Who chooses the repertoire for a large, state-level orchestra (or the orchestra of major city)? In my experience, in smaller amateur orchestras the conductor is relatively easy to contact (via email), and if he/she likes your work it is relatively easy to get a new composition added to the program.
But in larger (professional) orchestras there is frequently also an executive director. These conductors almost never publish their email addresses on the website. To whom should a composer apply for getting works considered?

  • @Aaron this question may be more on topic?
    – nuggethead
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 12:06
  • 1
    I think it's too bad you deleted the other one. It was a good question, just happened to be a duplicate. This one, though, seems to be more focused on your core question.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 14:39

1 Answer 1


In general, the title of the person with ultimate responsibility for repertoire decisions is usually "music director" or "artistic director" or something similar. Specific reporting lines may vary. This person could report directly to the board, or might be subordinate to the executive director. Regardless, the executive director probably has some input into programming choices. The board may also exert some high-level influence, along the lines of "there's too much (or too little) new music." If there are guest conductors, they will also have input. In an organization with a large directorship, programming will be a negotiation, more or less contentious depending on the relationships among the directors.

Large orchestras of the scale you're asking about may sponsor competitions, or they may have a commissioning program, but it is very difficult to get your unsolicited manuscript in front of a conductor for consideration. As with writers, it usually requires a lot of networking, applying to every competition you can find, doing everything you can to make yourself visible.

Conductors of large orchestras likely have aspiring composers approaching them all the time, so getting access to a conductor is well less than half the battle. You are likely to be ignored unless you have managed to distinguish yourself in some way. The best way is to have your work performed by less prestigious ensembles. The composers I've known have spent their early careers doing everything they can to get their work performed, and every performance was a huge accomplishment.

Also see Aaron's comprehensive answer to the question How could I get my Classical Music Compositions published and known? on this site.

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