Interview: Jose Hernandez, Associate Registrar
We have a new face at our Mission District Branch. Help us welcome Jose Hernandez as CMC’s new Associate Registrar. Jose brings his passion for music, arts access, and social justice to his work. He is also an accomplished tenor appearing in local opera productions, in addition to playing many other musical instruments.
What’s your background?
I’m from a small town near Fresno. I’ve been singing my whole life. I grew up playing piano in church, singing in church, and in my highschool choir. I had a great choral music teacher, who had a good understanding of the voice. Even though the school was rural and small, we had excellent choral training and sang some difficult pieces. Not what you’d expect from a farm town school! She encouraged me to pursue music. I came to San Francisco in 1992 to get a music degree. I’m a tenor, and I’ve been singing professionally since 1998.
I’ve worked with non-profits for a long time. I’ve been on the receiving end of non-profit services and at a certain point, I became really interested in working on behalf of organizations with a social mission. I’ve worked with organizations who help people address health issues, such as HIV advocacy and outreach. A few years after working for non-profits, I found myself working for an orchestra, which led me to go back to school to finish my music degree in 2001. I lived in New Orleans and studied with Raquel Cortina at University of New Orleans. Then I moved to Houston and got a Masters of Music at the University of Houston. In Houston, I performed with the Houston Grand Opera (HGO) Chorus. I came back to San Francisco, and am now finishing up a masters degree in jurisprudence in labor and employment law online through Tulane University.
What are some of your career highlights?
One of my most memorable experiences was performing at Houston Grand Opera in Aida, and the staging was such that I was able to stand next to one of my favorite opera singers, Dolora Zajick who performed the role of Amneris. It was a powerful feeling standing next to the enormity of her sound. She was lovely and great to chat with too! Another highlight was getting a call out of the blue to sing a concert with Ben Folds at the Houston Symphony.
How did you first come to CMC?
In the 90’s, when I was applying to go back to school, they required a recording, so I came to CMC to record my audition tape.
What drew you to the position?
My first love is music. I am also a strong believer in providing educational opportunities. It’s a no brainer for me to be part of a music school. I always knew I’d be involved in music education in some way.
How is it going so far?
I started on July 1. So far, it’s going great! It’s good to see all the happy faces headed to their lessons.
What are you passionate about in your work?
I am very happy to be here working at an organization that provides music training for the local community and serves all ages. I love that CMC offers and teaches music in Spanish. CMC’s Latin music program is great. It really makes me happy to hear the music.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m finishing up my graduate degree. I finish in August. Once I have free time again, I’ll enjoy going to the theater and symphony. I like seeing movies. I also want to start volunteering at an organization that serves LGBTQ asylum seekers. My next performance is with Pocket Opera doing the Barber of Seville on July 21 in Palo Alto and on July 28 in San Francisco at the Legion of Honor.