Stephen M. Sano, Professor at Stanford University’s Department of Music, assumed the position of Director of Choral Studies in 1993. At Stanford, Dr. Sano directs the Stanford Chamber Chorale and Symphonic Chorus, where he has been described in the press as “a gifted conductor,” and his work as “Wonderful music making! ... evident in an intense engagement with his charges: the musicians responded to this attention with wide-eyed musical acuity.” Other reviews have lauded, “It is difficult to believe that any choral group anywhere is capable of performing better than the Stanford chorus under the direction of Stephen M. Sano.”
Dr. Sano has appeared as guest conductor with many of the world’s leading choral organizations, including in collaborative concerts with the Choirs of Trinity College and St John’s College, Cambridge; the Joyful Company of Singers (London); the Choir of Royal Holloway, University of London; the Kammerchor der Universität der Künste Berlin; and the Kammerchor der Universität Wien (Vienna). He often appears as guest conductor of the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra in its collaborative concerts with the Stanford Symphonic Chorus, and has served on the conducting faculty of the Wilkes University Encore Music Festival of Pennsylvania. He has studied at the Tanglewood Music Center and is in frequent demand as a master class teacher, conductor, and adjudicator in choral music. To date, he has taught master classes and conducted festival, honor, municipal, and collegiate choirs from over twenty states, as well as from England, Austria, Germany, Canada, Australia, and Japan.
On Stanford’s campus, Dr. Sano’s accomplishments as a leader and educator have been recognized through his appointments as the inaugural chair holder of the Professor Harold C. Schmidt Directorship of Choral Studies and as the Rachford and Carlota A. Harris University Fellow in Undergraduate Education at Stanford University. He was also the recipient of the 2005 Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. Dr. Sano's recordings with the Stanford Chamber Chorale have twice appeared on the Grammy Awards preliminary ballot in the category "Best Choral Album." His choral recordings can be heard on the ARSIS Audio, Pictoria, and Daniel Ho Creations labels.
Outside of the choral world, Dr. Sano is a scholar and performer of kī hō‘alu (Hawaiian slack key guitar), and an avid supporter of North American taiko (Japanese American drumming). As a slack key artist, his recordings have been nominated as finalists for the prestigious Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award and the Hawaiian Music Award. His recording, "Songs from the Taro Patch," was on the preliminary ballot for the 2008 Grammy Award. Dr. Sano’s slack key recordings can be heard on the Daniel Ho Creations and Ward Records labels.
A native of Palo Alto, California, Dr. Sano holds Master’s and Doctoral degrees in both orchestral and choral conducting from Stanford, and a Bachelor’s degree in piano performance and theory from San José State University. He has studied at Tanglewood Music Center and with Mitchell Sardou Klein, William Ramsey, Aiko Onishi, Alfred Kanwischer, Fernando Valenti, and Ozzie Kotani.