Stephen M. Sano, Professor of Music, Harold C. Schmidt Director of Choral Studies, and current Chair of Stanford Music Department, assumes directorship of the Stanford Chamber Chorale and the Stanford Symphonic Chorus. Under the Chamber Chorale’s former director, Dr. William Ramsey (also Sano’s advisor), the ensemble became more integrated and institutionalized by bringing together various ad hoc and student choral groups, such as the Madrigals. The Chamber Chorale’s repertoire exhibits a vast historical and geographical expanse, from medieval western chants to contemporary Hawaiian songs. During his first quarter as Director, Sano organized a multi-faith liturgical concert, “Music for the Spirit.” One of the program highlights, Ernest Bloch’s Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service), featured the Stanford Symphonic Chorus, Peninsula Orchestra, and international vocal soloists. Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann, Associate Dean of Religious Life, appeared as the recitant. For the Memorial Church Centennial service in 2004, Sano directed the Chamber Chorale alongside the renowned Flamenco guitarist Paco Peña in the Misa Flamenca (i.e. Spanish mass).
Sano received training in orchestral and choral conducting, piano, and performance theory at Stanford and San Jose State Universities. He has served on the conducting faculty of the Wilkes University Encore Music Festival of Pennsylvania, and regularly appears as guest conductor of the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra. The Chamber Chorale and Symphonic Chorus have performed with the Allis Scholars, Joyful Company of Singers, Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, Chatham Baroque, the National Gallery of Art Chamber Players, and the Kronos Quartet. They have toured abroad in Japan (2000, 2010), Canada (2002), England and Wales (2003), Hawaii (2004), Germany and Austria (2005), and China (2008). Commenting upon the Chorale’s “Voices of Christmas” CD recording (1999), Dr. John Bertalot, Choirmaster Emeritus of Blackburn Cathedral, describes the ensemble as “…a tour de force of choral technique [that] gives me unbounded delight.” The Chorale’s September 2012 album, “Illumine: Christmas at Stanford,” has qualified for a Grammy in five categories.
Stanford alumnus Julian Kusnadi (B.A. 2011, M.A. 2012) reflects upon his enlightening experience with the Chamber Chorale: “One of the roles of a college music department is to educate the aspiring musician or music lover and to nurture a fuller appreciation for the art – in the classroom, in the rehearsal room, and in the concert hall. How a college music ensemble tailors its mission to encompass both pursuits can be tricky business, and parallel struggles can be seen across many if not all other disciplines.” According to Julian, the Chorale has achieved this goal through by means of several factors: “One is certainly the generosity of donors, who enable the group to perform in incredible venues and participate in unforgettable tours. Another is the Music Department’s conscientious adjusting of its mission to appeal to and inspire a Stanford community with impossibly diverse intellectual and professional goals. And the big one, certainly, is the captainship of its director, Professor Stephen Sano – ‘Steve.’ The Chorale community keeps coming back for more because of the environment Steve creates for the group, and that environment has led to powerfully effective musical performances, yes, but also fosters a burning love and ambition that I was unable to find equalled in other groups during my time on the Farm.”
Bio: Dr. Stephen M. Sano – Professor of Music, Harold C. Schmidt Director of Choral Studies, and presiding Chair of the Stanford Music Department. He directs the Stanford Chamber Chorale and the Symphonic Chorus.
Featured image: Stephen Sano conducts in the Memorial Church