Some Q&A Regarding the Cathedral Director of Sacred Music Position in Phoenix
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,673
    Hey friends and fellow church musicians!

    What a week this has been for the job market in the world of church music! There's a huge amount of positions open and I think folks are a bit worried about moving out of state in the middle of whatever is happening in the world. Forget those fears and come move to beautiful Phoenix, Arizona!

    Since I've gotten a few questions sent to me privately - I'll answer them here (I also have replied to these folks individually).

    1) It says the salary is "highly competitive for the present job market" - What does that mean?
    - Well, it means it is a really good salary if you can and want to do the whole job. However, we haven't openly advertised the range because we realize it might need to be broken up into two positions (either a full-time director and part-time organist or full-time director/organist and part-time secretarial help, as examples). I am allowed to divulge the actual salary range to anyone who asks via email, phone, text, Facebook message, etc. If you're the full-time person, you could certainly live a comfortable life in Phoenix on the salary even if it is slightly split up to offer you some help.

    2) It looks like a lot of work.... can one person really do that? Doesn't this require a full-time graphic designer?
    - Well, I've done the job essentially alone with some small assistant organist help over the years. At one point we had a full time assistant, but that was when we were trying to add music to all of our Daily Masses and have children's choir rehearsals every day of the week. The current job I did by myself (aside from an organist for the Spanish Masses) since 2015 or so and never really felt overworked. I am very efficient, but there's no reason you can't be really efficient either! Even on weeks where we need 4-5 worship aids, it never took terribly long and I am not (as far as I know!) a full-time graphic designer.

    3) Isn't it really hot there? Can people live there?
    - Well, it's a dry heat... honestly, Phoenix's climate has always been fine with me other than August/September when the heat starts to go on a little too long. 2020's Summer seemed to go until November, but that was very rare. Also the Summer schedule around here is a lot lighter, so I would often escape for large chunks of the Summer.

    4) That organ spec is... interesting. How'd that come to be?
    - Well... me and some organist buddies would come up with crazy ideas in the middle of the night for why we needed X stop located in Y division to accomplish crazy thing Z we wanted to do. We would text each other and then the organ builder would get emails in the morning.. and... well, there's a lot of options for you to do fun things. It's not an instrument based on anything historically - it's meant to be a fun instrument to improvise on. And it is.

    5) The Cathedral is presently closed? How long is that happening? What are you doing in the meanwhile?
    - Well.. they say 3-4 months, but with all construction projects I'd guess closer to 4 or a little longer. Though the progress they've made so far makes it look like things are on schedule! Right now Masses are held in the Parish Social Hall (Smith Hall, named after the founding pastor). This was the original church on the property, so it looks slightly church-ish, we have some nice art in the temporary sanctuary, and the space is acoustically just fine for a few months. Our Masses are presently a capella, but I think we will have a Hauptwerk setup accomplished soon. Also, when the Cathedral reopens you'll be in a much more beautiful space with (likely) better acoustics than before!

    6) How soon do I need to apply?
    - Well... right now. We are setting up Zoom and Phone interviews right away and then flying folks in for auditions as soon as we can!

    Full job ad is available here:
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,423
    I just wanted to put in a word or two for the livability of Phoenix.

    We just had a beautiful Oct-April. Spring started just after the first of the year and is still going on. Late May feels like a normal summer does in other places, except without the humidity.

    July and August would be awful if one had to be outside all the time--but one doesn't! I had great advice when I arrived: summer in Phoenix is like winter up north. You stay inside for a couple of months. Everywhere is air conditioned, and a lot of cafes etc have misting systems to keep folks cool if they want to sit outside.

    San Diego is a popular vacation destination, and is only a six hour drive. Meanwhile, Phoenix is a college town, with all the cultural opportunities that implies. Besides the usual metropolitan American strip-mall shops and restaurants, Phoenix has a lot of great foodie places to eat. Honestly it's kind of over the top, with everything being some kind of "Kitchen" or "Eatery."
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,423
    I wanted to mention too that the cathedral is under the pastoral care of terrific priests, including a top-notch holy bishop, who is very kind. There's a full-time deacon on staff who runs the very dignified ceremonial, with well-trained altar men and boys and plenty of incense. Basically the Masses are as beautiful as you're likely to see and hear in the Ordinary Form.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen