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June 5, 2012

Stanford Live, Bing Concert Hall will elevate the live performance experience on campus

Students, faculty, visiting performers and audience members will all benefit from the new state-of-the-art concert hall.

By Robin Wander

Stanford Lively Arts is now simply Stanford Live.

Stanford's 43-year-old performing arts presenting organization is transforming into a new entity. Stanford Lively Arts is now simply Stanford Live. At the heart of the transformation is the Bing Concert Hall, which promises to raise the level of programs, present new teaching opportunities and further engage the surrounding community by reshaping the town-and-gown threshold along Palm Drive into the Stanford arts district.

Stanford Live, along with the new hall, will build upon the original mission of Lively Arts to curate experiences that engage artists' and audiences' imagination, creativity and sense of adventure, with new opportunities for teaching and performance.

"I have long imagined Bing Concert Hall as an instrument itself – one that performers and composers want to play, to experience and experiment with," said Jenny Bilfield, artistic director of Stanford Live. "My greatest aspiration for this hall is that it quickly becomes a vibrant creative hub, well-loved by dynamic thinkers and arts-makers, and a place where its intimate design and acoustics are among the very special qualities that make each performance look, feel and sound unique to this concert hall."

Wiley Hausam, executive director of Stanford Live and Bing Concert Hall, sees an opportunity to draw new audiences and participants to the hall through the programs. He is looking forward to welcoming and collaborating with Stanford students and faculty while also focusing on residents of all ages and backgrounds from surrounding communities.  

"When I think about what our team at Stanford Live is hoping to achieve at Bing Concert Hall, I always return to Peter Bing's poetic sentiment from the groundbreaking in May 2010:  'A place of concert in every sense.' Togetherness, union, harmony, friendship and a strong sense of working together to achieve these goals are some of the extra-musical values that inform the design of the hall and the experiences we aspire to make together," said Hausam.

Stephen Hinton, a Stanford musicologist and director of the Arts Initiative and the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts, has been a champion of Bing Concert Hall since its inception. He anticipates the hall being doubly transformative: "Not only will it raise the level of existing programs; the community-building design of the architecture combined with the excellent acoustics will doubtless inspire new ideas and creativity."

A place of concert

Jindong Cai, the music director and conductor of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, said that music-making for an orchestra is about communication and collaboration.  He contends that Bing Concert Hall, with its superb acoustics and close relationship between performers and audience, will provide a whole new concert experience for both the orchestra musicians and the audience.

"For our orchestra to perform in this magnificent new Bing Concert Hall is like a violinist playing on a Stradivarius. More magic will happen in this magical new hall," said Cai. "The Stanford Symphony Orchestra is so fortunate to have Bing Concert Hall as our new home.  We will always be grateful to Helen and Peter Bing, and to the university, for recognizing the importance of our program and giving us this wonderful gift."

The hall includes a sizable and acoustically superior rehearsal studio for campus and visiting performers, a state‐of‐the‐art recording studio linked to both the main hall and rehearsal studio, four artists' suites and a performers' lounge and garden to serve as both a greenroom for artists and space for casual events for guests. Combined with the main stage and 844 vineyard-style seats, the hall fully integrates teaching, technology and performance.

"Bing Concert Hall will be a critical component in furthering both the way we teach  and the way our students learn about music – especially from the performative perspective," said Stephen Sano, chair of the Department of Music and director of the Stanford Chamber Chorale and Symphonic Chorus. He added, "Having a venue that is optimized for learning the intricacies of ensemble work, whether in the chamber or large orchestral environment, will be a compellingly rich experience for our students, and one that heretofore we have not had.  We are thrilled, indeed!"

While Stanford Live will call Bing Concert Hall home, or perhaps more accurately its primary residence, there will be other activities in the hall in addition to the subscription series, including student performances and campus partner activities.  Matthew Tiews, the executive director of arts programs, sees the hall as one of the most important building blocks enhancing the arts on campus: "It's very exciting to see the arts district take shape and to anticipate the new experiences, programs, connections and collaborations that it will make possible."

Stanford Live inaugural season highlights

  • Michael Tilson Thomas with the San Francisco Symphony, St. Lawrence String Quartet, master of ceremonies Anna Deavere Smith and other guests will headline Opening Night Concert, kicking off a weekend of ticketed and free events.
  • The 2013 season will feature pianist Emanuel Ax, cellist Yo-Yo Ma with pianist Kathryn Stott, violinist Midori with pianist Özgür Aydin, vocal groups Cappella Romana and New York Polyphony, Mingus Big Band, Los Lobos and many more.
  • Stanford commissions include a West Coast premiere by Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet, U.S. premiere by Steve Reich performed by Alarm Will Sound, West Coast premiere by John Luther Adams performed by Glenn Kotche and world premiere of two chamber operas by Stanford composer Jonathan Berger and librettist Dan O'Brien.
  • Season-long "Beethoven Project" will comprise all nine symphonies and all five piano concertos, with Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Philharmonia Orchestra, led by Jindong Cai, with award-winning pianist and Stanford alumnus Jon Nakamatsu.
  • Stanford Live launches new partnership with San Francisco's leading period instrument ensemble, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.

The full season can be accessed via the new Stanford Live website.



Robert Cable, Stanford Live: (650) 736-0091,

Robin Wander, Stanford News Service: (650) 724-6184,

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