The Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra invites applications and nominations for the position of Music Director, available in the summer of 2019.
Founded in 1942, Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra (SYSO) is one of the largest and most highly regarded youth orchestra training programs in the United States. The organization, which is comprised of the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, four training orchestras, a conservatory, a summer festival, and several other education programs, serves nearly 2,000 students each year and their families reflect the rich diversity of the Seattle community.
SYSO enjoys a prestigious reputation as a high caliber orchestra and counts many acclaimed professional musicians among its alumni, including three founding members of the Kronos Quartet. SYSO is celebrating its 75th anniversary during the 2018/2019 season with three Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra concerts at Benaroya Hall and three performances that feature Junior Symphony, Debut Symphony, Symphonette, and Prelude String Orchestra at Benaroya Hall and the University of Washington.
In addition to the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra and its four training orchestras, SYSO provides a wide variety of opportunities for young musicians. These include the SYSO Summer Music day camp, the nationally recognized Marrowstone Music Festival, and innovative public school partnerships such as the Endangered Instruments program and the Musical Pathways Project, which provide equitable access to high-quality music instruction to youth from low-income households.
SYSO’s recent acquisition of the Seattle Conservatory of Music enables them to guide and prepare young musicians who aspire to professional careers. By awarding more than $300,000 in financial aid annually, SYSO ensures that every talented student from age seven to 22 can participate in the right program for them, regardless of financial resources.
SYSO is a unique and extraordinarily multifaceted organization. It is an arts organization with earned income from tuition as well as ticket sales from concerts, events and festivals; it is similar to an independent school with a diverse parent and student base; it is like a university with an extensive alumni and parent/grandparent network; and it is similar to a youth development organization with a focus on underserved populations.
The organization has an operating budget of $2.2 million and is governed by a Board of 17 volunteers that includes professional musicians, educators, and community leaders. Additional support is provided by an active parents association. There is an administrative staff of eight led by Executive Director Kathleen Allen. Stephen Rogers Radcliffe stepped down in 2018 after 12 years as Music Director. Anna Edwards is interim Music Advisor as a search for SYSO’s next Music Director is underway.
Nicknamed “The Emerald City,” Seattle is surrounded with majestic mountains, sparkling bodies of water, and lush greenery year round. Many say the region’s verdant landscapes and plentiful rain are what drive the innovative spirit of this city. With music, art and culture, Fortune 500 companies, philanthropy, social justice, geo-political initiatives, education, food, coffee, public parks and spaces, engineering, architecture, ferries, island life, and conservation, Seattle continues to be at the epicenter of innovation. Both Forbes and AARP name Seattle one of the top three “Most Livable Large Cities in America.” Seattle’s diverse population of more than 3.7 million also ranked #2 among “The Most Literate Cities in the Country.” With all the traits that make it unique, Seattle has become this decade’s fastest growing American city and according to Kiplinger's is one of the "10 Best Cities for the Next Decade."
The next Music Director will take the helm of one of the most prestigious youth orchestra programs in North America based in a city that is world-renowned for innovation and creativity. S/he will have the opportunity to lead the artistic development of a multi-faceted organization with deep roots in the community and strong ties to area’s public and private schools. S/he will lead SYSO in concerts at the critically acclaimed, acoustically excellent Benaroya Hall. S/he will make a home in a community that celebrates the rich diversity of its population, arts, and culture.
The Music Director provides the artistic leadership and vision that allows SYSO to fulfill its mission to inspire, educate, and train young people to realize their full potential as musicians, orchestra members, and citizen artists. The Music Director is responsible and accountable for all aspects of artistic administration, including programming; recruiting, engaging and supervising faculty; recruiting young musicians to be members of SYSO; and overseeing the artistic vision for special programs such as the Seattle Conservatory of Music, Marrowstone Music Festival, school programs and SYSO Summer Music day camp. The Music Director ensures the highest possible standards of artistic excellence in all SYSO programs and activities.
The Music Director is the principal conductor of the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Marrowstone Music Festival. S/he programs, prepares, and conducts the orchestra; s/he oversees the work of conductors and coaches who work with SYSO’s four training orchestras. S/he is responsible for the design and implementation of the Conservatory curriculum and the Marrowstone Music Festival program and faculty.
The Music Director reports to the Board of Directors and partners with the Executive Director in achieving budget and program enrollment goals. Together they are visible representatives and spokespersons for SYSO and active participants in the greater Seattle community. The Music Director takes an active role in fundraising, especially donor cultivation and stewardship. The Music Director works with the Executive Director to foster a positive environment that challenges and inspires young musicians, as well as the staff and faculty who support them, to do their best work.
The ideal candidate will be a superb musician and experienced conductor with the demonstrated ability to inspire young people to set and achieve high musical goals in an atmosphere that values learning and collaboration. The ideal candidate will bring successful experience leading both professional and student ensembles. Experience as conductor of an independent youth orchestra will be considered an asset.
The successful candidate will be an educator with a thorough understanding of the development of young people of differing abilities and aspirations. S/he will be able to interact and communicate effectively with parents. The successful candidate will bring a deep knowledge of the orchestral repertoire, particularly as it relates to developing musicians and musicianship. S/he will combine a passion for education with a background in pedagogy and the ability to program and adjust repertoire to the developing abilities of student musicians. S/he will have the ability to build multi-year curricula based on the needs and talents of students. S/he will embrace the opportunity to foster the next generation of professional musicians, amateur musicians, music lovers, and audience members.
The successful candidate will be able to write and speak persuasively about the value and importance of SYSO to its members and to the community. S/he will be willing to participate actively in donor cultivation and fundraising. S/he will be an active and engaged member of the Seattle arts and music education community.
The successful candidate will be innovative, curious, flexible, and forward-thinking. S/he will skilled at balancing multiple demands and competing priorities with a good sense of humor. S/he will be a person of integrity and high ethical standards. S/he will be a strong leader who can work effectively with others an atmosphere of mutual respect and teamwork. S/he will welcome the opportunity to take the artistic helm of the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Compensation, including benefits, is competitive and commensurate with qualifications.
The Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to diversity, inclusion, and equity in all facets of the organization. The Search Committee seeks to develop a diverse candidate pool and welcomes nominations and applications from all qualified candidates regardless of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, religion, national origin, disability, ancestry, marital status, veteran status, medical condition or any protected category prohibited by local, state or federal laws.
Applicants are asked to prepare a cover letter that describes your specific interest in the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra and outlines your qualifications for the position. Submit with a resume, salary requirements, and contact information for at least three professional references. Cover letter and resume should not exceed five pages. 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 do not send recordings, reviews, or other supplementary materials at this time. Qualified candidates will be invited to submit additional materials at a later time.
Please submit material in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word format
Additional Salary Information: Compensation, including benefits, is competitive and commensurate with qualifications.
About Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra
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, 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 former Dean of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, collaborates on projects that have a special focus on music directors and artistic directors.