New directors for Washington University Symphony Orchestra and Concert Choir

Ward Stare and Nicole Aldrich take batons this fall

The Department of Music in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis has appointed new directors for its two largest ensembles.

Ward Stare, resident conductor of the St. Louis Symphony and music director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, will assume an additional role as conductor of the 75-member Washington University Symphony Orchestra.

Nicole Aldrich, DMA, who recently earned a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Maryland, will become the department’s director of choral activities and will conduct the 65-member Washington University Concert Choir. In addition, Aldrich will begin developing a new Washington University Chamber Choir.

“When Ward Stare made a guest appearance with our orchestra in 2010,” says Dolores Pesce, PhD, professor and chair of music, “he electrified his audience with a superb performance. During our national search for a new choral conductor, Nicole Aldrich emerged as the hands-down choice of both our faculty and students and of the notable St. Louis conductors serving on the search committee.

“We couldn’t be happier that Ward and Nicole are now joining our faculty.”

In addition to individual performances, the symphony orchestra and the concert choir — both of which draw musicians from across the campus community — appear together every spring for the annual Chancellor’s Concert, a highlight of the department’s performance season. The symphony’s repertoire ranges from Baroque to modern, while the concert choir (as well as the new chamber choir) performs masterworks from across five centuries and many cultures, encompassing sacred and secular works, folk and art music, and accompanied and a cappella repertoire.

The appointments of Stare and Aldrich are effective July 1. Stare’s first public concert with the Symphony Orchestra will take place Oc. 23. Aldrich will make her debut with the Concert Choir Nov. 20.

Nicole Aldrich

Nicole Aldrich

Aldrich studied with Edward Maclary and James Ross at the University of Maryland, where she directed the University Chorale and prepared the University Concert Choir for performances conducted by Helmuth Rilling and Paul Goodwin.

From 2000-07, Aldrich served as associate director of choral activities at the University of Delaware, where she also conducted the school’s premier women’s ensemble, University Singers, and taught undergraduate and graduate conducting and applied voice.

In addition, Aldrich has directed honor choirs in four states and has presented workshops on vocal health, vocal training in the choral rehearsal, and choral intonation at state and regional conferences.

In addition to her doctorate, Aldrich holds a master’s degree in conducting from Northwestern University and studied both piano and voice at Virginia Wesleyan College, graduating summa cum laude. She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the American Choral Directors Association.

Ward Stare

Stare joined the St. Louis Symphony in 2008 as resident conductor, a position created for him by music director David Robertson. The following year, he made his subscription debut, conducting Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “New World,” and his Carnegie Hall debut, stepping in as conductor while Robertson took the stage as Chansonnier in H.K. Gruber’s Frankenstein!! In 2010, Stare led the SLS Youth Orchestra in its New York City debut at historic Riverside Church.

Stare made his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra in 2007 and with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in 2009. Other recent highlights include appearances with the Memphis Symphony, the Florida Orchestra and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, as well as a special performance with the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra celebrating the 80th birthday of the King of Thailand.

Highlights of the 2010-11 season include Stare’s European operatic debut, at the Norwegian Opera in Oslo, with a production of Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia; summer concerts with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the DITTO Festival in Seoul; and Stare’s debut as guest conductor with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Trained as a trombonist at the Juilliard School in Manhattan, Stare was appointed principal trombonist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago at age 18 and has performed as an orchestral musician with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, among others. His many honors include the Robert J. Harth Conductor Prize (2006), the Aspen Conducting Prize (2007) and a League of American Orchestras Fellowship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (2007-08).