New conductor aims to widen appeal of Macon Symphony Orchestra

Arts / Article

With the announcement of new musical director and conductor Ward Stare, the Macon Symphony Orchestra, a Knight Arts grantee, has set the stage for one of its richest and most exciting seasons in recent memory. When talking to Stare, one quickly notices his ambition to appeal to a wide audience, and the 2012–13 season clearly illustrates this desire.

“One of our goals was to give a nice variety of music to our audience so that coming to see the Macon Symphony Orchestra is really an event,” explained Stare. “I think we’ve really accomplished that.”

Among this year’s offering will be a presentation of Engelbert Humperdinck’s fairy-tale opera based on the Grimm brother’s “Hansel and Gretel,” featuring young singers from the Chicago Lyric Opera’s illustrious Ryan Center for Young Artists. Stare said he sees the presentation of an entire opera as a chance to reach out into the community in myriad ways and teach children about this esteemed artform.

“This is a great opportunity to reach out,” he said. “That’s a program that I’m particularly proud of.”

Another compelling concert in this year’s season is the planned collaboration with PROJECT Trio. This high-energy chamber music ensemble burst onto the scene through the video sharing website, YouTube. They are now one of the most watched instrumental ensembles on the Internet with more than 71 million views and 78,000 subscribers.

According to Stare, the three members were classically trained at the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music. They then branched out on their own and began experimenting with new sounds. One such sound called “beat-box flute” combines flute playing with the hip-hop practice of beat boxing, a vocal technique of mimicking percussion sounds. PROJECT Trio offers a cutting-edge sound compounded by a foundation of classical training that is nothing short of remarkable. A simple Google search will yield videos of the group demonstrating this technique, and viewing them in action is sure to pique the interest of anyone who appreciates contemporary approaches to classical fare.

“Their videos went viral almost immediately,” explained the new conductor. “They really are a YouTube sensation and I look forward to bringing them to Macon.”

Ward Stare is the new conductor and musical director of the Macon Symphony Orchestra.

Stare summed up the upcoming season as being about relationships new and old. Because of his extensive career, he is able to bring fresh and interesting musical collaborations to the table. His new position also allows him to form new collaborations with the many talented musicians who have been performing with the Macon Symphony for years.

Toward that goal, “Triple Delight” will be feature MSO’s new music director and conductor along with local favorites Amy Moretti, violin; Elizabeth Pridgen, piano; and Julie Albers, cello. The 2012–13 season will see a blending of new and venerable with the focus on fresh and relevant offerings which will appeal to patrons young and old, new and experienced.

Sheryl Towers, executive director of the symphony, said, “I appreciate and value Ward’s sensitivity to reaching out to all ages.”

In fact, Towers said tickets sales for the 2012–13 season have already surpassed what they were in September of 2011. It’s certainly an exciting time for the Macon Symphony Orchestra.