Adriana Marcial
Adriana Marcial

Adriana Marcial, who has served as interim executive director since August 2020, has been appointed executive director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC). Working closely with Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, Marcial will oversee strategic planning and operations for SFGC and the Chorus School, according to the announcement,

For the first time in its history, SFGC will be led by two women of color — Marcial is Mexican American, Sainte-Agathe was born in Martinique — with rich professional experiences as both practicing artists and non-profit arts administrators.

Adriana Marcial
Adriana Marcial

“Despite the many challenges and obstacles we have faced over the past year, the San Francisco Girls Chorus has thrived under the leadership of Adriana Marcial,” said Board President Mary Ruppert. “With a steady hand, creativity, and adaptability, Adriana has expertly guided the organization and proven the natural abilities and instincts required to lead SFGC into the next phase. The decision to make this addition permanent was unanimous.”

Sainte-Agathe added: “Our artistic and educational offerings have been of the highest quality during the course of the pandemic and this would not have been possible without Adriana Marcial’s partnership and passionate support. I am delighted that she has been chosen as our next executive director and I look forward to building upon the important work that we have started together.”

Marcial told SF Classical Voice she has been long impressed with the Chorus’ well-known atmosphere of inclusion, “the place where we are accepted for who we are.” Another, potentially conflicting SFGC distinction is “a history of rigorous education,” the imposition of discipline, which may appear different from “creating spaces where all are welcome,” but these are reconciled.

“Young people are asking big questions, they have big expectations,” Marcial said, “and our job is to listen, probably change some ways, but always get the work done.”

Valérie Sainte-Agathe and the San Francisco Girls Chorus | Credit: Ben Tomlin

Marcial has worked in the performing arts for close to two decades, both as a performer and an arts manager. Before joining the Chorus, she was executive director of the Joe Goode Performance Group.

The pandemic struck a few months after Marcial joined the Chorus and it presented an unprecedented challenge to an organization losing its two essential activities: rehearsals and performances. “We continued to manage, shifting overnight to Zoom,” Marcial recalls. The first live performance wasn’t until November, with Opera Parallele, but through all the time of uncertainty and hardship, SFGC faculty, students and their parents stayed with the organization, and membership remained around 380.

Adriana Marcial at SFGC event
Adriana Marcial at a pre-COVD donor event | Credit: Carlin Ma

“I truly believe in the power of the artistic voice, and so I am thrilled to partner with Valérie in creating a place for young people to discover their voice on the stage and in life,” Marcial said. “I have been humbled by the strength and resilience of the SFGC community over the last year, and I am so proud of what we've achieved. I look forward to continuing to further the organization’s incredible work.”

The Chorus’ recent highlights include a fully-staged choral music and dance co-production with Berkeley Ballet Theater, featuring two world premieres by Angélica Negrón and Aviya Kopelman, commissioned and co-commissioned with the Israel Institute, respectively; a debut appearance at San Francisco’s renowned Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in collaboration with Kronos Quartet.

SFGC at Fort Mason
One of SFGC's virtual presentations at the Fort Mason Flix drive-in, June, 2021 | Credit: Elaine Robertson

There was a prepandemic tour of England and France that featured six performances in London, Windsor, Cambridge, and Paris; debut performances in February 2018 at Carnegie Hall alongside Philip Glass and the Philip Glass Ensemble; and an April 2017 debut performance, with The Knights, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras.

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