SSO Spotlights: Introduction

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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)
 

 

 

Humans of SSO: Brad Girardeau

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Name: Brad Girardeau
Instrument: Violin
Coterm: Computer Science
Class of 2017

Brad is a current coterm student at Stanford, working on his Master’s degree in Computer Science. He has been an integral member of SSO for five years.

Why did you start playing violin?
My parents picked it out for me. I was really little, around five years old, so I did it and I guess I just kept going! 

Why do you like the violin?
It’s easy to carry around, which is really important in my opinion. Also, it sounds beautiful and has a very broad range.

What is your favorite SSO Memory?
My favorite SSO Memory was going on tour to Europe. We visited Germany and the Czech Republic and played in amazing concert halls. It was so fun to perform in other countries and visit them at the same time, and that was the first orchestra tour I ever went on.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love to be able to fly. It seems really fun to be able to see everything from above, and it would make transportation really easy!

Humans of SSO: Beatrice Choi

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Name: Beatrice Choi
Instrument: Violin
Major: Undeclared
Class of 2020

Beatrice is a freshman in SSO who is still undeclared about her major. This is her first year in SSO, but she has been playing in various other orchestras for six years.

Why did you start playing violin?
When I was younger, I saw a girl on TV playing violin in a competition. I thought it was amazing and really wanted to try it.

Why are you excited to go on tour?
Traveling is really fun, and so is playing music! What’s not to love?

What is your favorite SSO Memory?
My favorite SSO memory is meeting my wonderful stand partner Angela and all of the other amazing people in this orchestra. 

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
Honestly, I would love to be able to stop time. It would be so nice to nap whenever I wanted, and it would make doing homework on time so much more manageable!

Humans of SSO: Hannah Choi

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Name: Hannah Choi
Instrument: Cello
Major: Music and Political Science
Class of 2020

Hannah is a current freshman who plans to double major in Music and Political Science. She is assistant principal of the cello section, and this is her first year in SSO. However, she has been in various other orchestras for eight years.

Why did you start playing cello?
When I was younger, my mom had a cd of Mischa Maisky playing the Bach Suites. I always found myself listening to them, and I just had to play cello. There was really no other choice!

What else besides music are you interested in?
I really enjoy playing golf in my spare time! Like music, it takes a lot of practice, so I try to do it as often as I can!

Why are you excited to go on tour?
For one, I have never been, so I’m excited to explore a completely new place. Also, I am fascinated by its rich and interesting history, and I hope to learn more about it while I’m there.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love to be able to change the past. It would be so useful, plus I could go back and edit any embarrassing moments!

Humans of SSO: Jamie Tippett

Name: Jamie Tippett
Instrument: Bassoon
Major: Computer Science
Class of 2019

Jamie is a sophomore who is majoring in computer science. He has been a member of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra for two years but has been playing in an orchestral setting for five. Along with playing the bassoon, Jamie enjoys theater and is active in it on the Stanford campus.

How did you start playing your instrument?
I started off playing saxophone, but one day in my eighth grade band, someone told me “You look bored” and handed me a bassoon. It just took off from there! 

Why are you excited to go on tour?
I am excited to go on tour because we are going to Cuba. It seems like such a unique experience that I won’t get in any other place, and I think it is going to be very cool.

What superpower would you have and why?
Definitely the ability to manipulate air. Then I could not only levitate objects, I could fly as well!

Humans of SSO: Praveen Pallegar

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Name: Praveen Pallegar
Instrument: Violin
Major: Symbolic Systems
Class of 2020

Praveen is a freshman who is majoring in Symbolic Systems. Though this is his first year in the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, he has been playing violin in an orchestral setting for nine years. Fun fact: Praveen is fluent in 15 different languages!

Why did you choose to play violin?
I started when I was young, and at that point a lot my friends were playing violin too. I thought it looked fun and knew that there was a lot of repertoire, so I decided to try it out.

What is your favorite SSO memory?
I think that my favorite memory would have to be the retreat we went on in the beginning of the year. I met so many awesome people, and I think it really helped me get to know the other members of the orchestra.

Why are you excited to go on tour?
I’ve always loved collaborating musically with others, so I’m excited to work with a local dance studio in Cuba!

