Matthias Pintscher, a conductor and composer from Germany, came to the United States in March to direct the Kansas City Symphony for the first time. Neither he nor his orchestra had ever visited the city.
Pintscher, however, felt an immediate bond with the group after only a few days of rehearsal and performances of pieces by Ravel, Ligeti, and Scriabin. Magic, he stated in an interview, existed. A determination to always provide one’s best effort.
Pintscher, at the age of 52, pleased the orchestra enough that on Tuesday they announced that he will be taking over as their next music director for a five-year tenure starting in 2024. He will take over for Michael Stern, who has been the conductor of the orchestra since 2005, and will head the group for ten weeks each season.
The orchestra’s president and CEO, Danny Beckley, made the offer to Pintscher shortly after his March visit. He anticipated that Pintscher’s “electric” rapport with the orchestra would encourage more listeners to attend live performances.
Beckley stated in a statement, “I think Matthias can really help make that happen.” They have a goal of expanding the audience for symphonic music.
Pintscher, a New Yorker, became well-known as a composer thanks to his works in a variety of genres, including those for orchestra, chamber ensemble, and solo piano and voice. In several of his works, instruments like the clarinet and the double bass are used to create a hushed, enigmatic atmosphere.
As a conductor, he has also been well lauded for his work with both the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra in Switzerland and the new music ensemble Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris. (After leading the Ensemble Intercontemporain for 10 years, this is his last season as their conductor.) He now works as a teacher at Juilliard’s composition department.
He felt at home in Kansas City, he claimed. He had met a woman in the store who, after he introduced himself, went out and purchased concert tickets.
He praised the “warm welcome” he received from the city, its residents, the general public, and the musicians. The arrival was met with joy.