“What we’re listening to” with Michael Mohammed: Twists & Turns

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

This month’s Spotify playlist called Twists & Turns is curated by Michael Mohammed, voice faculty member. As he says about the playlist, “It’s all vocalists, of all different stripes. It’s a little bit of singers behaving badly…legit singers stepping outside their genres…and pop singers who might be sounding a little more legit. I think there’s a lot surprises on this list.”


50 Years of Iconic Latin Music with Oscar Hernández

Over the course of a nearly fifty year music career, Oscar Hernández has played with some of the most iconic and well-known artists in the New York City Latin music scene. As he said, “New York was in the middle of the Latino cultural revolution and music was a huge part of that— the music of Machito, Tito Rodríguez, Tito Puente, Héctor Lavoe, Willie Colón, Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, on and on, so many artists that were part of that era influenced the rest of the world with regard to Latin music.” And Hernández played with them all. At his online MusicLab workshop on October 8, participants will hear first-hand Hernández’s inspiring story and learn about the legendary sounds that created salsa music. 

Oscar Hernández came of age during the meteoric rise of Fania Records, the New York City-based label that was to Latin music what Blue Note Records was to jazz and Motown Records was to R&B. As Hernández says, “Fania was the king of Latin music in New York City,” and he recorded and performed with the legends that make up its astounding catalog. Hernández will share recordings that marked the signature sounds of these different artists and created the salsa-sound that New York City was known for.

His workshop will also include the last 18 years of his career as the founder and band-leader of the GRAMMY Award-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra, which continues to uphold and evolve salsa music. As Hernández says, “The Spanish Harlem Orchestra is one of the best bands and exponents of what hardcore New York-style salsa is!” His first-hand story reveals not only a musical history of Latin music in New York City, but how his passion, hard-work, and dedication to his craft propelled his career earning him four GRAMMY Awards, two Broadway musical directorships, and international acclaim. His workshop will include MP3 recordings, videos, and scores.

MusicLab Workshop Series with Oscar Hernández: 50 Years of Iconic Latin Music
Thursday, October 8, 5:30–7:00pm
$15 General; $10 Community Music Center students & faculty / seniors
Online via Zoom

Special thanks to our partners: Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble and MisterLatinJazz!


Oscar Hernández & Friends Latin Jazz Video uniting NY & LA with some of the great musicians from both coasts.
Featuring: Oscar Hernández-Piano, Bobby Franceschini-Sax, Jonathan Powell-Trpt. Jimmy Branly-Drums, Oskar Cartaya-Bass Luisito Quintero -Timbales, & Roberto Quintero-Congas

Musical Exploration with Rachel Condry this Fall

We’ve all tested out something new during shelter-in-place—from sourdough starters, thousand-piece puzzles, home haircuts, or a new workout routine. But how do we stay musically adventurous during these times? Beginning in Fall Quarter Rachel Condry (Clarinet, Chamber Music) will be offering three exciting new classes for both youth and adults to connect to new styles and modes of music-making and stay engaged with our community.

Been watching too much Netflix or playing countless hours of Animal Crossing? Music plays a big role in movies and games as well! For youth, Rachel will be teaching Music in the Movies and Video Game Music for wind and string players aged 12–18 on Fridays. These classes were developed from working with Chamber Music students this summer, and allow participants to explore familiar music in comprehensive ways that augment the traditional chamber music experience. Students will work on playing arrangements of music they like from popular movies and video games,  but will also expand on their performances to look at these styles with a broader lens. Rachel said “it was inspiring to see that the summer camp students had a lot of fun working on these kinds of musical genres, and were able to apply other skills and interests they had to put the final project all together.”

Students can learn more about the fields of media music production while building fundamental skills—like working on rhythm by playing with a click-track, basic sound recording, and musical collaboration—through historical context and creative assignments. For example, Music in the Movies might include trying your hand at foley artistry and sound effects, or elements of storytelling and how music helps a narrative, in addition to producing a final virtual performance project. These classes are a great way for young musicians to explore their interests and connect music to other styles of media. Interested students should submit a Chamber Music Inquiry Form to schedule a friendly  online audition and talk to the instructor about which class would be best for their level and interest. 

Here’s a rendition of the classic Mario theme arranged and played by Rachel.


