Christopher Kelts

Conductor Christopher Kelts will be the next director of the Saint Joseph Symphony.

The Saint Joseph Symphony has announced its new director.

Christopher Kelts, the director of orchestral studies at Missouri State University in Springfield, will fill the position.

“I’m very excited to be chosen among three distinguished candidates. And I’m excited to get the season planned and started and underway,” Kelts said.

The position has been vacant since former director Rico McNeela left in 2020. The search to fill the vacancy included 21 conductors from all over the globe, as well as three audition concerts at the Missouri Theater.

In choosing Kelts, symphony officials stated they conducted a selection panel that considered audience and musician surveys, rehearsal and concert videos, reference checks and multiple interviews with the finalists.

In addition to his work in St. Joseph, Kelts also will lead two orchestras in Kansas City, along with an international ensemble,. He said he looks forward to learning about St. Joseph and what people want to see and hear.

“The city of St. Joseph is enriched by its history, museums and arts culture. The Saint Joseph Symphony plays a large role in the cultural enrichment of the city and its residents. Classical music is exhilarating for the body and soul. I’m thrilled to be part of the experience,” he said.

Kelts will start the position immediately and plan the symphony’s upcoming 2021-22 season. It will be the orchestra’s first full season since its 2019-20 plans were cut short and the 2020-21 shows were canceled. Kelts said there’s a lot to look forward to in the symphony’s future.

“I look forward to working with these musicians, but mostly working towards strengthening the symphony’s cultural importance in the city of St. Joseph,” he said.

Andrew Gaug can be reached at

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