Community Music Center celebrates 100 years with a concert on steroids

Feb. 28, 2022
San Francisco Examiner
James Ambroff-Tahan
Community Music Center celebrates 100 years with a concert on steroids

For 100 years now, San Francisco’s Community Music Center has stood out for its mission of making music accessible for all people, regardless of financial means. It has offered classes tuition-free or on a sliding scale taught by local talents in Latin, jazz, blues, Middle Eastern and string orchestra, serving 3,000 student annually.

On Wednesday evening, CMC will celebrate its centennial with a benefit gala and concert of star performing artists at the Julia Morgan Ballroom. Performers include mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, tenor Pene Pati, soprano Amina Edris, contralto Paula West, pianist Jake Heggie, guitarist Jason Vieaux, trumpeter Sean Jones, the Marcus Shelby Trio, the Alexander String Quartet and percussionist John Santos.

“Everybody who is performing has been a part of our mission, whether they have worked with our students, done concerts here for free or done master classes,” said CMC Executive Director Julie Rulyak Steinberg of the gala. “We thought, ‘What if we had a CMC recital on steroids?’”

CMC is growing in physical size and number of students served. In February, the nonprofit broke ground on an expansion of its main Mission District Branch at 552 Capp St. — there’s also a campus in the Richmond District at 741 30th Ave. — which will allow CMC to teach music to 1,000 more students.

“There is a struggle between wanting to grow profitably and reaching more folks,” Steinberg said. “We are lucky to have a huge resource of really talented teachers and people working with us; but for us, it’s about capacity and space. CMC has been so constrained by how much space and financial resources we have available.”

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