SSO Spotlight 3: Elise Lasker

Elise Lasker SSO photo

Name: Elise Lasker
Instrument: Oboe
Dorm: Toyon
Class of 2017

Hailing from Sugar Land, Texas, Elise Lasker has a disposition as sweet as her hometown suggests. Elise is currently in her second season of the SSO, and as a sophomore in the oboe section has tackled a wide variety of challenging repertoire. Although she hasn’t yet declared a major, Elise has already proven herself at Stanford to be a brilliant, caring, and talented member of the Class of 2017.

How and when did you get your start on the oboe? Did you play any other instruments beforehand?
I started playing [the oboe] in the 6th grade, in band class. I played piano for a few years before that.

What’s an enjoyable experience or funny anecdote you’d like to share from your time in SSO?
Well, hanging out in the oboe section is generally fun. One anecdote is that Max and Edward [the fellow oboists in the SSO] sing a lot of musical snippets during breaks.

What’s an interesting, weird, and non-musical fact about you?
I had a childhood fear of condiments (especially mayo and ketchup).

Do you have a cause or passion that you care deeply about?
I love people [laughs]! This may come as a surprise, since I am not the most outspoken person ever. I’m pretty quiet, but I love listening to people. I’m working on becoming a peer counselor at the Bridge, and I’m a small group leader for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. If anyone ever wants to talk, I’m all ears!

SSO Spotlight 2: Jake Gold

Jake Gold SSO Photo

Name: Jake Gold
Instrument: French Horn
Dorm: Roble
Major: Earth Systems and Civil Engineering
Class of 2018

Jake Gold, an up-and-coming freshman from Santa Monica, has already become one of the best French Horn players in the Symphony. Raised by two environmentally-conscious parents, Jake has always been aware of the global climatic issues facing both future generations and his own. That’s why Jake is firm in his resolve to major in Earth Systems and Civil Engineering; they offer him an education and a career that can better both himself and society. With a charming smile and an altruistic mindset, Jake continues to make the best of all Stanford has to offer.

How (and when) did you get your start on the French Horn? Did you play any other instruments beforehand?
I began playing French Horn when I was in 8th grade. At that point, I had already been playing trumpet for 5 years, and thought adding another instrument for my high school career would be valuable. The two instruments seemed similar enough to me, but both sent me on very different paths performance-wise. 

Do you have a funny anecdote, or a good memory from your time in SSO so far?
During the SSO retreat, [the Symphony] had just finished a two-and-a-half hour rehearsal, ending around 10 PM. We were all extremely tired and were heading off to an enjoyable bonfire get-together with both staff and students – this was our chance to take a break from playing and have fun getting to know each other. The French horns had that exact mindset… but from a different perspective. We spent the next two-and-a-half hours in the hall playing octets with one another until our lips gave out and we called it a night. The best break from one type of music is another!

What’s an interesting, non-musical fact about you? Bonus points if it’s something no one would ever suspect about you.
I was born with a heart defect known as transposition of the great vessels. This is a life-threatening ailment that results from the aorta and pulmonary arteries being switched with one another. The science to perform the surgery was less than a decade old when I was born, so [for that] I am extremely grateful.
(Bonus points awarded)

 Do you have any siblings? Are they as musical as you?
I have two extremely tone deaf siblings, a brother and sister. My brother is a senior here at Stanford studying Marine Biology and Environmental Engineering. He’s very bright, and we often hang out around campus when we have free time. I also have a younger sister in 10th grade who is a remarkable swimmer. She can be a drama queen sometimes, but is also extremely intelligent.


Girl with the Flaxen Hair: Hannah Thompson (SSO Spotlight 1)

hannah thompson SSO photo

Name: Hannah Thompson
Instrument: Viola
Dorm: Burbank
Class of 2018

From a small town in Wisconsin, freshman Hannah Thompson has joined the ranks of violas in the Stanford Symphony Orchestra. A member of the Class of 2018, Hannah has not yet declared a major, but plans on pursuing something within the engineering department. With musical gifts, bouncing golden locks and a sharp mind, Hannah has embraced Stanford and all it has to offer.

 What’s your musical background?
I started out on piano, and then moved to the viola, and now I also play the guitar. With viola, I play in orchestra, pit orchestra, quartets, and everything fun because it’s amazing! With guitar, I’m involved at Jewish services, so that’s a big part of my life. Piano, I just play for fun.

Everyone has a hidden talent, or “fun fact” about them. What’s yours?
I enjoy cycling, as a sport. I’ve ridden by bike, I’d say… 2000 miles in the past two years. It’s really fun! We do big rides where we carry all our stuff… so, that’s what I do.

