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UConn conductor directs festival honoring high school musicians (Released: 3/2/98)

by Renu Aldrich, Office of University Communications.

Storrs, Conn. -- University of Connecticut Conductor Sayard Stone will be directing the Tenth Annual Invitational Festival Honoring Excellence in Music on Saturday.

Choruses and orchestras from 10 high schools and 10 towns will perform at Battell Chapel at Yale University. One thousand musicians from across Connecticut will perform in two shows.

Stone has been a member of the UConn faculty for 36 years, but he has taken it upon himself to inspire and strengthen high school musicians in Connecticut by directing them in performances in New York and New Haven.

"I’m ready for 36 more years," Stone said. "As a music director, it is my desire to encourage and stimulate high school music students through this annual festival. The level of excellence achieved by these young musicians is most gratifying. We hope to see them progress with their music as they go on to further education."


All of the high school performers are invited to perform at The Connecticut Young Performers

Music Celebration at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall to be scheduled for later this year. Stone produced this event for the first time in November at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center with 450 musicians from six Connecticut towns.

"At UConn, we are turning out an increasing amount of professional-level musicians. We’re making a mark in the profession. As a professor and a professional, I am trying to create an inspirational environment for high school students to recognize the arts as a viable career path."

Stone, lecturer in music history at UConn, is music director and founder of the Connecticut Chamber Orchestra. He established the orchestra in New York in 1962 and gave Connecticut its first professional chamber orchestra when he moved it to New Haven two years later. He has conducted orchestras in over a dozen European countries, Canada and Mexico, and has recorded three albums of late Renaissance and Baroque orchestral music with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra.

But Stone is now best known for bringing an unknown concerto by 19th century composer Felix Mendelssohn to the public’s ear. Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in E minor was found about 10 years ago, but never heard until Stone recorded it two years ago in London with the celebrated English Chamber Orchestra.

The world premiere performance was appropriately at the festival honoring the 150th anniversary of Mendelssohn’s death held in Leipzig, Germany in November. The piece, which was featured three times under New York Philharmonic Music Director Kurt Masur, was the only one to be played more than once. Mendelssohn composed much of his music while he conducted the famous Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig.

Stone has exclusive possession of this concerto. Many orchestras are currently negotiating with him to perform the concerto, he said.

Stone, who was civilian director of music for the armed forces in Germany from 1957-58, has been asked by the Culture Secretary of Mexico to develop the performing arts in Puerto Vallarta, a growing oceanside tourist city. Stone will conduct the Connecticut Chamber Orchestra in a series of concerts in January 1999 in Mexico.