Now in its 89th season, the Grand Rapids Symphony (GRS) is a highly acclaimed orchestra that presents more than 400 performances annually, reaching a diverse audience of more than 200,000 concertgoers from 14 West Michigan counties. Nearly half of those who attend are students, senior citizens, veterans, low-income community members, and people with disabilities who participate through Gateway to Music, an extensive matrix of education and access programs. The GRS is a major source of civic pride throughout Michigan and enjoys national recognition as well. On April 20, 2018, nearly a thousand enthusiastic GRS patrons accompanied the orchestra and Symphony Chorus to New York City for a concert at Carnegie Hall. The event drew a near-capacity audience and garnered widespread critical acclaim for the quality of the orchestra as well as the creative programming of Music Director Marcelo Lehninger. The New York trip also resulted in net-positive financial results for the organization.
The Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2018/2019 season features 10 Richard and Helen DeVos Classical program pairs, presented at DeVos Performance Hall. The Fox Motors Pops series is comprised of six programs, presented at DeVos Hall on Friday and Saturday evenings followed by Sunday matinees. The four-concert PwC Great Eras series focuses on programming selected from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary periods. On selected Friday mornings, the hour-long Porter Hills Coffee Classics concerts feature programming from the Great Eras series. The four Symphonic Boom programs, sponsored by Gerber, combine live orchestral playing with film and theatrical performances.
Through Gateway to Music, the Grand Rapids Symphony provides robust music education and access programs that reach nearly 90,000 participants annually. Since 1944, the GRS has provided concert experiences for more than 15,000 students each year as part of the Fifth Grade Concerts series. The 2017/2018 season marked the 10th anniversary of the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses and the 57th anniversary of the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony. In schools across the region, Gateway to Music programs serve students and engage the wider community through 17 varied musical offerings, including Lollipops Concerts, Mosaic Scholarships, and artist-in-residence programs designed to engage audiences of all ages.
The Grand Rapids Symphony’s Music for Health program sends musicians into area hospitals with the goal of enhancing wellness through live music. The program was honored in June 2017 when its founder and GRS violinist Diane McElfish Helle was awarded the Ford Musician Award for Excellence in Community Service by the League of American Orchestras. Additional access initiatives include Symphony Scorecard and Free for Families, both of which strive to eliminate financial barriers to concert experiences and welcome many first-time concertgoers each season.
The Grand Rapids Symphony has enjoyed celebrated successes in recording and has produced 12 recordings, including an album of new music by British composer Philip Sawyers released in 2011. The Orchestra’s 2007 recording featuring jazz harpist Deborah Henson-Conant earned a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album. A live performance of Verdi’s Requiem early in Marcelo Lehninger’s tenure brought high praise and enthusiasm from audience and critics alike.
The Grand Rapids Symphony is governed by a 50-member Board of Directors. Newly appointed President and CEO Mary Tuuk will lead an administrative staff of 32 and manage a $10 million budget. Marcelo Lehninger is in his third season as Music Director, his second since relocating with his family to Grand Rapids. Lehninger’s distinguished artistic team includes Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, Associate Conductor John Varineau, Chorus Director Pearl Shangkuan, and Youth Chorus Director Sean Ivory. The Grand Rapids Symphony, with 80 professional musicians, has recently been welcomed as the newest member of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM).
The Orchestra’s Affiliated Organizations include the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, the Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses, and the Grand Rapids Bach Festival. Julian Wachner was recently been appointed Artistic Director of the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival. The Grand Rapids Symphony also provides the orchestra for Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company.
About Grand Rapids
Located 178 miles northeast of Chicago and 170 miles northwest of Detroit, Grand Rapids is Michigan’s second-largest city, with a metropolitan population of 1.3 million. The city is a national leader in civic-minded philanthropy, widely recognized for strong not-for-profit organizations and public-private partnerships that improve overall quality of life. Generous community support makes Grand Rapids a vibrant and exciting city with a low cost of living, affordable housing, quality educational opportunities, and short commutes.
In recent years, Grand Rapids has been listed by Forbes among the top “15 US Cities’ Emerging Downtowns” and named “Best City for Raising a Family.” The Wall Street Journal identified Grand Rapids as “2nd Best Place to Live in the US,” citing its schools and strong economy. In recommending travel destinations, Expedia calls Grand Rapids “one of America’s Super Cool Cities.”
In addition to a superb symphony orchestra, Grand Rapids boasts a thriving arts culture with world-class museums and cultural events. A comprehensive listing of art museums, history museums, galleries, botanical gardens, and zoological parks can be found at https://www.experiencegr.com.
