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.

CMC Selects Yamaha CFX Piano to Offer Students, Audiences and Artists an Exemplary Experience

SAN FRANCISCO (January 16, 2017) — Founded in 1921, Community Music Center (CMC) makes quality music education accessible to all in the San Francisco Bay Area through classes, tuition free programs and public performances with renowned musicians. They recently acquired a Yamaha CFX Concert Collection Grand Piano for their Mission District concert hall stage, and Canadian virtuoso pianist Marc-André Hamelin presented a “Concert with Conversation” on the instrument in late October through CMC’s partnership with San Francisco Performances.

A search committee comprised of members of the CMC piano faculty, board and staff conducted a thoughtful selection process and considered several pianos before unanimously selecting the superlative nine-foot Yamaha CFX piano.

“We determined this piano was the best option available to accommodate and support the varied requirements and musical interests of our students, faculty and professional pianists,” says Christopher Borg, executive director of CMC. “In short, we’re thrilled and are very happy with our choice.”

The Yamaha CFX concert grand piano possesses a wide palette of tonal colors and the most expressive and subtle nuances which allow it to project over the sound of a symphony orchestra. This skillfully handcrafted instrument is the crowning glory of the Yamaha line of pianos, representing the culmination of numerous refinements in performance and appearance designed to achieve the highest standards of excellence.

The CFX will be used for public concerts in Community Music Center’s 130-seat concert hall and as the centerpiece of a new recording studio. The award-winning Venezuelan pianist and Yamaha Artist, Edward Simon, lives in the Bay Area and is a member of the SFJAZZ Collective. He prefers this CFX for regional concert appearances and recorded his most recent two CDs on it as well. Simon anticipates using it for recording sessions in the new CMC studio once the facility is completed.

The official unveiling ceremony of the Yamaha CFX was held on November 20 during CMC’s annual Field Day celebration honoring their founder, Gertrude Field. Field established the school to be “a provider of music that is not art for art’s sake, but art for life’s sake.” Field Day featured music for everyone with free performances, workshops and lessons at CMC’s Mission District Branch, and the school’s inaugural “Performathon” from noon to 5 p.m. Highlights included performances on the Yamaha CFX with the CMC Field Day Orchestra and CMC Field Day Choir.

“At the time the piano arrived, we knocked on the studio door of a 12-year old student who was having a lesson and invited him to be the first member of our community to play on this beautiful instrument. After hearing him play just a few measures, we felt confident in our decision that we had chosen the right piano, for the way it sounds and grand presence were engaging the full attention, excitement and musical sensitivity of the student,” Borg adds.

Over the past quarter century, all pianos acquired by CMC have been new Yamaha instruments from Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland. CMC has purchased several Yamaha P-22 and U1 upright pianos and a number of digital keyboards for their practice rooms, as well as a Yamaha C2 grand piano. Acquisition of the CFX and a number of other Yamaha pianos was made possible by a generous gift from Piedmont Piano Company’s former CFO, Don Oestreicher, who included the CMC in his will.

For more information about Yamaha pianos in educational and institutional settings, please visit


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

CMC Boosts Tuition Assistance Programs to $1.9 Million

Approaching nearly a Century of Service, CMC continues to touch thousands of lives each year with the joy of music; Founder Gertrude Field to be honored during November 20 community celebration

SAN FRANCISCO, November 14, 2016 –
Operating from a bustling Victorian home on Capp Street in the Mission District, bursting at the seams with music students and faculty, Community Music Center has remained faithful to its 95-year-old mission: To make high quality music programs available to San Francisco residents of all ages, regardless of their financial means.The organization is taking that commitment to higher levels, announcing it will provide nearly $2 million for tuition assistance this school year to bring music study within reach for more people. That figure is up from $1.1 million just three years ago.According to Christopher Borg, Executive Director, “the growth in tuition assistance is due in large part to an increased need and a higher demand for quality, affordable music programs for people of all ages in our community. By boosting our tuition assistance, we hope to touch more lives and introduce students young and old to the joys of music, which is exactly what our founder, Gertrude Field, was passionate about nearly one hundred years ago.”

