Stern will serve as music director designate this season, leading three subscription concerts, and will take up his position in the fall of 2005. He has signed a four-year contract.
The son of the famed violinist Isaac Stern, Michael Stern attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia before becoming the assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra. He has appeared as a guest conductor with orchestras throughout the United States and Europe, and was chief conductor of Germany's Saarbr‹cken Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1996-2000. In 2000, he founded the IRIS Chamber Orchestra, which is based at the Germantown Performing Arts Center outside Memphis and focuses on contemporary American music.
Stern made his debut with the Kansas City Symphony in March 2003, conducting the world premiere of Ned Rorem's Cello Concerto. He returned in June of this year, after being named one of three finalists for the music director position, along with Stefan Sanderling and David Lockington (Lockington eventually withdrew himself from consideration).
"It is wonderful to find a place such as Kansas City," Stern said in a statement. "It is clear to me that there are a great many people here who care deeply about their city, and about how music and the arts in general can and must play a big role in their community.