For adults, Rachel is offering a brand-new Deep Listening Workshop, perfect for musicians and non-musicians alike from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels. Rachel found that her usual Chamber Music group class students were feeling disheartened by missing their weekly sessions and frustrated by the shortcomings of technology that didn’t allow them to play together online in the same way. She found that Deep Listening was a way for students to connect with others, find a little grounding during uncertain times, and introduce new ways of experiencing music to enhance their own creative practices. 

So, what is Deep Listening?

“Deep Listening was the life’s work of my teacher and mentor—composer, performer, and improviser Pauline Oliveros—emerging from her compositional practice.  It is a valuable and potentially powerful practice for musicians and non-musicians alike.  Deep listening is accessible to anyone who is interested in it, all are welcome.  

Many times when we think of listening, we think of a linear and passive process: sound comes in from outside, and we take it in. But what happens when listening becomes active? Intentional? Dynamic?  Turn it around—how does it feel to be heard?  Deep Listening is a dynamic process.  It moves inward and outward, it includes the “real” and the imagined, the past, and the future, and of course, right now.  Deep Listening can create deep connections.  It can be healing. It can be funny.  It can  be profound and it can be light.  One can dabble in Deep Listening or one can make it their life’s work.  What you do with deep listening is up to you.  What this class will do, is explore the three modalities that make up Deep Listening practice, listening, moving and dreaming, and share our experiences in a listening community.”

Rachel recently completed a year-long certification to teach Deep Listening after having attended several retreats at the Deep Learning Institute and studying the practice for many years. She was inspired to bring Deep Listening to the CMC community. The workshop translates well to online learning and is a great way to achieve the connection that comes from playing music together that so many of us are missing during social distancing, as well as help with performance anxiety, and boost creative expression.

The workshop will focus on three modalities of Deep Listening:

  • Listening. “Sonic meditation” exercises act as algorithms or “software” for people to expand their listening. Text scores which are instructions that allow students to discover new ways of listening.
  • Movement. Listening through the body, listening with the body.  This mindfulness practice aims to returning to innocence: experiencing the sound world with curiosity and wonder.
  • Dreaming. Dreams are a source for our creativity.  Dreams never lie about how we feel.  By listening to our dreams and paying attention to what they are saying we can learn about ourselves.  

Who is this class for? Anyone who comes with an open mind and willingness to communicate can enjoy Deep Listening. Instruments are not required, since many exercises will be done using the voice, so people interested in all genres, as well as from other creative disciplines can participate. The practice will incorporate everyone’s unique individual experience into building a shared community.

“Rachel Condry’s Deep Listening course is excellent!  It is difficult to adequately describe this class in a way that is not pedantic.  As a beginner to deep listening my wife and I got a taste of the power of deep listening.  It is a multifaceted class involving listening and sound exercises as well as dream journaling and movement exercises.  More than anything, Rachel is a great teacher who makes everyone instantly feel comfortable exploring a new world of sounds and sensations that exist all around us!” —Jed Katzel, CMC Chamber Music Student

Deep Listening Workshop meets on Wednesday evenings beginning Fall Quarter. Make an appointment with a registrar to enroll, and try out something new!

If you are new to CMC, ask about the new student discount and get a free instrument rental and no registration fee!

“What we’re listening to” with Heidi Kim

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

This month’s Spotify playlist is curated by Heidi Kim, violin and viola faculty. As she says about the song selection, “This playlist is getting me through COVID-19.”

She also has a few other things to say about the song choices, how it’s meant to be listened to, and classical music artists.


CMC launches the MusicLab Workshop Series

CMC is teaming up with the Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble and MisterLatinJazz to launch a fall series of monthly music workshops. The MusicLab Workshop series will bring master Latin jazz artists from around the country to share their wealth of knowledge in an interactive setting. These 90 minute workshops give the participants an opportunity to learn, listen, discuss, and practice in real time in an online class experience. 

“We are thrilled to have these legendary artists offer clinics this Fall.  This is a great time to woodshed, try something new, and take your playing to the next level,” said Sylvia Sherman, CMC Program Director. “We welcome CMC students, community musicians, and those interested in Latin and jazz music to each and all of the sessions. We want to thank the Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble and the artists for their collaboration!”

