Conductors' Collective at Escalante

2020 Retreat: EverythinGyou need to know


​When and where?


There are two Retreats––one for choral conductors, and one for instrumental (band and orchestra) conductors. Each Retreat is six days in length, Monday to Saturday, and begins at 12:00 PM on Monday, concluding by 2:00 PM on Saturday. Both will take place July 2021.


The hub of Retreat activities is the Boulder Mountain Lodge, located along scenic State Highway 12 in Boulder, Utah. Lodging, meals, lectures, and seminar classes will largely be located at the Lodge. Boulder is in south-central Utah, approximately 250 miles (4 hours) south of Salt Lake City and 330 miles (5.5 hours) northeast of Las Vegas. It is located at the north end of the vast Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and some retreat activities will take place away from the Lodge within the Monument. FAQs about travel to Boulder are answered here.

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We operate with the understanding of and sensitivity to the fact that the cost of summer music programs can be burdensome, and are committed to keeping costs for our participants as low as possible. We offer rates that are reasonable and competitive for a program of this type and caliber.

Almost all participants stay in the Lodge ("resident" participants), and the amount of tuition depends on the type of accommodation arrangements selected.  We offer three options:

  • Quad occupancy in a room with two queen beds or a two-bedroom suite.

  • Double occupancy in a room with two queen or king beds.

  • Single occupancy in a room with one queen or king bed.

Tuition for participants is as follows:

  • Resident participants who select quad-occupancy accommodations:  $1,400.

  • Resident participants who select double-occupancy accommodations:  $1,600.

  • Resident participants who select single-occupancy accommodations:  $2,000.

  • Non-resident participants:  $1,000.

Because we believe the community and unity established by the group's presence at the Lodge is instrumental to the experience of the Retreat, any participant who does not have a personal residence within a 2-hour drive of Boulder is required to stay in the Lodge. Participants are not allowed to seek external accommodation at other area hotels, lodges, campgrounds, private homes, etc., with very limited exceptions. Participants that have a personal residence within a 2-hour radius of Boulder are eligible for non-resident tuition, which does not include lodging; however, as discussed above, we view the experience of staying at the Lodge as a cornerstone of the experience, so we strongly encourage these participants to stay as well.

In addition to our participating guests, a certain number of auditors are welcome. Auditors' tuition includes access to all lectures, seminars, and activities without individual conducting instruction or podium time, as well as all group meals. Auditor tuition does not include lodging; auditors will need to contact Boulder Mountain Lodge separately to arrange accommodation, or are welcome to stay at other area hotels or lodges, though staying with the group is encouraged. We are happy to facilitate connecting auditors who are looking for roommates.

Family members and friends are also welcome to join us at a reduced auditor rate, but any additional lodging needs for family must also be arranged separately. Due to our desire to cultivate a supportive and tight-knit group dynamic between our participants, and also to foster solitude for individual study, family members are welcome to observe seminar classes and lectures, but will have limited access to private lessons, forums, excursions, and optional participant activities. Family members will have access to all group breakfasts and our Monday and Friday social hours, but the campfire cookout is reserved for participants and auditors. Adult family members may purchase dinner at the welcome and farewell dinners for $50 per person, per dinner, space pending. Family members who sing in the lab choir or play in the lab orchestra will pay no fees and potentially receive a stipend––contact us!


If family members wish to come to Boulder but not participate in any Retreat activities, they may make their own arrangements without any financial obligation to the Collective.


To preserve the solitude and meditative atmosphere of the Retreat, we kindly request that no children below the age of twelve attend Retreat activities.

Tuition for auditors and family members:

  • Auditors:  $600.

  • Family members:  $300, plus an optional $50 per adult person per meal to attend the welcome and/or farewell dinners. Reservations for dinner seating for family members must be arranged with the Collective 60 days in advance (May 6 for choral, May 13 for instrumental).

We are dedicated to doing everything in our power to help our participants afford this one-of-a-kind experience. As part of this commitment, we will actively assist participants in spearheading individual fundraising efforts and securing professional development grants. Additionally, a limited amount of financial aid may be available based on need.

