Pittsford native Ward Stare returns to conduct RPO

05:00 AM, Jul 14, 2013

Ward Stare will conduct the RPO on Friday. (Photo provided by Opus 3 Artists)/


Written By Daniel J. Kushner

if you go

What: RPO with guest star Matthew Morrison, conducted by Jeff Tyzik.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, July 20.
Where: Eastman Theatre.
Cost: $24 to $85; 10 percent off for seniors and students.
For information on both concerts:
(585) 454-2100 or rpo.org.

There are few concert experiences more thrilling than to witness a captivating conductor in the prodigious early stages of an ascendant career. For the second time this year, Rochester audiences will get to experience this with one of their own.

Ward Stare, a 30-year-old Pittsford native, will again conduct the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on Friday, presiding over performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Wagner’s “Flying Dutchman” Overture.

Ward made his RPO debut at Eastman Theatre in February, when he conducted works by 20th century American composers William Grant Still and George Gershwin, and recognizes a distinct opportunity in his second collaboration with the RPO.

I’m really looking forward to it, because it’ll give us a chance to really plumb the depths of all these great works together, having already had a great positive initial experience,” Stare says. “And I think with that out of the way, we can really just roll up our sleeves and dive right in, right off the bat.”

Stare says the RPO musicians have an adventurous musical spirit.

They play at a very high level, but they’re also curious musicians, and they’re also willing to try to find different sounds and different colors,” says the conductor. “And they’re willing to really go further than some orchestras might with trying to find the right shape or the right pace or the right balance.”

A Juilliard graduate, Stare began his career at the age of 18 when he became principal trombonist for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Since then, the conductor’s steadily accumulating credentials have included engagements with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s resident conductor.

A self-assured and charismatic musician, Stare is unequivocal about Rochester’s influence on his creative development.

Growing up in a place like Rochester, for a young person who is interested and passionate about music, is really a gift,” Stare says “I didn’t realize quite how lucky I was until I went off, out into the world and met people who didn’t grow up with such a wealth of culture in their own city.”

Along with that appreciation for his upbringing, Stare possesses a grounded approach to his conducting.

It’s about creating an energy, and it’s about ultimately setting the orchestra up so that they can sound their absolute best, and so that we can bring a unified vision and concept of the piece we’re performing to the audience … in order to do that as effectively as possible,” he says. “If something’s not working in rehearsal, I always assume it’s my fault, and I think, ‘OK, what can I do? … What do I need to do to make the orchestra feel fearless and just completely uninhibited in their music-making?’ “