two members of AXIS Dance Company

Oakland-based AXIS Dance Company will perform a new work by San Francisco choreographer Joe Goode during Stanford Live's 2015-16 season. (Photo: David DeSilva)

Stanford Live expands its mission with 2015-16 season

Next year's Stanford Live season will feature three events with Anna Deavere Smith and a new work by Stanford composer Jonathan Berger for the Kronos Quartet. Other highlights include appearances by Chick Corea and Béla Fleck, Bernadette Peters, Arlo Guthrie and scratch DJ Kid Koala.

"The Arts and Social Change" and "War: Return and Recovery" are the two key themes at the core of Stanford Live's 2015-16 season. The program will offer a full spectrum of classical, contemporary and multimedia performances, as well as talks, panels and seminars that build on the intellectual depth and breadth of this past season's Live Context: Art + Ideas.

The upcoming season will offer a series of events around the two themes and will feature three appearances by the acclaimed Tony Award-winning actress, playwright and former Stanford professor Anna Deavere Smith; the concert premiere of Stanford composer Jonathan Berger's My Lai, based on the 1968 Vietnam massacre, for the Kronos Quartet; and a new work titled to go again from choreographer Joe Goode, performed by AXIS Dance Company.

"We are expanding our role as an arts presenter to serve as a bridge between Stanford's brilliant faculty, students, research and the surrounding communities – and also between the arts, ideas and the important issues of our time," said Wiley Hausam, executive director of Stanford Live. "We strive to be simultaneously a public square, a sanctuary and a lab."

Through Live Context, which Stanford Live launched as a pilot this year, Hausam's goal is to spark larger cultural conversations. "Our recent premiere of The Demo was a prime example," he said. "The pre-performance conversation we hosted with public thinkers Jaron Lanier and Sebastian Thrun raised ethical issues about technology that created a resonance around the event. And next year, I'm particularly looking forward to bringing back the pathbreaking artist Anna Deavere Smith. Not only will she perform two different pieces, but these will be accompanied by a screening, a panel and a dialogue about her work with our community."

Under the Arts and Social Change theme, Smith, known for her captivating multi-character one-woman shows, will perform her newest work, The Pipeline Project, on Oct. 30. The play investigates the school-to-prison pipeline that begins with school suspensions and results in the disproportionate rates of incarceration of African American, Latino and Native American youth. On Oct. 21, she will perform Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail with violinist Robert McDuffie and pianist Anne Epperson. That event is presented in conjunction with the Office for Religious Life and the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. On Oct. 14, she will host a screening of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, the filmed performance of her Broadway show set in the violent wake of the police beating of Rodney King.

War: Return and Recovery will be anchored by two performances. The 1968 massacre of Vietnamese villagers by American soldiers at My Lai provides the context for a gripping new work written by Stanford faculty composer Jonathan Berger for the Kronos Quartet, tenor Rinde Eckert and Vietnamese multi-instrumentalist Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ. The world premiere of the concert version of My Lai, which is scheduled for Oct. 10, uses traditional Vietnamese percussion and digitally processed sounds, and is told from the perspective of the heroic helicopter pilot who tried to stop the slaughter and was vilified for reporting it. A new work of dance theater by San Francisco choreographer Joe Goode titled to go again will reflect on the challenges of American veterans returning home from war. Oakland-based AXIS Dance Company, which is composed of performers with and without disabilities, will perform that work on April 23, 2016.

Other highlights include a season-opening performance by multiple Grammy Award winners Chick Corea and Béla Fleck; a new work called Real Enemies from Darcy James Argue, performed by his big band Secret Society; and a community-based movement work called Bolero Silicon Valley, created by Larry Keigwin especially for Bing Concert Hall. A multidisciplinary piece called Nufonia Must Fall from Montreal-based scratch DJ and music producer Kid Koala tells the story of a robot that falls in love through hip-hop, string quartet and miniature puppets. There also will be appearances by the Broadway legend Bernadette Peters, singer Arlo Guthrie and percussionist Zakir Hussain. Classical offerings will include the Handel and Haydn Society, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Takács Quartet, violinist Midori and a joint recital by cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan.

"I believe we're shifting the center of gravity of Silicon Valley's performing 
arts scene," Hausam added. "Since Bing Concert Hall opened in January 2013, nearly 150,000 people have experienced the world's greatest artists in this beautiful, comfortable, convenient and centrally located performance space. The year ahead promises another season of superb performances by iconic artists and brilliant young discoveries."

Subscriptions for the 2015-16 season will go on sale to renewing subscribers beginning May 31, following a pre-sale period for Stanford Live donors and Bing Concert Hall members. New subscriptions will go on sale June 4 for the Stanford community and to the general public on June 8. Single tickets will go on sale Aug. 25. Stanford faculty, staff, visiting professors and hospital employees save 20 percent on subscriptions and on full-price tickets throughout the season. Stanford postdocs, fellows and other non-matriculated scholars are eligible for a new 30 percent discount. Visit for more information.