Gertrude Field’s legacy remains very much alive at Community Music Center. She will be honored at Field Day at CMC on November 20, a celebration expected to attract hundreds of current and former students, families and community supporters for a fun-filled day of musical performances, demonstration classes, entertainment and food.

Field, who started the organization in 1921, was a former nurse, violin teacher and settlement house worker. She directed CMC’s programs until 1946, guided by a straightforward educational philosophy that still resonates today to create a musical atmosphere in the home by giving children the means of expression. Her vision was to be a provider of music that was not art for art’s sake, but art for life’s sake, once saying, “how beautiful, rather than how well played or sung, is the comment one hears oftenest in our classes.”

Over the years, this powerful mission has touched countless lives as CMC continues to grow, thrive and serve an increasingly diverse constituency. Last year, more than 2,400 students studied music at CMC in a wide array of programs, classes, workshops, and community events. Thousands more attended free concerts, performances by acclaimed visiting artists, instrument “petting zoos,” and many other events. CMC offers lessons on over 30 instruments to its students, who range in age from infants to nearly 100 years old. Their musical growth is guided by a faculty of 130 noted professional artists, Grammy Award-winning musicians and nationally recognized teachers. Many are bilingual, and teach in a wide range of styles including jazz, blues, Latin, pop, folk, rock, and classical.

“Through my connection at Community Music Center and my music teachers, I found a new kind of joy in my life,” says Nena Aldaz, a 20-year-old singer who now studies music at UC Irvine. Aldaz was a scholarship recipient during her six years of study at CMC, participating in the Mission District Young Musicians Program. “CMC’s teachers and staff helped nurture my dreams to sing and with the scholarships I received, they gave me the tools to pursue a career that I love.” Nena will return to CMC to sing at the Field Day celebration, along with her two aunts who perform in CMC’s Older Adult Choir program.

Remo del Tredici, a 96-year-old CMC violin student added, “CMC is one of San Francisco’s greatest gems. CMC has so many programs and opportunities; they will work with you to make sure you experience the highest quality of music available. CMC’s community spirit and mission keeps all of us coming back.”

Tuition assistance at CMC consists of sliding scale fee reductions, free programs for youth and for older adults, merit scholarships, family and senior discounts, group class discounts for private lesson students, and a work study program. Free programs include CMC’s Older Adult Choir Program, the CMC Children’s Chorus, Teen Jazz Orchestra, and the award-winning Young Musicians Program.

Students from many of these programs, along with other current and former students, will be featured during Field Day on Sunday, November 20 from noon to 5:00 p.m. Community Music Center is located at 544 Capp Street in the heart of the Mission. The birthday extravaganza will feature CMC’s first-ever “Performathon,” where more than 200 students, guest artists and music enthusiasts at all levels will help raise money for CMC scholarships with more than 70 performances throughout the day.

About Community Music Center: Founded in 1921, San Francisco’s Community Music Center (CMC), a Bay Area nonprofit, is one of the oldest and largest community arts organizations on the West Coast making high quality music accessible to all people, regardless of financial means. CMC, based in the Mission District, was established to “be a provider of music that is not art for art’s sake, but art for life’s sake.” CMC serves more than 23,000 people each year, including more than 2,400 students of all ages, ethnicities and income levels who enjoy music lessons, programs and concerts at no or low cost.  Learn more about CMC at and follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Media Contact: Kevin Herglotz

HPA Strategic Communications


Interview with Tregar Otton, CMC Faculty Member

Tregar Otton began teaching at CMC in 2000, and in the 17 years he’s been here, has become more and more involved as a CMC faculty member. Tregar now teaches fiddle and violin at both branches, leads CMC’s Cuban Salsa Ensemble, and teaches and arranges for CMC’s Mission District Young Musicians Program, Camp CMC, and our new Mariachi Program in the San Francisco public schools.

Tregar began his classical training at age four. At sixteen, he was the youngest member of the Berkeley Symphony and played under Maestro Kent Nagano. Tregar has been performing professionally since then. He is now musical director of Orquesta la Moderna Tradición (a Cuban “orquesta”) and The Shams Eire (an Irish trad/rock group). Tregar performed for decades with Potaje (Flamenco/Latin ensemble), and Los Cenzontles (Mexican trad and modern music). Tregar has performed and toured with various Flamenco dance troupes in including La Tania and Theatre Flamenco. He has also worked in New York with Chocolate Armenteros, Patato Valdes, Juan Carlos Formel, and Orquesta Broadway.

