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Orchestra Conductor | Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras


Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) seeks a talented and dynamic conductor to serve as Philharmonic Orchestra (PO) Conductor starting in the 2023/2024 season. PO was launched in 2016 as an additional full orchestra as a bridge to CYSO’s highest performance level orchestra, the flagship Symphony Orchestra (SO).

The PO conductor will be a leader of sensitive musicianship, technical mastery, and comprehensive understanding of orchestral skills and performance practice and will bring to CYSO a commitment to its mission, a passion for youth orchestral music education, a desire for personal artistic growth, and a connection to the CYSO community.


CYSO’s mission is to inspire and cultivate personal excellence through music. CYSO is investing in the future of music and the next generation of leaders. With a rich history dating to 1946, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) is committed to educating, encouraging, and empowering student musicians so that they may pursue personal excellence both on and off the stage. Bringing together young musicians from diverse backgrounds in a collaborative environment that develops self-confidence, teamwork, and leadership, CYSO provides one of the most comprehensive music training programs in the country that inspires both musical and personal growth.

As one of the country’s leading youth orchestras, CYSO serves nearly 800 young people (ages 6-18) from across the Chicagoland area and neighboring states. CYSO students perform in Chicago’s great concert venues from Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center to the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and the historic Studebaker Theater at the Fine Arts Building. CYSO students have collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Laurie Anderson, Anthony and Demarre McGill, Dee Alexander, Ben Folds, and Chance the Rapper.

CYSO is committed to providing high-quality musical and educational experiences to its students. CYSO has grown from one orchestra to a comprehensive music training destination with 12 on-site ensembles ranging from full symphony orchestras, string ensembles, jazz orchestra, and steelpan orchestras; chamber music and composition programs; multiple school-based programs; and robust community engagement activities.

CYSO is investing in the future of music and the next generation of leaders. By increasing access to high-quality music education, CYSO is developing the future of music for decades to come and creating leaders who will impact the world. The CYSO team fosters this culture of excellence and achievement by promoting compassion, collaboration, and curiosity.


CYSO’s PO is a full symphony orchestra serving young musicians, the majority are in 8th – 12th grades. PO is the second most advanced orchestra among CYSO full orchestras, and is preceded by Concert Orchestra (CO), Accelerando Strings (AS), and Debut Orchestra (DO) respectively. The PO conductor serves as an integral part of CYSO’s artistic team collaborating with the entire artistic team and working closely with the administrative operations team.

PO provides advanced orchestral training by performing standard orchestral repertoire, as well as new works by contemporary composers and composers from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds including women and BIPOC. The PO Conductor leads the orchestra in developing young musicians in their musicianship and orchestral skills with support from the PO Assistant Conductor.

PO rehearses weekly on Sunday afternoons from 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm from September through May. PO seating auditions take place twice per year in August and January. As a member of CYSO’s artistic team (comprised of nine conductors and directors), the PO conductor will also assist in adjudicating entrance auditions, which take place March-May each season.


Duties include but are not limited to:

· Conduct all PO rehearsals and performances.

· Direct PO Assistant Conductor and sectional coaches as required.

· Program PO repertoire for pedagogical cohesion and organizational needs in collaboration with the Music Director.

· Adjudicate PO seating auditions and determine PO seating placements approximately three times per season.

· Support annual orchestra entrance auditions in partnership with the entire CYSO artistic team.

· Serve as an ambassador for CYSO’s mission including recruiting students for all CYSO orchestras and programs.

· Participate in educational and community outreach as assigned, including CYSO’s partnerships with Chicago Public Schools (CYSO@CPS).

· Occasionally assist or cover conduct other rehearsals or performances; occasionally attend other CYSO performances.

· Communicate and coordinate artistic operations in a professional, collaborative, and timely manner with Music Director and operations staff.

· Model excellence for musical and professional growth including key values of compassion, collaboration, and curiosity.

· Adhere to CYSO policies and procedures as set forth in the Parent & Student Handbook, the Employee Handbook, and/or by the Executive and Music Directors.


The ideal candidate will possess the following qualifications:

· Passion for youth music education with experience conducting youth orchestras or ensembles strongly preferred.

· Significant conducting training in an educational environment preferred; string training/experience strongly preferred.

· Experience working with all instrumental sections including strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.

· Professional performing experience strongly preferred; significant orchestral playing or conducting required.

· Working knowledge of the orchestral repertoire including underrepresented, women, and BIPOC composers.

· Ability to inspire and motivate young musicians with efficient conducting and teaching that is both concise and compelling.

· Exhibit a teaching style that instills the highest musical standards while maintaining a culture of respect and positivity.

· Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

· Ability to work flexibly and creatively with fellow artistic and administrative staff, parents, and volunteers.

· Ability to attend weekday evening and weekend activities including but not limited to:

o Weekly Sunday afternoon rehearsals (12:00 – 2:30 PM)

o Three to four PO concerts with TBA dates per season

o Two seating audition dates in August and January (typically Sundays)

o Entrance auditions from March through May

o Occasional artistic and administrative meetings or organizational training sessions


· Bachelor of Music degree required; Master of Music degree preferred.

· Experience conducting and teaching in music education preferred; youth orchestra experience preferred.

· Proof of legal eligibility to work in the United States required as part of the final application process.

· Formal background check required as part of the final application process.


Summer 2023. Repertoire selection occurs in June/July. Seating auditions are on Sunday, August 27, 2023. First yearly rehearsal is on September 10, 2023.


This position is a part-time contract position. A stipend is paid over 12 months. Compensation commensurate based on experience.


Please submit a letter of intent, resume, three (3) professional references, and videos of work samples through this form:

Videos should consist of:

· At least 30 minutes of conducting and 15 minutes of rehearsal illustrating pedagogical style and techniques across a range of repertoire.

· Video submissions should be recorded from the orchestra perspective.

· Must be of conducting work in the last five (5) years.


Applications will be pre-screened by review of materials and credentials. Candidates exhibiting superior qualifications will be invited to an interview. No phone calls or emails, please.

Finalists will be invited to an in-person audition and interview adjudicated by a committee including the music director, artistic and administrative staff, and board members. Candidates are responsible for all transportation and accommodations.



FINAL INTERVIEW(S) & AUDITION: Thursday, May 4, 2023 — The audition & final interview(s) will take place in person at our rehearsal space at: 410 S Michigan Ave, Suite 833, Chicago, IL

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) is committed to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment that promotes musical excellence. We value the unique experiences and contributions of all team members and believe that a staff that reflects the backgrounds of our students is crucial to preparing them as future leaders. To support this commitment, CYSO provides anti-racism, anti-bias, and other EDI training to our staff, and actively seeks candidates who are committed to advancing this work in all roles.

CYSO is an equal opportunity employer. BIPOC people, those who are trans and/or gender-nonconforming, women, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply. We recognize that individuals may require accommodations during the application or interview process and are committed to providing them. Please contact Madalyne Maxwell at or 312-939-2207 ext 230 to request accommodations.

Job Type: Freelance/Contract/Temp
Location: Chicago Loop