Community Music Center launches New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus a community chorus for people self-identified as transgender, intersex, and genderqueer

Community Music Center launches New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus a community chorus for people self-identified as transgender, intersex, and genderqueer

Free community chorus for Bay Area transgender, intersex, and genderqueer
community now a reality in the Bay Area

Anne C. Mitchell, Marketing Manager
415-647-6015 x75,

For Immediate Release
SAN FRANCISCO, July 17, 2018 – When Reuben Zellman, musical director and educator decided to make his dream of starting a community chorus for the transgender, intersex, and genderqueer community a reality, he thought of Community Music Center.

“When I was looking for a Bay Area music organization whose mission was musical access for all people, I naturally thought of CMC.” Zellman commented. “As a transgender singer and conductor, I have experienced first-hand the barriers that TIGQ face to musical participation. Singers tend to be rigidly and often thoughtlessly sorted by sex. Yet TIGQ vocal stories are often more complex.”

When Zellman approached CMC Program Director Sylvia Sherman two years ago to explore the possibility of starting the chorus, she was taken with the idea.

“Musical access is the core of CMC programs. When Reuben brought us the idea we immediately understood the need. Funding, as will any new program, was the hurdle to getting the chorus going,” said Sherman.

Over the course of two years, CMC worked to secure funding for the chorus pilot. Through the generous support of the individual donors and Ambassador James C. Hormel, the New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus was born.

New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus as a pilot program of Community Music Center, launches on Sunday, September 16. The chorus will meet weekly, with Zellman as the Director. Registration for the chorus opens August 7. The entire range of the TIGQ community is invited to participate—all gender expressions and any stage of a physical transition or non-transition. The chorus is for all levels of singers.

“Community Music Center’s intention is to create a great choral ensemble and to provide a safe, creative space for transgender, intersex and genderqueer singers to make music, learn, and create community together,” said CMC Executive Director Julie Rulyak Steinberg about the launch of the pilot program.

Link to chorus:

Photo: New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus

Available interviews:
Reuben Zellman, New Voices Bay Area:TIGQ Chorus Director
Sylvia Sherman, CMC Program Director
Julie Rulyak Steinberg, Executive Director

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 about CMC at and follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Meet Gabi and Leo, new staff at CMC

CMC is welcoming new staff this summer! Gabi Díaz-Hernández is the new Mission District Young Musicians Program Coordinator and Associate Registrar. Leo Harrington is the new Young Musicians Program Coordinator.

Though Gabi and Leo are new staff at to CMC, they are not new to CMC. Gabi is a CMC student and Leo is alumni.



Meet Gabi Díaz-Hernández, CMC’s new MDYMP Coordinator and Associate Registrar

How did you come to CMC?

I used to work two blocks from here. Last fall, I started taking classes. My sister and brother in-law were in the Latin Vocal Workshop with Martha Rodríguez-Salazar and recommended it. I loved the class. The class was an amazing way to make friends and to explore my voice as an instrument, both solo and in harmony. Martha is a brilliant teacher. She helped me see the importance and value of my own voice, bringing out the best in myself.

What drew you to the position?

Being the MDYMP Coordinator allows me to work alongside music teachers and work with youth. Education is so important to me. I wanted to be in a role where I could support that. I love the idea of working with families and recent immigrants, as well as with students that are second generation. I find this opportunity to be very interesting and inspiring. Families are a core part of MDYMP, and I look forward to fortifying those family connections.

What are you bringing to the job, what do you see the coordinator’s role as?

I see my role as building bridges between teachers, families, and students, along with the community at large. I want to help students feel more connected to the Mission community through offering performances to the community. The instructors in MDYMP are amazing. All the faculty have important things to contribute. I am really grateful for the people I’m working with, the instructors, Martha, Sylvia, and the parents.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m from a very small town in rural Georgia. So, I love exploring in the arts scene in the Bay. I love the arts in the Bay Area, theater, and music. I love walking around the city.


Meet Leo Harrington, CMC’s new YMP Coordinator

How did you come to CMC?

I’m CMC alumni. I was born and raised in San Francisco. From an early age, I’ve been connected to CMC. I am a trumpet player and was a student of John Frank at Hoover Middle School. Mr. Frank has had a long relationship with CMC through the years nominating his students to Young Musicians Program. As a teenager at CMC, I was part of the Teen Jazz Band with Ken Rosen. I went to Oberlin and got a double degree in trumpet performance and history. After college, I went to Vienna on a Fulbright scholarship teaching English and completing coursework in the Musicology Department at the University of Vienna.

When I moved back to San Francisco last year, I wanted to work more directly on the ground with students. What drew me to CMC is its commitment to financial accessibility. I wanted to come back to a context where I had deeper community roots and to a role where I can work with students who wouldn’t be able to study without the accessibility. I really identify with CMC’s mission.


What drew you to the position Young Musicians Program Coordinator?

I have explored a lot of teaching and administrative roles and know my strengths lay in working directly with students, as well as administering programs. As the YMP Coordinator, I can utilize both these interests. I’m in a support role for faculty and also a liaison between students, teachers, staff, and the community at large. I derive a lot of satisfaction seeing the progression of students, seeing moments of growth in rehearsals and concerts, and what students learn about themselves through studying music. I enjoy working directly with people. I’m really inspired by the YMP faculty and the CMC faculty. There’s such a wealth of talent and creativity. It’s fun interfacing with them and seeing what they bring to students.

What do you see the Coordinator’s role as?

Practically speaking, I run the auditions in spring for the program. I put the ensembles together. I coordinate the schedule for the year and hold the orientation for parents and am the point person for them. I also think about the program design of YMP and implement the student leadership program, where students volunteer and do outreach at CMC events.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

As of the Summer Quarter, I am CMC student again! I study voice with Jonathan Smucker. I’ve sung with different choirs and vocal ensembles. I enjoy running and biking. I feel connected to San Francisco in that way. I spend a lot of my time thinking about equity and education and how it relates to broader social problems. This interest forms my motivation for doing college access work as well. I like to go to live music when I can. I took my first dance class at City College this past spring in Salsa.