Celebrating America's
Musical Heritage

Music Director Position

Music Director, River Raisin Ragtime Revue

In an effort to strengthen and bring new energy to the River Raisin Ragtime Revue (R4) and ensure the success of its mission of education and entertainment well into the future, the River Raisin Ragtime Revue is seeking to fulfill the position of Music Director.


The Music Director is the heart and soul of the River Raisin Ragtime Revue. The Music Director is the face of the organization and is responsible for relating the mission of the ensemble to both the public and our contracted musicians. The Music Director may lead the orchestra from the podium, or from one of the instrumental chairs.

The following responsibilities are included:

Planning and implementing music programming and educational projects, which may include, but are not limited to, community concerts, festivals, tours, recordings, videos, educational workshops, commissions, lectures and collaborations with artists and venues.

Creating a budget for the proposed season and presenting it to the Board of Directors for approval.

Contracting musicians for all of the orchestra positions. The Music Director has sole discretion in choosing the musicians best qualified to execute each program.

Selecting music for performances. R4 maintains a collection of approximately 5000 vintage orchestrations.

Preparing music for performance (editing the scores, etc.).

Scheduling and leading rehearsals. The Music Director could choose to lead from their musical chair or from a podium.

Creating and implementing educational content to be integrated into performances, workshops, masterclasses, lectures, etc.

Creating and presenting the descriptive narrative for each concert or workshop.

Working with members of the Board and other volunteers to create and submit grant applications for sustained funding.

Promoting the mission of R4 via social media, radio, television, online and print interviews.

Continuing to improve the quality of musical performance and educational experience of the organization.

Assisting the board with grant writing by reviewing applications before submission.

Deciding on whether bookings will always include full orchestra, or whether smaller subsets will also be contracted under the R4 name (string quartets, traditional jazz, piano lectures, etc)


Being Music Director of R4 will not be easy, but it has the potential to be very rewarding. New challenges include leading a performance ensemble during a global pandemic and going forward without management. The ensemble is poised for growth and expanded recognition. As the new Music Director, you will have access to the following resources:

The total support of the outgoing Music Director and Board of Directors. You will be backed by people wanting you to succeed and working for you to succeed. William Pemberton, interim director, is willing to work with you as much or as little as you prefer to make sure you are comfortable with the transition to the leadership position. Mr. Pemberton and the Board would be open to discussing musical and educational ideas that have been considered as future projects; challenges faced including budget, personnel and programming; dynamics among musicians; possible venues and festivals for future performances; and any other issues. Our existing Board Members have skills in arts management, program development, education, finance, and computer technology.

A professional ensemble with a stellar reputation. R4 is fortunate to have received exceptional reviews locally, nationally, and internationally. Our collaborative CD with Daniel Washington was reviewed in Fanfare Magazine, where Dave Saemann wrote “Nobody is Somebody is one of the most important albums I’ve reviewed in my years at Fanfare. This collection of spirituals and African-American theater songs from the turn of the last century provides a missing link in the development of American musical culture.” The Chicago Tribune called our CD of Reginald R. Robinson’s music “one of the most distinctive recordings of 2017” and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene named it one of the 30 best CDs of 2017. Just Jazz (London, England) claims “The music on this CD [Ragtime Detroit !] has been meticulously researched and is performed to an equally meticulous high standard. This CD is packed with rare treasures, beautifully played.” We have collaborated with Grammy and Pulitzer Prize winners, a MacArthur Genius, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Institute of Art, and have a longstanding relationship with Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum. Every venue we have played has been pleased with our presentation. This year, we are planning on premiering a new namesake rag (“The River Raisin Rag”) composed by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Bill Bolcom. The new Music Director will inherit an ensemble with a strong resume, poised to grow and expand its programming.

Quality musicians to lead in performance. R4 has attracted very fine musicians. Rarely, if ever, has a musician that was approached to perform with R4 not expressed a desire to do so. The Music Director will be able to select a very strong ensemble to make outstanding music. Current core ensemble musicians perform with regional orchestras including the Michigan Opera Theater Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. Many of the musicians serve as faculty members of major universities.

A substantial archive of important American music and history. The Music Director will be in charge of stewarding R4’s significant collection of thousands of orchestrations, histories, documentation and other artifacts from the period roughly from 1880 to 1930. R4 has been working with the University of Michigan School of Information and interns to form a useful database and better organize the collection for research. This is a challenging part of history to teach, as racism was unmasked and prevalent throughout our society. R4 has believed that the history is important and a necessary part of our reconciliation to better understand the present. The former Music Director is willing to help as little or as much as the current Music Director prefers during the transition.


Since its inception in 2002, R4 has been managed by a volunteer board and volunteer Music Director. This appointment marks our first step towards more professional leadership and we are hopeful you will see this as a first step, with potential for growth.

We expect the position will require a commitment of approximately four hours per week throughout the year for leading the organization. Some weeks will be considerably more (performance weeks and grant deadlines) and some less. We propose a stipend of $10,000 per season (paid in two installments, with a progress report to the Board midway through the season). This would be an hourly rate of $50.

In addition to the stipend, the Music Director will be paid double the per service rate for contracted musicians. This rate is currently $125 per service, so the per service rate of the Music Director will be $250.

The River Raisin Ragtime Revue is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all involved with our organization.

Please submit a cover letter, resume, and references to: r4ragtimeband@gmail.com, using the email subject heading “Music Director Application”.