Payment schedule

Below is the payment schedule for all participants:

  • Applicant acceptance notifications will be sent out no later than March 15. To reserve a spot, applicants must make a $500 deposit within five days (by end-of-day March 20) of receipt of notification of acceptance. This deposit is non-refundable.

  • An installment of $700 is due no later than April 15.

  • The remainder of tuition (amount based on occupancy) is due no later than May 15. After this date, all payments are non-refundable. Failure to pay installments by the listed deadlines risks cancellation of your enrollment.

Below is the payment schedule for all auditors:

  • Auditors must be enrolled no later than May 1. To reserve a spot, a $250 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of enrollment.

  • The remaining tuition is due no later than May 15, and is non-refundable after this date.

  • Depending on space, auditors may request a seat on the shuttle from/to either Salt Lake City or Las Vegas for $50 round-trip.

For family members, all fees must be paid no later than May 15. All payments are non-refundable.

Cancellation policy:  We understand that things happen and plans change. Unfortunately, our contracts with the Lodge tie our hands in terms of our ability to issue refunds for cancellations. For this reason, we are unable to refund the above deposit once the payment is made, and all other payments are non-refundable after May 15, 2020. Please ensure that you intend to participate if selection when you apply.

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What's included, and what isn't

The following is included in the cost of participants' tuition:

  • All lectures, seminars, private lessons, forums, and group activities.

  • Course materials, with the exception of assigned scores.

  • Five nights of lodging at the Boulder Mountain Lodge.

  • Meals as follows:

    • Continental breakfast, coffee, and tea every morning.

    • Monday night's welcome dinner at the award-winning Hell's Backbone Grill.​

    • Friday night's farewell dinner at Hell's Backbone Grill.

    • Thursday night's campfire cookout in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    • A picnic lunch following our excursion to Calf Creek Falls.

    • Complimentary beer and wine will be provided as our gift to you at our social hours on Monday and Friday and at the campfire cookout on Thursday.

  • Group transportation to and from Boulder originating at either​ Salt Lake City International Airport or Las Vegas-McCarran International Airport. One shuttle is offered from each airport, and will leave early Monday morning and arrive back at the airport in the evening on Saturday.

  • Transportation to and from all activities external to the Lodge.

  • High-quality video recordings of participants' podium time in all seminar classes.

  • All costs related to access to Federal lands in the GS-ENM, such as use fees.

  • Optional activities, such as daily sunrise yoga, group meditations, and stargazing excursions.

The following is not included in the cost of participants' tuition:

  • Airfare, gasoline, or any other expense related to travel or accommodation external to what is discussed above. The shuttles must leave early morning on Monday, so it is likely that those flying to Salt Lake City or Las Vegas will need to arrive the night before; tuition does not include costs for this lodging, but we will attempt to facilitate overnight stays with other participants in the area.

  • Certain meals, including two dinners and four lunches. In addition to Hell's Backbone Grill, which is onsite and open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there is a restaurant next door, a food truck a short walk up the road, and a general store less than a mile down the highway. All rooms have fridges and microwaves, and some rooms have kitchenettes.

  • Alcohol, except at the social hours on Monday and Friday and the campfire cookout.

    • Utah liquor laws are draconian and do not allow us to "sell" alcohol to our guests; beer and wine, when provided, is our gift to you. Those wishing to have more alcohol on the premises are responsible for their own supply.​

    • Your covered meals at the welcome and farewell dinners on Monday and Friday do not include alcohol, and you will need to purchase it from the restaurant separately.

  • Assigned scores, which should be purchased independently and ahead-of-time for personal study and preparation before the Retreat.

  • Any attire, gear, sunscreen, etc. necessary for excursions into the Grand Staircase.

