Rochester native Ward Stare named RPO's new Music Director

Ward Stare
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

In a much-anticipated celebration with brass fanfare, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra announced Ward Stare as the twelfth music director of the RPO on Tuesday morning at City Hall in Rochester.

Stare is a Rochester native who played trombone in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra at the age of 11 before graduating early from Pittsford Mendon High School and attending The Juilliard School in Manhattan to study trombone. At 18, he was appointed principal trombonist at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he made his conducting debut in 2012. After achieving international accolades as an orchestra leader, most recently as Resident Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony, Stare is looking forward to bringing his musical talents back to his hometown.

“This community was an amazing place to grow up in,” said Stare. “Not every musical community is this vibrant and I’m thrilled to be able to return and give back."

At 31 years old, Stare is the youngest person to be appointed music director in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s 91 year-history, nearly tying with Maestro Eugene Goosens, who was appointed the RPO’s music director in 1925 at the age of 32. At the press conference, Stare expressed a strong desire to embrace new initiatives in symphonic music and engage everyone in the community, including a younger audience.


“Ward’s astonishing successes early in his career demonstrate his readiness to assume his place in the long line of distinguished conductors who have led the RPO over the past 90 years,” said Charles Owens, President and CEO of the RPO. “It is clear to me that he will be an inspiring leader, a model collaborator, and a game-changing ambassador for the RPO and for symphonic music, embracing the use of technology to deliver our musical product in ways that will be compelling to a new generation of listeners.”

Stare will open the 2014/15 season at Kodak Hall on September 18 with a special RPO Philharmonics concert, featuring guest soloist Midori. In February, Stare will lead the RPO in a special performance of one of Verdi's most poignant operas, La Traviata.