Grammy-nominated conductor Ward Stare, hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “A rising-star in the conducting firmament”, was Music Director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 2014 - 2021. He has been praised for “inspiring musicians to impressive heights” by The New York Times, and as “a dynamic music director” by Rochester CITY Newspaper. In demand as a guest conductor, Stare has conducted the Symphony Orchestras of Baltimore, Sydney (Australia), Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (Germany), Pittsburgh, Grant Park (Chicago), Atlanta, Detroit, Toronto as well as the New World Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic.
Stare made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 2017, conducting nine performances of Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow, with Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in the title role. Stare’s frequent collaborations with the Lyric Opera of Chicago began in 2012, conducting a production of Hansel and Gretel, returning in 2013 for Die Fledermaus, and again in 2014 to lead Porgy and Bess to rave reviews. Stare served as resident conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra from 2008 to 2012 and, in 2009, made his highly successful Carnegie Hall debut with the orchestra, stepping in to lead H. K. Gruber’s Frankenstein. Stare has enjoyed an ongoing relationship with the SLSO and returns frequently as a guest.
As a passionate advocate for arts education, Ward Stare has served as a Distinguished Artist at the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University since 2012. In the fall of 2016, Stare recorded Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra, by R.E.M. bassist and songwriter Mike Mills, with the ensemble and its founder, Robert McDuffie. Stare is an enthusiastic collaborator and performer of new music, including the world premiere performance of ‘Pravda’, by Academy Award-winning composer Elliot Goldenthal and the regional premiere of Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis’ Flute Concerto, performed by Marina Piccinini.
In the Spring of 2019, Stare and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra released American Rapture, featuring the world-premiere recordings of Jennifer Higdon’s 'Harp Concerto', with Yolanda Kondonassis as soloist, and Patrick Harlin’s ‘Rapture'. The album garnered two Grammy nominations, with Higdon's Harp Concerto winning the Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in January 2020. Ward Stare was trained as a trombonist at The Juilliard School in Manhattan. At 18, he was appointed principal trombonist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and has performed as an orchestral musician with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, among others. As a soloist, he has concertized in both the U.S. and Europe.