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New “Live Context” Series Illuminates the Stanford Live Season, Examining Haydn & Cultural Dynamics (Feb 13–15); Water Conservation (Feb 11–18); & Stanford’s Pioneering Role in the Development of the Personal Computer (March 12–April 3)

This Wednesday, Stanford Live introduces its expansive Live Context: Art + Ideas program, a collaborative new series centered around three key projects: Haydn – Patronage & Enlightenment (Feb 13–15), concerning culture and the arts in the late-18th century; The Nile Project (Feb 11–18), which explores water and sustainability with musicians from eleven Nile River Basin nations; and The Demo (March 12–April 3), a world premiere multimedia production based on Douglas Engelbart’s historic 1968 demonstration of early computer technology.

Embracing Stanford’s rich intellectual, artistic, and inquisitive culture, Live Context brings together artists, innovators, and thinkers to engage in an array of public events and lively conversations with leading minds at the university about the impulses that stimulate creative thought and expression. Live Context is inspired by the conviction that the more one knows about the ideas ingrained in a work of art, its historical context, and its contemporary resonance, the richer one’s experience of that art will be.

Given the university’s deep intellectual and artistic resources, “this is something Stanford can do like no other institution,” says Stanford Live’s Executive Director Wiley Hausam. “I am attracted to art that’s engaged with the issues that are going on in the world. This new series aims to fulfill one of Stanford Live’s missions – connecting great performance to the significant issues and discoveries of our time, and to all the brilliant people at Stanford who are leading the way in these areas. Only at one of the world’s great research universities can the performing arts be so deeply enriched by ideas being developed by great scholars and innovators.”

Haydn – Patronage & Enlightenment
The centerpiece of a yearlong exploration of the composer and the period, Haydn – Patronage & Enlightenment includes three performances of chamber, choral, and orchestral music featuring the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Stanford Philharmonia Orchestra, and Stanford Chamber Chorale (Feb 13, 14 & 15).

Complementing the main-stage concerts will be a two-day Haydn conference in the Bing Studio (Feb 14 & 15). Stephen Hinton, Stanford’s Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, professor of music, and director of the Stanford Arts Institute, has organized a series of talks by noted international scholars and performers. Participants will include James Webster (Cornell), Tom Beghin, (McGill), James Johnson (Boston University), Colin Bailey, (de Young Museum) and the St. Lawrence String Quartet, among others.

Full details of the conference and the accompanying concerts are available online at

The Nile Project
The second Live Context program presents The Nile Project, a musical collective founded in 2011 by Oakland-based singer Meklit Hadero and Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis. The performance features musicians from Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, and eight other Nile River Basin nations, who have come together to create a uniquely East African sound, and engage in a transnational conversation about the ecological sustainability of the river that’s essential to the lives of some 450 million people (Feb 18).

Preceding the evening concert, there will be a symposium on “Women of the Nile” (Feb 18); a lecture in the Green Library’s Bender Room titled “Mapping the Nile” by Grant Parker, a music-lover, associate professor of classics, and co-director of Stanford’s Center for African Studies (Feb 11); and other water-related discussions of particular relevance in drought-plagued California, including a pre-concert forum hosted by Barton “Buzz” Thompson, director of Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment (Feb 18).

The Demo
On April 1 and 2, Stanford Live presents the world premiere of The Demo, a multimedia extravaganza based on the historic 1968 demonstration of early personal-computing technology by the Stanford Research Institute’s Douglas Engelbart, which among other things introduced videoconferencing, networked collaboration, and a little device called the mouse. Created and performed by composers Mikel Rouse and Ben Neill, the piece uses music, light, and video projections to re-create Engelbart’s mind-bending demo and the Bay Area gestalt of the 1960s, and to reflect on how those now-ubiquitous technologies have developed and been put to use in ways he may not have envisioned.

To put the piece in context, Stanford Live has assembled faculty members and other prominent figures engaged with technology and Engelbart’s concept of “human augmentation” to talk about the scientific, social, and ethical issues involved. The highlight will be a public conversation at Bing, with the celebrated technology writer Jaron Lanier and with Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford researcher who founded Google X, which brought forth the self-driving car and Google Glass (April 2).

Prior to this, Stanford computer science professor James Landay, who specializes in computer-human interaction, gives a Green Library lecture about human augmentation (March 12). And following the premiere there will be a panel discussion on digital technology and creative practice (April 3).

