Stanford University celebrates the opening of the Bing Concert Hall on Friday January 11 - a venue which promises to “transform the practice, study, and experience of the performing arts” on the campus.
Stanford Live (formerly known as Stanford Lively Arts) - the organization behind the presentation of performing arts on the campus - opens the inaugural season at its new venue with a concert featuring Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. Also appearing are special guest mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, the St Lawrence String Quartet, Stanford Chamber Chorale and members of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Philharmonia Orchestra. Master of ceremonies is actor, author and former Stanford faculty member, Anna Deavere Smith.
The program includes John Adams’ ‘Short Ride in a Fast Machine’, Debussy’s ‘La mer’ and ‘Take Care of This House’ from Leonard Bernstein’s 1976 musical, ‘1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’.
Designed by Richard Olcott of Ennead Architects, the Bing Concert Hall has 842 seats which are arranged in what’s described as a ‘vineyard” format - the seating sections encircling the stage. Not only will audiences enjoy superb sightlines from all angles, but they’ll also experience an unparalleled intimacy with the artists. Ennead Architects is the award-winning and internationally acclaimed architecture firm which includes in its renowned performing arts venues the Zankel Hall at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
The lead acoustician of Bing Concert Hall is Dr Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics, known as “a legend in his field”, whose projects include Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the New World Symphony SoundSpace in Miami.
“Music-making for an orchestra is about communication and collaboration,” says Jindong Cai, music director and conductor of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra. “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.”
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.
Jenny Bilfield is artistic director of Stanford Live. "My greatest aspiration for this hall,” she says, “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."
In addition to Friday’s performance by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, highlights from the inaugural season at Stanford include appearances by pianist Emanuel Ax, cellist Yo-Yo Ma with pianist Kathryn Stott, and violinist Midori with pianist Özgür Aydin.
A season-long "Beethoven Project" comprises all nine symphonies and all five piano concertos. Jindong Cai leads the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Philharmonia Orchestra, with award-winning pianist and Stanford alumnus Jon Nakamatsu as guest soloist.
Stanford commissions include a West Coast premiere by Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet, a US premiere by Steve Reich performed by Alarm Will Sound, a West Coast premiere by John Luther Adams performed by Glenn Kotche, and the world premiere of two chamber operas by Stanford composer Jonathan Berger and librettist Dan O'Brien.
Stanford Live also launches a new partnership with San Francisco's leading period instrument ensemble, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.
Visit the Stanford Live website for full details of the season.
Peter and Helen Bing are the benefactors whose generosity has made this concert hall a reality - as Peter Bing himself describes it: “A place of concert in every sense”.
Although Friday night’s concert is sold out, KDFC - the Bay Area’s listener-supported classical music radio station - is broadcasting it live at 8.00 pm. If you’re in the Bay Area, visit the KDFC website for tuning frequencies, or listen online.
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