Chautauqua Institution

  • RELIGION: Director - Choir

    Job Locations US-NY-Chautauqua
    Posted Date 4 weeks ago(1/23/2020 1:49 PM)
    # of Openings
  • Overview

    Chautauqua Institution is a not-for-profit global convener of dialogue on the most significant issues of the day through engagement across four pillars of the arts, education, religion, and recreation. The Chautauqua community is located on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State and comes alive each summer with a unique mix of visual and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship/programs, and recreational activities.  The Institution has just recently passed a strategic plan, 150 Forward, that endeavors to expand its reach to year-round programming and to harness its brand for continuous impact.  A new Washington, DC, office has opened to allow the Institution to play an ongoing role in the cultural conversations of the nation.  


    Candidates are encouraged to learn more about Chautauqua Institution at and the 150 Forward Strategic Plan at


    The Department of Religion provides a wide variety of worship services and programs to community residents and guests that express Christian heritage as well as an interfaith commitment in spirit and practiceServices combine the musical gifts of the 125-voice Chautauqua Choir accompanied by the 5,640 pipes of the Massey Memorial Organ.  Many styles of music from the past five hundred years are presented with the inclusion of scriptural and devotional readings and prayers carefully selected to reflect the weekly thematic programming of the Institution.    


    Position Summary

    The Choir Director will lead and conduct the Chautauqua Sunday Choir and the weekday auditioned Motet Choir.  This incumbent reports to the Vice President of Religion and collaborates with both the Vice President of Religion and the organist in designing worship services and the selection of the sacred music (hymns/liturgy) to be performed.  The Choir Director will also work directly with the choir librarians in organizing the music for the various worship services, rituals, and ceremonies, and will be open to collaboration with other musical programs as needed.  Choir performances occur during a nine-week Summer Assembly Season (June-August) at Chautauqua Institution. 


    Duties and Responsibilities

    • Responsible for, in partnership with the Vice President of Religion, management of daily operations and administrative functions of the choir in alignment with the Institution’s strategic plan, vision, mission, and long/short term goals and objectives.
    • Lead and direct vocal performers in singing and shape the choral sound to enhance the choir’s performance toward musical presentations that are unique, inspiring, and creative.
    • Produce inspirational music that encourages spiritual exploration through musical encounters within and beyond the gates of Chautauqua Institution.  
    • Direct the anthems to correspond with worship services appropriately coordinated with the liturgical calendar and programmatic theming at Chautauqua Institution.
    • Creativity and experimentation are encouraged regarding both musical selections and staging of the chorus during performances.  Submit music titles on time in advance of worship services for review, collaboration, and approval of the Vice President of Religion.    
    • Provide approved music selections to choir and instrumentalists in advance of rehearsal and performances with special consideration for accompanists and the organist. 
    • Recruit experienced choir members to perform during summer assembly season while nurturing and developing singers at variable levels of experience.  Arrange for special soloists, accompanists, or instrumentalists as needed and within approved budget parameters. 
    • Rehearse with the choir weekly and, possibly, at additional times as needed to maintain quality performance and support other programmatic requirements.  Choir membership is in constant rotation during the summer operating season, which requires advanced planning for participant schedules, creativity in anticipating/overcoming challenges associated with fluctuation in membership, and improvisation to ensure adequate coverage for all parts of a musical performance.  Rehearsals will rarely occur in the performance venue for choir or organist, as the venue is fully booked during the operating season.
    • Appropriately manage and organize resources while ensuring that the music room is orderly and neat.


    Formal Education Requirements

    • Bachelor’s Degree in Music or closely related field is preferred but not required.  Candidates with an equivalent combination of education/work experience will also be considered.

    Experience Requirements

    • Church musician and church music program experience are required, including responsibility for leading recruitment and development of choirs, organizing and planning worship services, arranging music, and working with accompanists/soloists and clergy.
    • Vocalist with choral group and/or solo experience with demonstrated ability to perform various styles of music would be preferred but is not required.
    • Instrumental skills (organ or piano) are preferred but not required. 

