Known for his passionate and refined performances across the American, Ballet, and Classical repertoire, American conductor Matthew Kasper has become a fixture in the artistic communities wherever he has made his mark. His unique ability to bridge the American music of the last century with its traditional European roots grants him a wide-ranging repertoire, with a particular devotion to elevating the works of composers such as Ives, Shostakovich, Weill, Copland, and Jessie Montgomery, among others.
Kasper's versatility has been on full display through a diverse array of programs during his tenure as Assistant and then Resident Conductor of The Phoenix Symphony from 2015 to 2023. Over the course of more than 250 performances, encompassing subscription series, pops concerts, educational initiatives, chamber orchestra performances, and family concerts, he has cemented his presence among audiences in and around Phoenix. Some notable highlights from his time include mesmerizing renditions of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Ives' Second Symphony, Handel's Messiah, and a two-year stint as conductor for the prestigious Bösendorfer Piano Competition. In recognition of his indelible impact on the community and his ability to deliver dynamic and emotionally resonant performances, Kasper was promoted from Assistant to Resident Conductor by the orchestra in 2018.
Beyond Phoenix, Kasper's fervent and enduring performances, coupled with his ability to connect with diverse communities, have garnered recognition. In 2020, the Solti Foundation U.S. bestowed upon him a prestigious Career Assistance award. He has also been sought after for guest conductor roles and cover-conducting appearances across the United States, Asia, and Europe. Recent seasons have seen Matthew working with the
Rochester Philharmonic, Tucson Symphony, Evergreen Symphony in Taiwan, San Diego Symphony, Colorado Symphony, and the Cleveland Orchestra. Additionally, Kasper has worked with the Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy, Opera National de Lorraine, Queens Symphony Orchestra, The Phoenix Symphony, and the Salt River Ballet. The current season’s highlights include a return to The Phoenix Symphony, multiple appearances with Arizona Musicfest, and debuts with the Milwaukee Ballet and New York City Ballet.
Equally at ease in the orchestra pit as he is on the concert stage, Kasper recently ascended to the position of Principal Conductor of Ballet Arizona, a remarkable achievement made possible by his remarkable talent. This honor followed his last-minute rehearsal and successful direction of two productions for the company, Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker and Prokofiev's demanding Romeo and Juliet, during the 21-22 season. This historic appointment marks the first time in the company's history that they have named a Principal Conductor, a testament to Kasper's artistic prowess and his immediate impact on the institution. As an opera conductor, Kasper excels in both the standard repertoire and new works, contributing to many acclaimed productions in the U.S. and abroad. His portfolio includes world premiere productions of operas by Gerald Barry and Bruce Saylor, as well as memorable performances of classics like Mozart's Magic Flute, Puccini's Sour Angelica, Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites, Britten's Owen Wingrave, Bernstein's Candide, and more.
Dedicated to expanding access to music education for children in the United States, Kasper has held the role of Artistic and General Director of the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras since 2020. During his tenure, he has worked diligently to forge meaningful collaborations for the benefit of the organization's young musicians. These initiatives include a conducting fellowship with Arizona State University, full ballet productions in partnership with the Ballet Arizona School featuring Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, masterclasses, and coaching sessions with musicians from the Phoenix Chamber Music Society, among others. Matthew Kasper strongly believes that music should be accessible to all children and continues to build relationships to make this vision a reality in Phoenix.
In addition to his conducting career, Kasper is an accomplished violinist. He 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 studied under Burton Kaplan, and the Chicago College of Performing Arts, where Shmuel Ashkenasi was his teacher. His chamber music training includes instruction from Marcy Rosen, Daniel Phillips, Robert Chen, and Roger Chase. Furthermore, Kasper holds a Master's degree in Orchestral Conducting from Queens College's Aaron Copland School of Music, where he was a scholarship recipient under the mentorship of Maurice Peress. He also pursued additional conducting studies as a scholarship student at the prestigious Pierre Monteux School for Conductors, with Michael Jinbo as his principal teacher.
Originally hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, Matthew Kasper currently resides in Phoenix with his wife Rebecca and their son, two daughters and their beloved golden retrievers.