Founded in 1921, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra (KSO) will soon celebrate 100 years as part of the Kalamazoo community's rich musical heritage. The Orchestra’s mission is to serve the Kalamazoo community through outstanding musical listening and learning experiences. That mission is demonstrated as symphony musicians perform throughout the region in full orchestra and chamber concerts, in small ensembles, at church services, and as they teach both privately and in local schools, at Western Michigan University, and at Kalamazoo College. Music Director Julian Kuerti and Resident Conductor Daniel Brier provide the creative artistic direction that underpins the Orchestra’s concert series and education programs. The dedicated Board of Directors and the KSO staff work to maintain the orchestra's financial and administrative health. The donors and supporters—individuals, businesses, and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra League—all help to make the Orchestra a vibrant resource where the Kalamazoo community comes together to create shared musical experiences.
The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra was founded by Leta G. Snow and gave its first concert in December 1921 with 25 musicians. Mrs. Snow built the orchestra by recruiting gifted musicians from other parts of the country and finding them work in local businesses. By 1937, the roster had grown to 80 musicians. Several years later, Leta Snow was instrumental in forming the American Symphony Orchestra League, now called the League of American Orchestras, and the Kalamazoo Symphony was a charter member.
Today the Kalamazoo Symphony is the third largest orchestra in the state of Michigan. The KSO reaches 80,000 adults and young people with more than 30 performances a year, including symphony and chamber concerts, education programs, and activities that engage the broader community. The 2018-19 season welcomed Music Director Julian Kuerti to the podium with a Symphonic Series that has featured the fifth symphonies of Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, and Sibelius as well as the music of French composers and the composers Anna Clyne, Jennifer Higdon, and Jessie Montgomery. The celebration of female composers extended to the Zhang! Pops Series with the music of singers and songwriters like Carole King and Aretha Franklin. KSO @ The Movies, Classics on Tap, and Classics Uncorked provide other opportunities to connect the KSO with a diverse and ever-expanding audience for both symphonic and chamber music. The KSO’s highly recognized education programs have become an essential part of the community and have won numerous national awards and grants.
In 2015, the Orchestra concluded a wide-ranging and inclusive strategic planning process to provide a road-map into the KSO’s second century. With the vision that symphonic music should be a part of everyday life throughout the community, the plan outlines a series of strategic initiatives for artists and programs; education and community partnerships; development and communications; and finance and administration.
The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra is governed by a Board of 32 community volunteers and has an administrative staff of 15 full- and part-time employees. Additional support is provided by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra League. The Orchestra has an annual operating budget of $4 million and an endowment of $16 million. Symphonic and Pops concerts take place mainly at the Miller Auditorium on the campus of Western Michigan University. Chamber concerts, films, and other programs are presented at venues throughout the city.
The offices of the Kalamazoo Symphony are located downtown in the Epic Center. Also based at the Epic Center are the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, Fontana Chamber Arts, Black Arts Cultural Center, Crescendo Academy of Music, the 120-seat Wellspring Theatre, and the Epic Black Box Theatre.
In addition to a number of outstanding visual and performing arts organizations, Kalamazoo is home to three institutions of higher education, an outstanding K-12 public school system, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, diverse and affordable housing, award winning water and water reclamation systems, and many parks, lakes, and golf courses.
Kalamazoo is nationally recognized for the Kalamazoo Promise. Announced in 2005, the Kalamazoo Promise is a pledge by a group of anonymous donors to pay up to 100 percent of tuition at any of Michigan’s state colleges or universities for graduates of the public high schools of Kalamazoo, Michigan. To receive the minimum 65 percent benefit, students must have lived within the Kalamazoo School District, attended public high school there for four years, and graduated. To receive a full scholarship, students must have attended Kalamazoo public schools since kindergarten.
Kalamazoo is located in southwestern Michigan, about 136 miles west of Detroit and 145 miles east of Chicago. In recent years, the city has been cited by a variety of publications and websites, including: Best Cities for Work Life Balance, Top Ten Cities for Creatives, and Best College Cities & Towns in America. The metropolitan area population is 335,000; the median age is 26.8 years, earning Kalamazoo recognition as one of “29 Cities All Twentysomethings Should Pick Up and Move To” by Buzzfeed.com.
