At the Met
It doesn’t get much bigger than debuting at the Metropolitan Opera.
For Ward Stare, 34, a Rochester native and the RPO’s music director, it’s the latest accomplishment in a plaudit-winning career.
It also reflects his emergence as an “ardent ambassador” for the orchestra, and, RPO officials say, the de facto face—and heart—of the orchestra for many in Rochester and beyond.
The RPO announced this week he will make his Metropolitan Opera conducting debut Dec. 14 through Jan. 11, 2018. Ward is slated to lead all nine performances of Franz Lehar’s popular operetta, “The Merry Widow,” with Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in the title role.
“I’m thrilled to be making my Met debut—it’s one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses and conducting there will be a dream come true for me,” he says. “As an opera lover, I’m also very excited to share some amazing opera here in Rochester this May with ‘La Boheme,’ as well as next May with ‘Carmen’ —both season finales for the RPO.”
Ward became the RPO’s 12th and youngest music director in July 2014. He has been on a fast track since becoming the youngest-ever principal trombone for the Lyric Opera of Chicago when he was 18.
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, RPO officials say.
“Ward Stare’s presence has been a significant factor contributing to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s dramatic financial turnaround,” RPO president and CEO Ralph Craviso says. “He is a talented and a hardworking music director as well as an ardent ambassador for this orchestra. His artistic leadership certainly accounts in large part for the RPO’s dramatically increased ticket sales and donations.”
Ward played trombone in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for several years before his acceptance into the Juilliard School at age 16. At 26, he made his Carnegie Hall debut with the St. Louis Symphony.
He 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.”
“The RPO was my very first exposure to live symphonic music as a child, so I know first-hand how life-changing this orchestra can be. We already reach more than 160,000 people in the Greater Rochester community each year—over 20,000 of whom are children—and we strive to engage many more in even better ways with this community’s generous support,” Ward says.
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