Classical Music & Dance

KC Symphony names new executive director to replace retiring Frank Byrne

The Kansas City Symphony on Tuesday named a new executive director, Daniel E. Beckley, who has served as vice president and general manager of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra since 2013.

He will succeed Frank Byrne, who is retiring, and assume the role on July 29.

“We are thrilled Danny Beckley will become the symphony’s next executive director,” board chair William M. Lyons said in a statement. “Frank Byrne has filled this important position with such deep commitment and extraordinary skill for nearly two decades; he set the bar very high. I am confident Danny will bring the same energy and dedication to the role.”

Beckley will lead a staff of 35 full-time professionals and 80 full-time musicians who present nearly 200 performances annually. He will work with music director Michael Stern on programming and artistic planning as well as with the symphony board.

To help with Beckley’s transition into the new role, he will serve as executive director designate beginning in late May and work alongside Byrne.

Byrne, who spent 27 years with the U.S. Marine Band, came to the symphony as general manager in 2000 and took over as executive director in 2002.

frank byrne
Frank Byrne File photo

“I am honored and humbled to take the helm from Frank Byrne and to work alongside Michael Stern, the board, the staff and musicians of this outstanding organization, to continue deepening Kansas City’s relationship with symphonic music,” Beckley said.

Before joining the Indianapolis symphony, Beckley was executive director of the Charleston (S.C.) Symphony Orchestra. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from James Madison University and a master’s degree in music performance from Northwestern University.

While Beckley was with the Indianapolis symphony, it was the target of a federal age-discrimination lawsuit filed by a longtime bassoonist in March 2017.

John Wetherill, then 62, alleged age discrimination and harassment by music director and conductor Krzysztof Urbanski and said Indianapolis Symphony leadership, including Beckley, knowingly allowed the behavior.

The Indianapolis Symphony described the claims as “outlandish” and “baseless,” according to the Indianapolis Business Journal. The lawsuit was settled in February 2018.

Lyons was traveling and unavailable for comment on the lawsuit Monday.

The Kansas City Symphony selected Beckley after a seven-month national search by a 15-member committee chaired by Lyons and composed of board members, staff and musicians. Byrne and Stern served as advisers to the search committee.

“The Kansas City Symphony has set an impressive standard for our field,” Beckley said. “Hearing these superb musicians connect with each of us in that glorious concert hall — to our thoughts, emotions and our being — creates a special place of belonging where we can all come together.

“The people of Kansas City have built this remarkable organization, and I look forward to leading the symphony to an even brighter future.”