Stare Named New Conductor for Macon Symphony and Mercer Orchestras

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MACON – The Macon Symphony Orchestra and Mercer University today announced the appointment of Ward Stare as music director and conductor of the MSO and distinguished artist and conductor of the Mercer University Orchestra. Members of the media are invited to meet Maestro Stare at the MSO office, located at 400 Poplar St., Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.

“We are thrilled to begin this new journey with Ward,” said Sheryl Towers, chief executive officer of the MSO. “We are deeply grateful for the ongoing support of our patrons and sponsors as we moved through the long process to find an exceptional leader for our orchestra. We have a bright, new vision for our orchestra which we think will be embraced by our community.”

“When starting the search for a new music director three years ago, the MSO board realized that a partnership with Mercer’s Townsend School of Music and McDuffie Center for Strings enhanced our ability to attract a dynamic, young conductor whose career is in its ascendancy,” said Gene Dunwody Sr., MSO board president. “When I met Ward and saw him conduct our orchestra, I knew he would be a perfect fit for this position. I believe he is destined for preeminence in his profession.”

“I am particularly excited for the Macon and Middle Georgia arts community,” added Dr. John H. Dickson, dean of Townsend School of Music at Mercer. “After a long and intensive search, we have found, in Maestro Stare, a musical artist with the gifts, charisma, and vision to lead the MSO toward a bright and successful future while shaping Mercer University’s Orchestra into a world-class chamber ensemble.”

Following in the path of many great orchestral conductors whose careers began as instrumentalists, Stare was trained as a trombonist at the Juilliard School in Manhattan. At the age of 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. Maestro Stare was the recipient of both the Robert J. Harth Conductor Prize (2006) and the Aspen Conducting Prize (2007) at the Aspen Music Festival, where he returned in the summer of 2008 as Assistant Conductor to the Festival and its Music Director, David Zinman. He has also studied with János Fürst and Jorma Panula; and with Michel Merlet in composition and musical analysis.

Stare currently serves as resident conductor of the St. Louis Symphony. Described by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as “a compelling figure on the podium” and “one of the hottest young conductors in America,” he has been named New Artist of the Month by Musical America Magazine. For more information about the conductor, including a full biography, visit

The mission of the Macon Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1976, is to educate and enrich the people of Middle Georgia through live professional symphonic music. Each season the orchestra performs a wide variety of classical concerts, pops and young people’s concerts. Through its educational outreach, the Orchestra sponsors an annual Concerto Competition, Artists in the Classroom Project, String Development Scholarships and, with Mercer University, the Mercer/Macon Symphony Youth Orchestra. For more information about the Macon Symphony Orchestra, please visit or call (478) 301-5300.

Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music is nationally recognized for its outstanding faculty, award-winning students, performance ensembles and state-of-the-art facilities. The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings, a special institute within Townsend, is a highly selective program that prepares string students for success in the real world. Students study with some of America’s most renowned string musicians, receiving music instruction of conservatory quality, while earning an academically well-rounded education from a comprehensive, nationally recognized university. For more information and a complete listing of this season’s concerts please visit or call (478) 301-5470.