Kansas City Symphony Renews Associate Conductor Contract

Jason Seber. Credit: Todd RosenbergJason Seber signs two-year contract as David T. Beals III Associate Conductor

The Kansas City Symphony has renewed David T. Beals III Associate Conductor Jason Seber’s contract for two more years, which will now extend through June 2021.

The 2019/20 season will be Seber’s fourth season with the orchestra. He joined as assistant conductor in 2016 with a one-year contract. In February 2017, the Symphony promoted Seber to associate conductor and signed a two-year extension through the current 2018/19 season.

“Jason Seber has proven himself to be a great asset to the Kansas City Symphony,” said Executive Director Frank Byrne. “Jason has an incredible work ethic and brings not only fine musicianship but also a positive spirit to every task. Our organization is better by having Jason on staff, and we are delighted to have him with us for two more years.”

Seber leads the Symphony’s Pops, Family and special concerts. He also conducts the John and Marny Sherman Education Series, which reaches more than 30,000 grade school students annually through programs such as Young People’s Concerts and KinderKonzerts. His other responsibilities include serving as cover conductor for the Classical Series, leading Classics Uncorked concerts and frequently conducting the popular Film + Live Orchestra concerts.

“I am thrilled to continue making music with the exceptional musicians of the Kansas City Symphony,” Seber said. “My three years so far in Kansas City have been full of incredibly rewarding performances. Not a week goes by where I don’t feel blessed to be able to work with such a talented team of musicians, staff and board. I have felt the genuine love and appreciation for all the Symphony does in our community. I am especially grateful to Michael Stern and Frank Byrne, who have been outstanding mentors and supporters along the journey. I hope to continue giving the best possible performances for our appreciative audiences and to continue building excellent relationships with everyone in our community, with an emphasis on providing more educational opportunities for middle school and high school students in Kansas City in the next two years.”

Music Director Michael Stern adds that Seber has been an excellent member of the Symphony family.

“Jason Seber has proven again and again why he is such an invaluable part of the Kansas City Symphony’s success,” Stern said. “By his many contributions as a conductor and an educator, by his programming, and by all of his community outreach and advocacy, he has earned a well-deserved and affectionate embrace from the musicians and staff, as well as the diverse audiences he serves so well. In everything we’re trying to accomplish together, I’m reminded daily how vital his passion is for both music and our musicians. I respect his musical insight and admire his professionalism, as I value his friendship. I am delighted he has agreed to extend his time here with us. He’s an important part of our success, and I very much look forward to the next seasons.”

Seber will make his Classical Series debut next season conducting Brahms’ Fourth and Bach’s Fantasia on October 25-27. Single tickets available now from $25. To purchase, call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or select seats at kcsymphony.org.

The Symphony will announce the 2019/20 Classics Uncorked concerts, which Seber programs and leads, in the coming weeks.

Previously, Seber served as the education and outreach conductor for the Louisville Orchestra where he led Family, Pops and special concerts and worked as cover conductor for the Classical series. Seber also was the music director of the Louisville Youth Orchestra for 11 seasons. He earned his master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music and two bachelor’s degrees from Baldwin Wallace University.

Visit kcsymphony.org for more information.


Kansas City Symphony Names Next Executive Director

Symphony Board selects Daniel E. Beckley to succeed Frank Byrne

Danny Beckley
Photo credit: Randall Baughn

Kansas City Symphony Board Chair William M. Lyons announced today the Symphony Board has selected Daniel E. Beckley as the next Executive Director of the Kansas City Symphony to succeed Frank Byrne, who will complete his nearly 19-year tenure this year. Beckley will assume the role of Executive Director on July 29.

“We are thrilled Danny Beckley will become the Symphony’s next Executive Director,” Lyons said. “Frank Byrne has filled this important position with such deep commitment and extraordinary skill for nearly two decades; he set the bar very high. I am confident Danny will bring the same energy and dedication to the role, continuing our strong track record of artistic achievement, fiscal discipline and community involvement. Danny’s experience as both a musician and a senior orchestra administrator position him well for great success.”