The Executive Director is the chief administrative officer of the Kalamazoo Symphony and reports to the Board of Directors through the Chair. The Executive Director provides the leadership and vision that ensure the Kalamazoo Symphony’s organizational, financial, and artistic success. S/he is responsible and accountable for all aspects of the Orchestra’s operations, including: strategic planning; budgeting and financial management; artistic administration; contract negotiations and labor relations; marketing and public relations; fundraising; human resource management; education; and community engagement. The Executive Director ensures that the Kalamazoo Symphony realizes its vision, fulfills its mission, achieves its operational and budgetary goals, and fulfills its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Executive Director takes a leadership role in fundraising. S/he provides guidance and impetus to the fundraising efforts of the Board. Working with the Board of Directors and the development staff, s/he identifies, cultivates, solicits, and provides excellent stewardship for annual and endowment gifts from individual and institutional donors. The Executive Director will be an important part of all fundraising related to the KSO’s centennial celebration.
The Executive Director is a partner with the Music Director in assuring that the KSO achieves its goals for artistic excellence. S/he negotiates and assures compliance with the KSO’s collective bargaining agreement. S/he fosters an environment that allows orchestra members, conductors, and guest artists to do their best work. S/he actively seeks new opportunities for performances, partnerships, and collaborations throughout the community and region.
The Executive Director manages the business operations of the Orchestra. S/he oversees the development of annual budgets and multi-year financial projections. S/he ensures that the KSO achieves or exceeds goals for both earned and contributed income. S/he recruits, motivates, supervises, and evaluates a high caliber administrative staff.
The Executive Director is a spokesperson and visible representative of the Kalamazoo Symphony throughout the community. S/he is an active participant in the life of the arts, education, and greater not-for-profit community as well as civic organizations. S/he is an advocate for the KSO with government and the business community.
The next Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Symphony will be a proven leader who combines a passion for music and orchestras with excellent interpersonal skills, business management skills, and a track record of success in fundraising and patron development. S/he will have senior executive experience, preferably in the not-for-profit performing arts, and a thorough working knowledge of music, artists, and repertoire.
The successful candidate will have excellent financial planning, analysis, and management skills. S/he will have the demonstrated ability to achieve or exceed goals for both earned and contributed income, to manage expenses to budget, and to balance operating budgets.
The successful candidate will be a relationship builder. S/he will have the ability to nurture existing relationships and develop new relationships with individual and institutional donors and community leaders. S/he will have a track record of success with major gift fundraising and endowment campaigns. S/he will enjoy fundraising and be willing to devote substantial time and energy to fundraising across all community groups.
The successful candidate will be a creative and dynamic leader with the ability to innovate, collaborate, and inspire both internal and external constituencies. S/he will have a demonstrated talent for creative programming that serves multiple audiences. S/he will have ideas for developing the KSO’s audience base and developing patron loyalty. The successful candidate will have a deep commitment to music education as central to the mission of the Kalamazoo Symphony.
The successful candidate will have the demonstrated ability to motivate, guide, and support a volunteer board of directors. S/he will be a team leader with a collaborative management style and the willingness to be a mentor and coach to a high-performing administrative staff. The successful candidate will have the proven ability to work effectively with a music director. S/he will have experience negotiating and working with creative artists in a collective bargaining environment.
The successful candidate will be curious, flexible, and imaginative. S/he will be a problem solver with the ability to align differing points of view. S/he will be a person of integrity and high ethical standards with a strong personal commitment to transparency. The successful candidate will welcome the opportunity to become an active and engaged participant in the civic and cultural life of the Kalamazoo community.
Compensation, including benefits, is competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience.
The Kalamazoo Symphony is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion 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, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, or national origin.
Please prepare a cover letter that describes your specific interest in the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra 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 submit material in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word format
Additional Salary Information: Compensation, including benefits, is competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience.
About Kalamazoo 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.