Community Music Center Announces New Executive Director

CONTACT: Anne C. Mitchell, Marketing Coordinator
Community Music Center
(415) 647-6015 x86


New Executive Director brings an impressive array of skills and a passion for community music-making to one of San Francisco’s oldest arts organizations

San Francisco, CA (October 10, 2017) — Community Music Center, a 96-year-old Mission District-based nonprofit music school, has selected Julie Rulyak Steinberg as Executive Director after a CMC Board of Directors led national search process. Julie is CMC’s ninth Executive Director since its founding in 1921. She follows Christopher Borg, who served as Executive Director for six years.

CMC’s new Executive Director Julie Rulyak Steinberg (left) and Board President Barbara Kosner (right). Photo by Judy Rosenfeld.

“I am so excited to have Julie as our new Executive Director,” said Barbara Kosner CMC Board of Directors President. “The CMC Board was unanimous in their selection of Julie — her experience and dedication impressed all of us. Julie has spent her entire professional career in community music education, and it shows. As a musician herself, she communicates so well with all of our stakeholders — staff, faculty, board, students, and supporters. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and I am looking forward to a long and deep partnership between Julie and the Board.”

Prior to joining Community Music Center, Julie served as the Executive Director of Turtle Bay Music School in New York City. Turtle Bay Music School is founding member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education and one of the oldest and most reputable community music schools in the country. Prior to working with TBMS, Julie was the Managing Director of Cynthia Glacken Associates, a leader in nonprofit communications, strategy, and design.

“Becoming a part of CMC is one of the great honors of my life. When you walk through the doors of CMC, you can immediately feel the warmth and kindness that every member of the community exudes. Within these doors, and in our partnerships all over the city, harmonious (and sometimes cacophonous!) joy abounds. CMC is an exemplary institution providing access to every community member who seeks music and the arts as a tool of personal expression and progress, and a refuge from the pressures of everyday life. Places like CMC are rare jewels, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead CMC into its next century of service to San Francisco.”

Julie has an extensive background in fundraising and institutional advancement, and brings a wealth of experience in brand identity, strategic planning, and best practices for program development and sustainability. A sought-after expert in community arts education, Julie has served as a grant panelist for numerous organizations including the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York Times Company Foundation. She has also presented relevant topics and moderated discussions on arts education and nonprofit management at conferences and major universities throughout the United States.

Deeply committed to the expansion of community music-making, Julie trained with Third Street Music School Settlement and the National Guild for Community Arts Education while developing curriculum for a Community Music Education Master’s Degree program at New York University under the supervision of Dr. David Elliott. She is also a teacher of the Orff Schulwerk. Julie holds a B.M. and M.A. from New York University’s Steinhardt School for Culture, Education and Human Development.

About Community Music Center
Founded in 1921, San Francisco’s Community Music Center (CMC) is one of the oldest and largest community arts organizations on the West Coast. CMC makes high quality music accessible to all people, regardless of financial means. Last year, CMC awarded over $2 million in tuition assistance, serving more than 2,600 students of all ages, ethnicities and income levels with music lessons, classes and other programs. Thousands enjoyed performances at CMC and out in the community. Learn more at and follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Photo of Julie Rulyak-Steinberg
Community Music Center impact video

CMC on KDFC’s The State of the Arts

Jeffrey Freymann, host of Classical KDFC’s “The State of the Arts” visited Community Music Center’s Mission District Branch in April, and recorded this audio glimpse of CMC. Enjoy!

A look at the San Francisco Community Music Center’s branch in the mission, where students of all ages can take lessons and perform with ensembles.

CMC Older Adult Choir concerts on KTVU, KCBS

To celebrate the holidays, the CMC Aquatic Park Senior Center Choir gave a noontime concert at San Francisco City Hall on Monday, December 19. They looked and sounded great in the beautiful Rotunda, and they had a lot of fun! The choir was led by Beth Wilmurt and accompanied by Richard Daquioag. KTVU Channel 2 covered the event during their “Mornings on 2” program, and interviewed a choir member.
View the segment here.

