Mitchell Sardou Klein

Music Director & Conductor

Music Director and Conductor Mitchell Sardou Klein brings extensive conducting experience in the US, Europe, Australia and Japan to his leadership of the Peninsula Symphony. During his 32 years on the Symphony’s podium, he has guest conducted the Seattle Symphony, New Polish Philharmonic, Suddetic Philharmonic, Richmond Symphony, Eastern Philharmonic and many other orchestras in the US and Europe. In California he has led Symphony Silicon Valley, the San Jose Symphony, the Santa Rosa Symphony, the Inland Empire/Riverside Philharmonic, Ballet San Jose, the California Riverside Ballet and the Livermore-Amador Philharmonic and others. He founded and is Music Director of the Peninsula Youth Orchestra, which he has taken on concert tours of England, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Belgium, Holland, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

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Maestro Klein directed over a hundred concerts as Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Philharmonic (where he was also Principal Pops Conductor and Principal Conductor of Starlight Theater, the Philharmonic’s summer home), and also served as Music Director of the Santa Cruz Symphony. He also has extensive experience in conducting ballet orchestras, including the Kansas City, Lone Star, Oakland, and Westport Ballets, as well as the Theater Ballet of San Francisco and les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Before turning to the podium, he performed as a cellist for many years. Known to most everyone as Mitch, he enjoys travel, photography, jazz and visual arts in his spare time.

Since 1984, he has been Director of the Irving M. Klein International String Competition. Held in San Francisco each June, the Competition has become one of the most prominent in the world, featuring prizes totaling over $25,000, attracting applicants from more than twenty nations annually, and launching numerous major international concert careers.

Critics have consistently praised his work. The San José Mercury described his performance with Symphony Silicon Valley in 2012 as a “gorgeous performance; big, enveloping and wonderfully luxuriant.” The San Mateo County Times described him in 2007 as “Super Conductor: Mitchell Sardou Klein, music director of the Peninsula Symphony, led his musicians through another triumphant concert. The Peninsula Symphony just keeps getting better and better. Great works and great performances by all.” The Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza proclaimed, “The American conductor quickly established a fine rapport with his orchestra. Klein is a musician who has the musical score in his head, rather than his head in the score, which he demonstrated ably. The creative conception and artistic shape which he brings to his work comes from deep inside him.” 

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Maestro Klein is a winner of many prestigious awards, including the 2008 Diamond Award for Best Individual Artist, the Silver Lei Award from the 2009 Honolulu Film Festival (for the World Premiere of Giancarlo Aquilanti’s La Poverta), the 2000 ASCAP Award for Programming of American Music on Foreign Tour, the 2001 Jullie Billiart Award from the College of Notre Dame for Outstanding Community Service, a 1996 award for the year’s best television performance program in the Western States (for the one-hour PBS program about him and the Peninsula Symphony) as well as the 1993 Bravo Award for his contribution to the Bay Area’s cultural life.

Mr. Klein was born in New York City, into a musical family that included members of the Claremont and Budapest String Quartets. He began cello studies at age four with his father, Irving Klein, founder of the Claremont Quartet. His mother, Elaine Hartong Klein, danced with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet.

Cited for his “keen judgment, tight orchestral discipline, feeling for tempo, and unerring control,” Maestro Klein has conducted many significant world, American, and West Coast premieres, including works by Bohuslav Martinu, Meyer Kupferman, Joan Tower, Hans Kox, George Barati, Benjamin Lees, Giancarlo Aquilanti, Melissa Hui, Rodion Shchedrin, Brian Holmes, Ron Miller, Lee Actor, Jonathan Russell, Alvin Brehm, and Margaret Garwood. He has appeared frequently on national and international broadcasts, including National Public Radio, the Voice of America, the WFMT Fine Arts Network, PBS Television, and KQED television. He lives in Oakland, California with his wife, violist Patricia Whaley. Their daughter, Elizabeth, lives and works in the Bay Area.

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