Known for his passionate and refined performances of the American, Ballet and Classical repertoire, American conductor Matthew Kasper has made himself a staple of artistic life wherever he has landed. With an ability to connect the American music of the last century with its traditional European roots, Kasper has wide-range of repertoire in his grasp and a particular passion for bringing to the forefront works by composers such as Ives, Weill, Copland, and Jessie Montgomery among others.
Kasper’s versatility has made itself apparent in the wide range of programs he has conducted to overwhelming acclaim as Resident Conductor of The Phoenix Symphony. With over 250 performances including many subscription, pops, educational, chamber orchestra and family concert, Kasper has become a fixture for audiences in and around Phoenix. Some of the highlights of his tenure have included performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Ives’ Second Symphony, Handel’s Messiah and two years as conductor for the prestigious Bösendorfer Piano Competition. Kasper’s indelible effect on the community and his ability to create dynamic and sensitive performances led him to be promoted from Assistant to Resident Conductor by the orchestra in 2018.
Many other arts institutions in the U.S. and abroad have noticed Kasper’s passionate and unceasing performances as well as his ability to connect to the broader community. This is apparent in the Solti Foundation U.S. awarding Kasper a prestigious Career Assistance award in 2020 as well as numerous guest and cover-conducting appearances in the U.S., Asia and Europe. Recent seasons included successful debuts with the Rochester Philharmonic, the Tucson Symphony and the Evergreen (Taiwan) Symphony. Kasper has also appeared with the Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy, Opera National de Lorraine, Queens Symphony Orchestra, The Phoenix Symphony and the Salt River Ballet. Matthew has served as cover conductor for The Cleveland Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony, The Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Musicfest and the Queens Symphony.
Equally comfortable in the pit as he is on stage, Kasper has recently been appointed to the position of Principal Conductor of Ballet Arizona after stepping in for a last-minute rehearsal and conducting two of the company’s productions, including Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet, during the 21-22 season. As an opera conductor, Kasper is comfortable in the standard repertoire as well as new works. He has worked on many productions in the U.S. and abroad, including world premiere productions of operas by Gerald Barry and Bruce Saylor as well as productions of Mozart’s Magic Flute, Puccini’s Sour Angelica, Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, Britten’s Owen Wingrave, Bernstein’s Candide and others.
In his final season as Resident Conductor of The Phoenix Symphony, Kasper is thrilled to conduct a varied schedule of performances including a subscription week with piano phenom, Eric Lu on a program of Strauss, Schumann and Beethoven. He is also slated to conduct productions of Prokofiev’s Cinderella, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and a Balanchine program featuring Glazunov, Fauré, and Hindemith, with Ballet Arizona and he will return to conduct the Tucson Symphony.
A passionate advocate for expanding access to music for children in the U.S., Kasper has been honored to serve as Artistic and General Director of the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras since 2020. During this tenure, Kasper has worked hard to form meaningful collaborations for the benefit of the organization’s young musicians. This includes a conducting fellowship with Arizona State University and full ballet productions of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty with The School of Ballet Arizona, masterclasses and coaching with musicians from the Phoenix Chamber Music Society and many others. Matthew believes music should be available to all children and is working hard to forge relationships to help make that a reality in Phoenix.
An accomplished violinist, Kasper was a member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra and holds degrees in violin performance from Queens College’s Aaron Copland School of Music where he was a student of Burton Kaplan and the Chicago College of Performing Arts where his teacher was Shmuel Ashkenasi. Kasper also studied chamber music with Marcy Rosen, Daniel Phillips, Robert Chen and Roger Chase. Additionally, Kasper holds a Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting from Queens College’s Aaron Copland School of Music where he was a scholarship student of Maurice Peress. Additional conducting studies took place as a scholarship student at the prestigious Pierre Monteux School for Conductors, where his principal teacher was Michael Jinbo.
Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Kasper currently resides in Phoenix with his wife Rebecca, son Theodore, daughters Fiona and Magnolia, and their golden retriever Bear.