The above lists also apply to auditors, except that lodging and private lessons/seminar instruction are not included in the cost of tuition. Additionally, due to space limitations, we are unable to offer complimentary transportation from Salt Lake City or Las Vegas to Boulder and back for auditors. Auditors and family/friends may purchase a spot on the shuttle for an additional $25 one-way or $50 round-trip, space permitting. Family members have breakfasts and social hours covered and may join either of the group dinners at Hell's Backbone for $50 per person, per meal.

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Curriculum details


The following are cornerstones of the Retreat curriculum:

  • Group conducting seminars led by our experienced clinicians––each participant is guaranteed a cumulative hour of podium time in a seminar setting. 

  • Private conducting instruction––each participant is guaranteed a cumulative hour of private lessons, including an individual interview assessing the participant's needs and desires for the Retreat. Participants may also work privately on-demand with our conducting fellows.

  • Skill-building lectures––intensive work on subjects such as movement and body awareness, rehearsal technique, score study, and musicianship.

  • Immersion in the place––excursions into the Grand Staircase and extensive private study and meditative time on the grounds of the Lodge and the surrounding area.

  • Group discussions on a range of topics––subjects may include conducting artistry, inclusive pedagogy, advocacy for the arts and arts education, advocacy for the Earth, and more.

  • Final concert––all participants will have the opportunity to conduct on an informal concert in Singing Canyon at the end of the Retreat.​​

In addition to coursework and related activities, the following optional undertakings are offered and encouraged as ways of enriching a participant's Retreat experience:

  • Daily sunrise yoga on the lawn.

  • Nightly "fireside forums" that serve as a place to discuss our craft and our collective experiences at the Retreat; s'mores included, of course.

  • Group meditations.

  • An opportunity to camp for one night in the Grand Staircase.

  • A stargazing excursion to one of the darkest places on Earth.

Access to all of these activities is included in a participant's tuition.

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Fellowship program


The Retreat at the Conductors' Collective at Escalante offers four competitive conducting fellowships per season (two choral and two instrumental) that provide the unique opportunity to both work with our world-class staff of clinicians and engage in conducting instruction with our participants. This fully-funded work-study program provides fellows an unparalleled comprehensive education in conducting and conducting pedagogy within the serenity and artistic energy of the natural world.

Fellows receive the following as part of their appointment:

  • Private conducting lessons with and the mentorship of our clinicians.

  • Access to all lectures, seminars, and retreat activities.

  • Guaranteed teaching time of participants in seminars and private consultation.

  • Complimentary lodging and shuttle from and to either Salt Lake City or Las Vegas.

  • Fully-funded tuition and a $500 stipend.

  • The same covered meals as participants:  all breakfasts, one lunch, and three dinners (all other meals are the responsibility of the fellow).

  • An impressive line on their CV!

Fellowship work-study responsibilities include:

  • Instruction of participants in seminars and private consultation.

  • Assisting as appropriate in the Retreat's seminar ensemble.

  • Logistical and operational support.


Applications are due no later than March 1. Applicants are required to be at least 21 years of age and a current masters, doctoral, or artist diploma conducting student at an accredited institution. Those graduating in spring 2020 are not eligible to apply for a fellowship for summer 2020.

More questions about the fellowship program? Email us!

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Application requirements


We believe a diverse array of perspectives enriches all involved, and warmly encourage people of all backgrounds, skill levels, professional arenas, etc. to apply. Please keep in mind the following requirements and guidelines for our applicants:

  • All applicants must be at least 18 years of age to be selected to participate or audit.

  • Although we certainly welcome beginners, applicants should have at least a baseline understanding of conducting gesture and music reading, terminology, theory, and history.

  • We do not charge an application fee; we don't believe in them. In exchange, we request that applicants, before applying, have a concrete intent to enroll if selected. Applying without serious intent is disingenuous and can jeopardize acceptance prospects for other applicants.

  • Please keep in mind that there are some additional physical demands for participation in the entire range of activities for the Retreat, including the ability to walk up to five miles on flat trails and hike moderate inclines for short distances. These physical demands can be exacerbated due to the high altitude as well as the summer heat. Participants are welcome to opt out of any activities with which they do not feel comfortable, but may not enjoy the same holistic Retreat experience as a result.

