Stare to depart as Macon Symphony Orchestra conductor

pramati@macon.comFebruary 27, 2013 

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 didn’t imagine it would be so soon.

Stare, who was hired in March 2012, has informed the symphony’s board of directors that he intends to leave after the current season ends in April, said Sheryl Towers, the orchestra’s president and CEO.

“We anticipated that he was on the fast track,” she said. “But we didn’t think it would be this fast. He felt like he didn’t 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 Stare’s 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 he’s rising faster than we thought.”

Stare wasn’t 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 wasn’t an easy decision and that he plans to help assist with the transition.

Towers said the symphony’s 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 season’s concerts in the next few weeks.

“Initially, we were very disappointed and of course, I was surprised,” she said, alluding to Stare’s decision. “I knew we quickly had to get into action. Ward had already planned next season. ... We’re creating a new season, and we’re very excited. The changes are significant because the new season involves much more collaboration. I’ve taken the keenest interest to make sure it’s relevant to the community.”

In addition to his duties with the symphony, Stare also was the conductor for Mercer University’s orchestra. David Keith, dean of the Townsend School of Music, said Wednesday the university hasn’t gotten far in plans to replace Stare. He praised Stare’s organizational, music and people skills.

“We’re really sorry to hear about Ward’s decision,” Keith said. “But we’re not surprised at the quick trajectory we’ve seen. ... He’s 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 you’ve had with him.”

Stare was hired to take over a conductor’s 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 Stare’s 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.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service