Beckley is a skilled and experienced orchestra administrator. Since 2013, he has served as vice president and general manager of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Prior to that time, he was Executive Director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina. Beckley’s other experience includes serving as managing director of BlueKey Web Solutions in Charleston, a company he helped found, and he also has been a public school orchestra director. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from James Madison University and a master’s degree in music performance from Northwestern University. He received additional training from the League of American Orchestras and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Beckley was selected in a comprehensive, seven-month national search chaired by Lyons along with a 15-member search committee comprised of Symphony board members, staff and musicians.

“Our committee was unified in our objective to hire the very best person,” Lyons said. “I am proud of their work and their passion for the mission and future of the Kansas City Symphony.”

Current Executive Director Frank Byrne and Music Director Michael Stern served as advisors to the search committee.

“I am honored and humbled to take the helm from Frank Byrne, and to work alongside Michael Stern, the Board, the staff and musicians of this outstanding organization, to continue deepening Kansas City’s relationship with symphonic music,” Beckley said.

With an annual budget of $19.8 million, the Kansas City Symphony is a thriving and dynamic organization. As Executive Director Beckley will be responsible for all aspects of administration and management, including operations, finance, marketing and fundraising.

He will lead a staff of 35 full-time professionals and work with the orchestra’s 80 full-time musicians to present nearly 200 performances annually. Beckley will work closely with Stern on programming and artistic planning as well as the Symphony Board on strategic planning and other initiatives to continue the Symphony’s remarkable record of success.

Stern is optimistic about Beckley joining the Symphony.

“I am delighted to welcome Danny Beckley to Kansas City,” Stern said. “And I am inspired by what we will achieve together as we look ahead to the next chapter in our Kansas City Symphony story. Given the deep and meaningful alliance I have had with Frank Byrne since my first year in Kansas City, I was hopeful we could find someone to take the mantle and forge ahead with the kind of projects and possibilities that have led to our success over the last 15 years. We found that person in Danny. His focus and capacity for strategic thinking is evident, and I know he will continue to nurture the culture of the entire Kansas City Symphony organization, which is so important to all of us. I am energized by his hopeful enthusiasm, and his passion for music is impressive. On top of the strong financial and administrative foundation we have worked so hard to accomplish, I am inspired by the artistic heights our partnership will strive toward, and I am confident great things are ahead.”

To assure a smooth transition in the role, the Symphony has planned an overlap period beginning in late May when Beckley will take the title Executive Director Designate. He will work closely with outgoing Executive Director Frank Byrne to become acquainted with all aspects of the organization, meet key people and partners in the Kansas City community, and prepare to take over as Executive Director on July 29. This planned turnover time is rarely possible in other orchestras, but is another example of the Kansas City Symphony’s extraordinary culture of excellence and collaboration.

“The Kansas City Symphony has set an impressive standard for our field,” Beckley said. “Hearing these superb musicians connect with each of us in that glorious concert hall — to our thoughts, emotions and our being — creates a special place of belonging where we can all come together. The people of Kansas City have built this remarkable organization, and I look forward to leading the Symphony to an even brighter future.”

To learn more about the Kansas City Symphony, visit kcsymphony.org or call (816) 471‑0400.

Kansas City Symphony to Attempt GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ Title for the Largest Tuba Ensemble

TubaChristmas header

The Kansas City Symphony is aiming for tuba glory at noon on Friday, December 7 in the Municipal Arena at Municipal Auditorium with its annual holiday tradition TubaChristmas.

Since 2008, the Symphony has hosted hundreds of tuba and euphonium players for TubaChristmas, most recently in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts for two performances each year. For 2018, the Symphony was ready to up the ante by combining all players into one date at the Municipal Arena and go for a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title attempt.

