big screen in HD.

Meanwhile the Grand Rapids Symphony plays the original scores by composers including Hans Zimmer, John Powell and Alexandre Desplat.

An elementary school field trip to DeVos Hall for a Grand Rapids Symphony Fifth Grade Concert was Goad’s first inspiration for a career in music.

“I just remember coming home after that and saying to my parents, ‘I want to play. I want to play,’” he recalled.

At first, he studied violin but it didn’t stick. He soon took up trumpet and played in St. Cecilia Music Center in 8th and 9th grade. In his sophomore year, he took a brief interest in jazz.

“Not my bag,” he said with a laugh.

In his junior and senior years in high school, Goad played in the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony under conductor John Varineau, performing such major orchestra works as Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

By then, Goad knew he wanted to pursue music professionally.

“I came in and tried to treat it like I was in a professional ensemble,” he said. “It was never high pressure, but you were allowed to be great.”

Recently, he played Morton Gould’s “American Salute,” a virtuoso set of variations on “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”

“The fact that I learned that so solidly as a 12th grader gave me confidence,” he said.

During high school, Goad won first place in the Grand Valley State University International Trumpet Seminar Competition.

Following high school, Goad studied at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, a conservatory of music that specializes in training musicians to become symphony orchestra musicians

During his master’s degree studies at Rice University in Houston, Goad won first place in the 2014 International Trumpet Guild Orchestral Excerpt Competition.

So far, he’s substituted with orchestras including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and he had a one-year fellowship with the New World Symphony in Miami.

“In order to get to the level of an orchestra like Grand Raids Symphony, you have to have great training,” he said. “To ever get to play with a group like the Grand Rapids Symphony, my training would have to take me across the country.”

“Not many people understand that – why you can’t grow up here and play in the orchestra?”

Some of the answer is that you can’t play full-time with an orchestra until a full-time opening appears. Goad’s predecessor with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra was a member of the orchestra for 50 years,  from age 25 until his recent retirement at age 75.

This past summer, Goad and his wife, Donielle, a 2012 graduate of Rockford High School, were married. Recently they moved to Columbus where Goad last week played a pops concert with singer, songwriter and guitarist Boz Scaggs.

A week from now, he’ll play performances of Verdi’s Requiem on Oct. 28-29 in Columbus.

Though Goad will perform for a guest conductor with the Grand Rapids Symphony this weekend, two years ago he got to play under Grand Rapids Symphony’s new Music Director Marcelo Lehninger at the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Center in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.

Goad was a Fellow for two years at Tanglewood. Lehninger, who spent five years with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as assistant and then associate conductor, was asked to step in at the last moment and conduct Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6.

“It was great, and he was very pleasant to work with,” Goad said. “I have good memories.”

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