In the News

Check out some of the reviews of Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Philharmonia:

“SSO captured the mood from the start with a mysterious motif in the strings; this accompaniment was perfectly balanced with solos from the wind section… The ensemble’s technical brilliance only grew more apparent as Sano led the group, creating joyous crescendos and lyrical, expressive melodies. The SSO, [Stanford Symphonic Chorus] and soloists truly captured Brahms’ intellectual complexity and musical prowess with their performance.”

– Stanford Daily, March 6, 2015 [link to full review]

The Catalina Islander highlighted the Stanford Symphony Orchestra’s visit to Avalon High School’s music class, part of the SSO’s schedule leading up to the annual Holiday Symphony Concert at Catalina Island Museum. “This was a chance to meet young musicians on the island and to introduce them to our instrument groups,” said conductor Anna Wittstruck. “The horns talked about the history of their instrument, the oboes played Christmas duets, and a string quartet raced through Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusic.

The connections made during that morning were invaluable. Due to the small size of Avalon High School, its music class is not able to sustain a string section. For the first time, many students were able to experience playing a violin, viola, or cello. “It was really interesting to see the different types of people that make up the orchestra and the kind of mindset they have,” said Avalon High School senior Susanna Savitt. “They were so ambitious and driven… It was cool to get to know what such a prestigious college was looking for in their students.”

– Catalina Island Museum, March 6, 2015 [link to full review]

“The [Stanford Philharmonia] drilled through Haydn’s lean and hungry scoring with compelling flow. The slow movement… had a vivid dynamic push.”

San Francisco Classical Voice, February 19, 2015 [link to full review]

“SSO brought impressive clarity in articulation and entrances, with Cai coaxing an exquisite balance between instrumental sections and contrasting melodic lines. From the persistent, ominous pulse of ‘Mars, Bringer of War‘ to the lumbering, ponderous chords of ‘Saturn, Bringer of Old Age,‘ the orchestra performed as a cohesive unit, pulling back and moving forward together through majestic, soaring phrases and staccato scales.

The ensemble’s brilliant technique was particularly evident in the opening of ‘Mercury, the Winged Messenger,’ in which the players bolted rapidly through lively scales, remarkably clear and splendidly playful in this capricious movement.”

– Stanford Daily, February 4, 2015 [link to full review]

“These are students pursuing two paths in their lives, with their musical skills on such a high level they would be welcome in any professional orchestra anywhere… the young orchestra players performed with admirable skill, both as ensemble musicians and as skilled principals and soloists – flutist Darien French-Owen, clarinetist Jeff Wolfeld, oboist Steven Robles and several others played some fine solos.”

– Peninsula Reviews, May 13, 2013 [link to full review]

“Cai’s control here was impressive — guiding his players through the many tricky entrances, holding back the tempos to fill a well of passion. As the horns sustained their final notes in this slow movement, the timpanist put his ear to his drumheads, quietly re-tuning them for what was to come: Nakamatsu’s breakout into the finale, with its dancing rhythms. This was something to witness.”“Conductor and orchestra tapped into Beethoven’s drama and forward thrust, driving through those final triumphant chords, and the audience jumped to its feet to cheer this first ‘Beethoven Project’ event.”

– San Jose Mercury News , January 19, 2013 [link to full review]

“Its highlight was a stunning performance of Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloe” Suite No. 2 by the Stanford Symphony Orchestra under former Cincinnatian Jindong Cai The orchestral sound was a blend of richness and also clarity. Every pizzicato of a string, every flourish of a flute or harp, popped out of the texture clearly. With the addition of Ravel’s wordless chorus, the effect was luxuriant.”

“Another ensemble, the Philharmonia Orchestra (founded by Cai) delivered a sublime performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ ‘Serenade to Music’ with the Choral Union. It was clear that every nuance was possible in this space.” 

– (Cincinnati Enquirer), January 18, 2013 [link to full review]