Maestro stays: Why leave a booming orchestra?

Maestro stays: Why leave a booming orchestra?


norman lebrecht

October 01, 2015

Michael Stern, who has put in ten years as music director of the Kansas City Symphony, has signed on for five more.

The orchestra sold out many of its concerts last season, turned in a two percent surplus and plays a high-profile role in a city with a new arts centre and an attractive and seriously engaged arts scene.

With those assets to his credit, a maestro must feel over the rainbow.

Michael Stern royals



  • Itsjtime says:

    Oh, my. Of all of the egregious errors…. You have picked the picture where Stern is wearing a San Fransisco Giants jersey. This picture was most likely taken in San Fran.

    The Kansas City Royals are the small town upstarts that have taken the game by storm. Let’s give them their due. Kansas City may be a l nice town for a small orchestra, but now it is a great town for baseball 😉

  • Olassus says:

    Of course, an intelligent and informed board would have realized 10 years is enough and appointed someone with creds outside the local market.

    They would also know that the new building, not the incumbent maestro, is behind the growth and excitement in KC.

    Board-level schmoozing and political skills on the part of a music director are almost always in inverse relationship to artistry, and lead to an overstay. Look at Seattle or Costa Mesa, to cite just two examples.

    • Frank says:

      The writer who suggests that the success of the Kansas City Symphony is due entirely to the wonderful new building is either ignorant or misinformed. Both recent performances and recordings demonstrate that there is something significant happening musically, and one cannot divorce the music director — along with the excellent musicians — from those outcomes.

      • Olassus says:

        Glad to know he’s doing his job. But if “something significant” was happening musically, he would have opportunities after 10 years to move on.

        And a sharp board would have already researched the Association’s next artistic phase, capitalizing fully on the new building. Probably they wouldn’t know where to begin with that step, alas, and are comfortable with Michael Stern at their meetings and parties.

        Things will now slide into staleness, as happened with Ozawa in Boston, Schwarz in Seattle, St Clair in Costa Mesa, etc.

  • Kelly says:

    First of all, the San Francisco jersey is likely due to the losing of a friendly bet with the San Francisco Symphony last fall – a nice PR move to show pride in their respective cities.

    Second, Kansas City has a great orchestra due to the commitment of the board, management, and musicians in the orchestra. Kansas Citians can be proud of both their orchestra AND baseball team.

    Congratulations to Michael Stern for signing a long contract for the stability of the Orchestra.

  • Anon2 says:

    Hey wait a sec – Michael’s father, Isaac Stern, is considered a native son of San Francisco, having immigrated there with his parents as a baby.

    Not sure where Michael hails from originally, but it could very well be SF. The SF jersey could actually be justified!

  • itsjtime says:

    If Dean Bob knows anything, it’s that I love baseball.