Anything Goes Chorus turns 40!

April 15, 2021

CMC’s oldest vocal ensemble, Anything Goes Chorus, is celebrating its 40th anniversary! Since the chorus cannot produce an anniversary concert, they put together three professional videos, the first of which has just been released.

The Anything Goes Chorus began in 1981 in Oakland and was founded and continues to be directed by vocalist, pianist, guitarist, and arranger Ellen Robinson. The chorus launched at a time when, according to Robinson, there were not many opportunities for adult music students to learn to sing in a group. The chorus found its San Francisco home at CMC in 1985. The chorus steadily grew through the years with weekly rehearsals, annual performances, and outreach concerts at retirement communities and homeless shelters. After 25 years, the chorus at CMC was divided into two groups based on level: Anything Goes Chorus I for beginners without audition and Anything Goes Chorus II by audition for singers with more experience.

Through the years, the repertoire and the curriculum of the group have changed. When the group began, Robinson was a singer-songwriter who performed folk music, with the chorus doing the same. Robinson wrote a new arrangement every week at that time. Now the group focuses mostly on jazz, Broadway, and pop music, in keeping with Robinson’s own artistic journey as a jazz vocalist and performer. Anything Goes I has become a group where singers learn not only group singing, but receive individualized instruction from Robinson. Eventually Anything Goes I members can join the second level.

Ellen Robinson, Anything Goes Chorus Founder and Director

Robinson has stayed inspired as the chorus’s director through her love of music and her continuing amazement at hearing harmony sung together by many voices. Being director has taught her many important life lessons over the years, such as patience, acceptance, focus, and organization. As Robinson says about the chorus, “It gives meaning to my life and I see before my eyes that I’m doing good in the world by helping people find their voice.”

During the COVID pandemic, the chorus like almost all CMC programs moved to Zoom. The transition to online has not been easy and has required technological learning curves. Robinson has learned to be spontaneous and intuitive as a teacher once again, finding fun in her online classes. The chorus members have received some unexpected gains from the transition to online learning such as more one-on-one work with Robinson and developing important musicianship skills like working with a metronome and note recognition and location.

In lieu of having a 40th anniversary concert, the chorus has been creating a series of professionally produced performance videos with everyone singing together. The chorus raised more than $6,000 on Go Fund Me to hire a sound engineer/video editor. For the first video to the song “Why We Sing,” Robinson taught her singers how to make quality video recordings, advising them on appropriate backgrounds, lighting, and performing for the camera. She coached her singers on practicing to the rehearsal track that the sound engineer created. Robinson reviewed multiple drafts of videos and gave feedback to her singers, until the final videos were submitted. There are two more videos in the series, which will be released this year.

Remembering Richard Daquioag

March 17, 2021

By Sylvia Sherman, Program Director

In February, CMC lost a friend and colleague. Richard Daquioag, who was a CMC alum, concert hall manager, and most recently treasured accompanist for three of CMC’s Older Adult Choirs: the Aquatic Park, OMI, and Richmond District choirs, died peacefully in his Oakland home in the arms of his partner of 35 years.

Richard is remembered fondly for his love of music, his curiosity for diverse styles of music, and his commitment to working with the community. In his roles as an older adult choir accompanist and concert hall manager, he was kind, patient and friendly with students and performers with whom he came in contact. Richard is missed! Faculty, staff, and students shared memories of Richard below. Read his obituary here. Feel free to email Anne if you have memories to add.


BETH WILMURT
This was very hard news to get. I know it has been hard for the many choir members that he became close with as well. Richard made each choir class feel like a music party with his upbeat, fun loving presence. And after the party he was that friend who listened intently to whatever was going on in your life, and always sent you on your way with the most concise, thoughtful bit of wisdom. When he played the piano in class there would inevitably be some moment that was just so ear catching and uniquely beautiful. I would often ask him what he did to make it happen, and he always had time to share his process and musical knowledge. Sometimes however, it was unexplainable, and just the magic of music pouring out of him. I feel so lucky to have witnessed these moments. I have learned so much from Richard over the years about life and music. I’m going to miss him dearly.

