When the Macon Symphony Orchestra hired Ward Stare to be its new conductor last year, it was with the knowledge that the rising star in the world of classical music someday would be moving on to bigger and better things.
The symphony didnt imagine it would be so soon.
Stare, who was hired in March 2012, has informed the symphonys board of directors that he intends to leave after the current season ends in April, said Sheryl Towers, the orchestras president and CEO.
We anticipated that he was on the fast track, she said. But we didnt think it would be this fast. He felt like he didnt have the time and energy to devote to the Macon Symphony Orchestra.
Gene Dunwody Sr., vice president of the symphony board of directors, said Stare signed a three-year contract with the symphony. But that contract allowed either party the ability to opt out in the first year. He described Stares departure as amicable.
We knew we had a real popular, moving-up music director coming in (when Stare was first hired), Dunwody said. He had a hard time keeping a schedule that was necessary for us. ... I thought we might keep him three years, but hes rising faster than we thought.
Stare wasnt available for an interview Wednesday, but his representatives released a statement from him.
I have found our concerts this season incredibly exciting and gratifying, he said in the statement. However, increased professional demands in my conducting schedule have required me to make some very difficult decisions. Consequently, I feel that I am no longer able to devote the time and energy necessary to make the Macon Symphony Orchestra an ongoing success.
Stare said it wasnt an easy decision and that he plans to help assist with the transition.
Towers said the symphonys priority is to set the dates for the 2013-14 season that typically starts in the fall. Stare created a program for that season, but Towers said the symphony is going with a different program and will use guest conductors. Currently, the symphony is awaiting dates from the Grand Opera House and plans to announce next seasons concerts in the next few weeks.
Initially, we were very disappointed and of course, I was surprised, she said, alluding to Stares decision. I knew we quickly had to get into action. Ward had already planned next season. ... Were creating a new season, and were very excited. The changes are significant because the new season involves much more collaboration. Ive taken the keenest interest to make sure its relevant to the community.
In addition to his duties with the symphony, Stare also was the conductor for Mercer Universitys orchestra. David Keith, dean of the Townsend School of Music, said Wednesday the university hasnt gotten far in plans to replace Stare. He praised Stares organizational, music and people skills.
Were really sorry to hear about Wards decision, Keith said. But were not surprised at the quick trajectory weve seen. ... Hes one of the ones who has it all, and the guy is only 30 years old. ... Someone that good, you have to be grateful for the time youve had with him.
Stare was hired to take over a conductors role that had been vacant for nearly four years after the departure of Adrian Gnam. During the vacancy, Stare was one of four guest conductors whose concerts were essentially auditions for the position. His program included the works of Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven during a November 2011 concert.
Dunwody, who served as chairman of the search committee, said Stares audition concert was very successful.
When he conducted the orchestra, there was a favorable response from the musicians and the audience, Dunwody said at the time.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.