San Francisco Conservatory of Music Announces 2016-17 Season

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) today announces the details of its 2016-17 season. Continuing the trend set in recent years by SFCM's intrepid approach to programming and curricular focus, this season offers events devoted to interlinking themes that stretch from academics to performance. The fall semester covers music, politics, and social justice, investigating aspects of social and political change in musical commentary from Beethoven's political influences to nineteenth-century French opera to the activism of Lou Harrison. The spring semester concentrates on folk elements and regional traditions in music and literature throughout the repertoire. These domains are explored in the contexts of history, theory, the humanities, and performance.

"The 2016-17 season at SFCM is exceptional in both quality and scale," says San Francisco Conservatory of Music President David H. Stull. "We are pleased to welcome celebrated artists Deborah Voigt, Susanne Mentzer, and Eric Dudley to our faculty, who will be featured throughout the year. Our connected learning series will focus on politics and social justice in the fall and global folk influences in the spring. This new direction in long-form curation intertwines the academic focus of each term with the events and performances at SFCM, creating an elegant season linked by themes and ideas. The series is designed to tell a story, harnessing every outlet at the institution from the classroom to the concert hall."

An SFCM tradition, Kick-off Weekend showcases the breadth of programs at SFCM by presenting several department-specific concerts. This short festival runs from September 16-18 and features a chamber music concert highlighting works by Shostakovich and Rzewski; an orchestra concert welcoming incoming music director Eric Dudley (of Roomful of Teeth); a "100 Guitars" extravaganza with works by Terry Riley and Henry Brant, as well as the West Coast premiere of David Lang's questionnaire; and a historical performance program covering social justice and income inequality through the music of Rodgers and Hart, Noël Coward, Kurt Weill, Irving Berlin, and other masters of vaudeville and early American and British musical theatre.

As artist residencies have been a staple at SFCM, the 2016-17 season offers several unique opportunities for students and concertgoers to experience performances and master classes featuring world-renowned artists. Of particular note are the season-long residencies with pianists Leon Fleisher (September, November, February, and March) and SFCM's most recent honorary doctorate recipient Garrick Ohlsson (October, January, and April). Additional residencies include those of pianist Warren Jones (October), violinistGeoff Nuttall (November), violin and piano duo Donald and Vivian Weilerstein(November), soprano Patricia Racette (January), and the Miró Quartet (January).

In October, SFCM will again host the biennial Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute for Music Criticism. This third incarnation of the Institute will feature internationally recognized journalists from the classical music world including Anne Midgette, Tim Page,John Rockwell, Alex Ross, and Heidi Waleson, as well as San Francisco critic Joshua Kosman. The Rubin Institute offers a select number of fellows the opportunity to receive mentorship from some of the most visible and respected classical music writers today. Fellows will observe and comment on performances by the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and more. On the final day of the Institute, the $10,000 Rubin Prize in Music Criticism will be awarded to one Rubin Institute fellow demonstrating outstanding promise in music criticism. The public is also invited to vie for the chance to win the $1,000 Everyone's a Critic Audience Review Prize by submitting a review of one or more performances during the Institute.

The 2016-17 opera season at SFCM offers four works, giving students the opportunity to experience firsthand the styles that have defined musical periods. Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw comes to the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall for multiple performances in December. In addition, the opera program teams with the historical performance department to present Handel's Atalanta (concert version) in March and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in April. Also in April, a double bill features two one-act operas: Puccini's Suor Angelica and Massenet's Le portrait de Manon.

The Conservatory Orchestra is also taking on adventurous programming in the new curated season with incoming music director Eric Dudley. Tying into the theme centered around music, politics, and social justice, the year's first orchestra performance in September features Joan Tower's Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1 and John Adams' The Chairman Dances, as well as Beethoven's Symphony No. 3. An additional orchestra concert in October features works by Shostakovich and Brahms, and the world premiere of SFCM student David Grahame Taylor's Within a Forest Dark (a winner of SFCM's Highsmith Award). In the spring semester, SFCM's annual Concerto Competition winners - Ian Rowe (guitar), Yilin Liu (piano), and Won Lee (flute) - will perform works by Joaquín Rodrigo, Liszt, and Lowell liebermann, respectively. Two additional concerts highlight global folk influences with works by Smetana, Ravel, Dvo?ák, Barber, Stravinsky, and Ruth Crawford Seeger.

The New Music Ensemble, a fixture at SFCM since former faculty member John Adams helmed the group in the 1970s, will perform several concerts this year. In September, conductor Nicole Paiement leads the group in a concert featuring works by Hans Werner Henze and Giya Kancheli, and on November 4, visiting artist Alan Pierson (Alarm Will Sound) gives a pre-election concert with special guest Angela Davis. In April, Paiement once again conducts the New Music Ensemble in a concert in observance of the centennial of Lou Harrison.

The popular Faculty Artist Series returns in the 2016-17 season to feature acclaimed SFCM artists from multiple departments. (See chronological listing for details.) Another active SFCM series is Alumni Artist Insights, which welcomes back exceptional graduates who continue to perform at the highest level. This season, SFCM presents tenor Brian Thorsett ('04) in October and pianist Elizabeth Dorman ('09) in March in addition to several artists performing on the Faculty Artist Series who are both graduates and faculty members. The Hot Air Music Festival, an SFCM tradition, returns this year for an all-day contemporary music event on March 5, programmed and produced by alumni and current SFCM students and featuring a number of new works.

For more information on programs, faculty, and events, visit

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