The free, one-hour concert on Friday, December 7 will feature traditional holiday carols arranged for tuba and euphoniums, and the concerts draw packed houses. The 2018 concert also will feature the world premiere of a new composition for tubas and euphoniums by James Barnes, noted composer and University of Kansas professor emeritus of music composition. University of Kansas professor of tuba-euphonium, Scott Watson, will conduct the concert.

The tradition of TubaChristmas began in 1974 in New York City by renowned tuba player and teacher Harvey Phillips. Today there are hundreds of TubaChristmas events around the nation and world, making it the perfect event for a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS official attempt. The current record was achieved on December 21, 2007, in Anaheim, California, with 502 performers.

“We can absolutely break the current GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title,” said Kansas City Symphony Executive Director Frank Byrne, himself a tuba player. “This event has such wonderful spirit, is so much fun, and we have had incredible response each year. For 2018 we want to have the biggest and best TubaChristmas in the world, and to break a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title. It will be a source of pride for Kansas City and great fun for performers and audience.”

The Symphony is taking no chances.

GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Adjudicator will attend on Friday, December 7, so everyone at the concert will know if the Kansas City Symphony’s TubaChristmas achieves a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title.

Tuba and euphonium players may register to perform here.

Audience members who wish to witness the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title attempt can secure free tickets at this page.

“We want to invite tuba players from around the nation to come to KC and help us set the new world record,” Byrne added.

TubaChristmas in Kansas City is generously underwritten by Janet M. Stallmeyer and Donald L. Flora.

WHO: Kansas City Symphony
WHAT: TubaChristmas 2018
WHEN: Noon on Friday, December 7, 2018
WHERE: Municipal Arena at Municipal Auditorium – 301 W 13th Street, Kansas City, MO 64105
WHYGUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title attempt for Largest tuba ensemble

For more information, please contact the Kansas City Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400.

Kansas City Symphony Increases Endowment by $55 Million with Historic 5-Year Campaign

Kansas City Symphoyn - 2017 - Todd RosenbergMore than 1,000 donors collectively committed $55 million to the Masterpiece Campaign, raising $3 million in the final 6 months.

Thanks to many generous donors the Kansas City Symphony has completed the Masterpiece Endowment Campaign, its largest fundraising effort to date, raising just over $55 million in new endowment funds to strengthen and secure the future of the Symphony.

“Completing the Masterpiece Campaign is a landmark accomplishment for the Symphony and our community,” said Kansas City Symphony Executive Director Frank Byrne. “As the region’s largest performing arts organization, reaching hundreds of thousands of people each year, we are deeply invested in the Kansas City community. It is wonderful to see the community respond so generously to invest in the Symphony, thereby enabling us to build on all the important work we have done. We are very grateful to all who donated to the campaign, and to our Chair, Bill Lyons, whose leadership and tireless efforts were essential to our success.”

The Kansas City community responded enthusiastically to the campaign, contributing $52 million quietly over 4 1/2 years and $3 million during the concluding six-month public phase. Together, more than 1,000 donors pledged gifts ranging from $10 to $10 million during the five-year period. When all campaign pledges are fulfilled, the Kansas City Symphony’s endowment will total more than $100 million, bringing it to a level comparable with peer organizations. With an annual operating budget of nearly $17 million, the Symphony plans to draw an average of 4 percent annually from endowment. In time, this will translate to roughly $4 million or just less than a quarter of the annual operating budget.

The Masterpiece Campaign grew out of the Symphony board’s goal to continue the artistic and financial success that has distinguished the Kansas City Symphony. Through a comprehensive financial analysis and study of industry best practices, the Symphony observed that the most successful American orchestras required a robust endowment to supplement ongoing and growing annual fundraising. While the completion of the Masterpiece Campaign will provide a much more stable base of funding, Symphony leaders understand that operating expenses will continue to grow and that a growing annual fundraising effort will be required to sustain the Symphony’s impressive momentum.

