On December 16, 1891, two months after Stanford University opened its doors, the first Stanford Orchestra was organized. It consisted of eleven members. More than a century later, the Stanford Symphony Orchestra has grown to a 90 plus-member organization.
The Stanford Symphony Orchestra (SSO) is the largest student music organization on campus, supported by the Music Department and the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU). Membership is open to all members of the community, although priority is given to Stanford students. Every year, SSO attracts a diverse group of graduate and undergraduate students from across campus, ranging from computer science and aeronautical engineers to English and History majors. Each spring, the orchestra elects committee members who help organize everything from finances and publicity to subsidized trips to hear the San Francisco Symphony and an annual SSO retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains. During years when tours are planned, an expanded committee is responsible for organizing the tour.
SSO rehearses twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. It presents approximately four to six concert programs each season. Winners of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra’s annual Concerto Competition are regularly featured as guest soloists. The orchestra also collaborates with world-renown artists, including Van Cliburn gold medalist Jon Nakamatsu, members of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, and other Stanford faculty. Students receive additional coaching for their specific instrument groups directed by musicians from the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
SSO regularly performs and collaborates with the Stanford Wind Ensemble and on-campus choral groups. Over the years, the orchestra has performed major symphonic works and premiered numerous works by Stanford composers. SSO has toured around the world, most recently to Australia and New Zealand in 2005, China as part of the Beijing Olympic Cultural Festival in 2008, and Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic as the culmination of an interdisciplinary, campus-wide celebration of Ludwig van Beethoven in 2013.
In Fall 2012, SSO moved into its new home on campus, the Bing Concert Hall, where it now rehearses and performs year-round.