About Stanford Symphonic Chorus

About the Chorus

The Stanford Symphonic Chorus is a group of approximately 200 students, faculty, staff and members of the community at large, led by Director of Music and Conductor Stephen Sano. Students may take Chorus as a credit course within the Music Department (Music 162/Music 162Z).

The Chorus generally presents three concert pairs a year, one each academic quarter. Most summers there has also been a Summer Chorus which performs in late summer.

A performance typically features a large choral work, often along with other choral or purely instrumental pieces. The Chorus performs regularly with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra.

About the Conductor

Stephen M. Sano is Professor and Chair of the Department of Music, the inaugural chairholder of the Harold C. Schmidt Directorship of Choral Studies at Stanford University​, and the Rachford and Carlota A. Harris University Fellow in Undergraduate Education​. ​​He ​serves as Director of Music and Conductor of the Stanford Chamber Chorale and ​Stanford ​Symphonic Chorus. He holds master's and doctoral degrees in both orchestral and choral conducting from Stanford, and a bachelor's degree in piano performance and theory from San Jose State University. Dr. Sano has appeared as guest conductor with many of the world’s leading choral organizations including the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge; the Joyful Company of Singers (London); the Choir of Royal Holloway, University of London; the Kammerchor der Universität der Künste Berlin; and the Kammerchor der Universität Wien (Vienna). He has served on the conducting faculty of the Wilkes University Encore Music Festival of Pennsylvania and frequently appears as guest conductor of the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra in its collaborative concerts with the Stanford Symphonic Chorus. A dedicated teacher at Stanford, Professor Sano was recipient of the 2005 Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. He has studied at the Tanglewood Music Center and is in frequent demand as a master class teacher, conductor, and adjudicator in choral music. To date, he has taught master classes and conducted festival, honor, municipal, and collegiate choirs from over 20 states, as well as from England, Austria, Germany, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

The press has described Dr. Sano as “a gifted conductor,” and his work as “Wonderful music making!... evident in an intense engagement with his charges: the musicians responded to this attention with wide-eyed musical acuity.” Still other reviews have lauded, “It is difficult to believe that any choral group anywhere is capable of performing better than the Stanford chorus under the direction of Stephen M. Sano.” The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences recognized the Stanford Chamber Chorale, under Dr. Sano’s leadership, with inclusion in five categories in the preliminary balloting for ​the 2013 Grammy award​, including the category “Best Choral Performance​”.

An accomplished pianist, Dr. Sano has won numerous piano competitions, and has served as accompanist to many leading artists visiting the Bay Area and as harpsichordist with the International Chamber Orchestra of Rome. He is also active in his ancillary fields of interest, Hawaiian choral music, the music of Queen Lili’uokalani, kī hō‘alu (Hawaiian slack key guitar), and North American Taiko (Japanese American drumming). As a slack key artist, his recordings have been nominated as finalists for the prestigious Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award and the Hawaiian Music Award. His most recent release, Songs from the Taro Patch, was on the preliminary ballot for the 2008 Grammy Award. Dr. Sano’s recordings can be heard on the ArsisAudio, Pictoria, and Daniel Ho Creations labels (choral); and the Daniel Ho Creations and Ward Records labels (slack key guitar).​