Source : Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra


Orchestra’s youngest-ever Music Director also makes Met debut this week

Rochester, NY, Dec. 12, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Just as Music Director Ward Stare prepares to make his Metropolitan Opera conducting debut, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) announces that Maestro Stare has renewed his contract for three more years, through the end of the 2020/21 season.


“I’m very proud of what we have accomplished together in a little over three years,” says Stare. “Our staff, administration, donors, orchestra, and patrons all share in our success and I am grateful to have such a wonderful group of colleagues.  I believe the future is bright for the RPO and I’m very pleased that the board has extended my contract so that together we can continue our mission of enriching our beloved community with the gift of live symphonic music!”


 The 35-year old Rochester native – whose first exposure to symphonic music was attending RPO concerts as a child – became the Orchestra’s 12th and youngest-ever Music Director in 2014. Not only has he been on a fast track since becoming the youngest Principal Trombone for the Lyric Opera of Chicago when he was just 18 years old, but his maturity and charisma – coupled with his passion for Rochester and its Orchestra – have translated into a huge win for the RPO and the Rochester community.


“I am very pleased that Ward will continue to mold our excellent Orchestra with his artistic vision,” states RPO President & CEO Curt Long. “He is a talented and hardworking music director, and it’s no coincidence that the recent successes of the RPO began with his leadership in our 2014/15 season.”


As reported in October, the RPO’s five-year financial plan has achieved a balanced budget for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2017 (the first year of that five-year plan) for the first time in six years.  The past season’s ticket sales were also up by 20%, and the RPO saw an increase of 25% in fundraising during 2016/17.  


“Ward’s contract renewal represents a wonderful holiday gift to our Orchestra, our audiences, and our community,” says RPO Board Chairperson Ingrid Stanlis. “I cannot wait to see how he builds on his successes to date, especially as we look forward to the RPO’s 100th anniversary.” 


Stare is currently in intensive rehearsals at the Met, where he will conduct all nine performances of Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow, with Grammy-winning mezzo soprano Susan Graham in the title role, December 14 – January 11, 2018.  Also in the cast: Andriana Chuchman, Paul Groves, and Sir Thomas Allen. He’ll return to Rochester just in time to lead his fourth-annual, free Season Preview Concert on Tuesday, January 30th in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.


“I’m thrilled to be making my Met debut – it’s one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses and conducting there is a dream come true for me,” adds Stare.  “I’m very proud to represent Rochester’s world-class Orchestra and community – whether it be in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre or Lincoln Center!”


More about Ward Stare: Stare played trombone in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for several years before his acceptance into The Juilliard School at age 16. Under the tutelage of Chicago Lyric Opera Music Director Sir Andrew Davis, he pursued his conducting dreams during the Opera’s off-seasons while still a teenager. Just five years later, Stare received the Aspen Conducting Academy’s Robert J. Harth Conductor Prize before winning the Aspen Conducting Prize the following year. He then spent the 2007/08 season as a League of American Orchestras Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.


Stare was just 24 when he made his critically acclaimed conducting debut with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Center. The Plain Dealer praised his “clear and vibrant performance and keen ear for phrasing, balance and pacing.” He became resident conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra the following year, and at 26, made his highly successful Carnegie Hall debut with the Orchestra, stepping in at the last minute for Music Director David Robertson.


At 29, he was named ‘Musician of the Month’ by Musical America and received an invitation to participate in 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. He began conducting with the Lyric Opera of Chicago that same year and with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis a year later. In 2014, he made his Washington National Opera debut, and was appointed RPO Music Director.


Stare has been called “one of the hottest young conductors in America” by the St. Louis Post Dispatch and “a rising star in the conducting firmament” by the Chicago Tribune.  The New York Times described him as “inspiring musicians to impressive heights,” while Rochester’s CITY Newspaper remarked that Stare’s “consummate control of the orchestral sound could not be overlooked” and that “the collective musical energy was irrepressible.”


The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its founding in 1922. The RPO presents approximately 150 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving up to 170,000 people – 34,000 of them youngsters – through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. 12th Music Director Ward Stare joins the ranks of former notable RPO music directors, including 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 23-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) – the first endowed position of its kind in the country – the RPO reaches almost 17,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.


Media please note: high-resolution images of the 2017/18 RPO season are available at and upon request, and interviews and photo/footage opportunities can be arranged.




A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Sally Cohen
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
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