Michael Stern will remain the Kansas City Symphony’s music director at least through the 2019-20 season.
Stern and the symphony agreed on a new four-year contract that will extend Stern’s time with the orchestra to 15 years. He joined the organization in 2005.
Under Stern’s leadership, the orchestra has pursued dual goals of artistic growth and an enhanced role in the community. Last year, when the orchestra performed the national anthem at Kauffman Stadium before the sixth game of the World Series, it was the first time the symphony had done so. Following that were performances this year before the home openers for both the Royals and the Chiefs.
“The greatest satisfaction over the past 10 years is the ascent of the orchestra not only in the way they are playing on stage but also their connection to the city,” Stern said. “We strive to be a great orchestra in terms of expanding our recording projects and having a real citywide impact in terms of our music.”
Frank Byrne, the symphony’s executive director, said Stern had hired 35 members of the current orchestra. He added that everyone in the organization shares a common goal.
“I would like to emphasize that we have a remarkable unified organization,” Byrne said. “Our board, our staff, our musicians are all impressively unified in terms of achieving the long-term objectives of the organizations. We have extraordinarily positive relations between all those constituents.”
Bill Lyons, who chairs the symphony board, agreed.
“This is a home run for Kansas City,” he said. “Michael is a superb musical director and conductor for the symphony. He has led a transformation of the symphony artistically over the decade he’s been here. He’s focused everyone’s sights on better and better artistry. He has engaged the musicians and the rest of the organization in that mission.”
Stern said he may be the public face of the symphony, but any success has been a group effort.
“I’m incredibly gratified by the affirmation the board has, not just for me, but for the team,” Stern said. “The musicians are totally complicit in our effort to make something extraordinary happen on stage.”