Philharmonia Northwest – Music Director (Contract)

Philharmonia Northwest, a high-level community chamber orchestra in the greater Seattle area, is inviting highly qualified individuals to submit applications for the position of Music Director. Applications will be accepted until March 10, 2023. Candidates selected as finalists will appear with the orchestra during its 2023-24 season and the new Music Director’s tenure will begin with the 2024-25 season.

Please note: The winning candidate must be present in Seattle, WA, USA for weekly rehearsals on Tuesday nights. Residence in Seattle is preferred.


Posted: February 1, 2023
Location: Seattle, WA
Type: Contract
Categories: Music Director/Conductor
Reports to: Board of Trustees
Term to begin with Season 48 (2024-2025)
Compensation: $25,000 to $30,000 per year DOE
Application due date: March 10, 2023




  • Guide and inspire the orchestra through musically-empowering rehearsals and conduct successful public performance of 6-8 concerts per season.
  • Display musical and personal leadership, setting high standards for musicianship and for the public image of the organization.


Musical and Community Collaboration

  • Collaborate with high caliber Northwest musicians, including soloists and composers.
  • Continue Phiharmonia’s Patrons for New Music program, which involves commissioning one new work per year and involving a group of patrons in the process.
  • Carry on and expand the educational outreach activities of the orchestra.
  • In cooperation with the board and orchestra, develop additional venues and/or collaborative musical events in order to raise the public profile and level of musicianship of the orchestra.
  • Endeavor to incorporate more diverse communities in our orchestra, soloists, board, staff, and audience, as well as educational and community partners.
  • Continue efforts to provide better accessibility for low-income audiences.


Orchestra Personnel Oversight

  • Participate with the Orchestra Committee in formulating orchestra policies regarding attendance, subbing, extra players, preparation, rehearsal, and concert etiquette.
  • Participate in recruiting and auditioning orchestra members, substitutes, and extra players.
  • Coordinate with section leaders regarding interpretation, preparation, and bowings.



  • Lead and work with the board in planning and communicating season programs and soloists.
  • Select music to challenge the talents and abilities of the group, considering audience appeal, the need for variety, availability of scores, and financial considerations, in cooperation with the wishes of the orchestra. Repertoire should highlight the diverse past and present repertoire for chamber orchestra, while also promoting local composers and performers.


Concert Preparation 

  • Motivate and elicit the best efforts of the orchestra to reach the highest possible performance level.
  • Rehearse the orchestra efficiently to achieve desired musical interpretation and inspire musicians to perform to their highest potential.
  • Coordinate and clearly communicate all aspects of rehearsal and concert preparation with orchestra members and appropriate management personnel: administrative assistant, librarian, stage manager, orchestra contact person, and website manager.


Board and finances 

  • Attend regularly scheduled Board meetings in ex-officio status.
  • Work with the Board of Directors in maintaining the fiscal integrity of the organization.
  • Cooperate and communicate with the Board of Directors regarding administrative matters.


Publicity, fundraising, community contacts

  • Work with the board and orchestra to define the image and “brand” of the organization.
  • Develop community contacts to enlarge participation and contribution to the organization, including financial, volunteer time and expertise.
  • Be a primary participant in fundraising activities.
  • Participate in and review the design and production of yearly brochure, programs, website, and any other marketing materials.
  • Assist in expanding opportunities for marketing the organization.

Other duties as reasonably required by the PNW Board of Directors.



Philharmonia Northwest, founded in 1976 (under the auspices of the Thalia Allied Artists), is one of the finest community chamber orchestras in the Seattle region and is a vital part of the regional classical music scene. The orchestra presents lively performances of works ranging from the classics to world premieres and has featured many outstanding Northwest soloists. Philharmonia Northwest is unique in that for nearly half of its life, its Music Directors have been women: founder and conductor Frances Walton, and current director Julia Tai. Under the dynamic leadership of Julia Tai, the orchestra has strengthened its ties to the music community by adding an Educational Outreach program, collaborating with schools and local organizations, as well as establishing the Patrons for New Music, a group dedicated to commissioning new works for performance by the orchestra. We are dedicated to continuing to represent women and people of color in our musicians, composers, soloists, and audiences. Although these programs were curtailed during the pandemic, they are now being revived. The orchestra continued to perform by presenting livestream concerts throughout the pandemic with a reduced number of players.