KCBS Radio covered the year-end concert of the CMC Bernal Heights Older Adult Choir. Our favorite part of the segment? “Singers were raising the roof at Bernal Heights Senior Center.” Hands down. The choir sounded great, and definitely shared their holiday spirit that day. The singers are led and accompanied by Billy Philadelphia.
Listen here.

Field Day media attention: KTVU, SF Chronicle, Mission Local, and more!

Field Day at CMC, celebrating our founder Gertrude Field and 95 years of music for everyone, was a great success!

Thanks to everyone who made the day so special. CMC students, staff, faculty, board members, supporters and volunteers all came together beautifully to support our mission. Together we raised over $23,000 for scholarships at CMC!

Special thanks to our event sponsor, Piedmont Piano and our hospitality sponsor, Mambo Diablo Cafe.

View photos from the event.


Check out some great media coverage of Field Day:
San Francisco Chronicle Bay Area section (November 21, 2016): field-day-chron-november-21

Mission Local (November 21, 2016): Community Music Center Celebrates 95th Anniversary

KRON 4 online (November 20, 2016): SF Community Music Center Celebrates 95th Birthday

KTVU Channel 2 News (November 20, 2016): Clip 1Clip 2

San Francisco Examiner online (November 18, 2016): Mission District’s Community Music Center celebrates 95th birthday on Sunday

SF Chronicle Op Ed, “Music and programming: both creative performances”

Software engineer and CMC student, John Boggs, makes the music education and technology connection in an op-ed article published in the San Francisco Chronicle on November 13, 2015.

A bit of his compelling story:
Those who study music learn patterns: arpeggios, cadences, the blues form, etc. Then, they create something larger using those patterns, often visualizing the work through music notation. Programming is similar, except the patterns are things like “arrays” and “callbacks,” and the notation is code. There is no procedure for writing a sonata or a search engine: It’s a creative process that leverages exploration and experimentation. Both subjects have some theory, but what makes a great musician or programmer is largely good abstract reasoning and intuition for their field. Those skills are developed through practice more than study, and good music and computer science educators will tell you: “You have to do it, before you’ll understand it.”

Read the full piece here: 

Like technology, we believe that music connects us.

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El Tecolote: “Mission’s free Young Musicians Program preserves Latino culture”

Published October 8, 2015
By Hillary Smith
El Tecolote

Throughout the spring of 2015, students enrolled in the Journalism 575 Community Media class at San Francisco State University worked on a semester-long project in conjunction with El Tecolote titled “Growing up in The Mission.” The class was spearheaded by journalism professor Jon Funabiki, executive director of Renaissance Journalism at SF State. His students conducted interviews and reported on the neighborhood, to find out what it means to grow up in the Mission.

Instructors Tregar Otton and Martha Rodriguez-Salazar discuss songs for the rehearsal for The Mission Community Music Center scholarship program called the Mission District Young Musicians Program at the Mission Cultural Center on Oct. 3, 2015.
Instructors Tregar Otton and Martha Rodriguez-Salazar discuss songs for the rehearsal for The Mission Community Music Center scholarship program called the Mission District Young Musicians Program at the Mission Cultural Center on Oct. 3, 2015. Photo Beth LaBerge

For 17-year-old Josh Urrutia of San Francisco, music has been an integral part of growing up. It’s provided a community and a cultural anchor in the rapidly changing Mission District.

He’s found this fellowship in the Mission District Young Musicians Program (MDYMP). Here, kids ages 12 to 18 learn music, both from private lessons and as part of a performing ensemble. It is just one of the free music programs offered to kids by the San Francisco Community Music Center (CMC).

Launched in 2006 with the goal of enriching the lives of low-income youth, the full-scholarship program provides private music lessons and group lessons—90 percent of its students are Latinos.

