Stanford Live’s curators have put together a 2019-20 season of multidisciplinary events that intersect music and performance with politics.

Stanford Live’s curators have put together a 2019-20 season of multidisciplinary events that intersect music and performance with politics. (Image credit: Courtesy Stanford Live)

“A key role of the artist is to reflect a society back upon itself and that political context and content is a crucial part of this storytelling process,” says Chris Lorway, executive director of Stanford Live. “Once again, we are thrilled to both showcase the best artists in this country and invite exciting work from around the world to Stanford’s campus. Over the course of the season, we plan to leverage the amazing faculty and students to both contextualize the work and bring it to life.”

Highlights of the upcoming season include a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. featuring Damien Sneed (Feb. 21), a program of works by Hollywood film composer Hanns Eisler who was blacklisted in the McCarthy era (Dec. 6 & 7) and a concert with the Kronos Quartet titled “The ’60s: The Years That Changed America” (Jan. 15).

The 2019-20 lineup kicks off in September and includes over 50 events with more to be announced throughout the year, including the popular Bing Studio series. Tickets go on sale April 11 for Stanford Live members and May 23 for the general public.

Performances will take place in Bing Concert Hall and Studio, Memorial Auditorium, Memorial Church and the newly renovated Frost Amphitheater. The world premiere of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha will be presented off-campus in the Palo Alto High School Auditorium (April 23-26), one of four works co-commissioned by Stanford Live this season.

Other season highlights include a solo recital by pianist Lang Lang (May 3), the return of Rhiannon Giddens in collaboration with Francesco Turrisi (Feb. 7), NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic with Bomsori Kim, violin (Jan. 31), a recital by violinist Joshua Bell (Nov. 1), an evening with Cuban legend Chucho Valdés (Oct. 18), and Laurie Anderson performing The Art of Falling (Jan. 29).

Summer at Frost

Summer 2019 marks a new era of musical performance at Stanford with the re-launch of the iconic Frost Amphitheater. Prior to the regular 2019-20 season, Stanford Live is co-presenting a series of concerts with Goldenvoice and the first concerts to be announced in the series are Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (Aug. 17), Lionel Richie (Aug. 24) and The National (Sept. 1), with more concerts to be announced in the coming months.

Stanford Live is also co-presenting a summer series with the San Francisco Symphony (SFS). Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas leads the SFS in an all-Tchaikovsky concert featuring the composer’s Symphony No. 4 and Violin Concerto, performed by American violinist Gil Shaham (July 10). New Zealand-born conductor Gemma New leads the SFS in two concerts featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. (July 13 & 14).

Stanford Live commissioned works

As announced in December 2018, Stanford Live has been selected as a recipient of a Hewlett 50 Arts Commission, a program of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. This year’s award cycle supports unique works in theater, musical theater and spoken word that inspire community dialogue around pressing contemporary issues. In the 2019-20 season, Stanford Live will commission, develop and premiere a contemporary but historically-informed reimagining of ragtime composer Scott Joplin’s early 20th-century opera Treemonisha. The work’s creative team, led by director Weyni Mengesha, librettist Leah Simone Bowen, and composers Jessie Montgomery and Jannina Norpoth, will bring to the work an entirely new libretto and an expanded musical language incorporating jazz, traditional and contemporary classical music and, of course, ragtime. “We are thrilled to present the world premiere of this opera,” says Lorway. “The creative team that has been assembled to bring this piece to life is incredibly exciting and I can’t wait to share their innovative approach to restaging with audiences in the Bay Area.”

In addition, Stanford Live has co-commissioned three other new works including choreographer Yang Liping’s Rite of Spring (Feb. 21 & 22), Brad Mehldau and Ian Bostridge’s The Folly of Desire (Oct. 16), and Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), a multimedia work composed by guitarist Bryce Dessner of The National that showcases the work of acclaimed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (Oct. 3 & 4).

2019-20 season performances

The 2019-20 season opens on Sept. 29 with the first of three Sundays with the St. Lawrence String Quartet with guest oboist James Austin Smith in an afternoon matinee. A detailed list of performances announced to date can be found below:


  • Sept. 29, 2019 – Sundays with the St. Lawrence, with James Austin Smith, oboe
  • Oct. 23, 2019 – Daniel Pearl World Music Days Concert (FREE)
  • Jan. 19, 2020 – Sundays with the St. Lawrence, program of Beethoven and John Adams
  • Feb. 9, 2020 – Harlem Quartet
  • March 4, 2020 – Michael Barenboim & West-Eastern Divan Ensemble
  • April 5, 2020 – Invoke Multi-String Quartet
  • April 27, 2020 – Sarah Chang with the Telegraph String Quartet
  • May 17, 2020 – Sundays with the St. Lawrence, with Gilles Vonsattel, piano


