ACO Seeks Artistic Director

Position Type: Part-Time


The Artistic Director is a key leadership position responsible for conceiving, curating, selecting, and programming ACO performances, readings, recordings, and other programs in alignment with the artistic priorities and equity-driven values of the organization. The Artistic Director creates programming that expresses ACO’s artistic vision, develops and maintains relationships with individual and institutional artistic partners, and sets the artistic strategy for the organization in partnership with the President and CEO. Working with the Director of Artist Equity, the Artistic Director provides artistic oversight to ACO’s EarShot composer advancement initiatives, including mentorship and artistic development for participating artists and programming guidance for partner orchestras and organizations nationwide. The Artistic Director also works closely with the Operations and Production Manager, with support from an Artistic Programming intern, to successfully realize artistic programs and liaises with the Board to share artistic programming and strategy.


Founded in 1977, American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. With commitment to diversity, disruption and discovery, ACO produces concerts, middle school through college composer education programs, and composer advancement programs to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders. ACO identifies and develops talent, performs established composers, champions those who are lesser-known, and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting gender, racial, ethnic, geographic, stylistic, and age diversity. 

ACO performs regularly at Carnegie Hall, with additional recent NYC-area performances at the Apollo Theater, DiMenna Center for Classical Music, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. ACO performances have been broadcast on major platforms including American Public Media, National Public Radio, and Voice of America. To date, ACO has performed music by 800 American composers, including over 350 world premieres and newly commissioned works. ACO has been awarded the ASCAP annual prize for adventurous programming 35 times, and has been singled out by ASCAP as “the orchestra that has done the most for new American music in the United States.”

For over 40 years, ACO has discovered and developed the careers of composers whose work expands the definition of American orchestral music. Now encompassing all of ACO’s composer advancement initiatives, EarShot is the first ongoing, systematic program for developing relationships between composers and orchestras on the national level. Through orchestral readings, CoLABoratory fellowships, consortium commissions, and professional development, EarShot ensures a vibrant musical future by investing in creativity today. Serving over 350 composers since inception, ACO Readings in NYC began in 1991, and since 2008, national Readings have been offered in partnership with orchestras across the country in collaboration with the League of American Orchestras, New Music USA, and American Composers Forum. Readings composers have gone on to win every major composition award, including the Pulitzer, Grammy, Grawemeyer, American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Rome Prizes. Within ACO’s EarShot composer advancement programs, 79% of participants have self-identified as BIPOC, 37% as female and 5% as nonbinary.

ACO’s Sonic Spark educational programs position music composition as a gateway to creative thinking, problem solving, and self-expression. Our long-term 4-12th grade residencies nurture the imagination through creative rituals and play, cultivating personal, social, and academic growth. 

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We seek applicants from all backgrounds, including historically marginalized communities and backgrounds currently underrepresented in the orchestra field, to ensure we build the best, most creative talent on our team. The Artistic Director is a highly skilled curator, an experienced mentor to composers, a supporter of a wide variety of musical styles and aesthetics, and a champion of creative artists who have been historically excluded from the field. We are seeking a creative, resilient, highly organized, and strategic thinker, with a track record of realizing boundary-breaking work from concept to completion and supporting the careers of artists on the rise. ACO’s staff is a small and dedicated team who share responsibilities and support each other’s roles. We offer opportunities for learning and growth, and encourage all team members to bring their full selves to our collective work with authenticity. As a mission-driven organization, we are seeking a team member who has a passion for new music, and shares our values of discovery, disruption, and diversity.



ACO provides a flexible work environment for team members. ACO’s team is currently working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Team members can work from our NYC office, or create a schedule that balances remote and in-office work. Accommodations are readily available for team members with disabilities and neurodivergent team members.

This position is part-time, estimated at 20-25 hours per week, creating space for candidates to continue their artistic practice outside of ACO. Hours are flexible, and include some nights, weekends, and travel. This position is based in NYC, with in-person attendance at performances, rehearsals, EarShot events, board meetings, and meetings with artistic partners required. We welcome applications from candidates based outside the tri-state area provided that they maintain enough of a presence in NYC to fulfill the responsibilities of this leadership role.


Artistic Programming 

  • Program ACO concerts, performances, festivals, readings, and other events in partnership with the President and CEO, Music Director/Principal Conductor, and guest conductors, including selection of repertoire and guest artists 
  • Frequently meet with the President and other key administrative staff to discuss program priorities, budgetary considerations, program design and implementation, and issues of near to long-term artistic planning
  • Regularly engage with ACO’s board and composer advisors to report on program planning and progress, regarding matters of artistic policy and program 
  • Monitor the artistic quality of current and ongoing artistic programs, make recommendations for the future of such programs 
  • Develop new programs that further ACO’s mission and vision 


EarShot Composer Advancement Initiatives

  • Collaborate with Director of Artist Equity on design, scope, and structure for all Emerging Composer Initiatives, including EarShot readings, related commissioning programs, and partnerships.
  • Collaborate with Director of Artist Equity, review panels, and partner orchestra staff on participant selection process
  • Collaborate with Director of Artist Equity and partner orchestras on selection of mentor composers and score reviewers
  • Serve as lead mentor composer on a minimum of two Readings per year, with the option to participate in additional Readings if schedule allows 

Philanthropy and Communications 

  • Be available for press and public relations appearances and interviews, donor meetings, and ACO-sponsored social/cultivation events 
  • Develop artistic programming language for use in communications and development materials 
  • Attend all ACO concerts, readings, and other public artistic programs


General and Administrative 

  • Respond in a timely fashion to ACO staff questions and information requests 
  • Be supported by ACO artistic and administrative staff and/or interns 
  • Serve on the Program Committee of the board 
  • Participate in strategic planning 
  • In the execution of the above duties, the Artistic Director shall be sensitive to the unique role of ACO as an orchestra dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and celebration of music by American composers  


  • Extensive knowledge of the new music ecosystem, with an ongoing practice of tracking programming across orchestras, presenters, and new music ensembles nationally
  • Strong relationships with the new music community, including artists, presenting organizations, orchestras, funders, individual donors, and academic institutions
  • Relationships to the NYC new music community are an asset
  • Proven track record of curating adventurous programming across diverse styles and aesthetics
  • Broad experience mentoring composers at all stages of artistic development
  • College and/or advanced degree in music and/or arts management or equivalent work experience of 3-5 years in artistic programming and curation are required; experience with symphony orchestra administration and program management and knowledge of orchestral repertoire is preferred.
  • Experience managing artistic programming budgets
  • Experience in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work is an asset
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, and the ability to speak publicly as well as interact positively with team members, partner orchestra administrators, composers, artists, vendors, and the public.
  • Must be able to operate at the highest level of integrity, managing sensitive and confidential information
  • Ability to think creatively, problem-solve in advance, meet deadlines, and work in a fast-paced environment with minimal direction
  • Available evenings and weekends to attend performances and EarShot events
  • Available to travel a minimum of two times a season for EarShot Readings
  • Self-directed, with a strong work ethic and collaborative skills
  • Proficiency in Google Workspace, Microsoft Office, and project management software



  • Starting salary range $50-55K
  • Benefits include:
    • Flexible work environment and schedule
    • Visa sponsorship available (O-1, O-1B, others on a case-by-case basis)



Please visit to submit a cover letter and resume. We are seeking to fill this position immediately.

ACO is an equal opportunity employer. ACO does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.