SHIRLEY WONG FRENTZEL
We have lost an ‘essential worker’ in Richard’s passing.  He was a dear dear friend of CMC and his kindness at the front desk welcomed students with a bright smile. While being concert manager, he not only moved chairs in the hall, but greeted young students with verbal encouragement, which extended to the few times I was privileged to be under his ‘managing’ before performances. I received winks, and high 5’s and especially his knowing hands of a shoulder massage blessing before I went on stage. Sometimes I could hear Buddhist words being whispered as well! Richard was initiated into the SF Zen Center as a lay priest. Sometimes we would share our Buddhist moments at CMC, which are some of my cherished memories of dear Richard. I do miss his passionate piano jazz licks with a Latin kick. R.I.P. Richard!

CHUS ALONSO
It makes me very sad to hear about the passing of Richard Daquoiag, the coolest guy! What a loss! He was the impersonation of the CMC hero: a real community builder, a creative spirit with music in his blood, and a compassionate and generous person. I always enjoyed having him around. He always made insightful contributions to the conversation. He was part of my CMC ensemble, Potingue, at the end of the nineties and the beginning of the century (PICTURE BELOW). And, in the years after, he supported Potingue’s concerts as concert manager. I have very fun memories of him. I don’t know much about his personal story, but I am sure it was an interesting one. My sincere condolences to his family and friends, and to all of us in the CMC community.

 

JANET HOUSER
It was a bright part of Tuesdays here at RDB when Richard would arrive to accompany the Older Adult Choir.  Joyous sounds came from the Grand Piano Room when he played.

LINDA HITCHCOCK
I was greatly saddened by the news of Richard’s death. I will always remember him as an outstanding concert hall manager, talented musician, and caring friend. His compassion, love of music, and dedication to others was always evident as he went about his daily activities with patience, good humor, and kindness to everyone. He will be sorely missed.

MARIA CORA
So sad to hear this…Richard was a sweet man and I am honored to have known and worked with him. My heart goes out to his partner, his family and friends, and to Beth. 

ANNE MITCHELL
He lived such a beautiful life. His obituary is moving. I remember Richard through the devotion of the Older Adult Choir members who absolutely adored him. It’s quite a thing to bring joy and happiness to others. 

Older Adult Choir Member memories:

People shared fond memories of Richard’s last performance with the choir, when he played for their Christmas concert and surprised them by singing at the end!


One choir member remembers Richard being very down to earth and always 100% present when talking.

2019. Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. Aquatic Park Older Adult Choir. Photo: Judy Rosenfeld


Another choir member remembers talking about jazz of the old days – on the 19 bus after choir session. Others recounted what a joy it was to hear Richard  accompany one of the choir members during the session break on two favorite songs in particular “I’ll be Around” and “Again.”


Several choir members went to see Richard play in different clubs – and remarked on what a great performer he was and how he got people to sing with his trio!

Students successes on recent exams

February 18, 2021

Students of piano faculty Christian Bonvin and Matylda Rotkiewicz recently took ABRSM and MTAC Certificate of Merit Exams with wonderful results. 

Bonvin’s students Kelsey Wong (age 13) and Elaine Chen (age 14) took and passed the ABRSM exams. Kelsey Wong, who is a CMC Merit Scholar, passed the grade 4 level with merit. Elaine Chen, a freshman at SOTA, passed grade 8 with distinction. Grade 8 is the last grade before the professional degree. “I was happy to finally have finished by passing grade 8,” said Chen. “I had prepared for at least half a year. I started preparing last year, but due to COVID I couldn’t do the test. I’m excited about the next grade because the pieces are more interesting. It’s a challenge for me.” 

