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WARD STARE RETURNS FOR RPO SUMMER CLASSICS Rochester native is one to watch internationally & in hometown

June 18, 2013

Rochester native is one to watch internationally & in hometown

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO)’s summer season wraps up with two concerts – one classics and one pops – in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre next month.  Summer Classics Special Concert:  Ward Stare Conducts Mozart & Beethoven (Friday, July 19 at 8 p.m.) features Mozart’s lyrical Clarinet Concerto featuring Principal Clarinet Kenneth Grant (The Robert J. Strasenburgh Chair), and Beethoven’s dramatic Seventh Symphony, as well as Wagner’s Flying Dutchman Overture.  The concert will also give Rochester audiences their second look in less than six months at a rising star with a hometown connection.

Born and raised in Pittsford, NY, Ward Stare made his RPO conducting debut with February 2013’s diverse Rhapsody in Blue program, which included music by William Grant Still, Gershwin, Hindemith, and Eastman School Dean Douglas Lowry.  He received both critical and popular acclaim, but his priority was earning the orchestra’s good opinion.  

“The orchestra and I had great chemistry, I think, and I’m looking forward to this very different kind of program that will allow us to continue to explore our relationship,” says Stare.  

Stare has been described as “a compelling figure on the podium” and “one of the hottest young conductors in America” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Having recently completed his tenure as Resident Conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, he continues as the orchestra’s regular guest conductor for its Family, Special Event and Subscription Series. He’s currently making his conducting debut with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis to rave reviews. 

Following in the path of many great orchestral conductors whose careers began as instrumentalists, Stare was trained as a trombonist at the Juilliard School in Manhattan. At the age of only 18, he was appointed principal trombonist by Lyric Opera of Chicago Music Director Sir Andrew Davis. Making his debut as a conductor with the same orchestra last year was a thrill for Stare.

“He’s absolutely one of the finest conductors, if not the finest American conductor, of his generation,” said Davis of Stare in a December 2, 2012 article in the Chicago Sun Times.  “I believe he has a bright future in front of him.”

Now a sought-after guest conductor all over the world, 30-year-old Stare has never forgotten his Rochester roots. His parents, Susan and Daniel Stare, are still Pittsford residents, and his sister, Stephanie Stare, is a Monroe County Public Defender.

“My parents began taking my sister and me to RPO concerts when I was very young,” says Stare. “And, without the many devoted, passionate and generous musical mentors with whom I worked while in Rochester, my path certainly would have been very different! I'll always be grateful for having grown up in such a musically vibrant city.”

One of those mentors is Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Music Director Dr. David Harman

“From the moment I heard him play the trombone as a sixth grader when he first auditioned for the RPYO, Ward impressed me as an unusually gifted and serious musician,” says Harman. “It has been a great pleasure to follow his development as a world-class trombonist and his transformation into a mature, authoritative and exciting conductor.”

A 1999 graduate of Pittsford Mendon High School, Stare was able to pursue his conducting dreams while playing 26-week seasons with the Lyric orchestra. The other six months were spent studying conducting in Europe and at Aspen’s American Academy of Conducting.

Stare was the recipient of both the Robert J. Harth Conductor Prize (2006) and the Aspen Conducting Prize (2007) before spending the 2007-08 season as a League of American Orchestras Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has studied conducting with David Zinman, János Fürst and Jorma Panula as well as working with Michel Merlet in composition and musical analysis.

In 2007, Stare made his critically-acclaimed debut with the Cleveland Orchestra, and 2009 saw his highly successful Carnegie Hall debut. In recent seasons, Stare has appeared as guest conductor with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Bangkok Symphony, Colorado Music Festival, DITTO Festival (South Korea) as well as multiple engagements with both the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. The 2010-11 season included his debut with the Norwegian National Opera in a highly-praised production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. Stare was named ‘Musician of the Month’ by Musical America in November of 2011, and was invited to the prestigious Allianz Cultural Foundation’s 2012 International Conductors’ Academy. Over the course of four months, Stare worked intensively with both the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia culminating in his debut with the LPO in Royal Festival Hall in 2012. Recent and upcoming engagements include appearances with the Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Québec Symphony and the Dallas Symphony.

“He knows his stuff,” wrote Rochester music critic Paloma Capanna of his debut here in February. “Stare appears to have both the natural talent and the raw desire to give a truly musical experience to every member of the audience.”

Stare admits to an insatiable curiosity that keeps him searching for something deeper on and off the podium, but also makes an important distinction between the two. 

“I don’t believe that conductors should take themselves too seriously off the podium, but what happens on the podium should be taken very seriously,” says Stare.  “It’s a tremendous honor and responsibility to lead great musicians in performing great work.”

Tickets for both this and Summer Pops Special Concert:  Glee’s Matthew Morrison in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre on Saturday, July 20 range from $24 to $87 (10% off with student ID), and are available in person at the Eastman Theatre Box Office (433 East Main Street) or at area Wegmans; by phone at (585) 454-2100; or online at rpo.org.

Since its founding in 1922, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music. The RPO presents nearly 200 concerts a year, serving 250,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. Notable former music directors include Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman; Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his 19-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) – the first position of its kind in the country – the RPO reaches 12,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.

Media please note:  High-resolution images are available at docs.google.com/folder and interviews and photo/footage opportunities can be arranged.


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