Details of the Live Context events are provided below, and more information is available here. High-resolution photos may be downloaded here.

About Stanford Live
Stanford Live is Stanford University’s performing arts presenter and producer, committed to sharing, celebrating, and advancing the art of live music, dance, theater, and opera. Stanford Live unites acclaimed and emerging artists with the Stanford campus and greater Bay Area communities in a broad range of experiences that engage the senses and emotions, stimulate minds, and enrich lives. The organization values artistic vitality, learning, and an inclusive community. In addition to its home in Bing Concert Hall, Stanford Live also presents performances at other campus venues including Memorial Auditorium, Memorial Church, and Frost Amphitheater.


Stanford Live presents Live Context

Live Context: Haydn – Patronage & Enlightenment 

Feb 13, 7:30pm
Bing Concert Hall
Haydn Performance: Program 1
The St. Lawrence String Quartet performs works by Joseph Haydn with Tara Helen O’Connor, flute, and George Barth, fortepiano.

Feb 14, 9am–5:30pm
Bing Concert Hall & Studio
Haydn Conference: Day 1
Highlights include talks by James Webster (Cornell University) and a discussion recital by Tom Beghin (McGill University and Orpheus Institute).

Feb 14, 7:30pm
Bing Concert Hall
Haydn Performance: Program 2
Stanford Chamber Chorale, St. Lawrence String Quartet, Stanford Chamber Strings, and Stanford Philharmonia Orchestra perform Haydn’s Symphony No. 1 in D, Symphony No. 2 in E minor, and Missa in Angustiis (“Nelson Mass”).

Feb 15, 10am–5:30pm
Bing Concert Hall & Studio
Haydn Conference: Day 2
Highlights include talks by James Johnson (Boston University), Colin Bailey (de Young Museum), and the St. Lawrence String Quartet’s Why Haydn?, a lecture and performance.

Feb 15, 7:30pm
Bing Concert Hall
Haydn Performance: Program 3
Stanford Chamber Chorale, St. Lawrence String Quartet, Stanford Chamber Strings, and Stanford Philharmonia Orchestra perform Haydn’s Symphony No. 1 in D, Symphony No. 104 in D, and Missa in Angustiis (“Nelson Mass”).

Live Context: The Nile Project
Feb 11, 5pm
Green Library, Bender Room
Public Talk: Mapping the Nile
Stanford Professor Grant Parker uses rare maps from Stanford’s Special Collections to reveal various representations and perceptions of the Nile.

Feb 18, 12pm
Stanford Black Community Services Center
Panel: Women of the Nile – An Untapped Resource
Nile Project musicians and Stanford experts come together in a lively lunchtime talk about the roles women play in community water conservation in East Africa.

Feb 18, 5pm
Bing Concert Hall Studio
Conversation: The Harmony of Peace, Music, and Water
Nile Project founder and ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis leads a group discussion with Stanford experts in policy, ecology, and social change including Barton “Buzz” Thompson, Director of Stanford’s Woods Institute.

Feb 18, 7:30pm
Bing Concert Hall
Performance: The Nile Project
A pan-African percussion section drives the potent music of the Nile Project, a group focused on the ecological sustainability of that critical, history-rich waterway.

Live Context: The Demo

March 12, 5pm
Green Library, Stanford University
Public Talk: Enhancing Humanity with Technology
Professor James Landay of Stanford’s Human-Computer Interaction talks about historical pursuits in “augmenting the human intellect.”

April 1 & 2, 7:30pm
Bing Concert Hall
Performance: The Demo (world premiere)
The Demo is a technology-infused music and multimedia stage work based on Douglas Engelbart’s historic 1968 demonstration of early computer technology.

April 2, 5pm
Bing Concert Hall
Conversation: Our Digital Future with Jaron Lanier and Sebastian Thrun
Pathbreaking technologists and influential public thinkers Jaron Lanier and Sebastian Thrun pause to reflect on the realization of Engelbart’s pursuit of computer augmentation.

April 3, 12pm
Bing Concert Hall Studio
Panel: Augmenting Performance – Digital Technology and Creative Practice
A panel of contemporary artists and esteemed thinkers address how technology is transforming the way we conceive and make live art.

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© 21C Media Group, February 2015


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