Frost Amphitheater

Throughout the pandemic—from shelter in place to the return of live performances—Stanford Live seeks to provide students with unique professional opportunities in the performing arts industry. Photo by Nikolas Liepins

Bridging the Arts and the Stanford Student Experience

As a university-based presenter, Stanford Live is committed to ensuring that the arts are integral to a Stanford education. Along with providing many points of access to performances, we create innovative opportunities for students to contribute their ideas and expertise to our programs. Our members help to support this important element of our educational mission.

One of our newest and most extensive student engagement efforts is the establishment of our Curatorial Fellowships program. We introduced this position in 2019 with a search for a graduate student to help develop our programs planned with Indigenous artists in 2020–21. Curatorial fellow Will Paisley helped our programming team select artists for the season and develop relationships with campus partners such as the Native American Cultural Center and the Stanford American Indian Organization.

With live performances on hold last season, Will created two podcasts: The Elders, featuring profiles of Indigenous LGBTQ+ elder artists from Australia, Canada, and the United States, developed with theater artist and choreographer Jacob Boehme of the Narangga and Kaurna Nations, South Australia; and R3 - Resilience in this Racing Reality, an interview podcast series with artists who had been scheduled for our 2020–21 season. Listen to the recently released episode featuring Anthony Hudson / Carla Rossi.

Former curatorial fellow Will Paisley produced a podcast series featuring Indigenous artists performing during the 2021–22 season. Current curatorial fellow Ramiro Maxeechoga Hampson-Medina created the podcast theme music, which was performed by Ramiro and Woesha Hampson-Medina (Ho-Chunk). Artwork by Jaden Redhair (Navajo)

Will also helped to mentor our second cohort of fellows in 2020–21, whose contributions were equally ambitious and creative. Grace Wallis, a co-term master’s student in Stanford’s interdisciplinary Earth Systems Program, produced Public Domain Cabaret, a video project developed in collaboration with Emmy award-winning composer Lance Horne and actress Lauren Elder. The project featured Stanford students performing songs that have recently entered the public domain. Songs that are approximately 100 years old offered students a chance to discover music that surrounded the Spanish flu of 1918 and revealed surprising similarities to our own pandemic experience reflected in these century-old songs.

Our most recent curatorial fellow, Ramiro Maxeechoga Hampson-Medina, is developing and extending the work Will did in connecting this season’s programs with Indigenous artists to Stanford’s Native American community. Ramiro helped craft our campus engagement programming for the remarkable recent residency with iskwē and has been developing engagement programs that will bring artists such as roots rocker Martha Redbone to gather with students and faculty at the Native American Cultural Center.

Our move to an online season in 2020–21 produced exciting new opportunities for students to join in creating our digital programming. Stanford’s renowned MFA Documentary Film and Video program was part of the creative team for the Stanford Live digital film series, allowing film students to join in the making of these acclaimed films.  

“Working on these socially distanced performances was a great opportunity for me to develop my skills editing in a professional setting,” commented MFA student Michael Workman, who edited five films in the series. “I deeply enjoyed the work and music. It was an amazing experience to be able to collaborate with such incredible musicians. Having paid work like this while in our program at Stanford was incredibly valuable to me. There are few paid opportunities, so getting a decent wage while in school was a great financial relief to me. I'm so thankful for my opportunity to edit these films.”

DJ Jessica Yeung, '21, also known as Vertigo, opened for Ric Wilson at the Stanford Concert Network (SCN) show on the Frost Amphitheater rooftop in October 2021. Photo by Kimberly Batdorf/SCN

We have a longstanding collaboration with the Stanford Concert Network (SCN), the university’s student-run concert producing organization, in which we co-present student-focused shows in the Bing Studio. SCN students are mentored by Stanford Live’s professional staff as they choose artists, create a budget, work with managers and agents, and liaise with our production, marketing, and program staff to plan and host the events. SCN shows often draw a sold-out house to the Studio and bring energetic new audiences to our venues. In addition to providing mentoring on professional production, these events often feature student opening acts who gain valuable performing experience.

We relaunched this series on October 14th, when Stanford Live and SCN co-presented innovative rapper and disco-funk musician Ric Wilson on the Frost Amphitheater Stage House Roof. This was the first concert of what we hope will be many on the roof at Frost.

New developments in our programs continue to bring new ways for students to engage. With the return to live concerts at Frost Amphitheater in summer 2021, we created a Live Music Industry Apprenticeship. The position goes well beyond a traditional internship and follows a structured curriculum of professional-level training, offering an unusual opportunity that introduces the many elements that go into producing prominent touring artists in a large venue.

The generosity of our Stanford Live members and donors allows us to create these opportunities for diverse students to discover career pathways and contribute to the future of the arts. To learn more about supporting Stanford Live’s Student Engagement programs, please contact Nicola Rees, director of development, at 650.497.4809 or