  • We view the Retreat as a safe place for all to grow and explore as artists and people regardless of their place on their journey. We do not discriminate based on age, race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability, and seek to actively recruit a diverse pool of applicants. The facilities on the Lodge's property are ADA accessible.

What you'll need to apply:

  • An electronic copy of your résumé or curriculum vitae, or a typed bio if you have neither.

  • A link to at least one video (YouTube preferred) of you conducting in performance or rehearsal, camera facing the conductor. Videos should be at least three minutes but no longer than ten minutes.

  • A link to a video (YouTube preferred) of you introducing yourself, talking briefly about your background and professional trajectory, your goals for growth at the Retreat, and why the Retreat appeals to you. We encourage candid, unscripted answers! This video can be as short or as long as you like, but we recommend somewhere around two to three minutes.

    • A video is preferred, since we get more of a sense of who you are by watching you speak, but written or audio introductions may be submitted in lieu of a video.

Application instructions and timeline for participants:

  • Applications open December 1, 2020 and can be accessed here.

  • Submit your application no later than March 15, 2021. Auditor applications are due no later than May 1, 2021.

  • Applicants will be notified no later than March 16, 2021 of their status, at which point additional instructions will be provided for payment and curriculum preparation. Accepted applicants must follow the instructions for payment and pay the deposit within five days of notification of acceptance to reserve their spot.

  • A limited amount of need-based financial aid may be available. Aid applications should be submitted with your participant application after the participant application has been submitted.

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  • Who should apply?

    • As long as you have​ a basic knowledge of conducting and music and are 18 years of age or older, you are warmly encouraged to apply. Beginners, undergraduates, grad students, secondary teachers, collegiate conductors, community or professional directors, church music directors, and even hobbyists are welcome, and will find a safe environment in which to foster their craft with expert clinicians in their arena of expertise who will assist them in ascending to their highest goals as conductors. There is no application fee, so the application is risk-free, and we would love to hear your story. Our only request is that you have a serious intent to enroll when you choose to apply. Still in doubt? Audit the program to give it a test run.


  • Are there limits on the number of participants and auditors?

    • Yes. Because a fulfilling pedagogical experience requires extensive podium time in seminar classes and one-on-one time with our clinicians, and because an intimate and close-knit community of colleagues is a cornerstone of the Retreat experience, we maintain an enrollment somewhere between 16 and 20 participants per session. Additionally, we have space for around ten auditors per session. Those not accepted as participants at the Retreat are encouraged to enroll as auditors. Note that some applicants will be waitlisted for participant spots, and will be notified no later than April 15 if their waitlist status changes; this will allow waitlisted applicants who are not granted a spot to apply to audit by May 1.


  • How do I get to the Retreat?

    • Although the location is isolated, there are many easy ways to get to the Retreat:

      • If you live within a day's drive of Boulder, consider driving, which will allow you to tour the extraordinary landscapes of Utah and the western United States along the way and begin your immersion into the natural world. We are happy to help organize carpools for attendees who plan to drive. Electric vehicle charging is available at the Lodge.

      • If you are a resident of the broader Salt Lake City or Las Vegas areas, you may take advantage of our complimentary shuttles to and from Boulder. These shuttles can also make stops for residents of the Provo, Mesquite, St. George, and Cedar City areas.

      • Those who choose to fly will find the most affordable airfares and flight options to the major international airports in either Salt Lake City (about 4 hours away) or Las Vegas (about 5.5 hours away). Salt Lake City is a hub for Delta and has nonstop service from most major U.S. cities as well as a handful of European cities. Las Vegas has a larger network of domestic and international nonstop options, and is a major hub for Southwest and Allegiant, which tend to be particularly inexpensive carriers. Those flying to Salt Lake City or Las Vegas can take advantage of our shuttles, but likely need to arrive Sunday night, since the shuttles to Boulder leave early Monday morning.

      • Provo airport, about an hour south of Salt Lake City, is served by Allegiant, which offers limited but rather inexpensive flights from Phoenix, Tucson, and Los Angeles. We can arrange a shuttle stop in Provo for those who fly into this airport.

