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S.F. Organizations Play Musical Chairs

March 5, 2019

Having settled questions of succession at numerous Bay Area art organizations, the only constant remains change elsewhere, viz.:

Festival Opera named Eman Isadiar as its next executive director, as announced by Artistic Director Zachary Gordin and Board Chair Susie Hanson.

Isadiar is well known to the artists and musicians of Festival Opera, having worked with Michael Morgan at the Bear Valley Music Festival for the past several years and headed the Fremont Symphony. “His collaboration in several other opera and ballet productions will help us extend our work and programming with partners in the community,” says the announcement.

“I am proud to join one of the region’s leading professional opera companies and am especially excited to help realize this July’s production of Susannah — an American tale of feminism and courage,” Isadiar said.


At Schola Cantorum, Buddy James will succeed Music Director Gregory Wait on July 1, when Wait retires after 30 seasons.

Wait greeted James’s appointment by calling him “an accomplished musician and consummate educator with all the requisite skills you need as an artistic director, and a particularly good fit for Schola because he’s all about fostering and building community.”

James is Professor of Music at California State University, East Bay where he serves as Chair of the Department of Music and the Director of Choral and Vocal Studies. He was the founding director of the School of Arts and Media and earned the “Outstanding Professor” award at two universities where he taught.

“As Schola’s Artistic Director, I hope I can carry on the tradition of success set by my predecessors, particularly Gregory Wait,” he said. “I hope to bring new ideas about repertoire and how to reach the community, and my enthusiasm of choral music as a vehicle to bring people together.”


The San Francisco Early Music Society (SFEMS) has appointed Derek Tam the organization’s new executive director, succeeding Harvey Malloy, who served from 2009 until his retirement last fall.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, it is my great honor to welcome Derek Tam,” said Board President Joyce Johnson Hamilton. “Derek has achieved broad regional and national recognition both as an early music specialist on the harpsichord and fortepiano, and as a conductor and music director.

“The search committee was impressed with Derek’s knowledge and passion for historically informed early music performances, his demonstrated leadership skills and his acumen for the financial management of an organization such as SFEMS.”

In demand as a conductor and historical keyboardist, Tam performs regularly in the Bay Area and elsewhere. He has appeared recently with Ars Minerva, Bay Pointe Ballet, the First Church Festival Orchestra, Oakland Ballet, and the Oshman Family JCC. Tam has also performed with leading period ensembles such as Voices of Music and Musica Pacifica and has served as principal keyboardist for most of the professional symphonies in Northern and Central California. 

Tam is also a founding member and harpsichordist, and occasional conductor, for MUSA, a San Francisco-based Baroque chamber ensemble. His fortepiano trio, the Costanoan Trio, performed at the 2018 Early Music America Emerging Artists Showcase.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].