MDYMP goes on tour

November 15, 2022
By Sylvia Sherman, Program Director

CMC’s Mission District Young Musicians Program was busy this fall with performances that commemorated Mission District culture and history, contributed to neighborhood school festivals, and celebrated Día de los Muertos.

MDYMP was joined at Paseo Artístico by MDYMP alumnus Rafael Cloerec (right).

On October 15, CMC participated in Acción Latina’s community art walk Paseo Artístico: “The 80’s Matter in the Mission”, honoring Latinx artists and activists of the 80s. The MDYMP musicians helped to kick off the day performing with original members from Los Peludos, Enrique Ramirez and Miguel Govea (MDYMP faculty member). Los Peludos was a group from the 1980s. Known for being outspoken about the social realities of the times, they addressed issues such as the U.S. interference with El Salvador with the song “Aqui no Sera” (“It Won’t Happen Here”). MDYMP students performed cumbias, Cuban music, and the original song “Paletero” created bythe students during CMC’s Centennial (Re)Imagine composition project. The performance of “Paletero,” a song about the Mission District and its diversity as reflected in the flavors of popsicles sold by the paleteros, was highlighted by the addition of MDYMP alumnus Rafael Cloarec, doing a spirited spoken word segment in Spanish, English, and French.

Later in October, MDYMP performed at the Buena Vista Horace Mann Fall Festival and the Alvarado Día de los Muertos Festival. Since MDYMP students have attended both Buena Vista Horace Mann and Alvarado, the invitation for MDYMP to perform was extended by parents who are active in the school PTAs. Both festivals were vibrant community celebrations with family participation and student involvement.

MDYMP at Alvarado Día de los Muertos Festival
Photo: Nieves Lopez Barrera

“We were delighted to have MDYMP perform. They were a great fit for the event and brought a lot of enjoyment to the community.” -Margo Hasselman Greenough, PTA President Alvarado Elementary

“I believe music connects cultures. Since Día de los Muertos is celebrated mostly in Mexico and some parts of Central and South America and Alvarado has an immersion program in Spanish, I thought MDYMP would be the perfect performer to inspire the younger audiences and potential future musicians.” -Nieves López Barrera, MDYMP and Alvarado parent

Finally, in early November, CMC Mariachi, a group comprised of MDYMP students, SFUSD Mariachi students, CMC faculty members Miguel Govea, Tregar Otton, Susan Peña, and guest artist René Peña Govea, performed for the SF Symphony’s ¡FIESTA! Día de los Muertos. The event was a donor party to support the SF Symphony’s education program and followed the Symphony’s Día de los Muertos concert. CMC Mariachi demonstrated the positive impacts of arts education with their performance, moving the audiences through the student and faculty collaborative performance.

CMC thanks MDYMP Program Coordinator Chantel Hernandez and all of its MDYMP faculty: Miguel Govea, Tregar Otton, Nena Aldaz, Charlie Gurke, and Juan Ceballos for the dedication to training young musicians, passing on Latinx culture, and preparing for these important community performances. CMC thanks MDYMP parents Julissa Winton and Nieves López Barrera, as well as Buena Vista Horace Mann and Alvarado school communities for their commitment to celebrating Latinx music and culture through their school events. Thanks also to Laura Knerler of the SF League for their work on the Symphony Fiesta.

More than music: Community Music Center builds skills for life

November 14, 2022

Recent Community Music Center graduate Chris Flores, 18, has had rich experiences in his time at CMC. Chris developed not only skills and maturity that come through dedicated musical study, but he built professional know-how as he built and repaired musical instruments in a CMC internship. Chris is taking his CMC experiences, both musical and vocational, to the University of the Pacific, where he recently started as a freshman.

“CMC is very community oriented – it’s in the name.” – Chris Flores

CMC first came into Chris’s life through the tuition-free Mission District Young Musicians Program (MDYMP). He had recently been accepted to San Francisco’s Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (SOTA) and needed to find private viola lessons to support his work there. MDYMP provided those lessons, along with ensemble classes and music theory, giving him a solid foundation to build on at SOTA.


“[Chris] was an absolute joy to teach. Because of his love for music and remarkable work ethic, he made quick progress: about as quick as I’ve ever seen.”– Michael Long, CMC Strings Faculty

Chris first studied with Michael Long, who taught him time management and goal setting, and then Chris worked with viola specialist Paul Espinosa. Michael and Paul helped Chris develop structures, habits, and communication styles he continues to implement in his studies and work outside CMC. MDYMP faculty gave Chris the opportunity to explore new genres and approaches to music-making. He also learned improvisation and soloing from MDYMP faculty member Tregar Otton.

“Chris is very curious and really loves music. Through his own volition, he made the program better for himself and the other students.” -Tregar Otton, MDYMP Faculty

Chris’s interest in learning about building and maintaining instruments started during his first year at SOTA on a field trip to visit two luthiers in San Francisco – Roland Feller Violin Makers and Jesse Maschmeyer Violins. He was inspired by what he saw and took matters into his own hands, asking Jesse Maschmeyer to teach him. After Chris demonstrated his dedication and commitment, Jesse agreed to teach Chris as part of a strings internship at CMC.

Throughout his internship, Chris developed professional skills he will use for years to come. In addition to learning how to fix and maintain instruments, he worked with CMC staff and faculty as colleagues introducing him to professional communication styles and giving him, as he says, “a glimpse into the adult world.” Chris plans to focus on health studies in college and is confident that the breadth of skills he developed during his internship will support the deeply interactive work he’ll be doing.

Chris impressed CMC colleagues with his dedication, motivation, and consistent communication. According to Sylvia Sherman, CMC’s Program Director, working with Chris has “opened up our thinking about a new pathway for leadership for CMC’s Young Musicians Program students.” All the staff and faculty who have worked with him over the years agree that his time at CMC has set him up for success wherever the future may take him.

When discussing his time at CMC, Chris shared how inspired he is by the organization’s focus on helping others in the community, especially those with low incomes. Said Chris, “CMC has helped me pursue my dreams. If I wasn’t at CMC, I don’t know where I would be. CMC gave me the tools and instruction I needed to stand amongst my SOTA peers, build my confidence, and learn skills I’ll use throughout my life.”

“Chris has been invaluable to the CMC team. He’s responsive, self-motivated, and kind. We’re so lucky to have him!” – Shannon Koehler, CMC Operations Manager


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