Tell me about your musical life. What’s led you here?

I grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, where I would guess that about 50% of the population had Tejano or Mexican roots. There was a lot of Mariachi music there, and a group practiced in the garage beneath our apartment for a spell. I listened to a lot of country and folk music at that time – we played it around the fire. I started playing violin early, at four years old, but I studied only classical music then. We moved to Laguna Beach when I was in junior high, then to San Francisco for high school, where I went to School of the Arts (SOTA).

As I started to learn Spanish in high school, I began listening to salsa more seriously. But I really loved classical music as a teenager. I was heavily into the opera. I would buy standing room tickets at least ten times a year and I’d bring the scores. Mozart and Italian opera were my favorites. I met Kent Nagano when I was in the Oakland Youth Symphony (OYS). He took me under his wing and became my mentor. I wrote a concerto for drum set and string orchestra for the OYS when I was 16. It was after that that Nagano asked me to join the Berkeley Symphony.

The Berkeley Symphony played a lot of new music, and I think this made me more more curious about other styles of music. For example, we once played a “Zappa ballet” with Frank Zappa and his family. I ended up spending the next summer at the Zappa household in LA. After practicing my violin for hours every day for weeks, Frank finally brought me into his studio to show me a few things.

The first time I played dance music, I got hooked. Most of the music I really like is dance music. Even the jazz music I like is swing. The audience is taking part in the music and you know if you are doing a good job. I started playing Cuban Music in a class led by Guillermo Céspedes at La Peña Cultural Center, then I played in Conjunto Céspedes.

What draws you to Irish and American traditional music you play? And to Latin music?

Well, I do have some Welsh and Irish in my background, but I don’t know if that’s why I’m drawn to the music. I have always looked elsewhere for my musical influences.

When it comes to Latin music, I love how music of the Americas is so inter-connected. Salsa music in the 70s in New York was sung in Spanish by immigrants but there were always gringos involved, too. They came together through common musical interests and I was drawn to that. The music was different from that of my heritage, but I have come to call it my own.

Also, Cuban music is one of the only musics that uses violin like a percussion instrument. It’s part of the rhythm section. I always wanted to be a percussionist, so this music really resonated with me.

Tell me about your teaching style.

I believe that you have to teach the instrument first (in my case, the violin), then dive into genres. That said, I often use traditional American music as exercises in which students can learn technique. Fiddle music was really made for the fiddle, but it is also sometimes good music for classically oriented students to start with. Using a classical method, I can draw from trad repertoire. I like to say, “Fiddle music sounds hard, but is easy to play. Classical music sounds easy, but is hard to play.”

Also, my style of teaching prioritizes having fun from the start. I like to get people playing songs as soon as possible, especially kids.

We know that your oldest student, Remo del Tredeci, is now 97. He’s been in the news several times! Tell me about what it’s like to teach students of different ages.

I love working with a variety of ages. My students range from 7 – 97 years old, and I find that each one has something unique to work on.  I try to tailor the lessons to each student’s needs, and often write out exercises or pieces that address them. The physical limitations that some older adults face can make them as challenging to work with as youngsters. For example, they may have arthritis. But my older adults are more willing to do the work in order to accomplish a goal, especially students in their 80s and up. Young children may not have developed motor skills yet, but a wonderful thing about teaching children is that they don’t have expectations that get in their way like adults sometimes do. I think teens like the real-ness of playing of instrument, which is nice to be around.

Back to Remo, I feel honored to be in the same room with him. We’ve had a weekly lesson for at least 15 years now. I love hearing his opinions and his stories. We have a pretty good friendship now.

What is the essential ingredient for making a CMC education powerful?

It’s hard to reduce it to one, but if I had to, it would be the love of music. Having a love of music yourself, and instilling a love of music in our students is really important.

