What we’re listening to” with Adriana Marrero: Au revoir!

November 2020

“What we’re listening to” is a series of Spotify playlists curated by CMC faculty.

This month we have a staff member curating the playlist. Adriana is the Program Coordinator and is a vocalist. Her playlist comes from an insatiable love and curiosity for music from around the world. You’ll hear music of Puerto Rico (where Adriana is from) and a slew of other countries that include Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, West Africa, Turkey–plus a lot of great jazz. Listen to Adriana talk about the playlist in the video below and enjoy!

A tribute to Juliet McComas

November 20, 2020

By Grace Huenemann, Piano Department Chair and faculty member

The CMC community has lost one of its shining lights, Juliet McComas, performer, piano teacher extraordinaire, and friend.

In addition to being a long standing member of the piano faculty at CMC, Juliet maintained a private studio and was a Menuhin Scholar instructor at the Nueva School in Hillsborough. 

Juliet’s students were regularly selected for CMC scholarships and the honorary Spring Recital, as well as the Pursuit of Excellence concerts.

“Juliet was a brilliant musician and exceptional teacher, a great enthusiast for music and music education. She will be greatly missed.” Lilia Zheltova, Piano Faculty

“I heard her and her students perform, and her light shone forth in the music.” Polly Springhorn, CMC Grants Manager

Juliet (far left) with fellow performers at the Keyboard Marathon (2009).

In 2004, Juliet created the Annual Keyboard Marathon for CMC piano faculty, with the purpose of bringing the great works of piano literature to the general community.  She produced the first five of these events:  the 48 Preludes and Fugues of J.S. Bach in 2004 and 2005, the complete “Songs without Words” of Felix Mendelssohn in 2006 and 2007, and “Preludes” in 2008.  The Keyboard Marathon continues to this day.  Renamed in Juliet’s honor and dedicated to her, the Juliet McComas Keyboard Marathon will be a virtual event next April, on the theme of “Bold Spirits: Celebrating Women Composers.” 

Juliet with her students Rebecca Portnoy and Daniel Shin at a concert (2017).

“Juliet was the cream of the crop of CMC piano teachers, her commitment to pedagogy and high standards of excellence as a performer were always an inspiration to me. I always loved to hear her play – the subtlety and beauty of her tone and phrasing always transported me.”  Jennifer Peringer, Piano Faculty

“Juliet was a genius pianist, an incredible teacher, and such a leader in the CMC community. She will truly be missed.”  Anne Mitchell, Marketing Manager

Juliet’s performing career began early, when she debuted with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at age 13.  She performed with them again at 23, and also appeared with the Oakland Chamber Orchestra, the San Francisco Chamber Players, the Artea Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia Northwest in Seattle. In 2007, at the PianoTexas International Academy and Festival, she was one of five actively performing teachers chosen to perform with the Fort Worth Symphony.   She was a four-time winner of Community Music Center’s Dr. Jess Shenson Faculty Artist Grant and the winner of the inaugural Faculty Concerto Competition in 2002, playing the Mozart Piano Concerto # 25 in C Major K. 503.  World renowned pianist Richard Goode coached Juliet and gave her his own cadenza for that performance.  She also coached with Leon Fleisher, Karl Ulrich Schnabel, and Lillian Kallir.  She earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in Piano Performance at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where her principal teacher was Dr. Konrad Wolff.


“She was a transcendent musician and will be missed.” Erik Pearson, Guitar Faculty

Juliet delighting in performing at the Keyboard Marathon with Betty Wong (2019).

We admired and loved Juliet for her talent and dedication, and we loved her all the more for her impish sense of humor and love of life.

“My family and I were flying up to Portland Oregon for the solar eclipse in the summer of 2017. As I was settling into my seat, I heard a familiar voice from the row in front of me: Hi Lauren. I looked around and saw Juliet grinning over at me!  … she was an experienced eclipse chaser!”  Lauren Cony, Piano Faculty

“Her devotion, professionalism and passion for music were exceptional.  I’ll miss Juliet tremendously, her extraordinary musicianship and her sense of humor.”  Matylda Rotkiewicz, Piano Faculty and Keyboard Marathon Producer.


