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Conservatory of Music Showcases Ambition in Season Kickoff

September 24, 2019

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music stages its Kick-Off Weekend beginning on Friday evening. You could camp out all weekend and just hit up the local joints for food. Or, if you’re a planner, you might want to consider the totality of what SFCM is offering this season — much of it for free — and calendar the must-hear events. That way, your significant other won’t call in a missing person report.

Under the leadership of the Conservatory’s president, David Stull, the institution has been expanding its offerings as well as its physical presence downtown, so there are more musicians to hear from. But the ambition to tackle artistic challenges remains the same as ever. The highlights for Kick-Off Weekend are the Guitar Department recital on Friday evening. Among the highlights, department chair David Tanenbaum and the Del Sol String Quartet play a world premiere by Ronald Bruce Smith, Tomb(er), Marc Teicholz plays Sergio Assad’s Un bouquet pour Julia (2019), student Sebastian Robles sees the premiere of his Garden (2019), Tanenbaum, with soprano Ann Moss and flutist Jessie Nucho play Rain (2010, rev. 2019) by Anna Thorvaldsdottir. The guitar department continues to fly high and garner accolades.

On Saturday at noon in Miner Auditorium, the Roots, Jazz and American Music (RJAM) students conclude a three-day residency at SFJAZZ alongside SFCM faculty members Carmen Bradford, David Sanchez, Steve Davis, Mario Guarneri, Jason Hainsworth, and Simon Rowe, with a concert of originals and jazz standards.

Later, at 7:30 in the Caroline Hume Concert Hall, it’s the turn of the SFCM New Music Ensemble under its director Nicole Paiement. The conductor’s career has taken off in the last five to seven years, and though she is fresh off conducting the premiere of Jake Heggie’s If I Were You at the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco, the world is competing for her services. If a star conductor showed up at SF Symphony, you’d go check out her concert. Well, this star conductor is performing for free at SFCM, in a program of nature-themed works by Olivier Messiaen, Toru Takemitsu, Laura Schwendinger, and John Luther Adams.

Sunday at noon in the Sol Joseph Recital Hall, the voice department gives a song recital, at 5 p.m. in the Osher Salon Corey Jamason leads the SFCM Baroque Ensemble in Elizabethan music, and then, at 7:30 in the Hume Hall, the relatively new Technology and Applied Composition Department delivers the results of a collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in a performance about climate change. Students and faculty wrote custom software to translate historical climate data and predictive data models into electronic instruments and musical parameters. With this as the seed, the musicians created compositions that explore this issue through sound.

And lest we forget about the concerts to come, keep these in mind:

  • Oct. 18: SFCM Orchestra, Edwin Outwater, conductor. Shostakovich, Fifth Symphony; Rachmaninoff, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Jung-eun Kim ‘20, piano

  • Oct. 23: Telegraph Quartet, Haydn, Quartet Op. 77/ 2; Alban Berg, String Quartet No. 3; Benjamin Britten, String Quartet No. 2.

  • Nov. 7: San Francisco Contemporary Music Players Master Class. Unusual, therefore interesting.

  • Nov. 10: Techapella, a showcase of a cappella ensembles featuring employees from the Bay Area tech industries.

  • Nov. 15: Deborah Voigt, masterclass. She knows whereof she sings.

  • Nov. 21/22: Mozart’s The Impresario and Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos prologue, in concert performance.

  • Dec. 6/7: She Turns the Tide: Musical Theatre About Women, By Women (Musical Theater Workshop).

  • Dec. 13: SFCM Orchestra, Joseph Young, conductor. Julia Perry, A Short Piece for Small Orchestra, Nicholas Denton-Protsack '19 (Highsmith Competition Winner), Visions of a Flaxen Sea, Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 1

  • Dec. 14: RJAM with SFJAZZ at the Joe Henderson Lab, with Steve Davis, trombone, and Edward Simon, piano.

NB: Corey Jamason was incorrectly identified as Jacobson in the original version of this story. We regret the error.


Michael Zwiebach is the senior editor/ content manager for SFCV. He assigns all articles and content, manages the writing staff and does editing. A member of SFCV from the beginning, Michael holds a Ph.D. in music history from the University of California, Berkeley.