Special Reports

Where Are They Now?
Conductor Ward Stare

June 5, 2018 | By John Fleming

New Artist of the Month: November 2011

Ward Stare started out as a trombonist, attending Juilliard and, at age 18, becoming principal of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, the youngest musician ever to join that ensemble. He remained with Lyric’s orchestra for seven years, during which time he began to pursue the career in conducting that led him to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, where he was resident conductor when MA profiled him.

A year later, after Stare had completed his tenure in St. Louis, his musical career came full circle. He was back in the pit at Chicago’s Civic Opera House, but not in the trombone section. Instead, he was on the podium to make his Lyric conducting debut with Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. He has since conducted other productions with the Lyric as well as with Opera Theater of St. Louis, the Washington National Opera, and, last December, the Metropolitan Opera, making his debut with The Merry Widow, with Susan Graham in the title role.

His career again came full circle in 2014 when he was named music director of his hometown band, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, whose concerts he attended while growing up. His appointment came at a troubled time for the orchestra, which had recently fired its Norwegian Music Director Arild Remmereit in mid-season because of dysfunction in the organization. Under Stare the RPO is recovering from a difficult spell. Last season, ticket sales were up by 20 percent and the orchestra reported its first balanced budget in six years. In December, he renewed his contract through the 2020-21 season.

Stare is also applying his opera background to his Rochester duties: he has led the RPO in concert versions of La bohèmeCarmen, and, next season, Così fan tutte(Photo: Anna Rolandi)

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