Faculty awarded equipment and technology grants

November 20, 2020

By Sylvia Sherman, CMC Program Director

Last month, CMC made 29 grants to faculty members to support their equipment and technology needs for online teaching. CMC faculty have been amazingly resilient and learned how to cater their teaching to distance learning during the Covid-19 pandemic, however some teachers have experienced difficulties related to their equipment and technology access.  For this reason, CMC sought support to fund faculty needs. Happily, with support from the MOCA Foundation, CMC was able to develop the Faculty Technology Grants program.  CMC faculty identified their greatest needs– ranging from new laptops, to better cameras and microphones, to software applications to support teaching. 

“Thank you! This will be a big help for my teaching and music creation in today’s new age.” Larry Dunn, guitar and songwriting teacher – (Grant supported technology to create video tutorials for students.)

Equipment purchased with these grants will support the music education of CMC students. Improvements include, cameras to better see the hands of piano teachers, upgrading and/or replacing ailing laptops and operating systems, supporting the recording of video tutorials and playback loops, and software to make collaborative digital recordings with group classes.

“I am double-delighted to hear this news. Thank you. It’s a great feeling to get so much support. I hope my CMC teaching career outlives many more laptops!”  Jono Kornfeld, piano, music theory, and guitar teacher (Grant supported a new laptop to keep up with needs of online teaching.)

The CMC faculty technology grant is the fourth grant made to faculty since shelter-in-place began.  Earlier this year, CMC awarded 57 faculty with creative stimulus grants to support their creative process during the pandemic. Seven faculty partnership grants were made to support collaboration between faculty to enrich their work at CMC and four faculty Shenson grants are being made to support faculty digital performances in Winter/Spring 2021.  CMC grants recognize the enormous efforts faculty members have made to provide high-quality musical education to their students.  This support aims to provide CMC faculty with the tools needed for them to be inspired and effective during these difficult times. 

“Hello, gosh, this is wonderful news!!  Much appreciation of you all and this organization.”   Beth Wilmurt, Children’s Chorus, Older Adult Choirs, and voice teacher (Grant supported an electric keyboard to use for accompaniment.)

Unlocking the secrets to improvisation at MusicLab workshop

Michele Rosewoman is a New York based performer and composer originally from Oakland. She is a pioneering pianist who has expanded the horizons of jazz while remaining firmly rooted in Afro-Cuban tradition with a career spanning more than four decades.

Never an artist to stay idle, Rosewoman has continued to be inspired and active even as live gigs have been cancelled this year.  In August, she took part virtually in the Festival Timbalaye 2020 in Cuba. She also received a commission from Jazz Coalition in New York to create new work on her musical reflections of the times, as well as pay tribute to the race equity movement. Rosewoman’s new music, “Something Holy Hovers” is composed around two poems Rosewoman wrote. The music is being written on solo piano with vocals and spoken word, which is a departure from her typical repertoire which is usually presented in trio, quintet, and in her New Yor-Uba Ensemble made up of 12 musicians. As she says about the recents developments in her artistic career, “So much has changed and is changing in the world right now. Sometimes some very interesting creative things come from the fact that you broke your cycles and your patterns.”

Rosewoman’s MusicLab workshop hosted by CMC on Thursday, November 12 will take participants through a process of unlocking the secrets of improvisation and creative expression through looking at rhythmic concepts rooted in Afro-Cuban music. Her workshop will give participants a chance to develop their own musical ideas, with Rosewoman’s guidance and expertise. Part demonstration as well, the workshop will take participants into Rosewoman’s artistic process where she demonstrates how her immersion in Cuban folkloric musical traditions has informed her inventive and pioneering compositions. She’ll also demonstrate some of the rhythmic concepts that great jazz players like Lee Morgan and Thelonius Monk used and connect those ideas to Latin jazz.

The workshop will have something for all levels of players, offering beginners inspiration about the possibilities for improvisation and intermediate and advanced players techniques to unlock their creative and compositional possibilities.

MusicLab Workshop: Expression with Afro-Cuban Music with Michele Rosewoman
Thursday, November 12, 5:30–7:00pm
$10 CMC students, seniors, & faculty
$15 general admission

Sing up for MusicLab