CMC Expands Successful Older Adult Choir Program

Innovative program now offers ten choirs in partnership with senior centers across the city with the inclusion of choirs in Bernal Heights, Castro and Marina neighborhoods

SAN FRANCISCO (Oct. 13, 2016) Community Music Center (CMC) is expanding its successful Older Adult Choir Program in San Francisco by including three new choirs at senior centers in the Bernal Heights, Castro and Marina neighborhoods. With a total of ten choirs, this innovative program brings the many personal, social and quality of life benefits of making music to hundreds of seniors in the city each week.“We’re excited to expand this wonderful program and bring the joy of music into the lives of more seniors in our community,” said Chris Borg, executive director, Community Music Center. “It’s amazing to see the positive impact singing and rehearsal time can have on the well-being of choir members.”The Older Adult Choir Program began five years ago when CMC began to partner with senior centers to provide music opportunities for older adults. It has grown to include ten choirs and serves a diversity of communities throughout San Francisco. The program is free for any older adult ages 55 and up, regardless of musical background or experience. The choirs provide a unique way for seniors to learn about singing, form new friendships, perform in community concerts, exercise, and improve their quality of life. The choirs perform at various community concerts throughout the year touching the lives of thousands of attendees.

“Working with our senior choirs has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my sixteen years at Community Music Center,” said Martha Rodríguez-Salazar, director of three of the CMC choirs. “You can see the immediate benefit in their lives as choir members learn how to sing, meet new friends, exercise and learn new breathing techniques and take better care of themselves.”

The senior centers participating in the program include: The 30th Street Senior Center, Bayview Senior Services, Mission Neighborhood Center, the Western Addition Senior Center, el Centro Latino de San Francisco, the Richmond Senior Center, OMI-Catholic Charities Senior Center, the San Francisco Senior Center at Aquatic Park, the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center and the Castro Senior Center.

“I used to be introverted, always trying to avoid people. Music helps me release a lot of emotions,” said Francisco Sanchez of the CMC Solera Singers of the Mission Neighborhood Center. “All my life I dreamed of being a singer. Now I have my dream come true at my age, showing it’s never too late.”

The music sung in the program reflects the interests of each community and is chosen by the individual choirs. It includes Gospel, jazz, Latin American, show tunes, folk songs, oldies and Americana, among others. Two of the ten choirs are taught bilingually in Spanish and English, and one also sings in Tagalog.

Maxine Jones, who sings with the Bayview Older Adult Choir said, “It’s nice to get together as a group and sing. As seasoned adults we all get along so great and we really all enjoy performing in our community; it gives us a sense of purpose and we feel really good seeing the happiness it brings to others.”

“It’s gotten me out of the house more and helped me form new relationships and friendships which have just really added to my life” said Estela Moreno, who sings with the CMC 30th Street Chorus of 30th Street Senior Center.

CMC’s Older Adult Choir Program has grown as choirs have cycled out of the Community of Voices research study, a three way partnership between UCSF, Community Music Center, and the Department of Aging and Adult Services, supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging. The study examines whether singing in a community choir is a cost-effective way to promote health and well-being among culturally diverse older adults.

“These choirs give seniors something to look forward to. They bring people together in their community,” said Shireen McSpadden, executive director of the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services.

“The transformative power of that is truly amazing.”

“These seniors find a community within the choir, they find a place to belong, a place where there’s love,” added CMC Older Adult Choir co-director Nola Curtis. “I’ve had singers tell me this is the reason they get up in the morning because when you come to choir, you are part of something bigger than yourself and there is something very healing that takes place through singing and performing together.”

The Older Adults Choirs are directed and accompanied by CMC faculty in partnership with the participating senior centers. A complete list of schedules, locations and sign-up instructions, along with a video documentary about the program, can be found online.

The Community Music Center was founded in 1921 with the mission of making music accessible to all people, regardless of their financial means. Celebrating 95 years as one of the oldest and largest community arts organizations on the West Coast, CMC offers classes for people of all ages, abilities and interests and financial aid to all who need it. CMC serves more than 23,000 people each year, including more than 2,400 students of all ages, ethnicities and income levels who enjoy music lessons, programs and concerts at no or low cost.  Learn more about CMC at and follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

# # #


Media Contact:    Kevin Herglotz
HPA Strategic Communications



Meet Ricky Lomeli, Associate Registrar at CMC’s Mission Branch

Ricky Lomeli is CMC’s new Associate Registrar. He is also a drummer, a pianist, a teacher, and a composer. Read on to learn more!

