Ward Stare, Conductor
American-born conductor Ward Stare has been described as “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. Recently appointed Music Director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Stare opens their 2014/15 season at Kodak Hall with a special RPO Philharmonics concert featuring guest soloist Midori. His current season includes a number of highly-anticipated debuts with orchestras around the world, including performances with the Baltimore Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, and the New World Symphony. He returns to the Lyric Opera of Chicago in November to lead performances of Porgy and Bess.
Mr. Stare’s frequent collaboration with the Lyric Opera of Chicago began with his debut in 2012 conducting performances of Hansel and Gretel. He returned to Chicago in 2013 to lead Die Fledermaus, for which Opera News praised his “piquantly effervescent concoction of Strauss’s exquisite score.” Mr. Stare led the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra and Chorus in 2013 for his Millennium Park debut with sopranos Ana María Martínez and Albina Shagimuratova, tenor James Valenti, and bass-baritone Evan Boyer for LOC’s annual “Stars of Lyric Opera” concert. Following his critically acclaimed debut with the Opera Theater of St. Louis in 2013 conducting Il Tabarro and Pagliacci, Mr. Stare returned to OTSL the next season for performances of Dialogues of the Carmelites. He made his debut with the Washington National Opera conducting Donizetti’s comic opera L’elisir d’amore in 2014.
Equally active on the concert stage, Mr. Stare served as the Resident Conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra from 2008 to 2012. In 2009 he made his highly successful Carnegie Hall debut with the orchestra, stepping in at the last minute for Music Director David Robertson who performed the role of chansonnier in H. K. Gruber’s Frankenstein!!. The 2013-14 season saw his return to the Atlanta and Detroit Symphony Orchestras, as well as his debuts with the Syracuse Symphoria, the Jacksonville Symphony, and the Naples Philharmonic with Lang Lang as soloist. Other recent engagements include the Houston, Québec, and Dallas Symphonies, as well as numerous engagements with the Saint Louis Symphony where he served as a regular guest conductor on the orchestra’s 2012-13 Family, Special Event and Subscription series.
In August 2007, Mr. Stare made his critically acclaimed debut with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Center, The Plain Dealer praising his “clear and vibrant performance and keen ear for phrasing, balance and pacing.” Mr. Stare has appeared with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Bangkok Symphony, the Colorado Music Festival and the DITTO Festival in South Korea, and has also led the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in multiple engagements.
Highlights of recent seasons include being named ‘Musician of the Month’ by Musical America in November of 2011 and an invitation to participate in the prestigious Allianz Cultural Foundation’s 2012 International Conductors’ Academy. Over the course of four months, Mr. Stare worked intensively with both the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia culminating in Stare’s debut with the LPO in Royal Festival Hall in April of 2012. The 2010-11 season included Mr. Stare’s debut with the Norwegian National Opera in a new production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. Critics praised Stare, the cast and orchestra for a“finely tuned [and] magical” production that “radiated musical quality.”
Stare was the recipient of both the Robert J. Harth Conductor Prize (2006) and the Aspen Conducting Prize (2007) at the Aspen Music Festival before spending the 2007-08 season as a League of American Orchestras Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Stare has studied conducting with David Zinman, János Fürst and Jorma Panula, and worked with Michel Merlet in composition and musical analysis.
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 18, he was appointed principal trombonist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and has performed as an orchestral musician with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, among others. As a soloist, he has concertized in both the U.S. and Europe.