“It’s very tight knit here,” Urrutia said. “Even with all the differences in age, interests and race.”

A Mission District resident, Urrutia has been a part of the program for three years and has played viola for about five. He values the connection he shares with the other young musicians.

Urritia’s high school, Urban School of San Francisco, also offers various types of music courses for free, but he prefers MDYMP because he feels at home. It’s also a space to celebrate his Latino heritage.

“We’re not all Latinos, it’s nice to see other people experience the Latino culture you’ve grown up with,” he said. “People who don’t speak Spanish are singing in Spanish.”

The music center is particularly important right now as the neighborhood’s demographics shift. More and more longtime residents—many of them Latino—are being pushed out due to rent increase and evictions. Some of Urritia’s friends from the Mission District were forced to move away to Berkeley and Oakland because of rent increases.

Still, the teen isn’t completely bitter about the adjustments.

“The gentrification that is happening is in one way cleaning the neighborhood,” he said. “But sometimes it displaces people. I’ve seen a lot of my neighbors go. It’s just different, both in a good way and bad. You just accept it, and go from there.”

In this transition period, the program offers a cultural anchor for Latino children and their families. Martha Rodriguez-Salazar, coordinator of MDYMP, believes this is one of the main reasons the center is so relevant.

“The value is enormous,” Rodriguez-Salazar said. “Especially because in our program we are teaching the kids how to play Latin music. The majority of them were born here and have parents from Latin America, so having a place where they are learning about their parents’ music helps them to identify with their roots.”

Rodriguez-Salazar also noted that the majority of students in MDYMP would be unable to afford music lessons since they come from low-income families.

Luis Angel Flores, 15, who plays the violin, said the program has helped him grow as a person and offers a space for kids to learn instead of making trouble on the streets. Flores had been unable to join the music programs at Mission High School.

His teachers said the music courses at MDYMP would distract him from his school work, however, the violinist said he prefers MDYMP.
“I enjoy this program more,” he said. “I feel at home. I can interact with people really well, they make me feel welcome.”

Percussionist and guitarist Aminta Guevara, 18, graduated from the program last May, but said practicing music with other youths in the area gave her a time and place to do what she loves for free. Being on a tight budget, she would have been out of luck if the lessons and performances weren’t available, she said.

“We have to work really hard for it [money],” Guevara said. “Everything in the Mission is becoming more expensive, like food.”
Fruit carts she has frequented over the years have upped their prices for the produce. Guevara considered applying for a job at a trendy shoe store in the Mission, but refrained because she felt the staff looked down on her, which made her uncomfortable.

But a place where Guevara does feel extremely welcomed is in the music classes, and like Urrutia, she appreciates the celebration of Latin culture.

“We just play Latin music,” she said. “I don’t really hear a lot of that, so it just feels good.”

Learn more about CMC’s Mission District Young Musician Program.

SF Chronicle: “At 95, he plays the violin — and builds them, too”

95 year-old CMC student Remo del Tredeci picked up the violin at age 76 and hasn’t stopped playing since! He also happened to teach himself to build violins and has donated about 100 of them over the years.  Each week, he studies with his violin teacher Tregar Otton and rehearses with a CMC string ensemble led by Loretta Taylor. He also keeps up an impressive practicing routine.

Community Music Center is proud to play a part in two out of the four secrets to longevity he shared in today’s article: twice-weekly golf games, regular music lessons, participation in an orchestra and “a brandy Manhattan cocktail every day before dinner time for 50 years. Just one. No more than one.”  Read his story from the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Datebook section!

Read article by Beth Spotswood

SF Chronicle: “Community Music Center a constant amid Mission District change”

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Marisa Lagos’ feature article about Community Music Center describes our deep roots of service in San Francisco and our exciting plans for the future. It appeared on the cover of the Bay Area section of the Sunday, November 30, 2014 paper.

Read Community Music Center a constant amid Mission District change on SFGate!

Photo: Brant Ward for The San Francisco Chronicle