Q: Where did your musical journey begin?

Well to start, my mom is a naturally musical person and a really talented singer. I recently heard her singing karaoke at a party and was reminded of what a great voice she has. I think she inspired me early on.

I actually started playing an instrument in the fifth grade. I was interested in the saxophone, but the rental was too expensive. Snare drum sticks were $5, so the rest is history! I was a big band nerd. I loved marching band and was the leader of the drum line my senior year of high school. I actually started composing for the first time in this role.

In high school I started playing shows in a ska band. We played every weekend for about a year and a half. We wrote all of our own music, and ended up being pretty big (amongst our friends, anyway!). I loved the feeling of doing something creative and seeing people enjoy it.

Since then, I’ve played in four other groups that played original music, and a lot of pick-up groups. I grew up in Rohnert Park in Sonoma County, so there were a lot of winery gigs to play.

One more thing: the main reason I stuck with drums was that my dad told me he had always wanted to be a drummer, but didn’t have the means (this was a year or two into my playing). I was already driven, but this fact became and continues to be a huge driving force in my development and inspiration: knowing I was getting this opportunity my dad couldn’t have and he had made possible for me by coming to this country.

Q: What are you up to musically now?

My main project right now is called Cabbagehead. We are a jazz sextet and we play compositions we’ve worked on together over the years. They’re friends from college who played my senior recital with me. We actually just recorded our first album! We’re releasing it next month. I was trepidatious about starting an Indiegogo campaign and asking friends for support but we got completely funded in 48 hours.

We have a single on bandcamp.

You can check out my music and my other projects on my website.

Q: I see that you are also a drum teacher. How does this experience help you in your role here at CMC?

Well, it’s made the transition to this job as easy as it gets. I am now in a community of people I’ve always been a part of, in away. I’ve always surrounded myself with artistic folks. CMC is a solid community and it seems like people really know each other here. I’m on the front lines at the front desk, so just dove right in!

Q: What do you like about teaching?

I’ve received so much help and guidance as a musician, so being able to give back to someone else is really gratifying for me. Music has really guided my path mentally and spiritually. I wouldn’t be who I am if it weren’t for music.

Connecting with a young spirit is amazing, too. I like helping kids express themselves. I had a five-year old student named Zoe who wrote her own drum etudes and named each of them after animals. We recorded them together during our last lesson together.

I was teaching four days a week up in Sonoma County before coming to CMC. I recently moved to Oakland just north of Lake Merritt in order to work here. I’m now focusing on practicing and writing my own music. I hadn’t had a chance to do that since high school!

Q: What was it like to perform in our Performathon early on in your time here?

It was awesome! The Performathon felt really representative of what CMC is all about: it seemed 100% about making connections with people of all ages, all sorts of people, in one place, on one day, performing together. That was so cool.

I played percussion during the grand finale, “Ode to Joy,” and had never rehearsed with the choir before that night. I was amazed at how well it went. I also didn’t realize how many people in the upstairs office are musicians!

One last thing: I loved being in the “Registrar drum section” with Linda Hitchcock on tympani.

Q: Do you have any other interests besides music?

Spirituality was a big part of my life as a kid, and I’ve come back to it now by exploring Eastern philosophy. But really, it’s pretty much just music for me.

Announcing 2017 Shenson Faculty Concert Series Grant Recipients

Each year, The Shenson Foundation sponsors four free community concerts at CMC. The following faculty members and their ensembles were selected by a committee of musicians from CMC’s Board of Directors. Stay tuned for concert announcements from these winning projects!