What superpower would you want?
I would love to be able to fly. It seems super fun and a great way to get from place to place without dealing with traffic!

Humans of SSO: Tyler DeVigal

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Name: Tyler DeVigal
Instrument: Cello
Major: Human Biology
Class of 2017

Tyler is a senior who is majoring in human biology. He has been playing in the Stanford Symphony Orchestra for the last three years but has played in various orchestras for ten years. He is artistic non-musically as well; Tyler enjoys painting in his free time.

Why did you choose to play cello?
I actually started with violin, but I found myself going crosseyed trying to play it. Then I found cello, realized it was far superior, and never looked back!

Why are you excited to go on tour?
One of my favorite parts about being in the orchestra for the past few years has been meeting all the amazing people. I am excited to go on tour with this awesome group and to share the experiences we’ll have with my friends.

What superpower would you have? 
I would want to be able to teleport, mainly just to skip traffic. Also, not having to deal with TSA at airports could be very useful.

Humans of SSO: Aaron Levett

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Name: Aaron Levett
Instrument: Violin
Major: Biology
Class of 2019

Aaron is a sophomore who is majoring in biology. He has been in SSO both of his years at Stanford, but he has been playing in other orchestras for ten years prior to coming here.

Why did you start playing violin?
When I was seven, we were at a family friend’s house. Their son was playing violin while we were there, and I thought it seemed interesting and fun. 

Why are you excited to go on tour?
I’m excited to go on tour because this will likely be one of my last opportunities as a musician to be able to travel to amazing places in an orchestral setting.

What superpower would you have and why?
I would want to be a super-violinist so I wouldn’t have to practice!

Humans of SSO: Tiffany Jiang

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Name: Tiffany Jiang
Instrument: Flute/Piccolo
Major: Biology and Music
Class of 2019

TIffany is a sophomore majoring in Biology and Music. This is second year in SSO, but she has been playing in orchestras for seven years and is also currently a member of the Stanford Philharmonia. Perhaps one of the sweetest girls you will ever meet, Tiffany never fails to make anyone smile.

Why did you start playing flute?
I chose to play the flute when I was young because it was the lightest instrument to carry around.

What makes your instrument the best instrument?
I think the flute is the best instrument because of all the different colors it can produce and its ability to make little kids smile (except for my little sister).

Why are you excited to go on tour?
I’m really excited to be able to explore new places this summer with the orchestra, and to help make music that we can share with others from different cultures.

Who is your SSO Crush?
Probably Hannah Thompson. Her outfits are just always so on point.

Humans of SSO: Haiwen Gui

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Name: Haiwen Gui
Instrument: Flute/Piccolo
Major: Computer Science
Class of 2020

Haiwen is a freshman who plans to major in computer science. This is her first year in SSO but she has been a member of both band and orchestra for nine years.

Why did you start playing flute?
I started playing the flute and piccolo ever since I went to a concert featuring the flute when I was a child. I love them both because they are the highest pitched instruments (especially the piccolo) so they are always audible in the orchestra.

What else besides music are you interested in?
I also really love to dance. I have been involved in both hip hop and ballet since I was young.

What is your favorite SSO Memory?
My favorite SSO memory was probably the retreat that we had at the beginning of the year. it was really fun to be able to interact with the orchestra outside of a rehearsal setting.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
I would like to be able to control minds. If you can do that, then anything is possible.

Humans of SSO: Léa Bourgade

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Name: Léa Bourgade
Instrument: Violin
Major: Psychology
Class of 2020

Lea lived in Paris for the first ten years of her life and is now a freshman majoring in Psychology. This is her first year in SSO, but she has already proved herself as one of the strongest violinists in the orchestra and currently serves as co-concertmistress of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra.

Why did you start playing violin?
My mother also plays the violin so I started playing when I was very young and have just continued playing ever since.

Why are you excited to go on tour?
I’m excited to go on tour because it is a chance for me to explore new plaes and to share music with people from a different culture. 

What is your favorite SSO Memory?
My favorite memory with SSO is probably laughing about the lyrics in Carmina Burana and playing with Chinese reflex bells in Blue Cathedral by Jennifer Higdon.

If you could choose one liquid to take a bath in, what would it be?
Probably herbal tea. Water is too basic but anything else would be really disgusting.