The students who took the MTAC Certificate of Merit exams were tested on February 15. Piano faculty Matylda Rotkiewicz created a Zoom study group for two of her students, Jason Mei (age 11) and Peilin Yu (age 12), to work on the theory portion of the level 3 exam. “It was so much fun teaching them, watching  them interact, and seeing them diving into music,” Rotkiewicz reported. “No matter how high the score will be I’m so proud of them, and I’m so thankful for the support of their parents. We went from not knowing what the  difference between major and  minor was to analyzing short excerpts of music, identifying chords, inversions, intervals, primary triads, key signatures, and even cadences…Even during the pandemic we can make things happen!”

About the study groups Jason Mei said, “ It was fun because sometimes I didn’t know the answers to the questions, but my study partner did. So, it was helpful to get another person’s perspective.”

Another of Rotkiewicz’s students, Zen Wold (age 12), also took the MTAC exam. He took the level 7 test and is also applying for the MTAC State Convention Recital, which is a very prestigious honor if he’s accepted. “This is my first time taking an exam like this,” commented Wold. “I’ve only played piano for a couple years. I thought the theory was very easy. It was fun to know the answers.” For the technique and performance portion of the exam, the exercises and pieces had to be played while being filmed. Zen said, “Recording the songs and technique exercises took me hours. The pieces were really hard. I played a level 9, 20th Century piece Hesitation Tango by Samuel Barber which was different for me, since I hadn’t played contemporary music before.” The results of the MTAC exams are given in early March. 

Have a story about a CMC student who has recently taken a music exam? Feel free to share the news with Anne.


Hear Zen Wold from his performance at Virtual Field Day 2020

Welcome, Diana Jones, Mission District Branch Registrar!

February 18, 2021

CMC is delighted to welcome Diana Jones as our Mission District Branch Registrar. She brings creativity, experience, humor, and a passion for arts access to our team.  We look forward to all the ways she will help people connect with music-making and reaching their musical goals.


 

You’ve been with us a short time. How have you been settling in?

My first day was November 23, and it’s going well. Everyone is really kind and willing to jump in. I love that! I really like the vibe at CMC. My role as the Registrar looks different because of the pandemic; there are some of the same elements as would be present for in-person learning, but supporting the fully online experience for teachers and students presents ongoing challenges and creative opportunities. Even though it’s pretty quiet around the Mission Branch, I’ve met some of the Mission faculty in-person, and it’s been lovely. CMC has character— it feels quirky and lively— full of people with robust personalities, who are creative and fun, and who like to give of themselves and to music.

 

What drew you to CMC and to the Registrar role?

I’m excited to be in this role because I’m an artist and a performer. Also, I like creating structure, organizing information, and helping people connect. I love that CMC’s mission has been about making music accessible to everyone. In all my work accessibility has been at the core of what I care about. I am a brown lady, and I pride myself on building bridges and defying stereotypes, exemplifying much more than the mainstream narrative would say about me. I feel like I have the opportunity to do all those things here and help people make music by being in this role!

 

What are some of the things you’re most proud of so far in your career?

I’ve really enjoyed working in arts education. I am proud of the time I spent working in development with a nonprofit called Youth Alive. I am proud of the time I spent working in financial wellness. I’m proud of performing on the Globe Stage. I’m proud of finding ongoing opportunities to continue to perform in this day and age. 

 

What are you passionate about in your work?

I am passionate about seeing people light up and do more, achieve more, be part of more than they perceived themselves to be a part of or do. I get really excited when someone doesn’t like their job and then they tap into a project or a piece of their work that makes them light up. I really enjoy bringing disparate groups together in my work. It brings me joy.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m writing a web series and taking voice lessons with Nena Aldaz. I love open water swimming, yoga, and running. During the pandemic, I took my first stand up paddle board class and I’ll probably do that some more. I have a little dog and a man I love…and we are healthy, so I am grateful and pretty content.

Musical haiku project helps YMP students reflect on current times

Karman Liang demonstrates the musical haiku composing process during a YMP Zoom workshop. 

