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For Immediate Release: December 4, 2017

Media Contact: Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795,




Rochester native to continue as Music Director through 2020/21 season

Good news comes as RPO holds its largest-ever Year End Holiday Challenge


Rochester, NY – Just as Music Director Ward Stare heads off to New York City to make his Metropolitan Opera conducting debut, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) announces that Maestro Stare has renewed his contract for three more years, through the end of the 2020/21 season.


“I’m very proud of what we have accomplished together in a little over three years,” says Stare. “Our staff, administration, donors, orchestra, and patrons all share in our success and I am grateful to have such a wonderful group of colleagues.  I believe the future is bright for the RPO and I’m very pleased that the board has extended my contract so that together we can continue our mission of enriching our beloved community with the gift of live symphonic music!”


 The 35-year old Rochester native – whose first exposure to symphonic music was attending RPO concerts as a child – became the Orchestra’s 12th and youngest-ever Music Director in 2014.


“I am very pleased that Ward will continue to mold our excellent Orchestra with his artistic vision,” states RPO President & CEO Curt Long. “He is a talented and hardworking music director, and it’s no coincidence that the recent successes of the RPO began with his leadership in our 2014/15 season.”


The RPO just announced its largest-ever Year-End Holiday Challenge: five dedicated patrons have pledged to match every donation to the Annual Fund up to $300,000 through December 31, 2017, doubling every dollar donated. And donors can be assured that the Orchestra is on the right course for the future. As reported in October, the RPO’s five-year financial plan has achieved a balanced budget for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2017 (the first year of that five-year plan) for the first time in six years.  The past season’s ticket sales were also up by 20%, and the RPO saw an increase of 25% in fundraising during 2016/17.  


“Ward’s contract renewal represents a wonderful holiday gift to our Orchestra, our audiences, and our community,” says RPO Board Chairperson Ingrid Stanlis. “I cannot wait to see how he builds on his successes to date, especially as we look forward to the RPO’s 100th anniversary.” 


As announced earlier this year, Stare will conduct all nine performances the Met’s The Merry Widow with Grammy-winning mezzo soprano Susan Graham in the title role, December 14 – January 11, 2018. He’ll return to Rochester just in time to lead his fourth-annual, free Season Preview Concert on Tuesday, January 30th in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.


“I’m thrilled to be making my Met debut – it’s one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses and conducting there is a dream come true for me,” adds Stare.  


The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its founding in 1922. The RPO presents approximately 150 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving up to 170,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. 12th Music Director Ward Stare joins the ranks of former notable RPO music directors, including Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his 23-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) – the first endowed position of its kind in the country – the RPO reaches more than 16,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.


Media please note: high-resolution images of 2017/18 concerts are available at and upon request, and interviews and photo/footage opportunities can be arranged.