As Music Director and Conductor of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Philharmonia since Fall 2017, Paul Phillips has conducted 16 performances with the SSO and SP this season. Programs have included works by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Berlioz, Chopin, Brahms, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Bartok, Stravinsky, Webern, Walton, and Bernstein as well as contemporary compositions by Kaija Saariajo, George Walker, and Lera Auerbach. Special projects this year have included the first US showing of the film The Red Violin with live performance of John Corigliano's score by the Stanford Philharmonia with violinist Lara St John; the US premiere of Danny Elfman's Violin Concerto "Eleven Eleven" by the Stanford Symphony Orchestra with violinist Sandy Cameron and guest conductor John Mauceri; the West Coast premiere of Petite Symphonie pour Strasbourg by Anthony Burgess in honor of Burgess's centenary; Belshazzar's Feast by William Walton performed by baritone soloist Jeremy Huw Williams with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, Stanford Symphonic Chorus, and Stanford University Singers; and a pops concert with Darlene Love and the Stanford Symphony Orchestra.

     On December 16, 1891, two months after Stanford University opened its doors, the first Stanford Orchestra was organized, consisting of just eleven members. Now, more than 125 years later, musical activity at Stanford has expanded to include two orchestras, the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Philharmonia, as well as the Stanford Baroque Soloists, Stanford New Ensemble, student-led operas and musicals, and numerous other ensembles encompassing a vast range of musical periods and styles.

     The SSO, a large orchestra with approximately 100 members, generally gives 6-8 performance per season, including joint concerts with the Stanford Wind Symphony and Stanford choirs as well as collaborations with Stanford Live. The Stanford Philharmonia, a chamber orchestra of about 40 members, usually performs about 6 concerts per year. Winners of the annual Stanford Concerto Competition are regularly featured as soloists with both orchestras. The SSO and SP each present world-renowned soloists, perform a wide range of symphonic music from the Baroque to the present, and often feature Stanford students and faculty as soloists, composers, and conductors.

     Supported by the Department of Music and the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU), the SSO is the largest on-campus student music organization. Membership in the SSO is determined through competitive auditions held each September. While most SSO musicians are undergraduates, participation in the orchestra is open to all members of the Stanford community. Members of the SSO major in wide variety of fields ranging from music, history, and political science to engineering, computer science, and aerospace and aeronautics, to name a few. Each spring, about a dozen members of the SSO and SP are elected to the Orchestra Committee, which organizes the annual Fall Retreat, plans trips to attend San Francisco Symphony concerts, hosts Dinners with the Conductor, applies for ASSU funding, and assists with with many other orchestral activities. An expanded committee helps to organize orchestra tours during tour years.

     In January 2013, the SSO moved into its new home on campus, Bing Concert Hall. To celebrate the new hall, the SSO presented “The Beethoven Project”, featuring performances that year of all of Beethoven’s symphonies and piano concertos, with Van Cliburn gold medalist Jon Nakamatsu as soloist in the five piano concertos. The project culminated in a European tour titled “In Beethoven’s Footsteps,” with performances in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic in cities associated with Beethoven. Other SSO tours have included trips to Australia and New Zealand in 2005, to China in 2008 as part of the Beijing Olympic Cultural Festival, and to Cuba and Mexico in 2017 – a cultural exchange on the theme of “Music that Dances” that drew upon traditions of the host countries while presenting new works by Stanford faculty composers Giancarlo Aquilanti and Mark Applebaum. For further information, visit

© 2016 by Paul Phillips. Created with

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