  • Nov. 10, 2019 – The King’s Singers: Finding Harmony
  • Dec. 11, 2019 – A Chanticleer Christmas

Contemporary music

  • Oct. 3 & 4, 2019 – Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) composed by Bryce Dessner
  • Oct. 13, 2019 – Max Richter with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble
  • Jan. 15, 2020 – Kronos Quartet: The 60s, The Years That Changed America
  • Jan. 29, 2020 – Laurie Anderson, The Art of Falling
  • Feb. 21, 2020 – We Shall Overcome: A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. featuring Damien Sneed
  • April 3, 2020 – Bang on a Can All-Stars: A Musical Utopia
  • April 4, 2020 – Bang on a Can All-Stars: Gong Linna, Cloud River Mountain
  • April 15, 2020 – Rebirth of a Nation: DJ Spooky with the Catalyst Quartet


  • Oct. 11 & 12, 2019 – Backbone: Gravity & Other Myths


  • Feb. 21 & 22, 2020 – Rite of Spring: Yang Liping
  • March 10, 2020 – Dorrance Dance: SOUNDspace
  • May 1 & 2, 2020 – Malpaso Dance Company

Film with live score

  • Jan. 25, 2020 – Selma: Film with Live Score, Jason Moran & Marvin Sewell
  • Feb. 1, 2020 – La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc: Orlando Consort


  • Feb. 7, 2020 – Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi
  • March 12, 2020 – Dreamers’ Circus


  • Oct. 18, 2019 – Chucho Valdés: Jazz Batá
  • Nov. 20, 2019 – Harlem 100: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance
  • Jan. 22, 2020 – James Reese Europe & the Absence of Ruin: Jason Moran & the Harlem Hellfighters
  • March 13, 2020 – Cécile Mclorin Salvant with Darcy James Argue: Ogresse
  • March 28, 2020 – Fly Higher: Charlie Parker @100
  • April 18, 2020 – Maria Schneider Orchestra


  • Oct. 6, 2019 – The Orchestra Now, From the Middle Kingdom to the Wild West
  • Nov. 13, 2019 – Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale: Mozart’s Musing
  • Jan. 31, 2020 – NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic with Bomsori Kim, violin
  • Feb. 12, 2020 – Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale: The Well-Caffeinated Clavier
  • March 10, 2020 –PBO Sessions: Jewish Songlines – Performers, Patronage and Prejudice
  • March 11, 2020 – Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale: Romantic Reflections: Cherubini and Schubert
  • May 13, 2020 – New Century Chamber Orchestra


  • Oct. 16, 2019 – Brad Mehldau & Ian Bostridge, The Folly of Desire
  • Nov. 1, 2019 – Joshua Bell, violin, and Alessio Bax, piano
  • Dec. 6 & 7, 2019 – Hell’s Fury: The Hollywood Songbook
  • Feb. 5, 2020 – Vladimir Feltsman: The Russian Experiment, From Mystical to Avant-garde
  • May 3, 2020 – Lang Lang


  • Oct. 10, 2019 – Rob Kapilow’s What Makes it Great?: Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata
  • Oct. 30, 2019 – National Geographic Live: A Rare Look – North Korea to Cuba
  • Feb. 26, 2020 – National Geographic Live: When Women Ruled the World
  • May 6, 2020 – Rob Kapilow’s What Makes it Great?: Music of Cole Porter
  • May 7, 2020 – Rob Kapilow’s What Makes it Great?: John Adams’ Shaker Loops

Music theater

  • April 23-26, 2020 – Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha


  • Nov. 1-3, 2019 – Minorities: Company Red Virgo
  • Nov. 7-10, 2019 – NASSIM: Nassim Soleimanpour
  • Jan. 17 & 18, 2020 – No Blue Memories – The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks: Manual Cinema
  • Feb. 5-8, 2020 – The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes: Back to Back Theatre

Tickets and more information

Presales begin April 11 for Stanford Live members. Tickets go on sale to the general public on May 23 at 12:00 p.m. For complete pricing, availability and to purchase tickets visit

More performances will be announced throughout the season.

About Stanford Live

Stanford Live presents a wide range of the finest performances from around the world fostering a vibrant learning community and providing distinctive experiences through the performing arts. With its primary home at Bing Concert Hall, Stanford Live is simultaneously a public square, a sanctuary and a lab, drawing on the breadth and depth of Stanford University to connect performance to the significant issues, ideas and discoveries of our time.

Media Contacts

Robin Wander, University Communications: (650) 724-6184,