      • Other small regional airports served by major airlines, such as St. George, Cedar City, Grand Junction, and Canyonlands Field (Moab) are a bit closer to Boulder, but not by much, and airfares tend to be much more expensive with limited flight options. We can arrange shuttle stops in St. George or Cedar City for those who fly into those airports.

  • Do I need a car?

    • A car is not required––the Retreat shuttles will transport you to and from all activities off-site. Some may choose to bring or rent a car to explore Escalante more extensively during free time or before and after the Retreat, and for the ability to drive to local merchants and restaurants. Parking at the Lodge is free and plenteous, and the Lodge has electric vehicle charging on-site.


  • Can I arrive late or leave early?​

    • While we understand that musicians have many responsibilities and obligations, we strongly discourage any deviation from the Retreat's schedule, including late arrivals and early departures. Because a significant element of the effectiveness of the Retreat is absolute immersion in intensive study of conducting in the natural refuge of the setting, our meetings and activities at the beginning and end of the retreat are essential to creating a holistic artistic experience. Additionally, it is important that the entire group experience each stage of the Retreat together to foster an intimate and supportive group dynamic, so a participant arriving late or departing early can have a disruptive effect on other participants or the group as a whole.

    • If you believe you will need to arrive late or leave early, please let us know on your application. We cannot guarantee that those who need to deviate from the Retreat schedule will receive the same level of consideration as other candidates of equivalent merit. Under no circumstances will tuition be discounted or refunded for late arrival or early departure.


  • Does the Lodge have modern amenities, such as WiFi, despite its isolated location?

    • Yes. The Lodge is a modern luxury accommodation. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and have heating and air conditioning, fridges and microwaves, hairdryers, irons, WiFi, TVs and DVD players, etc. In our experience, cellular service is available in the immediate Boulder area. While we love the home of our retreat for its natural beauty, and we encourage our participants and faculty to "disconnect," we also like our AC and WiFi!


  • What is the weather like?

    • Due to its altitude, Boulder does not usually suffer the dreaded desert heat in the summers, and daily high temperatures generally range from high 70s to mid 80s (Fahrenheit) at the Lodge. At night, temperatures can fall as low as 50 degrees. Participants should be prepared for hotter weather during our periodic excursions into the surrounding desert, where temperatures can approach or exceed 100 degrees during the hottest parts of the day. Precipitation is rare in the summer months with the exception of the occasional desert afternoon thunderstorm.


  • Are there pianos on-site, and/or places for me to practice?

    • We will have no fewer than two excellent electric weighted-key keyboards on-sitewhich will be available for use during all but seminar hours, but due to the isolated location of the Lodge, we regret that we are unable to guarantee an acoustic piano on-site. Those who wish to practice during our study hours will usually be able to find private space in their hotel room or the room of another participant, the common areas of the Lodge, or secluded spots on the beautiful Lodge grounds. Those with access to a vehicle are strongly encouraged to take the short trip to Singing Canyon to enjoy private voice or instrument practice in the solitude and magnificent acoustics of the red rock.


  • Where can I find food during those meal times where meals aren't provided?

    • The award-winning Hell's Backbone Grill is on-site, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and among the most highly rated restaurants in the state of Utah and the intermountain west writ large. Next door to the Lodge is Burr Trail Grill, which is open from 11:30 AM until 9:00 PM daily and offers outstanding burgers at cheaper prices than Hell's Backbone. Magnolia's Street Food is a food truck a 10-minute walk up the road from the Lodge and offers affordable local fare for lunch. Hills and Hollows Market is a general store open daily from 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM where you can buy groceries, toiletries, medicine, outdoor supplies, and beer, and is less than a mile from the Lodge. All rooms have fridges and microwaves, and some rooms have kitchenettes. Those with independent vehicle access feeling more adventurous can drive 15 minutes west to the isolated and outstanding Sweetwater Grill at the Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch.

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Still have questions? Send us a message below!





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