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Stanford Symphony Orchestra Autumn 2019


  • Performance medium: orchestra concert
  • Orchestra: Stanford Symphony Orchestra
  • Concert name: Transcontinental Railroad 150th Anniversary 1869-2019
  • Date and time: Friday, November 15, 2019, 7:30 PM
  • Location: Bing Concert Hall
  • Conductor: Paul Phillips
Composition Title Composer(year of birth – year of death) Style Period
Short Ride in a Fast Machine John Adams (1947-today) Contemporary
Symphony No. 2, Op. 19 Samuel Barber (1910-1981) Contemporary
Transcend Zhou Tian (1981-today) Contemporary
An American in Paris George Gershwin (1898-1937) Contemporary

Description of Works

Short Ride in a Fast Machine is a minimalistic orchestral fanfare, brightly scored for a big orchestra, and characterized by a steady marking of a beat. During 5 minutes, this work features repetition, steady beat, and a harmonic tempo with an accent on consonance. Despite its minimalism, this piece is full of dynamic shifts from loud to soft. It charms with sonority and explodes with lively energy and excitement.

Symphony No. 2, Op. 19 is a 28-minute work, which consists of three movements, designed to simulate the feeling of flying. The overall mood of the symphony is characterized by disobedience, suspense, and edginess. The symphony consists of three movements, the first of which has a slow-moving rhythm, changing to a faster tempo. The second part starts with a slow and mournful sound of an English horn solo, leading to an anxiety-ridden climax, and ending with a clarinet imitating the sound of a radio signal. The third movement is full of tension and release, which creates a sense of energy. This part is characterized by the changing dynamic levels, leading to the silence before the storm, which ends in a major key.

A 23-minute work Transcend consists of three parts, each of which gives a feeling that is both personal and public. The intimate parts are intertwined with the epic passages, bringing the darkness and lightness as if moving through a tunnel on a train. The first movement starts with a quiet rhythm, which slowly grows and eventually bursts into a fast pulse. The loud poundings bring a feeling of anxiety and tension. The second part has a meditative mood, led by a lyrical woodwind solo combined with a Chinese melody. The third movement is characterized by the so-called Morse code rhythm, in which the combination of dots and dashes form a thrilling tone.

An American in Paris is a 19-minute rhapsody, the symbol of which is the sound of four electric horns imitating the beeps of Parisian taxi drivers. It can be defined as program music, which means an instrumental work with a particular story and a scene without dance or narration. This danceable and free-flowing piece offers a variety of tones, opening with a cheerful melody soon changed to the taxi beeping. Brasses alternate with clarinets to express a busy street melody. Melancholy blues, which occupies the central place, change to dotted rhythms of alternating short and long notes.

Concert Environment

Bing Concert Hall is a concert hall at Stanford University, where the orchestra concert took place. It seems a perfect venue for the large performers like the Stanford Symphony Orchestra. This concert hall amazes the audience with its beauty, high-quality light, and acoustics. The hall has 842 seats arranged in a circle, surrounding the stage, which significantly improves the audience’s experience. The musicians are dressed in black, which helps them look good and correspond with the music. Black suits and dresses express a special attitude to classical music.

General Reaction

In general, it was really exciting to listen to the Stanford Symphony Orchestra Autumn 2019. However, I always prefer being a member of the audience rather than a virtual viewer. With its impressive acoustics and intimate atmosphere, a live concert cannot be compared to a virtual one. Only a live concert can suit a true connoisseur of music. On the other hand, you can listen to the recording more than once, repeat it, and enjoy its charm once again. Although I like attending live concerts due to the unique atmosphere, there are also advantages to being a virtual listener.

Work sites

Stanford Symphony Orchestra Autumn 2019 – Entire Playlist. Web.

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Work Cited

"Stanford Symphony Orchestra Autumn 2019." StudyKraken, 26 Aug. 2022,

1. StudyKraken. "Stanford Symphony Orchestra Autumn 2019." August 26, 2022.


StudyKraken. "Stanford Symphony Orchestra Autumn 2019." August 26, 2022.


StudyKraken. 2022. "Stanford Symphony Orchestra Autumn 2019." August 26, 2022.


StudyKraken. (2022) 'Stanford Symphony Orchestra Autumn 2019'. 26 August.

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