    Skills and Abilities

    • Experience developing successful professional relationships with the choir, clergy, congregation, artistic professionals, volunteers, interworking departments, donors/prospective donors, internal/external business partners and community members/leaders. 
    • Ability to professionally manage or direct chorus, staff, volunteers, and interns to collaboratively accomplish a wide variety of administrative and production support tasks. 
    • Excellent interpersonal and professional communication skills (written/verbal) for regular interactions with management, staff, and the public at all levels.
    • Exceptional attention to detail coupled with the ability to make quick strategic decisions, take initiative, and prioritize multiple tasks in a fast-paced, high demand environment. 
    • Proficiency in various computer applications, including Microsoft Suite, SharePoint/One Drive, and other industry-specific technology solutions.

     Physical Requirements

    • Climbing by ascending or descending stairs and ramps using feet and legs, particularly for performances historical buildings such as the Amphitheater. 
    • Reaching by extending hand(s) and arm(s) in any direction to direct musical performances and chorus.
    • Standing for sustained periods, particularly to direct musical performances and chorus. 
    • Walking about on foot to accomplish routine tasks over medium distances to move from one work location to another on the grounds.
    • Raising objects from a lower to a higher position or moving objects horizontally from position-to-position using upper extremities or back muscles.
    • Typing or otherwise working using fingers rather than the whole hand. 
    • Grasping by applying pressure to an object with fingers and palms.
    • Talking by expressing or exchanging ideas by means of the spoken word, including activities in which detailed information must be conveyed or important instructions spoken accurately, loudly, or quickly.
    • Hearing by perceiving the nature of sounds at normal speaking levels with or without correction.  Ability to receive detailed information through oral communication and make discriminations in sound during musical performances.
    • Position requires light work in the exertion of up to 20 pounds of force occasionally and/or up to 10 pounds of force frequently, and/or a negligible amount of force constantly to move objects. 
    • Close visual acuity is required to prepare/analyze, transcribe, view a computer screen, and for reading.

     Working Conditions, Environmental Hazards, and Physical Requirements

    • The incumbent is subject to environmental conditions, as activities occur inside and outside.  Protection from weather conditions is typically provided but will not necessarily prevent temperature changes. Incumbent may be subject to extreme heat, including temperatures above 100 degrees for periods of more than one hour, including sun, wind, and humidity.   
    • The incumbent is subject to noise, particularly as related to musical performances.

    Contacts and Supervision

    Internal Contacts

    • Vice President of Religion
    • Director of Religion
    • Administrative Assistant, Department of Religion
    • Organist
    • Choir

    External Contacts

    • Congregation
    • Chautauqua Community Residents
    • Guests and Visitors to Chautauqua Institution
    • Broader Chautauqua and Western New York Communities
    • Donors and Prospective Donors, as directed by the VP of Religion or Advancement Office

    Direct Reports

    Management of the Chautauqua Sunday Choir (125-Performers) and the auditioned Motet Choir.


    Additional Information

    • Chautauqua Institution operates seasonally (June – August) for 9-weeks.  The Choir Director will complete some pre/post-season planning as required for a total of approximately 11-weeks.  The work schedule requires a summer seasonal commitment of an average of 35-hours/week including some evenings, weekends, and holidays with the flexibility to increase scheduled work hours on occasion to fulfill responsibilities. 
    • The Department of Religion will invite (3-4) finalist candidates, inclusive of housing and travel, to further explore the unique position of Choir Director during a pre-established interim period (schedule options provided below) for the operating season starting in June 2020.  Finalists will experience complimentary access to most event programming and enjoy residence on the grounds for 10-days.

     Interview Schedule Options for (4) Candidates

    • Candidate (1) Arrival on Wednesday, July 1 – Friday, July 10, 2020
    • Candidate (2) Arrival on Wednesday, July 15 – Friday, July 24, 2020
    • Candidate (3) Arrival on Wednesday, July 29 – Friday, August 5, 2020
    • Candidate (4) Arrival on Wednesday, August 12 – Friday, August 21, 2020
    • During this interim period, finalist candidates will have an opportunity to collaborate with the Vice President of Religion (Bishop Gene Robinson), Organist (Joshua Stafford), members of the choir, and a student organist completing requirements for a prestigious internship program.
    • At the close of Chautauqua Institution’s operating season, one candidate will be selected for placement starting with the summer operating season in June 2021.  When the selected candidate is notified, a schedule for pre-season planning will be discussed in more detail.


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