If there’s a soundtrack to Stanford, sophomore Nick Burakoff and senior Freddy Avis are writing it. This year, the duo (along with co-director Manolis Sueuga, who couldn’t make it to our interview) are leading the university’s Stanford Concert Network (SCN), a musical juggernaut with a hand in everything from small EBF concerts and music rental services to the iconic Full Moon on the Quad and Frost Music Festival. And while Burakoff and Avis trade asides about obscure EDM artists during our interview, their vision is closer in scale to Major Lazer.
When Avis quips, “we have a lot of momentum,” it’s an understatement. The Network is fresh off of turning out a massive crowd for Stanford’s perennial Frost Music Festival, snagging Post Malone for the recent “Fallout” concert and a funding victory that leaves them in unexpectedly good financial standing. “I think we’re gonna be a much more active organization this year,” says Burakoff. “We have a lot of exciting things in the works,” adds Avis – and though he studiously avoids spoiling other projects, he does let me in on one: a new initiative called Stanford Studio Sessions, through which SCN will partner with FM radio station KZSU to record and stream live sets of student artists.
The new effort represents one of SCN’s top priorities: to help student artists expand their reach and connect with a broader audience. But the Network, especially under its new management, sees itself as more than a facilitator. Burakoff explains, “SCN is one of those groups that’s really trying to give back and add to the student experience,” especially by building a “diverse musical atmosphere.” Avis contributes, “if you think music is an important part of campus life, SCN is at the front of that effort.” For the small team that runs this massive organization, managing the concert experience isn’t just about music. It’s public service.
The vision might feel pretentious without a reflection on past experience. But the success and 4,000 plus attendees of last year’s Frost Festival suggest that Stanford Concert Network has both the skillset and the demand to shape campus life. Under the ambitious management of Burakoff, Avis and Sueuga, it’s poised to be bigger and better than ever. Asked if last year’s success has produced worryingly high expectations, the pair is dismissive. Avis responds, “it should help us drive this year’s show.” Burakoff adds, “If anything, I’m worried about how to build off that platform and just go higher.”
You can contact Joshua Seawell at jseawell ‘at’ stanford.edu.