Breaking: Isaac Stern’s son has a new orchestra

Breaking: Isaac Stern’s son has a new orchestra


norman lebrecht

September 29, 2019

Michael Stern, who recently announced his departure from Kansas City in 2023, has taken on an extra job at the Stamford Symphony, in Connecticut. His five-year term will start in 2020.

Stern, 59, said: ‘In the heart of every musician, first and foremost, you want to make good music, express yourself and make the music land. Music is communication and you want to make it land — I felt that here.’

The CEO who signed him is Russell Jones, former head of the British ABO.

Stern will also continue as music director of IRIS orchestra in Tennessee, his third job.

His additional reasons for taking Stamford is that he is raising two daughters in Old Greenwich, the neighbouring town, and that many of the Stamford musicians are professionals from the Met, St. Luke’s, Orpheus and Broadway.



  • drummerman says:

    No disrespect to Stamford but is a small, free-lance band, a great deal lower on the musical spectrum than Kansas City. One wonders why the Maestro took the gig?

    • MusicFan101 says:

      The story I read was that he wanted to have more time where his children live. Perhaps they are young? Have to respect that. It was announced recently that the KC orchestra renewed him through 2023, he has no shortage of gigs, and he is highly valued as a guest conductor. And while not a major orchestra, the pool of excellent players from the area, including NYC, could make it a fine group. Kudos to him for taking this on.

    • No disrespect to drummerman, but it’s a small free-lance orchestra made up of fine free-lance NYC musicians, just minutes away from New York. A nice job by any standard.

      • drummerman says:

        No disrespect to you sir. I’ve worked in the music biz in the greater NYC area for 35+ years, first as a performer, then as an administrator. I know and have worked with, several of the Stamford players, all first-rate. I merely meant to indicate that it is on a completely different level than Kansas City, a full-time orchestra with a multi-million dollar budget.

    • Cubs Fan says:

      Less stress, I would think. I just hope he keeps up the guest conducting; he’s always a delight in Tucson.

    • ELG says:

      Probably because no other venue was interested

    • I. Play says:

      Family lives nearby
      Watch the 2 min video:

    • Labor Guy says:

      He and his family live in Old Greenwich. The hall is about two miles from his house – almost literally in his backyard. A freelance band indeed, but one filled with a lot of top-flight NYC freelancers. He still has IRIS as well. Having two smaller groups, one of which is close enough to sleep under his own roof, and a schedule that’s probably more conducive to spending time with his family and guest conducting, if that’s something he wants to do? From my perspective, that’d be pretty understandable.

    • Esther Cavett says:

      Why is he leaving KC ? Was it mutual ?

    • Doug says:

      Inertia. Ever hear of the”downward slide”?

    • David K. Nelson says:

      The proximity to New York City would be a good reason. I knew an exceptional violinist (who made concerto, sonata and chamber music recordings) who surprised me by taking a concertmaster position with a good but not major Connecticut orchestra largely due to its proximity to NYC. (And its schedule was such that he could work it around his solo and chamber music gigs.)

    • Bruce says:

      I would guess that the answer to your question is “because he wanted to.”

      But seriously, he may just want to scale back his schedule while not quitting altogether. And from what I’ve heard (our former music director is also Stamford’s former music director), they’re a very good orchestra. So who knows — it could be musically satisfying to conduct a good orchestra even if they’re not famous.

    • jamesay says:

      Because no one else wanted him… KC couldnt wait to see the back of him.

      • MusicFan101 says:

        Why so negative? This comment seems gratuitously nasty (like others above) and not based on the facts. Given their proven success in KC (have you heard their recordings or read about the immense success of the orchestra both artistically and in the community?), all one needs to know is that the KC Symphony just renewed his contract through 2023. And he clearly doesn’t need a new regular job on top of that; as I first surmised, I think family must be the big factor.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Good luck in Stamford, Michael! It has maintained as one of the finest orchestras in the state and is close enough to NYC. Fond memories still of our collaboration in Norway many years ago. Be well!

  • nick says:

    Stamford? Who?

  • Vaquero357 says:

    The KCSO is an *excellent* orchestra, clearly shaped by Michael Stern (did not know he is Isaac’s son), with whom the players seems to have an excellent rapport. And their concert hall, Helzberg Hall, is in a performing arts building that any city of ANY size ANYWHERE in the world would be proud to have.

    Stern’s worked hard for what will be 20 years in 2023 when he steps down as MD. The Stamford Symphony isn’t in the same league as the KCSO, but maybe he simply wants to take life a bit easier.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Anyone know why Michael Stern was wearing an S.F. Giants jersey?

    • Labor Guy says:

      A lost bet involving the 2014 World Series, which was contested by the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals.