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Founded in 1963, the Grammy Award winning New York Youth Symphony (NYYS) is nationally recognized for its Orchestra, Jazz Band, Chamber Music, Composition, First Music, Musical Theater Songwriting, and Apprentice Conducting programs, all of which provide opportunities for talented young musicians to develop their full musical potential. The core values of NYYS include a deep commitment to equity, fairness, and mutual respect. NYYS strives to be an inclusive organization that reflects the diversity of, and actively reaches out to, the greater New York metropolitan community.
The mission of the New York Youth Symphony is to educate and inspire young musicians through exceptional ensemble training and performance opportunities. Inspirational artistic directors, experienced coaches, and illuminating lecturers teach valuable skills. Rehearsal halls, studios, and lecture rooms are the classrooms where students, ages 12-22, learn as much about themselves as they do about their instruments and the music. All students are selected by competitive audition; all programs are tuition free.
A leader among youth orchestras nationally, the New York Youth Symphony Orchestra offers sophisticated programs to enthusiastic audiences in one of the world’s greatest venues, Carnegie Hall. The Orchestra’s season extends from September to May and includes weekly rehearsals at the DiMenna Center and three performances at Carnegie Hall. Additional highlights include the Orchestra’s recent tours to Spain and Argentina and an up-coming tour to Greece in 2024. The Orchestra has appeared live on CNN with Billy Ray Cyrus, with Jimmy Fallon and JVKE, and on Jimmy Kimmel Live! with Misty Copeland.
The NYYS Chamber Music Program was founded in 1983 in order to foster the growth of young musicians in a setting that allows them to explore the wide range of small ensemble repertoire. Approximately 100 students each year participate in string quartets, piano trios, woodwind and brass quintets, and other ensembles. The Program highlights new and commissioned repertoire as well as traditional chamber music, and also includes coaching sessions and master classes with world-renowned musicians in addition to concerts at Weill Recital Hall and Scandinavia House. An NYYS string quartet was recently featured on CBS Sunday Morning.
Modeled on the swing bands of the 1930s and 1940s, NYYS Jazz is a 17-member ensemble dedicated to studying, rehearsing, and performing classic jazz music. NYYS Jazz preserves big band traditions while incorporating current and emerging styles that define the genre for the present generation. Performances take place at Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Times Center. NYYS Jazz recently made their first tour, visiting Brazil.
The NYYS fosters young composers through its Composition Program. The Program offers student composers the opportunity to explore the world of composition and orchestration through seminars, workshops, and tutorials. Each year, students compose new works for ensembles, including string quartets, woodwind quintets, percussion ensembles, and more. Recent guest clinicians include Caroline Shaw, Nico Muhly, Huang Ruo, and Missy Mazzoli.
First Music, the NYYS’s young composer competition, commissions America’s best emerging orchestral, chamber music, and jazz composers under the age of 30. First Music awards seven commissions annually and is widely acknowledged as a leading force in the US for bringing the work of gifted young composers to the public’s attention. Since its inception in 1984, First Musichas commissioned more than 170 new works, each premiered by a NYYS ensemble. Through a partnership with Interlochen, new works are now assured a second performance. Collectively, First Music composers have been awarded 12 Rome Prizes, 16 Guggenheim Fellowships, two Grawemeyer Awards, and four Pulitzer Prizes.
The Robert L. Poster Conducting Program offers talented and curious young conductors the opportunity to study the art of conducting with a focus on rehearsal technique, baton technique, time on the podium, and score analysis. The Conducting Program culminates with the apprentice conductors working directly with a composer of the NYYS Composition Program to prepare, rehearse, and perform newly composed pieces.
In its 60 years of educating students through its six after-school programs, NYYS has supported students from across the region, but is now focusing its efforts on historically underserved communities through its Pathways to Successinitiatives. Following the pandemic and the disproportionate effects on NYC students’ music education, NYYS is helping students gain access to high level musical training as they navigate towards college and beyond.
Through Pathways, NYYS launched its Musical Theater Songwriting program in partnership with the NYC DOE. NYYS’s Musical Theater Songwriting Program is specifically designed to lead students through a range of musical theatre songwriting processes. Through a series of seminars and masterclasses, the Musical Theater Songwriting Program provides students unparalleled access to composers, librettists, actors, musicians, designers, and producers as they explore the relationship between music and language in this vital American art form. Sharing of student works takes place throughout the year and culminates in a public performance.
Pathways has also enabled NYYS to expand partnerships with organizations such as Harlem School of Arts, Harmony Program, Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Hope Leadership Academy at Children’s Aid; found the Unsunginitiative to educate students about repertoire by composers from historically underrepresented communities; implement need-based fellowships for students including financial stipends and mentorships with professionals; and in 2023/24, NYYS launch its newest program, Crescendo– a 44-piece string ensemble for NYC residents between ages 10 and 18 to address the arts education gap in the NYC area caused by the pandemic.
NYYS proudly serves as a training ground and launch pad to professional careers in the arts not only for its students but for its artistic staff; thus, NYYS’s commitment to supporting musicians from historically underserved communities extends to the hiring of its full-time and part-time staff, many of whom are young professionals in the beginning stages of their careers. NYYS recognizes the need to have a diverse array of leaders that reflects its student population as well as its responsibility to uplift its young professionals and provide them with the proper mentorship and resources that will enable them to advance to senior leadership roles. Former musical and administrative staff have gone onto senior leadership positions at Carnegie Hall, New York Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, League of American Orchestras, and more.
