Music Director Search

After twelve years of wonderful concerts and continued orchestral growth under his steady baton, Maestro Thomas Shoebotham has decided to step down as Music Director of the Palo Alto Philharmonic, effective late October 2018, in order to pursue other opportunities.

The application period for the position of Music Director is now closed. Questions can be submitted to


About the Position

As a community orchestra, our goals are to provide quality classical music for our community, and to provide opportunities for our musicians to play interesting and challenging music. Our orchestra is made up of volunteer professional and amateur musicians from all walks of life, including music educators, engineers, retirees, librarians, programmers, business owners, and more.

Our Music Director is responsible for guiding the organization and its musicians towards these twin goals. This includes developing the programming for the Philharmonic's four main orchestra concerts, conducting weekly rehearsals of the orchestra, and providing input into selecting guest artists and youth soloists. Opportunities for programming portions of our two chamber concerts and our annual Baroque concert are available and encouraged.

The Music Director is also expected to work closely with the Board of Directors in carrying out these responsibilities, and to assist with general promotion of the orchestra.


Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will possess exceptional musicianship and conducting skills; significant conducting experience; knowledge of a broad range of repertoire; strong interpersonal, leadership, communication, and planning skills; vision, passion, and ability to make symphonic and chamber music relevant and exciting for existing and new audiences, as well as to enhance orchestra members’ understanding. Previous or current music directorship or comparable experience is preferred. 

Finalists will be invited to prepare and conduct a full concert set, from rehearsals through performance, during the 2018-19 season.


About the Orchestra

Extensive information about the orchestra is available here.

To gauge the performance level of the Philharmonic, both recent audio and video are available.

The season brochures for our past five seasons are available at the following links: 2017-2018, 2016-2017, 2015-20162014-20152013-2014, and 2012-2013. A full list of our repertoire in reverse chronological order is available here.



As a community orchestra on a tight budget, the Palo Alto Philharmonic can offer only limited compensation for this part-time position. While the Philharmonic is well-managed and boasts a strong and vibrant set of volunteers, the Music Director is the only paid position in our organization.

In addition to leading weekly rehearsals (on Monday evenings in Palo Alto), the Music Director is expected to participate in Board and committee meetings and to represent the Philharmonic to the local community. Based on this, a successful candidate ideally should already make their living performing or teaching music somewhere within reasonable travel distance from Palo Alto, or is currently planning to move to the Bay Area in the near future.



Applications were received up until December 1, 2017.  

Applications should have included:

  • Cover letter from the candidate including what makes you an ideal candidate to lead our community orchestra and your programming philosophy.
  • CV including repertoire conducted by the candidate.
  • Names and contact information of three professional references.
  • Link to video recordings of rehearsals and concerts conducted by the candidate.



Semi-finalists will be selected based on application and review of videos, and will be asked to participate in interviews in early February 2018.

Three finalists will be selected to program and guest-conduct one concert each during our 2018-2019 season. Both the search committee and all the musicians of the Philharmonic will participate in assessing each guest conductor/finalist.

Our current plan calls for our new Music Director to be introduced as part of the announcement of our 2019-2020 season program, in the May/June 2019 timeframe.

Any questions can be submitted to