Ward Stare debuts with Washington University Symphony Orchestra Oct. 23

Music of Vaughan Williams, Liszt and Sibelius

Stare will make his debut as the new conductor of the Washington University Symphony Orchestra at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23.

Ward Stare is a rising star in the world of classical music. Since joining the St. Louis Symphony in 2008 — as resident conductor, a position created for him by music director David Robertson — Stare has drawn rave reviews both for his appearances with the symphony and for his work leading the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.

This fall, Stare adds to his portfolio as conductor of the Washington University Symphony Orchestra.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, Stare will make his regular-season debut with the WUSTL symphony in a performance featuring three much-loved works by Ralph Vaughn Williams, Franz Liszt and Jean Sibelius. (Stare previously appeared with the symphony as a guest conductor, in 2010.)

“Our students have responded enthusiastically to Ward’s presence on campus,” says Dolores Pesce, the Avis Blewett Professor and chair of the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences. “Many are taking advantage of the opportunity to play under such a fine musician and conductor. We are delighted that he has joined our musical community.”

The program will open with Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music (1938). Commissioned by and dedicated to English conductor Sir Henry Wood, Serenade was first performed as part of a “jubilee concert” celebrating Wood’s career. During the premiere, Sergei Rachmaninov, who’d performed on the first half of the concert, reportedly wept, declaring himself overcome by the beauty of the work.

The performance will continue with Liszt’s Les Préludes (c. 1850-55), the best known of the composer’s 13 “tone poems” — and the first of several that Stare will program this year, which marks the 200th anniversary of Liszt’s birth. Though structured as a single, continuous movement, Les Préludes contains four episodes, or “preludes,” that reflect four different stages of life: “Dawn of Existence—Love,” “Storms of Life,” “Refuge and Consolation in Rural Life” and “Strife and Conquest.”

Concluding the program will be Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1 (c.1898-1900), a piece that brought its young Finnish composer to international acclaim. The first movement opens with a mournful clarinet solo that unfolds over a quiet timpani drumroll before giving way to the full orchestra, which states the main theme in a brisk allegro energico. Subsequent movements feature solos for violin, viola and cello, but also return repeatedly to the opening clarinet theme.

The performance is free and open to the public and takes place in the 560 Music Center’s E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall, located at 560 Trinity Ave., at the intersection with Delmar Boulevard.

For more information, call (314) 935-5566 or email daniels@wustl.edu.

Calendar Summary

WHO: Washington University Symphony Orchestra; Ward Stare, conducting.

WHAT: Music of Vaughan Williams, Liszt and Sibelius

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23

WHERE: E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall, 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave., at the intersection of Trinity and Delmar Boulevard.

COST: Free and open to the public

INFORMATION: (314) 935-5566 or email daniels@wustl.edu.