ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival seeks Executive Director

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival welcomes applications and nominations for the position of Executive Director, available in the Fall of 2023. Steven Ovitsky, who has served with distinction for 20 years, has announced that he will retire at the conclusion of the Festival’s 50th Anniversary Season, which will be celebrated in the Summer of 2023.

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

Founded in 1972, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival is today one of the world’s preeminent music festivals. Guided by a visionary spirit and dedicated to artistic excellence and innovation, the Festival demonstrates the depth and breadth of the chamber music repertoire through high-level programming and performances. Patrons from around the world return year after year to enjoy the Festival’s wide-ranging musical offerings performed in its two beautiful, intimate, and historic venues – St. Francis Auditorium in the New Mexico Museum of Art and The Lensic Performing Arts Center – where the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Santa Fe’s storied architecture provide stunning southwestern backdrops.

The Festival’s 1973 inaugural season, which saw legendary cellist Pablo Casals serve as the organization’s honorary president, featured 14 artists performing six Sunday concerts in Santa Fe and additional concerts in other New Mexico and Arizona communities. The Festival now flourishes under the inspired artistic leadership of acclaimed composer and pianist Marc Neikrug, who celebrates his 25th Anniversary with the 2023 Season. Today, the Festival invites almost 100 distinguished, seasoned musicians and acclaimed up-and-coming artists to perform in the dozens of concerts offered during its six-week summer season. The concerts span seven series – which include evening and noontime performances – and at least one non-series program. Throughout the year, the Festival offers private recitals, receptions, and events for its high-level donors.

Since its earliest days, the Festival has been at the forefront of making significant contributions to the contemporary chamber music repertoire. To date, it has premiered 109 commissioned works, including ones from such important and influential composers as William Bolcom, Aaron Copland, Brett Dean, Detlev Glanert, Alexander Goehr, John Harbison, Magnus Lindberg, Shulamit Ran, Ned Rorem, Kaija Saariaho, Gunther Schuller, Steven Stucky, Augusta Read Thomas, Joan Tower, Marc-Anthony Turnage, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among many others. Each season, the Festival also commissions and premieres string quartets written by two emerging composers for its annual Young Composers String Quartet Project, which is overseen by Artistic Director Marc Neikrug and celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2023.

Beginning in 1981, the Festival has broadcast its performances on national radio networks, including WFMT, American Public Media, Minnesota Public Radio, and National Public Radio. Currently, the Festival offers an annual radio series of 13 hour-long broadcasts that the WFMT Radio Network produces and distributes to more than 350 affiliates.

Music education is another important part of the Festival’s mission. The organization currently offers five education programs to local children and youth throughout the year. Music in Our Schools is a series of two chamber music concerts performed by outstanding musicians for students in pre-K and grades K–6 at 14 schools in Santa Fe and northern New Mexico; the concerts feature repertoire the students learn about in advance, based on Festival-created curriculum. Strings in Our Schools offers small-group violin instruction to students in grades 3 – 6 in three elementary schools in Santa Fe and one elementary school in Pecos, and Guitar in Our Schools provides small-group guitar instruction to students in grades 3 – 6 at two elementary schools in Santa Fe. The Dream Big Private Lesson Program offers weekly, subsidized, private lessons taught at middle schools and high schools by professional musicians on each student’s chosen instrument, including voice, and, during the summer season, the Festival offers at least one Youth Concert, which features Festival musicians engaging children with performances of repertoire drawn directly from the Festival’s regular programming.

The Festival’s Board of Trustees is comprised of 33 members, one trustee emerita, a 17-member advisory council, and eight honorary board members. The Festival employs 11 full-time staff members, several seasonal contractors, and 17 contributors to its music education programs. The annual operating budget is approximately $2.5 million.

The Opportunity

Working with Artistic Director Marc Neikrug, a dedicated Board of Trustees, and a skilled administrative team, the Executive Director will have the opportunity to set the Festival’s course of growth for the next decade and beyond. The next ED will build on the energy, momentum, and excitement created by Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival’s 50th Anniversary Season to heighten the Festival’s national and international profile, to expand the Festival’s reach, and to burnish Santa Fe’s reputation as the summer destination for chamber music.

