Music Director

The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera welcomes nominations and applications for the position of Music Director, available starting in the 2024-2025 Season. 

The Position

The Music Director of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera will have the unique opportunity to shape the artistic vision for both a professional Symphony and Opera company. The organization seeks a visionary leader who can, along with the orchestra musicians, board of directors, artistic staff, and executive director craft a dynamic, engaging, and culturally relevant future for the CSO. 

Our next music director will be responsible for the repertoire, programming, and artistic production for the entire organization, which includes four youth orchestras, a professional symphony orchestra, and an emerging opera company. As the orchestra's artistic leader, they must build and sustain the orchestra's visibility and involvement in the community. The Music Director will work closely with the executive director, board chair, and development director in all aspects of fundraising activities. The expectation is that the next Music Director will maintain an active role and presence in the greater Chattanooga community, and possess the communication skills, vision, passion, and ability to make the CSO exciting and relevant to new and existing audiences. 

Candidate profile


  • Significant musical talent and proven ability to provide a performance experience of the highest caliber
  • The ability to inspire artistic excellence throughout the entire organization, including our symphony orchestra, opera, and youth and educational programs.
  • Instinct for developing imaginative programming that has artistic depth and significance to the orchestra, the opera and the community. This will require both a willingness to explore a variety of directions in music making and experience in diverse repertoire. 
  • A comprehensive knowledge of and a curiosity about the history of music and its relationship to the border context of our culture. 
  • A broad and deep understanding of the symphonic and operatic literature.
  • A highly developed ear for orchestral intonation, balance, blend and color. 
  • Practical knowledge and understanding of all instruments used in orchestral performance.
  • Significant experience curating symphony, pops and opera seasons, including a thorough understanding of the modern trends in classical music.
  • The passion to mentor and lead the artistic staff of the CSO, which includes our assistant conductor, choir master, YO conductors, and opera artistic advisor(s).
  • An active participant in our professional world, including maintaining a schedule of guest conducting experiences, festivals, commissioning projects, and other creative artistic projects

Administrative and Personal

  • Awareness of the role of an orchestra in our community, and the broader role an orchestra plays in the growth and development of a region.
  • Experience working with a professional union orchestra, and a clear understanding of the dynamic between the union, the musicians, and the music director
  • A recognition and appreciation of the role between the executive director, board chair, and music director 
  • An ability and willingness to collaborate with the staff and board as part of the leadership team. 
  • Openness to the ideas of others; ability to inspire creativity. 
  • Confidence and integrity to make difficult decisions
  • A deep and lasting commitment to community impact, engagement, and education for all. 
  • Sense of fairness and objectivity in making recommendations to the orchestra's management concerning personnel decisions within the orchestra

About the CSO 

The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera was the nation's first combined professional resident symphony and opera company, merging in 1985. The CSO has an annual budget of about $2.5 million, managed by a full-time administrative staff. Our season begins in September and ends in May, and we perform at various well-known venues throughout the Greater Chattanooga Area as well as at schools and community events. The CSO performs for and collaborates with over 200 community partners each season, including schools, hospitals, libraries, and at local celebrations. Our Masterworks, Pops, Chamber, Opera, Family, and Sensory Friendly programming reaches thousands of local residents each season and has a lasting impact on our entire community. The CSO also supports four youth symphonies, the Prelude and Etude string orchestras, and two full orchestras the Philharmonic and Youth Symphony. Led by CSOYO Music Director Ismael Sandoval, the Youth Symphony program serves over 200 young musicians in the region and presents approximately 12 chamber and full orchestra concerts annually. 

About the City of Chattanooga 

Chattanooga, the 4th largest city in the state, is located in Southeast Tennessee near the border of Georgia at the junction of four interstate highways. The city has received national recognition for the renaissance of its beautiful downtown and the redevelopment of its riverfront. The city boasts the most productive affordable housing program in the nation and is notable for leveraging development funds through effective public/private partnerships, with significant civic involvement on the part of private foundations. Chattanooga was one of the first US cities to effectively use a citizen visioning process to set specific long-range goals to enrich the lives of residents and visitors.

With its scenic beauty, stable population and economy, civic vitality and cross-sector partnerships, fiscal integrity, and strategic location, Chattanooga enters the 21st century as one of the most progressive and livable mid-size cities in the US. In this decade the city has won 3 national awards for outstanding "livability", and 9 Gunther Blue Ribbon Awards for excellence in housing and consolidated planning.


Is competitive and commensurate with experience, ability to participate fully within our community, and artistic qualifications. 


Application must include:

  • A personal letter of interest from the candidate, outlining your qualifications for the position, experience leading orchestras, operas, and your understanding of the modern role of the music director
  • A concise resume highlighting experiences with both symphonic and opera programs 
  • At least two sample programs conducted by the candidate in the last two seasons
  • Links to conducting samples that are within the last two seasons. (Covid-19 impacted performances that include masking, reduced orchestras, and social distancing are allowed).
  • Statement on your commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. 

All documents should be submitted as PDF. Links should be unlisted Vimeo or YouTube

References are not required at this time. Additional materials may be requested during each stage of the search process. No phone inquiries please. 

Application deadline for priority consideration: January 5, 2023

All information can be sent in one email attachment to