David Ogden Stiers

David Ogden Stiers

It is with deep regret and sadness we report the passing of a dear member of the Newport Symphony family, David Ogden Stiers. David has been a guiding light for the NSO since its founding as well as serving as its resident conductor.

Music Director Adam Flatt: "All of us at the NSO are heartbroken. David Ogden Stiers was a generous, loving, and inspirational friend and pillar to our orchestra, and, indeed, to all of us individually. Our orchestra would not be here if it weren't for his great support and inspiration over three decades. His depth of musical feeling, love for our musicians, and charisma made his performances soar when he was on our podium. We will all work to keep David's spirit alive in all of our performances."

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In Memoriam – David Ogden Stiers

Memory Wall for

David Ogden Stiers

NSO Resident Conductor

We invite you to share your thoughts and any experiences you might have with David Stiers

The Newport Symphony Orchestra mourns the loss of its resident conductor, David Ogden Stiers who passed away March 3, 2018. Stiers has been an advocate and a rock for the Orchestra since its beginning, helping it from its early roots in the late 1980’s as a community orchestra to becoming the regionally recognized professional orchestra that it is today.

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14 comments to In Memoriam – David Ogden Stiers

  • John Lavrakas

    David was as sincere as he was good natured. We enjoyed running into him at the Saturday Farmer’s Market where we would catch him in long conversations with the vendors. A tall man sporting a ball cap on his head, he was always quick with a smile and a good word.

  • Joseph Swafford

    For many years I had a wine shop in Newport and David Stiers would come in, ask questions and buy wine. He credited me with building his knowledge of Oregon wine. One day he came in and said the International Pinot Noir Celebration, held annually in McMinnville, had asked him to give the opening address and asked me, “What should I say?” My reply was we would ask Adelsheim Vineyard’s David Adelsheim, one of the founders of the IPNC, for advice. David A. invited me to bring David S. for lunch and he would have former Governor Neal Goldschmidt, who had given the opening remarks several times before, join us and give some pointers. When we arrived, David A. apologized that Goldschmidt couldn’t come but would call during lunch. After taking the call, David Stiers came back to lunch and said Goldschmidt was helpful, although he wanted to talk more about David’s latest films. We laughed, but the Stiers’ opening was a hit later that month.

  • Trevor Song

    I shared my memory of David both privately and now publicly to people and the story doesn’t change. If anything, I have grown to appreciate what I have experienced from him over the course of time. Having to have been one of those people who really just wanted his autograph for a long time, I am glad I got that opportunity some years ago. It also made me understand that he was very passionate about the NSO and that he would do what he could to make it thrive.

    I am grateful that I had a chance to communicate to him and also do something important for NSO that meant so much to him.

  • Grey Maier

    I?m not sure if I can post this here, so just delete it if not.

    I first must express my deepest condolences to the NSO on the loss of your resident conductor. I found the NSO quite my accident, thinking you were in my neck of the woods, and the NSO has been my introduction to the orchestra. My junior year of college, I found myself interning with the BSO at Symphony Hall, Boston, and I got a chance to conduct a little bit at one of their rehearsals. I found myself up in front of that orchestra thinking ?what would David Stiers do here? How would Adam Flatt handle this? How would the NSO make this sound?? That?s the impact the NSO and David Stiers has had on me. David Stiers was a tremendous inspiration to me as I entered the world of Classical music having never gone to conservatory, conducting my stereo with a kitting needle, and reading music horizontally rather than vertically. To me, David Stiers will always have a home in the BSO, as well as fondly in my heart.

    Peace and love from 3000 miles away
    – Grey
    (Newport, RI)

  • Tom Reel

    Pasted below is a remembrance of David Ogden Stiers – actor, conductor and arts supporter. It is a slightly edited version of what I sent to members of my orchestra, the Virginia Symphony (which included a link to an obituary). The original subject line was “David Ogden Stiers – How He Impacted YOUR Life.”

    Actor David Ogden Stiers passed away this weekend. He was most famous for his role as a classical music loving army major in the TV series M*A*S*H, but his body of work as an actor extended far beyond that. In real life he loved our art form and used to attend conducting master classes at Juilliard when he was studying acting there.

    He was in Norfolk almost three decades ago and was involved peripherally in an action that has impacted the life of every Musician in this orchestra – including those not yet born in the fall of 1988. The Union invited him here to conduct a Benefit Concert while we were on Strike. Net proceeds would be distributed to the Musicians AND to the laid off Staff. (This was an example of the creative public relations we used to present ourselves in the most positive frame and was important in getting Mr. Stiers to agree to come here since his management was reluctant to have him involved in helping a striking Union. Also we explained that we hoped to achieve a settlement before his November 5th concert date.)

    As things turned out, we settled WHILE HE WAS HERE and re-billed the concert as a celebration of the settlement. He was prepared to conduct us, even if we were still out. The publicity surrounding his visit may have helped to end the strike which had held a prominent place in the local news for 6 weeks, ever since our “Farewell Concert” (so labeled by the Union in the media in the days leading up to the pre-announced strike date). On Friday September 23rd we had concluded the concert playing Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony with its famous Funeral March. On that emotionally charged evening there was a sizable audience at Chrysler Hall with many Saturday subscribers having swapped their tickets for the Friday night “Farewell”; performance. Some even brought a banner with our slogan “Stand Up for Your Symphony.”

