Stanford Live hosts student cabaret at Bing

Nov. 1, 2013, 12:35 a.m.

I hurried into Bing Concert Hall last Monday evening, a characteristically college-student-esque four minutes late. In the lobby, a staff of ushers guided kids down a polished marble staircase.

“Don’t worry folks, we’re holding for 10. Programs can be found downstairs outside the studio,” one of them said as I passed. “And be sure to check your skateboards in the patron cloakroom.”

The evening’s event was the first-ever Bing Studio Sessions, a self-proclaimed “student cabaret” presented by Stanford Live. Held in an intimate rehearsal studio space next to the main stage, it was a decidedly different event for Bing, whose stage is usually frequented by world-renowned musical and artistic acts, often from outside the University.

Instead, this was a night dedicated to celebrating that often unsung talent everyone at Stanford seems to have: the talent that is heard rising from the piano in your house lounge at 2 a.m. while everyone is asleep, echoing in quiet shower singing or whispering behind the modestly closed doors of the neighboring dorm room.

The evening’s program was ambitious, long and wide-ranging, covering everything from classical string duets to rap. Scattered throughout were several regular, expected acts on the arts circuit, like Mixed Company, Alliance Street Dance and the Stanford Improvisers (SImps), that each delivered enjoyable versions of the same material for which we know and love them.

But the most delightful aspects of the program came from student artists who haven’t been seen, or at least haven’t been highlighted, before.

Standouts in this category from the evening included freshman singer/songwriter Jackie Emerson ’17, who sat at her piano to perform an original song, “Glass Fire in a Jar” with the sultry jazz tones of an Adele disciple; the acoustic guitar duet by Zach Saraf ’15 and Kyler Blue ’15 that demonstrated a spellbinding ability to ease between cheerful and eerie chords, driving tempos and lilting backbeats; and Joel Chapman ’14 who sang (beautifully, I might add) an original song about what he called “that thing when you ask a girl or guy out, but it’s only in your head,” sending the audience into hoots and hollers and reminding us how electric and interactive the nature of cabaret can be.

The atmosphere was filled with warmth, admiration and excitement throughout the entire evening, and I applaud Stanford Live and the Bing Studio Sessions for providing us with another reminder that the pursuit of arts in student life at Stanford matters. I’ll be attending next season’s session, no doubt about that.

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