Frost Amphitheater

Treemonisha, one of Stanford Live's co-productions for the 2019-20 season, features themes of strong female leadership and its impact on community.


by Chris Lorway & Laura Evans

The intermingling of art and politics has always been a complex coupling that divides critics and proponents. The former suggest that political art is often bad art and that this mix should be avoided. The latter argues that a key role of the artist is to reflect a society back upon itself and that political context and content is a crucial part of this storytelling process. Regardless of which side you end up on, it is hard to deny that political ideas are historically infused into many of the artistic works that have made up—and continue to populate—the canon.

As the United States enters another election cycle and countries around the world both grapple with internal division and jockey for international dominance, artists once again find themselves at the center of this discourse. In some instances, they make work that celebrates national cultural ideals, which often becomes repurposed by governments as vehicles for soft power. In others, artists take overt political stances in either support of or in defiance of a current regime.


Hann's Eisler's The Hollywood Songbook will be performed on December 6 & 7 at Bing Concert Hall.


These ideas and their artistic manifestations served as the ingredients in assembling Stanford Live’s 2019–20 season. Once again, we have curated a multidisciplinary series that explores the intersection of art and politics. The domestic work we have chosen addresses issues around civil rights, culture wars, McCarthyism, and female political leadership. On the international side, we included work from countries with distinct geo-political relationships with the US, including Russia, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea. In particular, we have highlighted a range of contemporary work from China that we hope will provide insight into the complexities of this global superpower.


Yang Liping's Rite of Spring will be performed on February 21 & 22 in Memorial Auditorium.


Throughout this brochure you will see a collection of political images and stories, including a series of iconic posters from the Hoover Instituton’s world-renowned collection of political art. Over the course of the season, we plan to leverage the amazing faculty and student resources on campus to both contextualize the work and bring it to life.

This season also marks another milestone for Stanford Live. In the summer of 2019, we will officially re-open the Frost Amphitheater, one of the most beloved venues on campus. New partnerships with Goldenvoice and the San Francisco Symphony will ensure we host top artists at Stanford. Our hope is that this space will once again facilitate historical gatherings of the Stanford and South Bay community and be the source of lasting memories for a new generation. We can’t wait to show it off!



Finally, this year’s stellar artist line-up includes Lang Lang, Joshua Bell, Laurie Anderson, and Rhiannon Giddens alongside returning favorites Rob Kapilow, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and the St Lawrence String Quartet. And even more performances, including our popular Bing Studio series, will be announced in the coming months.

We look forward to going on this exciting artistic journey with you. View 2019–20 Season Calendar.