The NYYS artistic leadership team includes: Andrew J. Kim, Music Director of the Orchestra and the Conducting Program; Lisa Tipton, Director of the Chamber Music Program; Michael Thomas, Director of NYYS Jazz; and Kyle Blaha, Director of Composition; Michael Kooman, Director of Musical Theater Songwriting; and Tanatchaya (Tanya) Chanphanitpornkit, Director of Crescendo. Christopher Theofanidis and Arthuro O’Farrill are Chairs of the Advisory Committee for First Music.
The New York Youth Symphony has an annual operating budget of $2 million, and endowment and reserve funds are approaching $8 million. The NYYS is governed by a 31-member Board of Trustees and has an administrative staff of five full-time and fourteen part-time employees. An active Parents’ Guild provides guidance and support.
The next Executive Director will join a vibrant organization with a clear and compelling mission, an active and engaged Board of Trustees, and programs that provide extraordinary opportunities for young people to develop their musical skills, creativity, self-discipline, and sense of teamwork, all of which will benefit them in any career path they choose and help them become life-long contributors to society’s engagement with the arts. The next Executive Director will have the opportunity to lead the organization in developing a strategic plan to establish priorities and an action agenda for the artistic, financial, and organizational success of the New York Youth Symphony through the next decade. Working with the Board, the ED will lead NYYS’s efforts to ensure that equity, diversity, and inclusion are deeply shared values reflected at all levels of the organization. The next Executive Director will build on a strong foundation developed over nearly 60 years to provide unique and extraordinary educational experiences for young musicians in a city with unparalleled creative resources.
The Executive Director is the chief executive officer of the New York Youth Symphony and reports to the Board. The ED manages the organization’s human and financial resources and ensures that the NYYS fulfills its mission and achieves its goals for artistic excellence, financial stability, and the enrichment of young lives through music.
The Executive Director is responsible and accountable for all aspects of the organization’s management, including artistic administration, strategic planning, fundraising, marketing, audience development, public relations, promotion, production, operations, budgeting and financial management, communications, community engagement, and the educational activities that support and develop the musicians of the NYYS.
The Executive Director is the organization’s chief fundraiser. The ED provides guidance and support to the fundraising efforts of the Board and is responsible for leading the organization’s 60th Anniversary Capital Campaign. The ED establishes and maintains productive relationships with individuals, foundations, corporate sponsors, and other funders. The ED ensures that NYYS achieves or exceeds its contributed income goals from all sources.
The Executive Director provides impetus to the work of the Board. The ED helps identify and recruit board members and ensures the continuity of leadership for the organization. The ED provides staff support to the Board and its committees, and ensures that the Board has the information it needs for decision-making.
The Executive Director recruits, hires, motivates, supervises, evaluates, and provides leadership to a high caliber artistic and administrative professional staff. The ED develops and maintains an environment that nurtures the talents of the young musicians and conductors who participate in NYYS programs and allows the artistic staff and coaches to do their best work. The ED builds and supports an administrative team in an organization that is committed to transparency, welcomes new ideas, and encourages personal development.
The Executive Director is the chief spokesperson for NYYS and represents the organization throughout the community. The ED develops and promotes the NYYS brand throughout the greater metropolitan area and beyond to increase public awareness of NYYS programs, build audiences for NYYS concerts, and advocate for the value and importance of music education and youth orchestra programs. The ED develops partnerships and collaborations that advance the mission of the NYYS while providing the best possible educational experience for young musicians.
In fulfilling these responsibilities, the Executive Director works with and is supported by the NYYS Board and staff.
The ideal candidate will be a visionary leader with a deep commitment to music education, substantive experience working with talented young people, and a proven record of success as senior executive of a not-for-profit music or arts organization. The candidate will have a strong working knowledge of music, artists, and repertoire. Experience as a performing musician, though not required, would be an asset.
The successful candidate will have excellent financial management skills with the demonstrated ability to develop, manage, and balance annual operating budgets. The candidate will be an enthusiastic fundraiser who has had successful experience achieving or exceeding goals for foundation grants, annual fund and endowment campaigns, corporate sponsorships, and special project fundraising.
The successful candidate will embrace the mission and core values of the New York Youth Symphony. The candidate will be an advocate for the value and importance of music education for all young people, and will be able to speak and write persuasively about NYYS. The candidate will have experience guiding and mentoring young musicians who seek to pursue professional studies. The candidate will be knowledgeable about concert production and digital media.
The successful candidate will have strong interpersonal skills. The candidate will have experience working with a volunteer Board of Trustees and recruiting volunteer leadership. The successful candidate will have excellent supervisory skills, the ability to foster teamwork, and the willingness to nurture and develop staff. The candidate will be a strategic thinker, a superb listener, and a skilled communicator.
The successful candidate will be energetic, optimistic, and curious. The candidate will be a mature leader with integrity, high ethical standards, and a strong commitment to transparency. The candidate will welcome the opportunity to provide leadership to an educational organization with a youth orchestra that has been described by the New York press as “an accomplished, ambitious group of players,” who perform at a “level that is almost always what you would expect from a full-time, professional adult orchestra,” and is clearly “America’s best youth symphony.”
The salary range for this position is $175,000 to $195,000 per year, depending on qualifications and experience.
The New York Youth Symphony is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion in all facets of the organization and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of race, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.
Please submit a cover letter that describes your specific interest in NYYS and your qualifications for the position. Send with a resume and salary expectations. Please also include the names of several professional references. All applications will be treated as confidential and references will not be contacted without the applicant’s agreement. Electronic submissions are requested.
The position will remain open until filled; the Search Committee will begin to review credentials in late September.
New York Youth Symphony
c/o Catherine French Group
2500 Q Street NW, Suite 623
Washington, DC 20007
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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.