Music Director

Orange County Youth Symphony

Orange, CA

The Philharmonic Society’s Orange County Youth Symphony invites applications and nominations for the position of Music Director, available in the summer of 2019.


The Organization

Celebrating its 50th Anniversary in the 2019-2020 season, the Philharmonic Society's Orange County Youth Symphony (OCYS) is the official youth orchestra of Orange County, CA.  Founded in 1970, our diverse roster represents student musicians from nearly 50 high school and college programs from San Clemente to Fullerton and more. The Orange County Youth Symphony community of young musicians and their families is particularly committed to advancing and sharing the intercultural love of orchestral music. We serve as music ambassadors to each other and to our local schools, districts, and cities.

In the 2017-18 season, the Orange County Youth Symphony officially integrated with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County (, a joining of two extraordinary music organizations who have enjoyed a longstanding partnership for more than 30 years and share a passion for great music for our community. The orchestra is now known as the “Philharmonic Society’s Orange County Youth Symphony”.

As part of the Philharmonic Society, the musicians of the Orange County Youth Symphony have exciting opportunities to engage with some of classical music’s most celebrated artists through master classes with Philharmonic Society guest artists, along with open rehearsals and enriching experiences attending Philharmonic Society concerts throughout each season. 



The mission of the Orange County Youth Symphony is to provide pre-professional training to Orange County’s most talented young musicians through varied performance opportunities, and by establishing an environment that develops creative ability, self-expression and the desire for perfection.

Educational & Community Outreach

The Orange County Youth Symphony additionally serves to support and supplement music programs across the County.

  • Presented in longtime partnership with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, our annual Concerts for Fifth Graders series has impacted more than one million students since the 1980s.
  • The Youth Symphony invites select high school programs to jointly perform in the season finale concert, doubling the size of each ensemble and providing new platforms for access and inspiration to all students.
  • All Youth Symphony musicians are required to participate in their respective and primary string, band, or orchestral programs. This reinforces both ensembles since each individual student is immersed in symphonic literature.



In our 49-year history, the Orange County Youth Symphony has traveled the world representing Orange County’s best young adult musicians. Locations visited include Austria, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and Carnegie Hall.


Recent Success

  • Orange County Youth Symphony received the prestigious American Prize in Orchestra Performance—Youth Orchestra Division in 2012.
  • Among others, it has performed new works by Mark-Anthony Turnage (including a U.S. commission and premiere) and Kurt Schwertsik and has hosted notable guests such as Ray Chen, Midori, and the Kronos Quartet.
  • Past collaborations have included the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra presented by the LA Philharmonic at Disney Hall, TEDx at Chapman University, and the West Coast Youth Orchestra Festival.
  • In 2014, OCYS celebrated the Philharmonic Society’s 60th season finale with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. 


“The performance was smashing thanks in no small part to the exceptionally well-practiced pre-professionals, who brought a sparkle to the Salzburgers’ sound that wasn’t there before…They are the real thing.”
— Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, on a joint concert with the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg

“Wachs led a wonderfully clear and patient traversal, finding order in complexity. The young musicians appeared to have little trouble with the work’s progressive language.”
— Timothy Mangan, Orange County Register, on the United States premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Passchendaele, an OCYS co-commission


Chapman University

OCYS weekly rehearsals take place on the beautiful campus of Chapman University (, which has been the orchestra’s musical home for almost 50 years. Located in Orange, CA, Chapman University is a private university that offers 110 areas of study (49 majors and 61 minors)and encompasses ten schools and colleges. Its acclaimed Musco Center for the Arts, an $82 million performing arts venue, opened in 2016 and is an annual concert site for OCYS.


The County

Orange County's 3 million residents enjoy a nearly perfect climate in which parks and beaches provide abundant opportunities for outdoor activities. Orange County is the home of exciting professional sports, a wide range of tourist attractions and quality venues for visual and performing arts. Orange County boasts a thriving business economy and a well educated work force. The County of Orange is a regional service provider and planning agency whose core businesses include public safety, public health, environmental protection, regional planning, public assistance, social services and aviation. 


The county is a tourist center, with attractions like DisneylandKnott's Berry Farm, and several popular beaches along its more than 40 miles (64 km) of coastline. 


Founded in 1954, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County presents the world’s most acclaimed symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, soloists and international artists for the enjoyment and appreciation of Orange County audiences. A catalyst for cultural and educational development throughout the region, the Philharmonic Society is a key resident company in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and also presents concerts at the Irvine Barclay Theatre and various venues in Orange County.