The orchestra comprises 35-55 dedicated and skilled musicians, most of whom are volunteers, the number varying by the work performed. Rehearsals are on Tuesday evenings in rehearsal rooms at Shorecrest Performing Arts Center. Concerts are held at Town Hall Seattle or Shorecrest PAC, most often on Sunday afternoons. Four rehearsals plus a dress rehearsal are usually held in preparation for each concert. In the past several years, our seasons have consisted of 4 regular concerts (including one Children’s Concert), 2 collaborations with the Kirkland Choral Society, and 2 concerto concerts, in which the orchestra accompanies winners of the University of Washington  Piano Competition and the Seattle Young Artists Competition.


Philharmonia Northwest Mission Statement:

Philharmonia Northwest contributes to the vitality of the classical music community in the Pacific Northwest by presenting professional level concerts highlighting the diverse past and present repertoire for chamber orchestra. It is dedicated to promoting local composers and performers, and its outreach programs educate and inspire younger musicians and audiences of all ages.



The successful candidate shall possess:

  • Master’s of Music Degree or equivalent experience
  • Minimum 2-3 years conducting experience with adult or community orchestras
  • A thorough knowledge of orchestral repertoire and styles, including orchestral concert music, works for chamber orchestra, and symphonic choral works
  • Commitment to fulfilling the orchestra’s potential as an artistic and community resource
  • Initiative in being involved in the life of the community
  • Proven ability to retain and expand audience and season subscriptions, and an expressed commitment to creating and building a diverse community of music enthusiasts
  • Strong written, verbal, leadership, and interpersonal skills and a track record of working well with colleagues and orchestra musicians
  • Respect for the musicians and collaborative work ethic
  • Knowledge and understanding of computer systems and technology including Google applications, video conferencing, and digital music platforms



  • Excellent conducting and musicianship skills, and ability to inspire and elicit the best efforts of the orchestra musicians
  • An acute ear for orchestra intonation, balance, and color; advanced skills in sight-reading and transposition
  • Successful and efficient rehearsal and baton technique that balances attention to technical details with communication of overall interpretive goals
  • Strong sense of musicality and interpretive skills that enable communication of the emotional content of a wide range of music
  • Talent for developing imaginative programming ideas that have significance to the orchestra, the occasion, and the community, and experience in diverse repertoire
  • Ability to inspire and communicate musically and verbally with audiences of all ages, both on and off the stage
  • Familiarity with fundraising and donor stewardship in the context of the performing arts
  • Readiness and ability to serve as the public face of the organization
  • Preferred residence within the Seattle metropolitan commuting area, or willingness to relocate to this area



To apply, please provide:

  1. Cover letter
  2. Resume or CV
  3. Links to at least three videos of your conducting
  4. Three references


  1. Sample programs of concerts in which you served as Music Director or Assistant Music Director or equivalent positions.
  2. List of previously conducted repertoire in concerts with performance dates and venues


Please email the above to:
Applications will be accepted until March 10, 2023.



Each finalist will plan, rehearse, and conduct one concert in the 23-24 season. They will be compensated for their time, for both the concert and rehearsals.

After each finalist completes their concert, evaluations and comment surveys with orchestra and audience will be given to elicit feedback.

The finalists will be asked to submit a sample season of programs to include at least one children’s concert and one concert with chorus, for a total of 5 programs.

The winning candidate will be decided at the end of the 2023-24 season.


Philharmonia Northwest values diversity, equity, and inclusion and is deeply committed to providing equal opportunities and treatment to all of our participants and staff. All of our decisions regarding our participants and staff are made without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, age, national origin, citizenship, veteran, military, marital status, sensory, physical, or mental disability, genetic information, or any other status or characteristic protected by applicable law.