Music Director for the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh

Music Director for the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh

The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh invites qualified applicants to apply for the position of Music Director. Applications must be submitted by September 8, 2015. The desired start date, subject to the successful candidate’s availability, is no later than the end of August 2016 when the Mendelssohn Choir holds its annual retreat for chorus members.

About the Mendelssohn Choir

The Mendelssohn Choir is Pittsburgh’s oldest continuously performing arts organization at 108 years young and the region’s premier chorus. The Choir is the “chorus of choice” of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), and performances with the PSO (classical and Pops) are a major and important part of MCP’s annual season. Although mostly a volunteer chorus of more than 100 auditioned voices, MCP has a 20-member professional core.

The 2015-2016 season will include the following performances with the PSO: Final Fantasy, a Pops concert; Mozart’s Coronation Mass; Handel’s Messiah; Holiday Pops (seven performances); and a semi-staged St. John Passion (in Pittsburgh and Latrobe, PA).

To foster the next generation of singers, MCP offers the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (JMCP), the region’s premier chorus and vocal training program for talented youth grades 8 to 12.

MCP staff includes an Executive Director, Chorus Manager, Communications Manager, Associate Conductor, accompanists, and a JMCP Director and faculty. The organization is a non-profit 501c(3) organization with a community board of directors and an annual budget between $300,000-$325,000.

About The Position

The successful candidate will be an exceptional musician and have a thorough knowledge of choral music, proven experience conducting a chorus and professional orchestra, and experience preparing a chorus for a symphony orchestra. S/he will have outstanding conducting, teaching, and vocal pedagogy skills, and the ability to maintain the high level of artistry and professionalism for which the Mendelssohn Choir is known.

S/he will possess a spirit of passionate creativity and a commitment to excellence, the ability to articulate a forward-looking vision for MCP as it evolves an identity and artistic projects beyond its partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the ability to inspire and motivate others to help realize this vision.

As Music Director, s/he will work with MCP’s Executive Director and Board of Directors to achieve MCP’s mission to present compelling and skillful performances at the highest artistic level, and to foster the appreciation, participation, and creation of choral music in present and future generations.

S/he will have the ability to maintain the strong, mutually respected relationship that exists between MCP and the PSO and its Music Director Manfred Honeck, and have the ability to cultivate positive relationships with other artistic leaders in the community. The successful candidate will be able to inspire and connect with chorus members, audience members (e.g. through pre-concert lectures or other audience engagement activities), individual donors, and other funders.

Although residency in the Pittsburgh area may not be mandatory, the ability to spend a considerable amount of time in Pittsburgh to become a part of the arts community, and to forge strong relationships with stakeholders, is critical.

Detailed Job Duties

The Music Director is appointed by and reports to the Mendelssohn Choir Board of Directors. S/he works in close partnership with MCP Executive Director who also reports to the Board of Directors. The Chorus Manager and all MCP artistic staff report to the Music Director.

Although it is understood that the Music Director may hold other appointments simultaneously, s/he is expected to make the role of Mendelssohn Choir Music Director a priority, and not to engage in other artistic work in the community which could create a conflict of interest.


  • Provide vision, leadership, and artistic direction to the chorus;
  • Maintain and advance MCP’s standard of choral excellence;
  • Program and conduct annual concerts including outreach activities/performances apart from performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), and prepare the chorus to perform with the PSO;
  • Work with a contractor or otherwise engage orchestra players as needed, and select soloists as needed;
  • Conduct annual auditions;
  • Engage in planning with PSO Artistic management including the PSO Music Director;
  • Cultivate collaborations and artistic partnerships with other community organizations;
  • Appoint all artistic staff including the Junior Mendelssohn Choir Director and support the Junior Mendelssohn’s mission to provide professional-level vocal training and performance opportunities to talented youth.

Audience Engagement & Fundraising

  • Serve as the “face of Mendelssohn” in the community, and play a lead role in the long-term cultivation of donors (individual and institutional) in order to build loyalty and commitment to MCP;
  • Promote MCP in the media (e.g. interviews, conducting MCP’s annual on-air pledge drive for WQED-fm, etc);
  • Participate in MCP’s fundraising activities such as working with MCP’s Board and Executive Director to plan and execute an annual fundraiser;
  • Play an active role in outreach and design audience engagement activities;
  • Participate as requested in PSO audience engagement activities such as concert pre-talks.


  • Work closely with MCP’s Executive Director and Board of Directors to develop and achieve organizational goals;
  • Serve as an ex officio member of MCP’s Board of Directors and its Executive Committee, and present regular reports to both;
  • Prepare annual artistic budgets and implement season programming in accordance with MCP’s annual operating budget.


  • Advanced degree in music/choral conducting.
  • Broad conducting experience including large orchestras.
  • Proven track record of artistic leadership, choral programming, and preparing a chorus for a major symphony orchestra.
  • Outstanding musicianship skills and an in-depth knowledge of the choral repertoire.
  • Ability to work closely and effectively with MCP’s Executive Director, Board of Directors, staff, and artistic leadership of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
  • Ability to engage audiences and to communicate MCP’s artistic vision to MCP’s stakeholders including choir members, donors, audience members, and the greater arts community.
  • Capacity to think innovatively, creatively, and strategically to develop MCP.


Remuneration will be based on experience.

Application Process

Applicants should submit a cover letter and resume addressing the above qualifications and citing salary expectations by September 8, 2015 to with “Music Director Search” as the subject. Please do not send CDs, DVDs, or videos with your application, but you may include links (if any) to recordings, videos, and/or press that choirs have received under your direction. Additionally, up to five additional documents such as reviews are welcomed.

Finalists will have the opportunity to conduct the Choir in March or April of 2016.


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