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John Sanford, News Service (650) 736-2151; e-mail:

Stanford Symphony Orchestra to play Carnegie Hall

If being able to say "I played Carnegie Hall" is the measure of an American musician's success, then members of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra have made it.

The orchestra heads to New York City next week to perform June 18 at the famed concert venue. It then will fly to England to perform at Southwark Cathedral in London and Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford University. The tour concludes June 28 with a concert at the Sorbonne, in Paris.

"The tour takes the students to the three cultural capitals of the planet, in my estimation," said conductor J. Karla Lemon, an associate professor of music.

About 70 students, as well as a handful of professional musicians and Stanford staff, make up the symphony orchestra. In addition, several Music Department staff members will accompany them on tour to deal with logistics.

The eclectic repertoire, which the orchestra performed at its "bon voyage" concerts June 1-2 at Dinkelspiel Auditorium, features Copland's "Buckaroo Holiday" from Rodeo; Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 in E; Momentum, a contemporary piece by the Chinese-born composer Chen Yi; and Ravel's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in G, with senior music lecturer Frederick Weldy on piano.

Lemon said she unconsciously assembled a playlist that pays tribute to the Empire State's famous metropolis. "All of the composers have spent some time there or been influenced by the music of the city," she said.

Copland was born in New York City; Ravel traveled there to hear jazz; Chen earned her doctorate in musical arts at Columbia University; and Tchaikovsky participated in a five-day music festival in 1891 to celebrate the opening of Carnegie Hall.

The tour is estimated to cost between $350,000 and $400,000. Much of the support has come from individual gifts and university donations. In addition, orchestra members each paid $1,500 (although some scholarships were available). The orchestra also has raised money through performances, and organizers say ticket sales from the tour should help to defray costs.

This will be the orchestra's fifth tour since 1988, when it visited Japan, Singapore and South Korea. In 1991, the orchestra toured Eastern Europe Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany -- and, in 1995, it toured China. The orchestra's most recent tour, in 1999, brought it to historic sites of Italy, including Jesi, Montepulciano, Fiesole and Verona.


By John Sanford

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