Stanford Announces New Leader for Stanford Live and Bing Concert Hall

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Stanford Live and Bing Hall have a new executive director, following the exit of Wiley Hausam at the end of October. (Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Goldberg)

Stanford has appointed Chris Lorway as the new executive director of Stanford Live and Bing Concert Hall, the university's main cultural presenting organization and venue.

The role is a key one on the Bay Area cultural scene: Stanford Live is one of the most well-respected university-based arts presenters in the United States, and the Bing Concert Hall, which opened in January 2013 and cost more than $110 million to build, is Silicon Valley's most prominent classical music venue.

Lorway comes to Stanford from his role as director of programming and marketing at Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto International Film Festival.  Before that, he was the executive director of Soundstreams, a Toronto-based music presenter of contemporary composers. Additional career credits include the Lincoln Center Festival, The New Yorker Festival, and Toronto's Luminato Festival, where he served as founding artistic director.

Chris Lowery, the incoming head of Stanford Live and Bing Concert Hall
Chris Lorway, the incoming head of Stanford Live and Bing Concert Hall (Photo: Courtesy of Stanford)

“As Stanford Live approached its fifth season, we sought leadership with a long-term vision," says Leslie Hume, co-chair of the Stanford Live Advisory Council, and co-chair of the search committee for Lorway's position. "A compelling depth and breadth of experience in performing arts presentation, an excitement about exploring an expansive diversity of music and a creative approach to engaging new audiences were key criteria."

Lorway is hopeful the university-based audience will have an appetite for challenging work. But he's also interested in maintaining a balance between difficult and more accessible art. "Every season has to be about balance," Lorway says. "You try to find things that are going to challenge your audience, but you also find things that you know are going to excite people, things that they really want to see."

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Lorway describes his approach to programming as one that might include balancing appearances by internationally-famed artists like cellist Yo-Yo Ma and comedian/singer Kristin Chenoweth, with lesser known, boundary-pushing creatives such as choreographer Larry Keigwin who recruits civilians to participate in performances. "That's a way of defining our region and articulating who we are as a people," Lorway says.

The incoming director also says he's keen to make use of the space outside the concert hall. "There are so many opportunities for the arts to spill out onto the campus to create unexpected encounters with art," Lorway says.

Lorway succeeds Wiley Hausam, who left Stanford last October. In the intervening months, Matthew Tiews, Stanford’s associate dean for the advancement of the arts, and Laura Evans, director of music programs, have kept things going at Stanford Live and the Bing Concert Hall.

Michael Zwiebach, editor of San Francisco Classical Voice, says "On the face of it, [Lorway is] a very positive choice. Stanford Live has been a bit lackluster for the past few seasons since the incomparable Jenny Bilfield moved on to Washington." He adds, "By resume and reputation, Lorway seems more like the kind of director who could develop a powerful artistic vision for the organization."

Lowery's tenure at Stanford begins in late summer, in time for the start of the 2016-17 season.