“The success of the Masterpiece Campaign provides powerful evidence of our community’s belief that the arts are essential,” said Campaign and Board Chair Bill Lyons. “As a result of the extraordinary generosity of our donors and the passionate work of our campaign staff and volunteers, we have dramatically increased the likelihood that top tier, live orchestral music will be part of Kansas City for this generation and many to come. We are so fortunate to have the strong, longstanding artistic and administrative leadership of Michael Stern and Frank Byrne, the strong Symphony Boards, past and present, led by civic leaders like Crosby Kemper and Shirley Helzberg, a magnificent performance venue in the Kauffman Center, and a community that believes in philanthropy like no other. All of these came together to achieve this unprecedented result.”

While it is common to cover endowment campaign expenses out of donations, the Kansas City Symphony broke this mold. Instead, the Symphony funded all endowment campaign expenses from its annual operating budget.

“What the Kansas City Symphony was able to achieve with this campaign is remarkable in many regards,” said Peter Hoskow, Principal and Managing Director of CCS Fundraising, the international fundraising consulting firm that partnered with the Symphony at various stages of the campaign’s activity. “Symphonies across the U.S. and around the world are struggling due to rising costs, decreasing demand and difficulties raising money. Despite the challenges faced by so many of these organizations, the Kansas City Symphony was able to execute a powerful campaign that will ensure this cultural icon will have a positive impact on the community for years to come. Even more, they were able to conduct this campaign in a truly efficient manner. No donations were spent on campaign expenses; all expenses were resourced from the organization’s operations budget. In our experience working with dozens of orchestras, this is an incredible accomplishment. We feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to partner with such an amazing organization in the design, early management, and ongoing evaluation of this extraordinary campaign.”

The Kansas City Symphony has played a key role in shaping the artistic landscape of Kansas City. As a driver of the city’s cultural renaissance, the Symphony is setting the standard for how a professional symphony orchestra can thrive and be connected to its community.

  • The Symphony provides nearly 70 percent of the live music at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, presenting more than 100 performances each season of 45 different programs. The Kansas City Symphony also plays 60 performances with the Kansas City Ballet and Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
  • Each season, nearly 75,000 people attend a free Kansas City Symphony performance, and more than 50,000 adults and children participate in Symphony education programs.
  • After six seasons at the Kauffman Center, the Symphony continues to increase audiences with an innovative and smart mix of programming.
  • Advancing its destination reputation, the Symphony has attracted attendees from nearly all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico plus more than a dozen foreign countries each season since 2011.
  • The Symphony helps make our city a vital and thriving community, creating a $22-million annual impact on the economy, generating $1.7 million in state and local taxes.

The completion of the Masterpiece Campaign is the latest in a series of successes defining the organization’s evolution in recent years.

  • In June 2016 and one year before its expiration, Symphony management and musicians harmoniously extended their collective bargaining agreement through June 2021.
  • The Symphony has successfully extended contracts with Music Director Michael Stern (through 2019-20), Symphony Chorus Director Charles Bruffy (through 2019-20) and David T. Beals III Associate Conductor Jason Seber (through 2018-19).
  • The organization has set all-time records in attendance and revenue in recent seasons.
  • For many years, the Symphony has balanced its budget (or better) and devoted more than 70 percent of its annual budget toward programming.

Music Director Michael Stern said the combination of these elements makes it thrilling and rewarding to be part of the Kansas City Symphony family.

“Successfully completing the $55 million Masterpiece Endowment Campaign is significant for all of us at the Kansas City Symphony,” Stern said. “It’s a wonderful testament to the deep connection we have with our family of donors and advocates throughout our community. This watershed moment gives us the artistic and organizational stability that will allow us to continue the artistic evolution for which we have worked so diligently over the last 12 years. With this new chapter, we can and will continue to advocate for great music, and to be a model for how music and the arts can and must inform a great American city in the 21st century.”

To celebrate and acknowledge this milestone, the Symphony plans to hold an event in the spring for those who contributed $1,000 or more to the Masterpiece Campaign. Those who wish to contribute to the Symphony’s endowment or annual fund may call (816) 471-1100 or visit kcsymphony.org.