Conductor Michael Stern is embarking on his thirteenth season as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony and eighteenth season as Founding Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the IRIS Orchestra.
Stern began the 2016-17 season leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in a concert with Yo-Yo Ma and returned to the summer festivals at Crested Butte and the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge. Further guest engagements included weeks with the Atlanta, National (D.C.), and Adelaide Symphonies; with the Chicago Civic Orchestra; and special concerts, plus educational residencies, in Guangzhou, China, where he is Music Director of Youth Music Culture Guangdong. With the Kansas City Symphony, he conducted the world premiere of Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Fantasie for Violin and Orchestra with Anne Akiko Meyers––one of the composer’s last works––and released a new CD of works by American composer Adam Schoenberg. A spring week of Britten’s monumental War Requiem was another significant highlight of the Kansas City season.
Stern and Kansas City have been hailed for their remarkable artistic ascent, original programming, organizational development and stability, and the extraordinary growth of its varied audiences since his tenure began. Since 2008, Stern and the orchestra have partnered with Grammy Award-winning Reference Recordings for an ongoing series of highly praised CDs. In addition to the new Schoenberg release, their discography features CDs of Gustav Holst’s The Planets, as well as albums of Elgar, Sibelius, and Saint-Saens.
The IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee is known for the virtuosity of its playing; the depth and variety of its programming, with special emphasis on American contemporary music; and its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. Under Stern’s direction, IRIS has commissioned and premiered works by William Bolcom, Chris Brubeck, Richard Danielpour, Stephen Hartke, Edgar Meyer, Jonathan Leshnoff, Ned Rorem, Huang Ruo, Adam Schoenberg, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.
Stern has conducted the Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Indianapolis, National, Montreal, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Seattle, and Boston symphonies; the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras; and the New York Philharmonic. He also appears regularly at the Aspen Music Festival and has served on the faculty of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen.
As an international guest conductor, he has led the major orchestras in London, Stockholm, Paris, Helsinki, Budapest, Israel, and Moscow; the National Symphony of Taiwan; Tokyo’s NHK Symphony; and the Vienna Radio Symphony, among others. Stern has been Chief Conductor of Germany’s Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra (the first American chief conductor in the orchestra’s history), Permanent Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille, France.
Stern received his music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf. Stern co-edited the third edition of Rudolf’s famous textbook The Grammar of Conducting and edited a new volume of Rudolf’s collected writings and correspondence.