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Stanford Collaborative Orchestra charms Lakeside diners

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Stanford Collaborative Orchestra (SCOr) — Stanford’s only student-run, conductorless symphonic ensemble — made a splash last night at Lakeside Dining Hall. Under the chandelier in front of Lakeside’s main hall, the ensemble charmed audience members with their impressive repertoire. 

Gabby Rincon ’24, SCOr’s current co-producer alongside Amy Youngyoon Seo ’22, spoke in particular about the uniqueness of the group. As a co-producer, her role is to recruit musicians who play “diverse instruments not typically found in large ensembles” to collaborate on the group’s performance.

“Everyone nominates a piece and afterward we anonymously vote for pieces to play for each quarter,” Rincon said. “Everyone is a leader in a sense,”

SCOR’s concert last night started with “Bruckner’s Overture in G minor,” which featured strings at the forefront; violinists (Amy Youngyoon Seo ’22 & Nathan Sariowan ’24) and violists (Elena Critelli ’25 & Zach Benton ’25) boasted their musical prowess as the section led the audience into a landscape of wonderment. The violas’ ascending arpeggios elevated the symphony as the music reverberated through the hall. The piece’s highlights were the solo from the sonorous trumpet (Justine Sato ’24) and the perfect delivery of melodies from the talented flutes (Lauren Schlick ‘22, Vardaan Shah ’25, Carrie Chen ’24 & Julia Chen ’24), bassoon (Rohan Sanda ‘25) and clarinets (Arturo Hernandez ’25 & Michael Atkin ’23). The powerful strokes from the string section brought the work into a grand finale as the piece concluded in a sweet cadence. 

In its final piece, SCOr’s pianist (Peter Li ’25) crafted a magical invitation into “Howl’s Moving Castle” through his rendition of the theme. He quickly became the backbone of the conductorless group as the chords and melody breathed life into the high-ceiling hall. Cellists (Gabby Rincon ’24 & Tae Kyu Kim ’25) created a steady backdrop to the song, sculpting depth into the performance. The flute and clarinet sections passed the main tunes as listeners ventured further into the euphonious journey. Finally, the concertmaster’s short but sweet solo provided the audience with a glimpse into his virtuosity as the steady progression of the string sections accompanied the group into its closure. 

Penelope Wright-Cotera ’25, an audience member, wished the performance was longer. “I asked for an encore, but they did not provide,” she said jokingly in anticipation of SCOr’s next performance. 

Many were surprised to see how well the group sounded without a conductor, a concert “leader” that many are taught is integral to large ensemble performances. “[SCOr’s] members were communicating with each other with nods and eye contact to keep their tempo; that takes teamwork, and [it’s] impressive in the same way an a cappella group is able to perform on their own,” remarked Akshar Sarvesh ’25, an audience member and Fleetstreet singer. 

Clementine Chou ’20, a SCOr alumnus who was in the audience, told the Daily more about why she loved her experience with SCOr: “Without a conductor, we rely on and actively listen to each other; I think that fostered a strong sense of community and collaboration. If you are looking for a tight-knit, quirky, collaborative group of musicians that values community as much as music-making, this is definitely the group to join.” 

Chou still misses her time at SCOr, now that she has graduated. “[SCOr] is like one giant curry, and every member brings their own spice.”
The ensemble will open up for auditions in the winter quarter.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.

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Bhumikorn Kongtaveelert '25 is a writer for the Arts & Life section. Contact The Daily’s Arts & Life section at arts ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.