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April 23, 2012

Stanford's Frost Amphitheater roars back with Modest Mouse on May 19

The beloved and storied Frost Amphitheater stage will once again host the artists of the day. Following in the footsteps of Ellington and Fitzgerald, Jefferson Airplane and Joan Baez, and – over and over – the Grateful Dead, a new generation of musicians and fans will come together this spring at Frost, thanks to a strong partnership between university administrators and students.

By Robin Wander

This 1999 photo shows the Frost Amphitheater with the old band shell, which was later removed. (Photo: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service archives)

Much attention has been paid to the ongoing construction of Stanford's Bing Concert Hall and the development of the Stanford arts district on either side of Palm Drive, but there hasn't been much chatter lately about the Frost among the trees. Virtually hidden by a mature grove, but clearly visible via a Google satellite map next to the concert hall construction site, the mostly silent Frost Amphitheater will be revived on May 19.

Student body favorite Modest Mouse will headline an afternoon concert that also features Eyes Lips Eyes and Benjamin Francis Leftwich.

Tickets for the concert go on sale at noon today, April 23, through the Stanford Ticket Office on the second floor of Tresidder Union, and online. Stanford student groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $18. Single Stanford student tickets are $20, Stanford affiliate tickets are $30 plus fees, and general public tickets are $40 plus fees.

Just like in the old days, blankets and picnics are welcome on the slope. Leave your chairs and large coolers at home. Vintage Frost fixtures Tom and Mary Dallas won't be there to sell fruit, but food and soft beverages will be available for purchase. No hard stuff at this alcohol-free event.

Music consumption and production

Music consumption on the Stanford campus is at a high level, which means that adding one more venue to the mix is a great idea. "What I love most about Stanford is that students have eclectic tastes in music. You can walk from house to house on the Row and hear everything from modern electronic dance music to bluegrass, indie rock to hip-hop," said Stephen Trusheim, '13, one of the organizers of the Frost Revival. "When we thought about Frost, we wanted to let Stanford and the entire Bay Area experience rock the way rock was meant to be experienced – in a beautiful, open, outdoor venue surrounded by your closest friends."

The production of music on campus is not limited to students who major or minor in music, as most of the 28 performance ensembles comprise students from other departments and schools. But for those who are studying music, Stanford offers academic programs in music performance, composition, theory, conducting and history, and is home to one of the most prestigious computer music centers in the world, the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics.

Historic Frost

Frost Amphitheater is one of more than a dozen venues for live music on campus, but the history and folklore surrounding the place make it uniquely attractive to musicians with any sense of reverence. The student concert organizers said that after reading about Frost and its rich history, Modest Mouse excitedly agreed to perform. "Not only was Modest Mouse one of the highest-ranked artists on our student survey, but they loved the story behind the venue and our event and are excited to be a part of it," said Emily Pollock, '13, the lead director of the Stanford Concert Network (SCN), the student organizers of the Frost Revival.

Funded by the parents of John Laurence Frost, '35, who died of polio at age 23, just a few months after graduating, Frost Amphitheater opened in June 1937.

The 20-acre site was designed by Leslie Kiler, '24, to echo the California foothills seen from campus – thus the slope. Residents of Frost include a wild turkey and a handful of hawks.

When Frost wasn't hosting the university's commencement ceremonies from 1937 to 1983, it was hosting the music of the day: Arthur Fiedler and the San Francisco Symphony, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Jefferson Airplane, the Chambers Brothers, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Santana Blues Band, Tower of Power, Elvin Bishop, Miles Davis, Joan Baez and, famously, the Grateful Dead. The last major academic-year concert at Frost was Mos Def in 2006.

The year of the partnership

Frost Amphitheater has long been on the radar of the Office of Special Events and Protocol (OSEP) and the Office of Public Affairs, which has produced annual summer concerts in Frost over the past 12 years. But it was only within the last year that a new production model, combining more technical and event planning support to students, and the Vice Provost of Student Affairs, Student Activities and Leadership and the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education came together to help make a major Frost concert possible.

Elaine Enos, the executive director of OSEP, saw this as an exciting opportunity to partner with students in spearheading the project while using relationships with vendors to help make the production and financing more achievable. "To produce any concert in Frost is challenging in the best of times," Enos said. "The university definitely supports student concerts returning. This great project taps into our mutual goals of reviving an important campus tradition and allows us to say: Frost is back!"

Pollock describes seizing the moment for the Frost Revival. "The Stanford Concert Network has been wanting to bring larger-scale artists to Stanford and revive Frost as a useable space. Within the last year it suddenly seemed as though everyone was on the same page. We've received a huge amount of support from the students and the university – we had to take advantage of the opportunity."

"We're very excited to bring back Frost in a big way and have people experience the venue – some for the first time – in the way it was meant to be experienced," adds Alberto Aroeste, '13, co-director of SCN and one of the many stakeholders in this ambitious endeavor.

The list of sponsors includes the Stanford Concert Network, the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU), the ASSU Graduate Student Council, Cardinal Nights, the Office of Special Events and Protocol, Student Activities and Leadership, and the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.



Elaine Enos, Office of Special Events & Protocol: (650) 725-9784,

Emily Pollock, Stanford Concert Network:

Stephen Trusheim, student organizer:

Robin Wander, Stanford News Service: (650) 724-6184,

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