The Vice President and General Manager joins the Senior VP of Development, VP of Marketing and Communications, and VP of Finance as a member of the senior management team that reports to the President and CEO. The VP/GM is responsible and accountable for planning, directing, and supervising all aspects of orchestra operations, including: season planning, scheduling, artistic administration, concert production, collective bargaining, community programs, performance-related media activity, touring, run-outs, and special events. S/he ensures that the highest standards of professionalism and excellence are maintained in the execution of all Grand Rapids Symphony productions.
The VP/GM assists in achieving the GRS's goals for developing partnerships and building bridges to the community. S/he actively seeks out live performance opportunities throughout West Michigan and beyond. S/he develops electronic media opportunities for the GRS, including recordings, radio and television broadcasts, and Internet transmissions.
The VP/GM is the lead member of management's negotiating team for all collective bargaining agreements and negotiates personal service contracts with individual musicians. S/he ensures compliance with agreements and maintains a positive work environment that allows musicians to achieve the highest possible artistic standards. S/he ensures effective communication between musicians and other GRS stakeholders.
The VP/GM oversees the timely preparation of seasonal and multi-year operating plans for all concert series and activities. S/he ensures optimal utilization of orchestra services. S/he serves as the principal staff liaison and artistic advisor to the Music Director, Principal Pops Conductor, associate and affiliate conductors, other artistic personnel, and administrative departments.
The VP/GM is the primary interface with the GRS finance department. S/he develops and monitors budgets for all orchestra programs and activities. S/he is responsible and accountable for managing expenses and achieving income goals. S/he serves as a member of the GRS's financial management team and ensures that requests for budgets, cost estimates, and financial projections are filled in a complete and timely manner.
The VP/GM supervises the Senior Director of Operations, Senior Artistic Advisor, Director of Education, Personnel Manager, and Librarians. S/he represents the President at meetings and functions in the community as requested. The VP/GM participates in fundraising and other activities that heighten public awareness, appreciation, and support for the Grand Rapids Symphony. S/he is an active participant in the life of the Grand Rapids community.
The ideal candidate will be an outstanding leader and manager with a strong working knowledge of orchestras, artists, and repertoire and significant experience with orchestra operations, production, artistic administration, and electronic media. S/he will be a skilled communicator with a commitment to transparency in working with all GRS stakeholders. S/he will bring excellent entrepreneurial instincts and creative energy to the position, helping to ensure the Grand Rapids Symphony’s continued growth, development, and success.
The successful candidate will be skilled in planning and managing complex projects. S/he will have experience in developing and managing budgets; achieving budget goals; developing new income streams; and fully utilizing contracted services. S/he will be comfortable with use of technology for current operations, and will be actively interested in possibilities for future applications.
The successful candidate will be experienced and effective in conducting collective bargaining negotiations. S/he will have the knowledge, skills, and experience to be an effective partner with the Music Director. S/he will have the demonstrated ability to book and manage orchestra run-outs, tours, and special events; work with electronic media; and develop community programs and partnerships.
The ideal candidate will be a strong team builder and team player. S/he will have excellent personnel management and supervisory skills. S/he will have the demonstrated ability to work effectively with a volunteer Board and Board committees. S/he will be skilled and experienced in working with diverse community populations and organizations.
The successful candidate will be a person of the highest integrity and ethical standards. S/he will have a passionate belief in the value and importance of symphony orchestras to their communities. S/he will be able to accept a work schedule that includes concerts and events on evenings and weekends. S/he will welcome the opportunity to become an active part of the Grand Rapids community.
Compensation, including benefits, is competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience.
Please prepare a cover letter that describes your specific interest in the Grand Rapids Symphony and outlines your qualifications for the position. Please submit with a resume, salary requirements, and contact information for at least three professional references. Electronic submissions are requested. All applications will be treated as confidential and references will not be contacted without the candidate’s knowledge and agreement.
Please send materials to:
Grand Rapids Symphony – Vice President and General Manager
Please submit material in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word format
Additional Salary Information: Compensation, including benefits, is competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience.
About Grand Rapids Symphony
Formed in 1998, the Catherine French Group works with symphony orchestras, opera companies, performing arts presenters, music festivals, schools of music, and other music and arts organizations as they recruit chief executives as well as senior management and artistic personnel. The Catherine French Group is based in Washington, DC. Catherine French is founder and principal. Musician, administrator, and educator Christopher Wingert joined CFG in 2005 and is Managing Director. Henry Fogel, former CEO of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and now Dean of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, joined CFG to collaborate on projects that have a special focus on music directors and artistic directors.