American conductor Michael Stern is the music director of Iris Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee. This distinctive orchestra is widely praised for the virtuosity of its playing; the depth and variety of its programming, with special emphasis on American contemporary music; and its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. Under Stern’s direction, Iris has commissioned and premiered works by William Bolcom, Chris Brubeck, Richard Danielpour, Stephen Hartke, Edgar Meyer, Jonathan Leshnoff, Ned Rorem, Huang Ruo, Adam Schoenberg, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.
Stern also conducts the Grammy Award-winning Kansas City Symphony, hailed for its remarkable artistic ascent, original programming, organizational development and stability, and the extraordinary growth of its varied audiences since his tenure began. Over the last several seasons, Stern and the orchestra have ushered in a new era and have performed to critical acclaim and sold-out audiences in their new home Helzberg Hall at the $400 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Previous positions include chief conductor of Germany’s Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra (the first American chief conductor in the orchestra’s history) and as Permanent Guest Conductor of the Orchestra National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for five years, and a stint as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille, France.
Michael Stern has led orchestras throughout Europe and Asia, including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Helsinki Philharmonic, Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Moscow Philharmonic, National Symphony of Taiwan, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony and the Vienna Radio Symphony, among many others.
In North America, Mr. Stern has conducted the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. He has also appeared regularly at the Aspen Music Festival.
Mr. Stern received his music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf. Mr. Stern co-edited the third edition of Rudolf’s famous textbook, The Grammar of Conducting, and also edited a new volume of Rudolf’s collected writings and correspondence. He is a 1981 graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American history.