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Michael Stern

Recognized as one of the most dynamic American conductors of his generation, Michael Stern was recently named Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony. Stern is also the founding Music Director of The IRIS Chamber Orchestra, which is presently in its fifth season. Under Stern's direction the orchestra has been unanimously heralded for its varied programming, with special emphasis on American contemporary music, and for its acclaimed recordings on the Naxos and Arabesque labels. Dedicated to revitalizing all aspects of the concert experience, IRIS has embraced as a central part of its mission a deep commitment to furthering American composers, and has commissioned works by Stephen Hartke, Richard Danielpour, Edgar Meyer, Jonathan Leshnoff and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, among others.

In 2000 Mr. Stern concluded his tenure as chief conductor of Germany's SaarbrŸcken Radio Symphony Orchestra. The first American Chief Conductor in the orchestra's history, he was offered the post almost immediately after making his debut with them in March 1996. In addition to their work in concert, for broadcast and on tour, he and the orchestra made recordings which include a disc of Henry Cowell's works as well as a series devoted to the music of Charles Ives, including a live recorded performance of the "Universe" Symphony and the first recording of the reconstructed "Emerson" piano concerto.

In September 1991, he was appointed Permanent Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lyon in France, a position which he held for four years. He has also appeared with the national orchestras of Paris, Bordeaux, Lille and Toulouse. Elsewhere, Mr. Stern has led such orchestras as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Bergen Symphony, the Beethovenhalle Orchestra in Bonn, the Deutsche Symphoniker (DSO) in Berlin, the Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich and the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne. In the United Kingdom he has appeared with the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony (London) and the English Chamber Orchestra. In the Far East, Mr. Stern has appeared with such orchestras as the National Symphony of Taiwan, the Singapore Symphony and Tokyo's NHK Symphony, and in September 2001 he led the Vienna Radio Symphony on a tour of China. He has also been a frequent guest conductor of the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, with which he has recorded for Denon Records, including a disc of orchestral works by Stravinsky and Prokofiev's Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 with Boris Belkin. He and Mr. Belkin have also recorded works by Tchaikovsky and Dvorák with the London Philharmonic.

In North America, he has conducted the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., among many others. He also appears regularly at the Aspen Music Festival, and has served on the faculty of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. From 1986 to 1991, Mr. Stern was the Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. In September 1986, he made his New York Philharmonic debut as one of three young conductors invited by Leonard Bernstein to participate in a conducting workshop that culminated in two concerts at Avery Fisher Hall.

Mr. Stern received his degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his major teacher was the noted conductor and scholar Max Rudolf (whose famous textbook, "The Grammar of Conducting," Mr. Stern co-edited for its third edition.) He has also edited a new volume of Rudolf's collected writings and correspondence, published in January 2002 by Pendragon Press. His studies have included two summers at the Pierre Monteux Memorial School in Hancock, Maine, under the tutelage of Charles Bruck. Born in 1959, Mr. Stern is a graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in American History in 1981.

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Iris Chamber Orchestra
Kansas City Symphony