For more than 60 years, the Society has presented artists who set the standards for artistic achievement: Sir Georg Solti, Itzhak Perlman, Jacqueline du Pré, Daniel Barenboim, Lorin Maazel and Cecilia Bartoli, to name just a few. In addition, many of the world’s greatest orchestras have performed in Orange County by invitation of the Philharmonic Society. The Society celebrated the diversity of our cultural landscape with Eclectic Orange Festival presentations from 1999-2004. Eclectic Orange events championed contemporary composers through commissions and sponsorship of regional and world premieres. Among the living composers presented were Tan Dun, Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, John Adams, Edgar Meyer, Burhan Öçal and Mikel Rouse. Past presentations include the West Coast premiere of Steve Reich’s “The Cave,” the Southern California premiere of Terry Riley’s “Sun Rings,” the United States exclusive engagement of Théâtre Zingaro, the West Coast premiere of “Orion” by Philip Glass, the West Coast premiere of Steve Reich’s “WTC 9/11”, and the 2011 exclusive West Coast recital appearance of opera superstar Renée Fleming.


The Society’s nationally recognized Youth Music Education Programs, one of the most extensive music education programs of its kind in the country, are offered free of charge to schools, students and parents, and each year reach more than 160,000 students from first grade through high school.

The Opportunity

The next OCYS Music Director will take the helm of one of the most prestigious youth orchestras in Southern California which is now part of one of the  country’s leading performing arts presenting organizations. S/he will have the opportunity to lead the artistic development of a multi-faceted organization with deep roots in the community and strong ties to area’s public and private schools. S/he will lead OCYS in concerts at the critically acclaimed, acoustically excellent Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, among other venues in the community. S/he will make a home in a community that celebrates the rich diversity of its families, arts, and culture.

The Position

The Music Director provides the artistic leadership and vision that allows OCYS to fulfill its mission to inspire, educate, and train young people to realize their full potential as musicians, orchestra members, and citizen artists. The Music Director is responsible and accountable for all aspects of artistic administration, including programming; recruiting, engaging and supervising faculty; recruiting young musicians to be members of OCYS; and overseeing the artistic vision for special programs. The Music Director ensures the highest possible standards of artistic excellence in all OCYS programs and activities.


The Music Director programs, prepares, and conducts the orchestra; s/he oversees the work of conductors and coaches who work with OCYS.


The Music Director reports to the Philharmonic Society’s President and Artistic Director, and partners with the Vice President of Education, OCYS General Manager, and OCYS Advisory Committee in achieving budget and program enrollment goals. The OCYS Music Director will be a visible representative and spokesperson for OCYS and the Philharmonic Society, and be an active participant in the greater Orange County community. The Music Director takes an active role in fundraising, especially donor cultivation and stewardship. The Music Director works with the President and Artistic Director to foster a positive environment that challenges and inspires young musicians, as well as the staff and faculty who support them, to do their best work.


Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will be a superb musician and experienced conductor with the demonstrated ability to inspire young people to set and achieve high musical goals in an atmosphere that values learning and collaboration. The ideal candidate will bring successful experience leading both professional and student ensembles. Experience as conductor of an independent youth orchestra will be considered an asset.


The successful candidate will be an educator with a thorough understanding of the development of young people of differing abilities and aspirations. S/he will be able to interact and communicate effectively with parents. The successful candidate will bring a deep knowledge of the orchestral repertoire, particularly as it relates to developing musicians and musicianship. S/he will combine a passion for education with a background in pedagogy and the ability to program and adjust repertoire to the developing abilities of student musicians.  S/he will have the ability to build multi-year curricula based on the needs and talents of students. S/he will embrace the opportunity to foster the next generation of professional musicians, amateur musicians, music lovers, and audience members.


The successful candidate will be able to write and speak persuasively about the value and importance of OCYS to its members and to the community. S/he will be willing to participate actively in donor cultivation and fundraising. S/he will be an active and engaged member of the Orange County arts and music education community.


The successful candidate will be innovative, curious, flexible, and forward-thinking. S/he will skilled at balancing multiple demands and competing priorities with a good sense of humor. S/he will be a person of integrity and high ethical standards. S/he will be a strong leader who can work effectively with others in an atmosphere of mutual respect and teamwork. S/he will welcome the opportunity to take the artistic helm of the Orange County Youth Symphony.


Compensation, including benefits, is competitive and commensurate with qualifications.


The Philharmonic Society is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to diversity, inclusion, and equity 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, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, religion, national origin, disability, ancestry, marital status, veteran status, medical condition or any protected category by local, state or federal laws.


Applicants are asked to prepare a cover letter that describes your specific interest in the Orange County Youth Symphony and outlines your qualifications for the position. 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.


Qualified Candidates are encouraged to submit their materials no later than Saturday, March 30, 2019.  All applicants are required to submit the following:

  • a current resume or CV,
  • list of repertoire performed (please include performing ensemble),
  • three (3) professional references,
  • conducting footage/video showing a range of 3-5 different styles of music and diverse conducting abilities.

All materials, including video, are encouraged to be sent electronically (by email link, Dropbox, YouTube, or other electronic means).  

Please do not send audio recordings, reviews, or other supplementary materials at this time. Qualified candidates will be invited to submit additional materials at a later time.


Please send electronic materials, with subject line: OCYS MD Search, to:

[email protected]

Philharmonic Society of Orange County  

OCYS Music Director Search


Please submit materials in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word format

Become a Supporter