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Kansas City Symphony's Music Director Michael Stern Plans To Stay Through 2020

Todd Rosenberg Photography

It's been a decade since Michael Stern started his appointment as the fourth music director of the Kansas City Symphony.

Stern's contract with the Symphony was up in June 2016, and it was not a given that he would choose to stay. But officials announced Wednesday that his contract has been extended through the 2019 - 2020 season.

"The renewal of Michael Stern's contract allows the Kansas City Symphony to move forward with strength and continuity," said executive director Frank Byrne in a release. "It is a definite 'win' for our organization and for Kansas City." 

Hailed as "one of America's finest conductors" by Classical Net, Stern is credited with boosting the Kansas City Symphony both artistically and financially — especially since the opening of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in 2011. 

Earlier this month, the Symphony released results of the 2015 fiscal year. The organization earned nearly $2.8 million in subscription revenue, and nearly $2 million in single ticket revenue.

With more than 100 performances in the 2014 - 2015 season, ticket sales for the classical and pops series were at 95 percent capacity and attendance at the family series was at 91 percent.  

"Our Symphony audiences have never been larger, and our financial position has never been stronger," said Symphony board chair William M. Lyons. "The Kansas City community has embraced Michael, and he has returned the affection with energetic and entertaining performances of the highest quality. We are proud and incredibly happy to have him with us until at least 2020."

The Symphony has released five CDs with Reference Recordings during Stern's tenure, including the Grammy Award-winning Britten's Orchestra. Their most recent recording, Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3, "Organ," was named "Editor's Choice" in September by Gramophone. 

Stern is also the founding artistic director of IRIS Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee, where he serves as principal conductor. 

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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