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Seasoned conductor inspires young musicians
March 23, 1998

Conductor Sayard Stone has been teaching UConn students for 36 years, but he also 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.

On March 7, Stone produced the latest in his young artists' shows, the 10th Annual Invitational Festival Honoring Excellence in Music. Choruses and orchestras from 10 high schools and 10 towns performed at Yale University's Battell Chapel and 1,000 musicians from across Connecticut performed.

"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.

"At UConn, we are turning out an increasing number of professional-level musicians. We're making a mark in the profession," Stone said. "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, a lecturer in music history at the Waterbury campus, also 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 more than 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 took place in November at a festival in Leipzig, Germany, honoring the 150th anniversary of Mendelssohn's death. The piece, featured three times under New York Philharmonic Music Director Kurt Masur, was the only one 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 has been asked by the Culture Secretary of Mexico to develop the performing arts in Puerto Vallarta, a growing oceanside tourist city. He will conduct the Connecticut Chamber Orchestra in a series of concerts in January 1999 in Mexico.

Renu Aldrich