MusicLab Workshop Series: Latin Jazz
Tickets: $15 General, $10 Community Music Center students & faculty / Seniors.
A note on ticket prices: If cost is a barrier to your participation in this workshop, contact Adriana Marrero, amarrero@sfcmc.org.

En Español

CMC se ha asociado con el Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble de San Francisco y MisterLatinJazz para lanzar una serie de talleres mensuales de música este otoño. La serie de talleres MusicLab Workshop presentará artistas maestros del jazz latino de todo el país, quienes compartirán su riqueza de conocimientos en un ambiente interactivo. Estos talleres de 90 minutos brindarán a los participantes la oportunidad de aprender, escuchar, discutir y practicar en tiempo real en una experiencia de clase en línea.

“Estamos encantados de que estos artistas legendarios ofrezcan clínicas este otoño. Este es un gran momento para practicar, probar algo nuevo y llevar nuestras destrezas al siguiente nivel ”, dijo Sylvia Sherman, directora programática de CMC. “Damos la bienvenida a los estudiantes de CMC, a todos los músicos de la comunidad, y aquellos interesados en la música latina y jazz a todas y cada una de las sesiones. ¡Queremos agradecer al Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble y a los artistas por sus colaboraciones! ”

Serie de talleres MusicLab Workshop: Latin Jazz
Boletos: $15 general, $10 estudiantes y profesores del Community Music Center / personas mayores. Si necesita recibir más información detallada sobre alguno de los talleres en español, envíe un correo a amarrero@sfcmc.org.

El Son de la Misión” se transmitirá para ayudar a recaudar fondos para alivio alimentario para familias del Distrito de la Misión

Poster art by Carlos “Kookie” Gonzaléz

CMC se une a Carnaval San Francisco para transmitir en vivo la producción del 2016 de CMC “El Son de la Misión: A Musical Journey from 1960–Present” en un evento de recaudación de fondos de varios días llamado Juntos Contra el Hambre (Fighting Hunger Together). Se estarán recaudando fondos para Mission Food Hub, el cual proporciona alimentos a 7,000 familias semanalmente. Este evento de transmisión en dos partes se llevará a cabo el 3 de agosto (primera parte) y el 10 de agosto (segunda parte) a las 5:00 pm en la página de recaudación de fondos del Mission Food Hub con un teletón virtual. La transmisión se realiza como parte de la “Encore! Summer Concert Series” de CMC, durante la cual se transmite un concierto de los archivos de la sala de conciertos de CMC semanalmente del 20 de julio al 6 de septiembre.

Combatiendo el hambre juntos 
El Mission Food Hub fue creado por el Latino Task Force para abordar la inseguridad alimentaria en el Distrito de la Misión durante la pandemia, la cual ha afectado desproporcionadamente a la comunidad latina en todo el estado y en San Francisco. El grupo de trabajo fue co fundado por el director artístico de Carnaval San Francisco, Roberto Hernández. Sylvia Sherman, Directora de Programas de CMC, inspirada en el trabajo de Carnaval SF de alimentar a las familias del Distrito de la Misión, quiso apoyar sus esfuerzos. La transmisión de “El Son de la Misión” como parte de la “Encore! Summer Concert Series” de CMC se presentó como la oportunidad perfecta para unirnos y crear conciencia en la comunidad de CMC sobre esta campaña de distribución de alimentos.

Encargado y producido originalmente por Community Music Center en 2016, “El Son de la Misión: A Musical Journey from 1960–Present” cuenta la historia de la resistencia de la cultura latina en el Distrito de la Misión a través de canciones originales que reflejan movimientos sociales y artísticos fundamentales en el pasado del barrio con artistas del presente. La producción presenta el trabajo del director artístico, compositor principal y arreglista Dr. John Calloway, co-director teatral, guionista y letrista Carlos Barón, y un elenco talentoso de músicos y actores.

Las donaciones se duplicarán
Carnaval San Francisco ha anunciado que un donante generoso ha creado un reto de recaudación en el que se va a igualar cada dólar (hasta $100,000) recaudado durante “El Son de la Misión-Juntos Contra el Hambre”. Cada donación al Mission Food Hub se duplicará durante esta campaña!

