The Kennedy Center

Michael Stern


Conductor Michael Stern is embarking on his 12th season as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony and 17th season as Founding Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the IRIS Orchestra.

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(r)Award-winning Reference Recordings for an ongoing series of highly praised CDs. Their two upcoming releases include a disc of new music by American composer and former Kansas City Symphony Composer in Residence Adam Schoenberg as well as another disc featuring Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.”


IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee is widely praised 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.


In North America, Stern has conducted the Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Indianapolis, National (Washington, D.C.), Montreal, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Seattle and Boston symphonies, the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, as well as the New York Philharmonic. He also has appeared regularly at the Aspen Music Festival and previously has served on the faculty of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen.

Michael Stern has led orchestras throughout Europe and Asia, including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Helsinki Philharmonic, Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Moscow Philharmonic, National Symphony of Taiwan, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony and the Vienna Radio Symphony, among many others. Other positions include chief conductor of Germany’s Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra (the first American chief conductor in the orchestra’s history), as Permanent Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, and as the 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 also edited a new volume of Rudolf’s collected writings and correspondence. He is a 1981 graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American history.


 Bio appears as given by artist management
Michael Stern