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Ward Stare to leave RPO in 2021 

click to enlarge RPO Music Director Ward Stare - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • RPO Music Director Ward Stare
Ward Stare will be stepping down from his position as music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra at the end of the summer 2021.

Stare announced his decision to the board late last week, and to the musicians on Monday. He will continue to lead the orchestra through its upcoming two seasons.

Stare will have led the RPO for seven years, a tenure that only five other music directors in the 97-year history of the Philharmonic have reached.

“We have accomplished so many positive things over the past five years, and I know we will accomplish even more in the next two seasons,” Stare said. “Although I am stating my future intentions now, I am fully focused on the next two seasons of important and creative work with the talented musicians of the RPO.”

Having just released the album “American Rapture” with the RPO on Azica Records, Stare has not ruled out completing recording project during the remainder of his time as music director.

When he took the job in 2014, Stare, who is now 36, was the RPO’s youngest-ever music director. “My commitment to the RPO is 100 percent — now, for the next two years, and beyond,” said Stare, who is a Pittsford native, over the phone. “I love this orchestra. This is the first orchestra I ever experienced as a child.”

The orchestra’s musicians will be included in the process of assembling a search committee to find Stare’s successor, said RPO president and CEO Curt Long  in the same phone interview. Long also said that the continuation of the orchestra’s concert opera series is likely, while acknowledging the new music director’s opportunity to establish his or her own artistic goals.

“Orchestras plan ahead, and with this announcement, Ward has given us the time we need to conduct a thoughtful search for his successor,” said RPO Board Chair Ingrid Stanlis. “This will ensure continuity in leadership and artistic vision for this important community asset.”

“We have known since Ward came to the RPO that it was likely his career would eventually take him on to new horizons,” said Long. “His passion for opera, his commitment to the education of young musicians, and his passion around leveraging technology to connect new audiences to music offer him a broad range of enticing opportunities in his future. Although we are saddened by his decision not to renew at the end of his contract, we are excited for the future, both for Ward Stare and for the RPO.”

Asked what his future might entail following his tenure here in with the orchestra. Stare is concentrating on the present. “I have a lot of exciting ideas,” said Stare, “and I know there are a lot of great opportunities for the next chapter for me. But at the moment, I’m really just focused on the work that we’re still doing here in Rochester for the next two years.”

Randy Gorbman is WXXI News director.

Daniel J. Kushner, who is music editor of CITY Newspaper, provided additional reporting for this article.

Randy Gorbman's original  article on the WXXI website can be found here: https://www.wxxinews.org/post/ward-stare-step-down-2021-music-director-rpo.

Speaking of Ward Stare, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

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