Stanford Music Program

December 5, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Stanford Music Program

Seniors in high school are accustomed to feeling anxiety regarding college applications, essays, SAT scores, and anything else that is associated with the process of applying to colleges. This anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors, including the college application itself, the essays, and the SAT scores. However, for students who are interested in studying music through the Stanford music program, they are actually just baby steps leading up to the day of the big, terrifying audition, which is filled with fear.

The day of the big, scary audition is filled with anticipation. The conclusion of years spent mastering your profession will invariably consist of around five minutes spent presenting it in front of a panel of judges. This will be the case regardless of how much time you put into perfecting your craft.

At Stanford University, music majors are so uncommon that they have virtually attained legendary status due to their scarcity. In fact, out of the approximately 7,000 students that enroll as undergraduates each year, only about ten music degrees are awarded. You can pursue your passion for music with a degree from the Stanford music program. Whether it be composing, analyzing, and researching the development of music in all of its myriad guises, be it Beethoven or Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, or Bach. This will allow you to pursue your passion in a way that will allow you to fully realize your potential.

View of two people talking in front of a school building.

This will make it so that you are able to satisfy the raging need that you currently have. Those who have an interest in music and want to improve their skills have the chance to do so in a variety of subfields, including composition, music history, education, and theory. The preparation you receive from doing so can get you ready for a career as the successor to Duke Ellington or as the conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra.

Does Stanford have a Music Program?

Does Stanford have a music program? Absolutely, yes! Composing, conducting, performing, and researching music history, ethnomusicology, music theory, cognitive science, intermedia, and computer-based technologies are all areas of study that are covered by the Department of Music at Stanford University. The undergraduate major in Music is based on a course of study that allows students to build a variety of tools as part of their aesthetic and musical formation. The Stanford music program blends a breadth of musical experiences across numerous dimensions with depth in a particular topic.

All academic disciplines—theory, practice, history, cultural contextualization, science, and technology—contribute in some way to the foundation of the curricula for the Stanford music program. Students have the opportunity to broaden their musical horizons through the Music minor’s adaptable course of study.

View of students walking around the campus.

The emphasis of the minor may be placed on Composition, History, Performance/Conducting, Theory, or Music, Science & Technology (MST), or it may be directed toward topics that are not presently covered by the major, such as Ethnomusicology, Jazz, or Musical Theater. The musical aspects of a major that is not music, such as American Studies, Anthropology, Area Studies, Computer Science, CSRE, TAPS, etc., can also be the focus of the musical aspects of the minor.

What is the Stanford Music Program like?

What is the Stanford music program like? The Stanford music program is built on a course of study that allows students to build a variety of skills as part of their aesthetic and musical formation. This course of study blends the breadth of musical experiences across numerous dimensions with depth in a particular topic. All academic disciplines—theory, practice, history, cultural contextualization, science, and technology—contribute in some way to the foundation of the curricula for each major.

In order to graduate with a Bachelor of Music degree, students need to complete a total of 62 units, 42 of which are required to be in the shared foundation. The remaining 20 minimum necessary units can be devoted to any area of concentration specified below, including self-defined exploration, as long as the total number of units meets the requirements. This requirement for 20 units from the Stanford music program includes a mentoring component that must be completed under the supervision of an academic advisor.

Students who are interested in pursuing a major in music and would like to acquire foundational musical literacy in the Western tradition have the option of enrolling in gateway classes that are designed to teach fundamental abilities. During the years that are considered “regular,” all of the necessary classes for the major must be completed with a letter grade.

What are the various Stanford Music Groups?

So, what are the various Stanford music groups? The goal of the music department at Stanford is to raise the profile of the arts and broaden their influence throughout the university. The Stanford music program provides students with extracurricular and multidisciplinary student programs, as well as public exhibitions and performances, as well as key resources for navigating the arts within the university.

At Stanford University, an education in the liberal arts is centered in what is known as the School of Humanities and Sciences (H&S), which is also home to the academic arts departments. Here are some of the music groups guided by the Stanford music program.

Stanford Latin Jazz Ensemble

Murray Low, a pianist who has been nominated for two Grammys and who also directs the Stanford Latin Jazz Ensemble, established the group in January 2008 with the purpose of performing, interpreting, and researching Afro-Latin music as well as the fusion of that music with jazz from North America. We are of the opinion that the creation of American music did not originate in the United States but rather incorporates innovations and inspirations from other parts of the world, particularly Africa and Latin America, and the Caribbean. Since it was first established in 2008, the ensemble has made significant strides, which have led to it becoming one of the most accomplished academic performance ensembles of its sort.

View of Saxophones played by musicians.

Throughout the course of the year, the group collaborates with a variety of visiting artists and experts in the field. The Santana percussionist Karl Perazzo, the five-time Grammy-nominated percussionist John Santos, trumpeter Ray Vega, flutists Andrea Brachfeld and John Calloway, pianist Oscar Hernandez, trombonists Wayne Wallace and Doug Beavers, percussionists Jesus Diaz and Michael Spiro, and the VW Brothers Marc and Paul Van Wageningen were among the past collaborators and guests.