    If you like having employer-paid health insurance or having any paid leave at all or having Mondays off each week, you can thank those who were here in 1988 and gained all of those things (as well as pay increases) by having the fortitude (and planning) to stop working until they were achieved. I remember David Ogden Stiers’ observation about our annual pay at the time. “I’m paid more than that for one day making a TV commercial!”

    In addition to paying many of his expenses, Mr. Stiers also wrote us a check to help with the Local’s production costs because ticket sales didn’t look like they would yield much profit after hall rental and a catered post-concert reception, both in Virginia Beach. (Ultimately, I think we were able to give about fifty bucks to every member of the Staff and Orchestra.) He was also generous with his time, doing radio and television interviews as well as speaking with print journalists. He was a joy to be around and had a wicked sense of humor. I remember that Rob Cross had a minor fender-bender while driving with Mr. Stiers who proceeded to call him Red Cross for the rest of his visit.

    I also remember that he was slightly taken aback when he saw our Musician media chair being interviewed after the settlement and saying how pleased we were with the settlement and how we appreciated Management's agreement, looking forward to working together, blah, blah, blah… and cellist Miriam Perkoff turned to him and said, “Now THAT’s acting!” (Miriam had been a leader in mounting the Benefit Concert and securing the participation of Mr. Stiers and today is still an active Musician on the west coast.)

    I wish we could have brought him back for a subsequent engagement. He would have been blown away by the change in the quality of the orchestra!

    Rest in Peace, Mr. Stiers. And Thank You.

    Respectfully submitted by Tom Reel, Union Advocate and Double Bassist with the Virginia Symphony since 1984

  • Tony Haynes

    I met Mr. Stiers when asked to update his home heating system. In the process of getting to know him and his enthusiasm for environmental issues, he invited my two college age sons to join us in test driving his two Tesla electric cars. They obviously had no idea of his star power that I was overwhelmed with but both were left with lasting memories of his passion to improve our planet and to be behind the wheel when going 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. So sorry to here of his passing, he will be missed by many.

  • Edmund Stone

    I have twice had the personal and professional honor to work with David Ogden Stiers, hosting “Newport Symphony Goes to the Movies”. Sharing the stage with such a great presence was a delight. David was personally invested in each of the pieces he conducted and brought his own flair to the music. When we were selecting the film music for the concerts he chose John Williams’ theme to Steven Spielberg’s comedy “1941”. With a warm smile, he told me that when he was filming M*A*S*H in 1979, one day he crept into the recording studio to watch Williams conduct the “1941” score live, and he had loved it ever since. David was a great thespian, conductor and a genuinely gracious person. Through my work in broadcasting, music and on stage I know how challenging it is to bring all the elements together. When David Ogden Stiers took up the baton he made it look so easy – the mark of a true professional. Moreover, he made it fun for everyone involved – the mark of a great spirit. You will be missed.

  • Jim Myers

    Many people may not know this about David. But in 1997 David was only one of three of the MASH stars who went to Korea to participate in the official ceremony closing the MASH unit which inspired the series. Where the rest of the cast were I do not know, but David went to honor the unit and those who served in it during WWII and Korea. What a class act he was! Here is the link to the LA Times article and the video from the AP in which David was featured.



  • Jay A. Steele tuba

    I really enjoyed David’s conducting!! I really liked his taste in music and style. I was in awe of his career as well.But what a great advocate for classical music.He contributed greatly to the many regional symphonies in Oregon and Washington.But also nationally as well ! I think he will be sorely missed by the Newport Symphony for his artistry ,eloquence and great sense of humor.

  • Shelley Mathewson

    Mr. Stiers had a magnificent presence, a fabulous humor that he readily shared, and was tremendously devoted to the Newport Symphony, to promoting talented young students and the community. He is very much missed and may his inspiring spirit rest in peace.

  • Pat Lewis

    When I joined the NSO Board, I felt that David had no idea who I was, but he was a complete gentleman when I cornered him in the PAC parking lot to show his Tesla to my visiting friends. After that we encountered each other around town, and one day he even gave me a ride in the Tesla. He was wonderful in his support of the NSO, the musicians, staff, board, and Adam. I will miss him greatly, around town, on the concert stage, at his Christmas readings, and so many other ways.

  • Rose Taylor

    Mom brought me to her rehearsal when I was young, I only hoped someday to talk to him. Now its been almost 20 years of calling him a friend. Hes my favorite actor, I will never forget anytime I got to sit with him, or got a hug. He was a very sweet man, he is very missed. Rest In Peace David Ogden Stiers.

  • Anthea Kreston

    I first met David when I was 11 – at a contest for young musicians in Chicago. He was the MC, and gave us all a pep talk before going on stage – he made us feel like we had already accomplished our goals, and the finals were just a bit of dessert. What a gift to be able to speak to kids this way. Hoping all the best to the Newport musicians, and greetings from Germany!

  • Adrian Dee flute

    David – I remember the first time I played under your baton in rehearsal at the Newport PAC. I was awed at how much passion you brought to the music. I remember you and Patty Duke performing “Loveletters” as a fundraiser for NSO. I remember standing next to you on stage during “Peter vs. Wolf” and the little tail you had pinned to the back of your jacket. I remember your great voice filling the hall, and your great heart filling our lives. I remember the “Battle of the Batons” in which you inspired and coached young people to conduct and perform theatrically. But most of all, I remember your expansive kindness and generosity and caring and humbleness. Thank you for being here.

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