Cómo sintonizar
3 de agosto a las 5:00 pm:Parte 1 El Son de la Misión-Juntos Contra el Hambre

10 de agosto a las 5:00 pm:Parte 2 El Son de la Misión-Juntos Contra el Hambre

¡Visite la página de recaudación de fondos del Mission Food Hub, o encuentre un enlace directo en la página de Encore! Summer Concert Series de CMC.

Exciting and new classes


CMC classes and lessons are looking spectacular for fall with new offerings coming down the pipeline!

CMC faculty are using their creativity and know-how to bring online learning to life. Visit the website to learn more about the innovative ways CMC faculty are creating an engaging online music community for youth and adults. The faculty continue to provide personalized instruction to help you achieve your musical goals.

Students enrolled in private lessons at CMC receive a 50% discount on group classes and ensembles.


New classes 

Cuban Rhythm and Improv Lab with Tregar Otton

Musicians of all levels will learn rhythms key to Cuban danzón, cha-cha-chá, and son montuno as well as how to approach improvisation in Cuban music. 
Ages: Adults, older teens (high school students)
Day and time: Wednesdays, 5:30–7:00pm

Deep Listening Workshop with Rachel Condry

Deep Listening is a meditation practice that uses listening/sounding, movement and dreaming modalities to explore and connect to ourselves and the world around us. This workshop will explore listening (utilizing the interplay of attention and awareness to deepen the listening experience), movement (listening deeply with the body) and dreaming (24-hour listening).
Ages: Adults
Day and time: Wednesdays, 7:30–9:00pm

Music in the Movies with Rachel Condry

This chamber class will explore musical themes from popular film series like The Pirates of Caribbean, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. 
Ages: 12–14
Day and time: Fridays, 4:30–5:30pm

Uke’n Sing (All Ages) with Beth Wilmurt

Do you play some ukulele but have always wanted to sing while you play? Do you like to sing but want to accompany yourself on the ukulele?
Ages: Adults and kids (elementary, middle, high school)
Day and time: Tuesdays, 4:00–5:30pm

Video Game Music with Rachel Condry

A chamber class to explore musical themes from classic video games like Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Megalovania. Classes will focus on learning music from these games, weekly rhythm assignments and practice playing with a click track with the goal of creating collaborative video performances by the end of the quarter. 
Ages: 12–15
Day and time: Fridays, 5:30–6:30pm

New private lessons

Brazilian percussion with Robert Lopez 

Back from his Fulbright Program in Brazil, Robert Lopez will be teaching Brazilian percussion including the rhythms of Samba and Candomblé.

Puerto Rican percussion with Hector Lugo

Hector Lugo will teach Puerto Rican percussion including the rhythms of Plena and Bomba, drawing from the songs in each of these traditional musical styles. 
For enrollment, please make an appointment with CMC’s registration team.

Wishing Linda Hitchcock and María Cora “Bon Voyage!”

At the end of June, CMC saw the retirement of two revered staff members, Linda Hitchcock and María Cora.

During Linda Hitchcock’s 24 years at CMC, she worked as the Children’s Chorus Manager, Development Assistant, Grant Writer, and most recently, as the Concert Hall Manager and Associate Registrar. Linda’s tenure at CMC saw three different Executive Directors and hundreds of great performances. Most memorable to her through the years, were the technology changes at CMC. She has fond memories of pre-digital days, when enrollment was done by paper and pencil in the concert hall of the Mission District Branch. For her, these registration events were a time of camaraderie when the whole staff pitched in to get people signed up for lessons. She also remembers the pay phone that was a feature of the waiting room.

In her retirement, Linda has plans to do volunteer work at the San Francisco Marin Food Bank, plus traveling and camping with her husband and dog.

María Cora was the Older Adult Choir Program Coordinator for the past four years. Maria is leaving the program with feelings of great pride for the accomplishments she has shepherded. Last summer, the choir program was nationally recognized with an award from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) in the Social Engagement category. A significant highlight in the Older Adult Choir Program recently, has been the securing of multi-year funding from the City of San Francisco, which is a first for the program. 