Cardinal Calypso

Cardinal Calypso is widely regarded as the best steelpan group at Stanford University. They share the music and culture of Trinidad and Tobago with the rest of the university community by performing both traditional Caribbean music and modern tunes, as well as by exuding a general passion for music, dancing, and sunlight. All of its members are currently enrolled at Stanford, and each member contributes to the arrangement of a different song. Additionally, they compose their own original music.

The community of Calypso is one that is alive, jovial, and full of kindness. Every year, we take part in a variety of fascinating activities, including seminars taught by guest artists such as Liam Teague, Duvone Stewart, and Andy Narell, as well as performances at Carnaval San Francisco.

Although prior musical experience is not required, prospective members of Cardinal Calypso should have a broad musical knowledge base when they audition. They would appreciate the opportunity to teach you more about the steelpan, regardless of whether you have been playing it since you were in high school or whether you just found it today.

Stanford Orchestras

Throughout the course of the academic year, students can participate in great chances to practice and enjoy playing symphonic music through the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and the Stanford Philharmonia, which rehearse and perform together. Rehearsals for the SSO take place in Bing Concert Hall on Monday and Thursday nights from 7:00 to 9:30 pm, and rehearsals for the SP take place in Bing on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 to 9:30 pm. The Bing Concert Hall is where the majority of performances take place.

The Stanford Chamber Chorale, the Stanford Symphony Chorus, the University Singers, the Stanford Wind Symphony, and Stanford Live all frequently participate in collaborative concerts. Auditioning is required to become a member of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra or Stanford Philharmonia.

Conductor directing a set of musicians on the stage.

Membership is open to all Stanford students (undergraduate and graduate), Stanford employees and faculty, and members of the community of all ages, with Stanford students receiving precedence. There is no requirement that members study music; in fact, fewer than 5% of SSO and SP members are music majors, with the majority of orchestra members majoring in subjects related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Stanford Chamber Chorale

The Stanford Chamber Chorale is the most selective choir offered by the Stanford Department of Music. It has been praised for “choral singing of the highest order — exquisite singing with polished refinement!” by Craig Jessop, the former Director of the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.

The group, which is committed to the performance of material that is most suitable to the performance by a small choral ensemble, is directed by Dr. Stephen M. Sano. Their achievements both domestically and internationally highlight Stanford University’s dedication to music performance and the arts.

The ensemble is comprised of students who are currently enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs at Stanford University. These students come from all across the United States and other parts of the world. The singers come from a wide variety of academic fields and degree programs, and they manage to keep up with their tough studies while also keeping up with demanding performance, touring, and recording schedules.

The breathtaking Stanford Memorial Church and the spectacular Bing Concert Hall are two of the home venues where the Chamber Chorale performs on a regular basis. Because of the high regard in which they are held on campus for their artistry and professionalism, the Chorale is frequently asked to collaborate with visiting performers on campus.

They have worked successfully with a variety of artists in the past, including the Kronos Quartet, master flamenco guitarist Paco Pea, pianist Jeremy Denk, and England’s Tallis Scholars, among others. The Chorale has had the privilege of premiering works by Christopher Tin, Jonathan Berger, Eric Tuan, and Giancarlo Aquilanti, as well as receiving compositions and arrangements from renowned composers such as Kirke Mechem, Paul Crabtree, Ji Laburda, Takeo Kudo, and Howard Helvey.

In addition, the Chorale has received works and arrangements from composers such as Kirke Mechem, Paul Crabtree, and Ji Laburd.

Stanford Jazz Orchestra

The Stanford Jazz Orchestra is the university’s large jazz ensemble, and it performs a wide range of modern and classic material drawn from the traditional jazz repertory. The ensemble has participated in festivals both in the United States and internationally, and it has welcomed a wide variety of guest artists, including but not limited to Jon Faddis, Louis Bellson, Bob Mintzer, Wycliffe Gordon, Ingrid Jensen, Jimmy Heath, and many others.

During the summer of 2023, the band will travel throughout Europe, stopping in countries including Italy, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Austria to play at jazz festivals and other events. Trumpeter Wayne Bergeron will be one of the featured performers.

Stanford Taiko

The foundation for Stanford Taiko was laid in a session that Susan Hayase, a former member of San Jose Taiko, led in 1991 as a part of a unique program offered by Stanford Workshops on Political and Social Issues. Hayase had been a member of San Jose Taiko (SWOPSI).

The class provided a context for the art of taiko by discussing its connection to the Japanese American experience. This discussion motivated Ann Ishimaru and Valerie Mih to submit an application for an Undergraduate Research Opportunity grant in order to conduct research on taiko and build one.

In the winter of 1992, Ishimaru, Mih, and their fellow students finished the first drum. They then invited fellow SWOPSI course graduates and other people who were interested in forming a taiko ensemble at Stanford University. This was when the seeds of Stanford Taiko were planted.

During a session led by San Jose Taiko, the group’s original 13 charter members learned the fundamentals of the taiko form. Workshops led by Susan Hayase, Gary Tsujimoto, and Nancy Ozaki from One World Taiko provided them with further fundamental knowledge as well.

Since then, the Stanford Department of Music has supported and encouraged the growth of the Stanford Taiko ensemble, which now includes roughly 20 students, performs an entirely original repertoire, and has a full repertoire. The selection of new members takes place via a rigorous audition process that lasts for one month and begins at the beginning of each new academic year.

Want to learn more about the Stanford music program? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.


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