June 23, 1920 ~ August 17, 2014
Sayard Stone, conductor, music director and founder of the Connecticut Chamber Orchestra, died on August 17, 2014, at the age of 94. Sayard was an accomplished musician who performed until he reached the age of 90. Born on June 23, 1920 in New Hampshire to Frank and Isabel Stone, Sayard received his musical training at the Juilliard School of Music and the Tanglewood Music Festival and rose to fame as a conductor with various orchestras including the Connecticut Chamber Orchestra, the Queens Symphony Orchestra, the Manhattan Opera Theatre and as musical director for the “America’s Youth in Concert” festival at Carnegie Hall.
Mr. Stone is now best known for bringing an unknown concerto by the 19th-century composer Felix Mendelssohn to the public. His discovery of the previously unknown Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 3 in E minor led him to record it with the celebrated English Chamber Orchestra. Mendelssohn’s concerto was first discovered in the 1980’s but had never been heard by the public until Stone recorded it in London. The world premiere performance took place in November 1997 at a festival in Leipzig, Germany, honoring the 150th anniversary of Mendelssohn’s death. Mendelssohn had composed much of his music while he conducted the famous Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig. The piece has also been featured several times by the New York Philharmonic under Music Director Kurt Masur.
Stone taught music at various universities including serving as a lecturer in music history at the University of Connecticut in Waterbury. Stone said. “As a professor and a professional, I am trying to create an inspirational environment for students to recognize the arts as a viable career path.”
Throughout his career, Mr. Stone worked to inspire high school musicians by directing them in performances in New York and New Haven. In 1990, Stone produced his first of many young artists’ shows through his Annual Invitational Festival Honoring Excellence in Music. Choruses and orchestras from high schools across Connecticut performed at Yale University’s Battell Chapel. At the time Stone reported, “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.” He later invited high school students to perform at The Connecticut Young Performers Music Celebration at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and at Carnegie Hall. Sayard’s work with music students was focused on increasing number of professional-level musicians in Connecticut.
Sayard is survived by his companion of 30 years Page Wilson of Westport, CT.; his grandson Daniel Bindschedler and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his son, Peter Stone; his daughter Paula Bindschedler, formerly of Ridgefield CT; and his sisters Ruth Stone Sussman and Arlene Stone Slater, formerly of Norwalk, CT. A private memorial service is planned for September.