Zina Bozzay and Vadalma
vadalma-2016Vadalma (“Wild Apple”) is a collaborative project led by Zina Bozzay with Matthew Szemela and Misha Khalikulov (son of CMC piano faculty member Lilia Zheltova) that creates vibrant, intimate arrangements of traditional Hungarian folk songs. Zina sings songs directly from village traditions in Transylvania, Moldavia, Transdanubia, and other parts of the Carpathian Basin, and the musicians integrate both traditional and original accompaniment to frame these rich melodies. Learn more at

Zina Bozzay – voice
Matthew Szemela – violin
Misha Khalikulov – cello


Lauren Cony: A Trio of Trios by Women Composers
LibertyTrio-webIn light of our recent presidential election which bumped but did not shatter the glass ceiling for women, The Liberty Street Piano Trio finds it particularly relevant to perform trios by women composers. Their selection of composers spans two centuries, from the 1800’s to the present day. Historically, many women composers were overshadowed by their male counterparts, and their works have not been performed with as much frequency as is deserved. It is time these women receive equal play time, and that audiences hear their wonderful and strong voices. The program consists of trios by works by Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847), Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979), and Lera Auerbach (1973).

Josepha Fath – violin
Poppea Dorsam – cello
Lauren Cony – piano


Richard Fey: A Classical Cabaret
Baritone Richard Fey will entertain and educate, primarily senior citizens in their residences. The repertoire contains operatic arias: Mozart, Leoncavallo, Verdi and Korngold. Also included are musical theater groups and historic art songs literature. Fey employs costumes to enhance the theatrical aspect of the performances.

Richard Fey – voice
Britt Day – piano


Elyse Weakley and the Hurd Ensemble
Hurd EnsemblePerforming original music by San Francisco-based composer George Hurd, The Hurd Ensemble, in a broader sense, unifies the worlds of electronic and classical music, but leaves the door wide open for numerous other styles. Rarely making one genre more dominant than the next, the sound world they create exists because almost everything is equal, nothing being so sacred it has to kneel before the rest. By reaching this balance, a new synthesis is born where originality flourishes and gives rise to music that stands apart, welcoming whatever ideas it needs in order to realize itself.

Wrought from elements of classical, electronic, jazz, rock, ambient, experimental and more, each piece is meticulously bound together by digitally-arranged found sounds collected from Hurd’s travels, placed shoulder to shoulder to form a greater whole. His sounds are layered and manipulated to weave textures that perfectly complement the acoustic instruments, giving rise to a sound that is extremely organic despite its digital origins.

Employing classical instrumentation of violin, viola, cello, bass, vibraphone and piano with an array of electronics, Hurd’s music is both wildly, intricately rhythmic and aglow with shimmering harmonies and melodies. Accessible and daring, its percussive yet lyrical qualities make it at home in both concert halls and nightclubs.

Check out this video of their performance at the Kennedy Center last July.

Learn more at:

George Hurd – electronics/cues
Solenn Seguillon – violin
Jacob Hansen-Joseph – viola
Anton Estaniel – cello
Ari Gorman – cello/bass
Elyse Weakley – piano


Meet David Reffkin, CMC’s new Associate Program Director

Join us in welcoming David Reffkin, CMC’s first Associate Program Director, to our community! David will be working with CMC private lesson faculty and students to increase participation and strengthen curricular ties and communication among several areas of CMC’s onsite programs: private lessons, ensembles, summer camps, and music electives such as music theory and composition. David will also work closely with our Program Director Sylvia Sherman in hiring and evaluating faculty and will be a key person to support CMC’s Faculty Council.

I see you were concertmaster for the CMC Orchestra in 1978-79. Tell me about what that was like.

I had just moved to San Francisco about a month before the audition, and I thought it would be a good way to meet musicians. It really was an incredible networking opportunity. I was offered several long-term engagements over the years through people I played with in the CMC Orchestra. I’m still in touch with a few players and occasionally hire them when I’m contracting jobs. Alan Pollack was the director at the time and he is still active in the area.

What brought you back to CMC?

Because I’ve seen large changes in music education and performance over a long stretch, and really want to use my accumulated knowledge to help sustain them, I decided I wanted an administrative job in music. When this position was announced, I saw that the responsibilities and qualifications were a very good fit with much of my experience in a variety of musical organizations, as well as with my teaching career. I feel very much at home in a music school. Considering that my first job in San Francisco was here at CMC, it is truly a completed circle.

I take it you’re interested in a wide variety of genres?