The Position

The Executive Director (ED) is the chief administrative officer of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and reports to the Board of Trustees through the Chair. The ED is responsible and accountable for all aspects of the Festival’s management and administrative operations, including strategic planning; budgeting and finance; fundraising; marketing, promotion, and public relations; education programs; human resource management; and community engagement. The ED ensures that the Festival achieves or exceeds its goals for earned and contributed income and advances its reputation for excellence in all aspects of Festival operations.

The ED plays a major role in fundraising. Working with the Board of Trustees and the Director of Development, the ED identifies, cultivates, and solicits donors for annual, endowment, and planned gifts. The ED provides guidance and impetus to the fundraising efforts of the Board. The ED ensures that the Festival provides excellent stewardship for gifts from all sources.

The ED is a partner to the Artistic Director in creating a Festival environment that attracts leading musicians to Santa Fe and allows them to do their finest work. The ED provides leadership, guidance, and direction to a high-caliber administrative team. Working with the CFO, the ED guides the development of the annual operating budget, oversees its implementation, monitors performance against budget, and makes adjustments as necessary. The ED ensures that the Finance Committee and the Board have timely and accurate financial information for decision-making.

The ED oversees the development and implementation of a long-term marketing strategy to heighten the profile and increase public awareness of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. The ED leads the effort to expand the local, national, and international audience for the Festival and to build interest in the Festival’s programs that support young composers and expand the repertoire for the string quartet.

The ED provides oversight, guidance, and support to the multi-faceted education programs offered by the Festival. The ED is an advocate and spokesperson for the Festival throughout the community and across the state. The ED represents the Festival with Federal, state and local government agencies, and with the leadership of the neighboring pueblos. The ED is an active member of the greater Santa Fe community and a supportive colleague to fellow leaders of arts and cultural organization in the area.

Candidate Profile

The successful candidate will combine a deep love of chamber music, a passion for connecting audiences with chamber music, and the knowledge of artists and repertoire needed to speak and write persuasively about the importance of chamber music in general and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in particular. The candidate will be a strategic thinker with excellent planning and financial skills. The candidate will be a superb communicator with the leadership ability to build organization-wide consensus around shared values and shared goals.

The successful candidate will be an experienced fundraiser with a track record for achieving and exceeding goals for contributed income, primarily from individuals but also from corporations, foundations, and government sources. The candidate will be experienced with endowment and planned giving programs. The candidate will have track record of success in developing sponsorships and support for special projects, artistic initiatives, and education programs. Experience in fundraising on a national level will be an asset.

The successful candidate will have the demonstrated ability to build awareness and expand audiences for chamber music. Experience working in a festival environment, while not essential, will be a plus. The candidate will have the ability to attract the talent required to develop, implement, and manage a comprehensive marketing plan for the Festival. The successful candidate will embrace technology and will be comfortable working with digital and social media.

The successful candidate will be a skilled manager of people, programs, and projects. The candidate will have the demonstrated ability to attract, motivate, support, and retain outstanding talent as members of the Board and the administrative staff, and as volunteer in service to SFCMF. The candidate will ensure an organizational culture of collaboration and respect.

The successful candidate will be curious, creative, and persistent. The candidate will be intellectually nimble, willing to think outside the box, and open to new ideas from all stakeholders. The candidate will be a person of integrity and high ethical standards.

The successful candidate will be able to accept a schedule that includes evenings and weekends, and will be able to travel when needed for promotion and fundraising. The successful candidate will look forward to becoming a full-time resident and an active participant in the life of the Santa Fe community.


The salary range for this position is $160,000 to $185,000 annually, based on qualifications and experience. Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival offers employees a competitive benefits package.


The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion in all facets of the organization and welcomes recommendations, nominations, and applications from all qualified candidates regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or national origin.

Please prepare a cover letter that describes your specific interest in the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival 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 send materials to:

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival – Executive Director
c/o Catherine French Group
2500 Q Street NW, Suite 623
Washington, DC 20007

Please submit material in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word format

This position will remain open until filled. The Search Committee will begin to review credentials in early February. CFG will be represented at Chamber Music America’s annual conference in New York and welcomes the opportunity to speak with prospective candidates.

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