February 17, 2021

By Sylvia Sherman, Program Director

Last spring, Teen Jazz Orchestra Director Marcus Shelby started a musical reflection process in his class to elicit responses from his students to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shelter-in-place lockdown, and racial justice protests, helping students to connect those responses to musical vocabulary as building blocks toward composition.

This winter, CMC’s Young Musicians’ Program is drawing from this experience to shape its annual composition project. On January 9, YMP Coordinator, Katie Wreede shared a framework for the project with Young Musicians Program middle and high school students to create “musical haikus.” That day, Berkeley poet Alan Bern did a brief presentation for the students emphasizing the importance of painting a picture with words and shared his own COVID-19 musical Haiku. YMP faculty member Christian Bonvin offered some of his prior compositions created from musical haikus. Then YMP student leader, Karman Liang shared a haiku she had developed in advance of this presentation to demonstrate with Katie Wreede how the composition process would work for the students. Karman started by sharing her poem:

This is a grim time.
Stress, fear, and loneliness loom.
But we’ll rise above.

In Karman’s words, “I wanted this poem to reflect on what many people, including myself, have felt during the pandemic but also to be a message of hope, because we will all overcome this battle together.”

Karman and Katie modeled how to create a musical reflection from the intent of the poem. Katie led the students through a “response” process in which they gave one word emotional responses to Karman’s poem. She next invited the students to share how to musically represent each word. From this process, Karman was given various kinds of musical sounds to create, such as long notes, low notes, low notes with tremolo, and high notes at the end to reflect the more hopeful ending of her poem.

Following this workshop and through the help of their theory teachers, each YMP student has worked on developing their own musical haiku, which were recently shared in an informal listening.

Following the workshop, we asked Karman Liang to reflect on her process of writing a haiku.

“I had three simple goals in mind when I was writing my haiku poems: short, vivid, and somewhat current. Since it was recommended that these haikus are based on current events, I drew inspiration from my experiences during COVID isolation and how it has affected me. For example, I asked myself how I was staying grounded or how I have survived distance learning.

“The writing process was a chance for me to sit down and reflect on everything that has happened to me during this pandemic. I reflected on the positive aspects of it, such as hiking through the serene forests, and the more negative aspects, such as feeling very anxious and lonely amid shelter-in-place. I also gave myself a very small timeframe to write each poem to avoid overthinking them. As I thought and wrote, I began to develop a deeper understanding of my experiences during these strange times. For me, translating my thoughts into haiku poems was a really interesting way to express them. All in all, I enjoyed the whole process of writing these haikus.”

“This is the haiku I chose to musicalize, which reflects how I felt during the dreadful summer:

The same off-white walls
The same worrisome thoughts
Suffocated by it all

“To be able to musicalize this haiku, I needed to have compositional elements to work with. I did that by turning descriptive words of the poem into musical terms. First, I thought of words describing how the haiku made me feel. The first line gave off a bored and lonely mood and the second and third lines made me feel pain and heaviness. After that, using the words bored, lonely, pain, and heaviness, I started to think about musical elements that reflected these terms. The words bored and lonely made me think of slow, smooth, soft, which translates to legato, adagio, and piano, in musical vocabulary. The words pain and heaviness reminded me of trembling and loud, which is put as tremolo and forte, in musical terms. With this information, I was ready to begin composing a motif.”

Introducing Chantel Hernandez, Program Coordinator and MDYMP Coordinator!

January 22, 2021

The CMC community is thrilled to welcome Chantel Hernandez, Program Coordinator and MDYMP Coordinator. Chantel joins us fresh from her work in District Nine Supervisor Hillary Ronan’s office. She is deeply invested in her work in the Mission and is also a talented vocalist. In her work as at CMC Program Coordinator and MDYMP Coordinator she is joining two of her passions—the Mission and music.


 

You began working at CMC on January 4. How is it going so far?