You’ve only been on campus a short time, but I’m sure lots of things have happened. What has been your favorite moment on the Farm so far?
That’s a good question… it’s not a moment, but hearing all the music from Burbank, because it’s got the ITALIC learning community with all the arts students. I’m not in [ITALIC], but it’s so much fun to be in such an artsy environment, where everyone will just have jam sessions in the halls.

One final question; do you have any favorite/funny moments from SSO?
I think, [during rehearsal in Fall quarter 2014] when everyone turned around, still trying to play and look at their Mahler music, just to see the guy with the hammer [laughs]… that’s my favorite moment.

SSO Spotlights: Introduction


In the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, musicians are united by their shared love of music. Behind the instruments and elegant attire, a community diverse in every way imaginable thrives. The SSO is home to a wide range of interesting musicians, from freshmen to seniors, grad students, and community members, of many nationalities, circumstances, and backgrounds. Most importantly, though, the Symphony is filled with incredible people. It is my sincere hope that, through learning about the members of the SSO, you will view this vibrant community in a new light.

-Andrew Jabara
Coordinator, SSO Committee

Five members of the SSO, from left to right: Brad Girardeau (Violin), Elise Lasker (Oboe), Ben Yeh (Cello), Tessera Chin (Viola), Jake Gold (French Horn)

A few of the amazing members in the SSO; from left to right: Brad Girardeau (Violin), Elise Lasker (Oboe), Ben Yeh (Cello), Tessera Chin (Viola), Jake Gold (French Horn)



Goodbye, Dink, and hello, Bing!

It’s been a busy couple weeks here for us at SSO – we just had our final concert at Dinkelspiel Auditorium before we officially move into Bing Concert Hall, our new home! Our concerto competition winner (and SSO violinist!), Eric Wu ’13, played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 magnificently, and we rounded out the performance with Beethoven’s iconic Symphony No. 5

We also started rehearsals in Bing this month! It is truly a marvelous venue, and we are so incredibly fortunate to be able to call it our new home. We are looking forward to helping usher in a new era for SSO and the arts at Stanford in January!

Finally, we’ve got a new Facebook page! Make sure to head on over to and “like” us to stay in touch, receive up-to-date news and concert info, and get exclusive behind-the-scenes sneak peeks of all our activities!

Our spook-tacular Halloween concert

Photos before and after our annual Halloween concert!

String sectionals with Nancy Wu

We were fortunate enough to hold a string sectional recently with Nancy Wu, associate concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera! Thanks to Nancy and all the other local musicians who have come in to make sectionals possible for everyone in the orchestra!

2012 – 2013 season off to an exciting start!

It’s been a busy past two weeks for us at the Stanford Symphony – there was tremendous interest in joining the orchestra this year; the excitement was palpable even before the school year started, with an unprecedented number of interested musicians contacting us. Our table at the music department’s open house was likewise kept busy by a constant stream of incoming freshmen inquiring about SSO.

Following the hecticness of auditions, SSO started rehearsals last week. The first few rehearsals have been quite eventful: first, all of our musicians came together for the first time this season last Thursday, and we’re proud to have a talented and diverse group of musicians. SSO then held our annual retreat at Monte Toyon, a camp and conference center nestled among the redwood forests near Santa Cruz. It was a fun but productive two days as SSO musicians rehearsed and got to know each other a little better!

SSO members bond over the campfire with s’mores!


Finally, SSO hosted members of the Shanghai University String Orchestra on Monday, who delighted us with a brief performance and rehearsed jointly with us. It was a great opportunity to welcome our peers and fellow musicians from Shanghai!

Fall 2012 welcome and updates

Fall 2012 welcome and updates

Dear friends,

The Stanford Symphony Orchestra is extremely excited to announce our 122nd season. This season marks a new chapter in SSO history, as we prepare to move into Stanford’s new Bing Concert Hall in the beginning of 2013. We are also pleased to announce a partnership with Stanford Live (formerly Stanford Lively Arts), as well as the Beethoven Project, a season-long celebration of Beethoven’s artistic genius. This ambitious project encompasses performances of all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies, as well as the entirety of his piano concertos (with Van Cliburn gold-medal pianist Jon Nakamatsu), and will be highlighted by a tour to Europe – in Beethoven’s footsteps – in the summer of 2013.

Your orchestra committee has been busy preparing for this exciting season. First, we’re pleased to announce this re-launched webpage, which has a brand new design. Thanks to Golf, Ben-han, and Dean, who have worked hard on this all summer; we hope that the new webpage is easy to access and makes it convenient to find information. We’ve also been planning our annual fall retreat, and getting ready for our first rehearsal – we can’t wait to get started with everything!

Whether you are returning to SSO as a musician, thinking about joining us in this historical season, or looking to enjoy our concerts this year,  we look forward to a thrilling season!


Jeremy and Candice

SSO committee presidents

On behalf of the entire SSO board