When María thinks back to her most cherished memories there are many. However, one memory that sticks out for her was the performance of two-hundred Older Adult Choir members at “Getting There Together: A Celebration of All Ages and Abilities” last fall. For her, this performance personified her time at CMC. María remembers the choirs that days as a focal point of the event, showing how aging can be graceful, vibrant, and creative. She felt proud to see the choir directors taking turns conducting and showcasing their unique styles. She was happy to work cooperatively with her CMC colleagues to help put on the city-wide event. As María said, “When we work together, we can’t be beat!”

In her retirement, María’s five-year plan is the launch of an intentional women’s community in Puerto Rico with friends, colleagues, and allies. She plans to live in Puerto Rico part time. 

On June 29, Linda and María went out in style with a Zoom retirement party held in their honor with the doting praise of all who could attend. 

“El Son de la Misión” will stream to raise money for food relief for Mission District families

Poster art by Carlos “Kookie” Gonzaléz

CMC is teaming up with Carnaval San Francisco to live-stream CMC’s 2016 production of “El Son de la Misión: A Musical Journey from 1960–Present” in a multi-day fundraising event El Son de la Misión” – Juntos Contra el Hambre (Fighting Hunger Together) to raise funds for the Mission Food Hub, which provides food for 7,000 families weekly. This two-part streaming event will be held on August 3 (part one) and August 10 (part two) at 5:00 pm on the hub’s fundraising page with a virtual telethon. The streaming is happening in conjunction with CMC’s Encore! Summer Concert Series which broadcasts an encore concert from the CMC Concert Hall archives weekly from July 20–September 6.

Fighting hunger together 
The Mission Food Hub was created by the Latino Task Force to address food insecurity in the Mission District during the pandemic, which has affected the Latinx community disproportionality state-wide and in San Francisco. The task force was co-founded by Carnaval San Francisco’s Artistic Director, Roberto Hernandez. Sylvia Sherman, CMC Program Director, inspired by Carnaval SF’s work of feeding Mission District families, wanted to support their efforts. The broadcast of “El Son de la Misión” as part of CMC’s Encore! Summer Concert Series was the perfect opportunity to partner in raising awareness in the CMC community about the food distribution campaign. Commissioned and originally produced by Community Music Center in 2016, “El Son de la Misión: A Musical Journey from 1960–Present” tells the story of the resilience of Latinx culture in the Mission District through original songs that reflect pivotal social and artistic movements in the neighborhood’s past with artists of the present. The production features the work of Artistic Director, Lead Composer and Arranger Dr. John Calloway, Co-Theatrical Director Script Writer and Lyricist Carlos Barón, and a talented cast of musicians and actors. 

Donations doubled
Carnaval San Francisco has announced that a generous donor has created a challenge grant matching every dollar up to $100,000 raised during El Son de la Misión” – Juntos Contra el Hambre (Fighting Hunger Together) .  Every donation to the Mission Food Hub will be doubled during this campaign.

Tune in
August 3 at 5:00 pm: Part 1 El Son de la Misión” – Juntos Contra el Hambre (Fighting Hunger Together) 

August 10 at 5:00 pm: Part 2 El Son de la Misión” – Juntos Contra el Hambre (Fighting Hunger Together) 

Visit the hub’s fundraising page or find a direct link on the Encore! Summer Concert Series page.

Bridging the technological divide for older adult choir members

Even as the Older Adult Choir Program has moved online with practice videos and Zoom sessions, there are limitations for some of the members. Those who don’t have devices to access Zoom and online videos or access to the internet are not able to participate in the choirs. Especially during the pandemic, when isolation is more prevalent, making the choirs accessible to everyone is of primary concern for María Cora, Older Adult Choir Program Coordinator. She has been working with the Community Tech Network (CTN) and its Home Connect program to address some of the technology challenges CMC’s choir program is facing. She surveyed the Older Adult Choir conductors to nominate members who need devices and training. In working with Home Connect an additional impediment was soon discovered. Many of the nominated older adults speak Spanish or Tagalog primarily and the Home Connect program, which is currently in a pilot phase, is still developing capacity to provide support to clients for whom English is not their primary language. In working with CTN, Cora is hopeful. This past week she learned from Stephen Minor, CTN Senior Program Manager, that the Home Connect Program has more capacity for working with Spanish-speakers through volunteer recruitment. Cora is also helping to connect CTN with someone from the Tagalog community to translate their learning materials.

The Older Adult Choirs will be meeting in a special six-week summer session. Learn more here.