Yes! I trained as a classical violinist at the New England Conservatory (NEC). It was there that I became involved in all sorts of music. The philosophy was that if you are going to be a musician, you should be a complete musician. NEC was the first conservatory in the world to offer a jazz degree program. Among my experiences there, I worked in the audio department and helped engineer recordings, including an album of orchestrated ragtime music (The Red Back Book) that won a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Recording.

Going back to your question about genres, ragtime is but one of my passions along with the other music of that era, about 1880 to 1930. It’s very much a melodic music as well as rhythmic. It was the dance music of its time. I had started the American Ragtime Ensemble right after graduation, and it is now the longest-running group of its kind in the world. Every summer I help produce the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri. This past July I played a recital of ragtime, salon and “novelty” violin solos for a musical organization in Virginia.

You’ve been around! Where are you from?

I’m from Rhode Island. After graduation, I taught public school orchestra for five years in Minnesota and Texas, and then moved to California to pursue my performing career full time.

It sounds like you’ve done a lot more than play music during your career. Tell me about your time at KUSF as a radio producer.

Back in 1981, there was not much ragtime on radio, so I called up the station closest to where I was living at the time, KUSF. I was offered a 15-minute weekly slot. After one quarter, they gave me an hour. I produced and hosted it for 30 years, as well as a three-hour classical program, The Classical Salon.

Eventually I started an interview show about physics, Static Limit. I’d always had an interest in studying astrophysics and quantum physics (the very big and very small). I eventually interviewed about 70 of the most prominent researchers, theorists, and authors in the world. It turned out they often come through San Francisco – this is a real focal point. There was only one similar radio program in the country, and that was in New York.

In 2011, KUSF was sold and all its programs went off the air. The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), a particle physics laboratory, was hiring an editor for its publications. I was recommended by one of my radio guests, and I worked there for two years. Interestingly, many physicists have had serious musical experience and some are even composers! I think there is a common goal in theoretical physics and music: one tries to make the abstract tangible.

Fortune Art
Fortune Art (click for larger image)

So I’ve got to ask, what is “Fortune Art”?

I’m a member of the Friends of San Francisco Public Library, which sells donated books that the library can’t use. Sometimes the condition of the books makes them unsellable, so I extract interesting images, add fortunes from fortune cookies, and create finished pieces for display, hopefully exhibiting a bit of humor or irony. They are sold at the Readers Bookstore at Fort Mason. Samples of this visual art appear on my website.

Will you participate in our Performathon this November?

Of course! In honor of CMC’s birthday, I plan to offer music from 1912, when Gertrude Field started the music department of the Dolores Street Girls Settlement House, and 1921, when she founded CMC here on Capp Street.

Learn more about David on his website,

Field Day at CMC: What a party!

By CMC Executive Director, Christopher Borg

What a party! On Sunday, November 20, our community gathered at the biggest birthday party in CMC history for our first Field Day, named after CMC’s founder Gertrude Field. The 95th birthday celebration brought together a wide range of fun open-house activities and performances, including our first-ever 6-hour Performathon that generated over $23,300 for student scholarships. Nearly 180 CMC students, parents, graduates, faculty, staff, board members, neighbors, volunteers, and community friends performed as a string of soloists and ensembles on the afternoon Performathon. The turnout of registered performers far exceeded expectations pushing staff to transform the executive director’s office into “The Gertrude Field Parlor” in order to create a second performance venue.

Student performers came from 43 teaching studios and represented several areas of CMC program offerings including the Children’s Chorus, Young Musicians Program, Chamber Music Program, and Older Adult Choir Program as well as various group classes for adults and children from both Richmond and Mission District Branches. New musical ensemble collaborations emerged among students, parents, families, staff, faculty, and board members and the day was honored with its own theme song, “What a Wonderful Day,” composed by faculty member Larry Dunn.

The success of Field Day and Performathon could not have taken place without the talents and dedication of CMC’s extraordinary staff, faculty, board members, and volunteers. What a team! I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this day memorable and successful. For the single reason that the Performathon offered anybody and everybody the opportunity to participate, I am happy to announce that this will be a new annual community gathering at Community Music Center.