It’s been going really well. One of the first things I’ve noticed is how supportive everyone is. It’s taken me a little bit of time to get my bearings, but now I really feel like I can be creative and provide ideas. The MDYMP and Teen Jazz Orchestra faculty, who I’ve been working with a lot, have great intentions, speaking to things that are happening in the world right now, and providing reassurance to the youth. It’s inspiring to sit in on classes. I’m hearing new music, so I have a list of new music artists to check out too. It’s also inspiring to be working with the staff and hearing the creativity of everyone’s ideas. 

Tell us a little about your background?

I’m originally from a small town in Washington called Wapato. I’ve moved around a lot, but have lived in San Francisco for almost seven years. I studied Urban Planning at SFSU. I was interested in how progressive politics inspires the culture in the city, which led me to focus on policy. I did an internship in District Nine Supervisor Hillary Ronan’s office. District Nine includes the Mission District, which reminds me of my hometown, so it was really great working for the Mission. I was excited to be working in a position that was catering to the needs of the people in the Mission, along with everyone else in District Nine. I got involved with Accion Latina as a volunteer. I started working on a project called La Pulguita out of Supervisor Ronan’s office. It was a free market that provided street vendors a safe and dignified place to sell their things. I’ve had this passion for music my whole life and have done performances throughout the Mission. I actually performed at CMC singing with Leo Rosales from Malo. 

What are some of the things you’re most proud of so far in your work life?

My work with La Pulguita, which was led by my friend Nathalie Guillen, is one of the things I am most proud of so far. I worked directly with people, hearing their needs, and what they were looking for in being able to sell their goods. Even though there were challenges, we were able to provide the vendors a good and safe space and also take into account newcomers in the Mission, bridging those two communities to find a middle ground. 

How did you first hear of CMC? 

One of my most memorable musical performances took place at CMC. I sang with Leo Rosales of Malo at a fundraiser with the SFSU Afro-Cuban Ensemble led by John Calloway!

What are you passionate about in your work?

I am passionate about working in one of my favorite places in the city, which is the Mission, and working with one of my favorite things, which is music—providing the community in the Mission with access to music. CMC is family-oriented which is what also drew me to the Mission. The Mission feels like home. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’ve picked up gardening during quarantine. All my grandparents love to garden. Putting in the work, getting dirty, and getting to harvest your tomatoes—it’s a nice cycle. I eventually will be taking lessons at CMC. 

“What we’re listening to” with Jono Kornfeld: Spotlight on the Guitar

January 2021

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

Jono Kornfeld teaches guitar, in addition to piano, composition, and music theory. His playlist is a journey into the guitar in its various and diverse forms. It should be noted that one of the songs on his playlist is from his funk jazz group Hop Sauce. (He neglected to mention it!) Hear Jono talk about this playlist in the video below.


Take a deep dive with faculty at CMC Sessions

Faculty from the Cultural Traditions Department, chaired by Tregar Otton, are leading four months of free workshops exploring a rich selection of music topics. Participants of all levels can take a deep dive into jazz, Chinese-American, Latin, old-time, gypsy jazz, and genre-crossing styles. The sessions offer engaging discussions, inspiring demonstrations, and musical tips in a creative format. Participants will have an opportunity to interact with the faculty through a Q & A. All levels of music students are invited to participate in as many workshops as they choose.

You’re invited to these free CMC Sessions:

Starting on February 9, Maestro and Nola Curtis are launching the series by leading a workshop on the impact of Black culture on different traditions of ensemble singing. Their session will be eye-opening in its scope, weaving cultural and historical revelations on a range of styles and variety of genres. On February 23, Jon Jang will share his musical language reflecting on his formation as a Chinese-American jazz artist and his revolutionary compositional style that integrates jazz and Chinese traditional songs.

Charlie Gurke will lead a session on March 9 exploring improvisation and using the clave rhythmic groove to develop ideas for all types of instruments. Miguel Govea offers a workshop about the intersection between culture, community activism, music creation, and education on March 23.

Grammy-winning artist Omar Ledezma Jr. will teach a session on April 13 about the extraordinary life and career of the Panamanian singer Rubén Blades, analyzing selected songs musically and lyrically, and performing some of his music. April 27 will feature Erik Pearson with a session all about the banjo—from its African and Caribbean roots to the present.

On May 11, Scott Feichter offers a workshop on Gypsy Jazz with musical examples tracing the history of this music and offering a glimpse at the latest generation of players. Allison Lovejoy completes the series on May 25 with a session all about how learning multiple musical styles has been important to her development as a pianist, composer, and teacher.

Review: “Spotlight on Repertoire by Black Composers”

December 18, 2020
By Michaela Overall, piano faculty and Faculty Council Member-at-large

At a recent Piano Department seminar on December 11, “Spotlight on Repertoire by Black Composers,” Jennifer Peringer and Jon Jang presented a remarkable presentation on the contribution of Black composers within the classical canon. Peringer and Jang not only acknowledged the existence of Black classical composers, but the unique compositional voice of each writer.

For Peringer, her research into Black composers was inspired by the recent murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020. As conversations around dismantling racism have emerged, Peringer considered her role as a “classical pianist in helping to transform the institutional racism and sexism within the classical music world.” With brief performances of works by Zenobia Powell Perry, Tania León, and Erollyn Wallen, Peringer presented a variety of pieces that are suitable for both piano student and performer.

For Jang, his awareness and appreciation of Black composers reaches back into the 1970s during his time at Oberlin College. While studying music, Jang was mentored by Dr. Wendell Logan who taught the course Afro-American Music History. For Jang, this was “one of the most inspiring courses” taken at Oberlin. He would later compose an orchestral piece honoring the Chinese railroad workers who lost their lives while building the Transcontinental Railroad, a moment in Chinese American history that serves as a cultural connection for Jang. Black composers such as William Grant Still, Nathaniel Dett, Margaret Bonds, and Florence Price were discussed while Jang explored their various influences and compositional techniques such as Serialism, African rhythms and instrumentation, spirituals, and the blues. In addition to the spotlight on Black Composers, Jang acknowledged contemporary Black concert pianists such as Samanth Ege and Michelle Cann.

For more information, explore the growing list of works by Black composers compiled by the Ross McKee Foundation or visit the Music by Black Composers Directory. Jon Jang also compiled a list of resources for further study, which he used in his presentation.

Welcoming Susan Comstock & Michelle Navarrete

December 15, 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, we wanted to introduce some of our newest staff members. Both Susan Comstock and Michelle Navarrete started working in July. Like many staff members, Susan and Michelle are both artists—Susan is a visual artist and jewelry maker and Michelle is an actor and singer. We are very happy to have these amazing women onboard.
As the Finance Manager, Susan is a key member of the finance team, partnering with the executive team to manage the financial activities of the organization, Michelle is the Older Adult Choir Coordinator and works with the thirteen older adult choirs in partnership with senior centers throughout San Francisco.


Susan Comstock, Finance Manager

How has your time been at CMC so far?

CMC is a top-notch, quality workplace. Everyone is so nice! Overall, I’m impressed with the strength of the programs and love of everyone who supports the work. The management team is supportive. Julie has a great way of making staff feel at home. I feel supported in my work and appreciated. My 15 year old son started piano lessons in August too. He’s studying with Evelyn Davis and getting so much out of the connection with her. He’s self-motivated and practicing on his own!

I hear that you come to CMC with a background in finance at other nonprofits. Tell me about some of the other work you’ve done.

I learned book-keeping through on-the-job experience. I’ve worked in for-profit companies and also in the nonprofit world. When I worked at the Foundation for the People of Burma, I learned about nonprofit finance. I started the audit committee at that organization and eventually worked in a management role. It was a steep learning curve and also deeply gratifying. I would hear about the program impacts through letters from kids. Hearing about the changes in people’s lives and knowing that finance numbers support a qualitative change in people’s lives was very rewarding. I also work in HR (human resources), which really rounds out the finance role since you get to know people. It’s been really enjoyable to have direct contact with the CMC faculty in the on-boarding process, etc.

What drew you to finance? 

I take pride in both finance and human resource management. Finance is a critical tool for strategy and decision-making. If my contribution helps the organization run smoother through better and greater ease in reporting, it makes the job of reporting to the major stakeholders easier for the executive team. This helps the organization meet its mission effectively. Effective human resources management helps make an employee’s work life easier, which is really important for the health of any organization.

Do you have an interest in music? Any other interests or hobbies you’d care to share?

I grew up around music. My step-mom played international folk music and someone in my house was always playing guitar, or mandolin, or piano. Everyone in my family plays an instrument. I think musicians are our teachers. Music informs our generation about what’s happening in the world and how to live well. It is the most accessible art form. As Bob Marley says, music makes you feel no pain. It’s a language that everyone can speak. It’s essential, soothing, uplifting, and spiritual. 

I have a background in jewelry, mostly metal-smithing and lost-wax casting, which I still do. I am a creative person and have taken classes recently in stone carving and screen printing. I also enjoy spending time with my son, which we’ve been doing a lot during the lockdown. 


Michelle Navarrete, Older Adult Choir Coordinator

How has your time been at CMC so far?

CMC offers so much to the community. There is such love and care from CMC. Everyone who works here really cares about their department, what they do, what CMC offers for the greater community. That love and that heart is felt throughout the music center programs. It’s a great organization to work for. Sitting in on the older adult choirs and classes has been great. Beth (Beth Wilmurt) has been doing these pop-in choirs. She had a Children’s Chorus member pop into one of her older adult choirs to sing a song. That kind of level of giving and consideration is really sweet, especially during this time.

You come to CMC with a background of working for other nonprofits. Tell me about some of the other work you’ve done. 

I worked at SFMOMA in Membership. I learned a lot of coordinator skills in Membership. Membership was its own team within the bigger community of SFMOMA. I really enjoyed being part of that team and serving the community of members. We made sure member needs were met and also made the program accessible and affordable as much as possible. Our Membership team really worked to keep the member community strong  and accessible.

What drew you to working as the Older Adult Choir Coordinator? 

Music means so much to me. I sang in choirs in high school and college. I’ve done a lot of musical theater. Knowing the connecting-quality of music and how music brings people together and what  it feels like, as a singer, really drew me to the position. Especially at a time when shelter-in-place is happening, music and art are what we need right now. Working to make music accessible is really important to me. Music is healing and this really drew me to the position. On Zoom you can’t sing together. But, the happiness you see with the Older Adult Choir members, even when they’re muted. You see them singing and smiling. You can just tell that the people are getting so much from this program.

Tell me about your work as a singer and theater artist.

My first love is performance as an actor and singer. I come from a Theater Arts background. I just finished a Zoom play called Corazon of a Latina by Linda Amayo-Hassan
. It felt so good to be creative again. The technology piece was nerve racking. The play was great. It was a story I felt really proud to be part of. It was a new, collaborative play. The playwright interviewed us and created these characters and stories. I feel passionately about telling our (BIPOC, Latinx, LGBTQ) stories that haven’t been told before. There is a movement to have our stories told, and I want to be part of that movement. We need to develop healthy ways of telling our stories by us. It felt really good to do this play. There is a lot of critique coming up right now in white American theater. People want our stories to be told. I hope we push forward in these things. 

 

I’ve also been working with YBCA doing COVID safety education as an SF Arts Ambassador out in different communities and neighborhoods in the city. My actor friend and I dress up like the two Friedas (Las dos Fridas) with masks and stand six-feet apart. We’re promoting wearing masks, social distance, washing hands, and other COVID safety. The program employs performing artists that have lost work.