San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) presented “Transforming the Future: A Vision for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music,” a special celebration announcing the leadership role the school will play in its second century

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March 28, 2014

 Bold Transformations:


Innovative Plans for the Future of Music at San Francisco Conservatory of Music


Revealed at Special Conservatory Event, Including:




$17 Million in Lead Gifts Pledged toward Expanded State-of-the-Art Facilities


New Curriculum




New Initiatives in Technology, Media and Improvisational Music




New Partnerships with Leading Organizations and


Professionals in Arts and Education Sectors, Both Locally and Abroad




Establishment of Residency of Renowned Merola Program at Conservatory




Announcement of Endorsement: $1 Million Ann and Gordon Getty Challenge Grant




San Francisco, CA – Last night, San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) presented “Transforming the Future: A Vision for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music,” a special celebration announcing the leadership role the school will play in its second century. The evening was hosted by President David H. Stull and Board of Trustees Chair Timothy W. Foo, and their spouses, Jessica Downs and Virginia Foo.




The program included performances by the New Century Chamber Orchestra led by Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the cross-over bluegrass band Punch Brothers featuring mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile. The focal point of the evening, however, was a strategic plan unveiled by President Stull, who assumed leadership of SFCM in July, 2013. In his speech, Stull referred to a mission statement he issued shortly after taking office:




“As a professional school, we are committed to providing an extraordinary education that prepares our graduates for lives as fully-engaged citizens of the world. Our core mission is to transform our students—artistically, intellectually, professionally and individually. Through the study of music at the highest level, our students learn to seek achievement in every endeavor, to convert challenge into opportunity, to understand the nature of excellence and to pursue their dreams with vigor and determination. We believe that inspiring the imagination, cultivating the artist, honing the intellect and developing the professional are the keys to launching innovative graduates who excel in any field.”




From the Concert Hall stage, President Stull expanded on his statement, articulated a philosophy of curriculum and disclosed a series of initiatives in various stages of development that will place the Conservatory at the forefront of schools preparing artists for success in the twenty-first century:




“Our goal is to transform Conservatory education by inventing a unique curricular model that conjoins the study of music at the highest level to the development of critical thinking skills, an understanding of economic principles and the pursuit of creative work,” Stull explained. “We will foster a learning environment in which artistic achievement, intellectual rigor and professional acumen evolve together.”




A New Model of Conservatory Curriculum


Coursework and Semester Innovations


Conservatory coursework will reinforce interrelationships between the pursuit of artistic excellence, the context of music’s creation and performance, and the achievement of professional success in the arts. Three curricular pillars—musical refinement, theoretical context and individual development—together will enrich an educational model that traditionally focuses almost exclusively on technical proficiency and musical knowledge.


Important changes in the academic calendar in fall 2015 will facilitate this curricular shift. Semesters will divide into two modules, enabling shorter classes of greater depth and focus to coexist alongside full semester courses of broader scope. A brief winter term each January will allow students to pursue professional development projects that motivate them to think beyond the classroom to life after graduation;




                Visiting Faculty Program


Artists and scholars on sabbatical from elite colleges and universities throughout the world will rotate through the Conservatory as part of a visiting faculty program, leading seminars, coaching musicians and teaching courses in half-semester, full-semester or winter term modules. Visiting faculty will be offered an intriguing teaching opportunity, free housing in San Francisco and a robust stipend;




                Professional Development/Business Curriculum


The Conservatory will activate a business curriculum in fall 2015 based on the principles of an MBA with a focus on entrepreneurial efforts. Teaching will consist of the fundamentals of business and accounting, LLC and 501(c)(3) incorporation, the drafting of marketing and business plans,  industry-specific topics and guest lectures by CEOs of startup. All students will enroll in these courses to ensure they have the knowledge and skill to start businesses as self-employed professionals whether in the arts or other sectors;






In fall 2015, the Conservatory will launch a new Pre-College program to better foster the comprehensive growth of its younger students. Already highly esteemed for the success of its students and alumni (notably its back-to-back winners in the Menuhin International Violin Competition in 2012 and 2014), the Pre-college program will offer an intensive experience and a curriculum that provides private lessons, musicianship classes in theory and ear training and small and large ensemble participation for every student;




Technology, Music and Media Initiative Pioneers a New Standard for Educating Composers


                Beginning fall 2015,SFCM will introduce a new composition major for technological media. Leslie Ann Jones, Director of Music Recording and Scoring at Skywalker Sound, joins a growing team of Conservatory advisors and partners including Electronic Arts and Meyer Sound. With traditional composition as the core, instruction will be offered in the creation of music for film, games, video and other emerging multi-media platforms. Students will acquire music technology, sound creation and design skills alongside traditional education in musicianship, theory and composition technique. To support the program at its existing facility on Oak Street, construction of new technology labs will commence in summer 2014;




Professional Alliances


Professional alliances with leading institutions in arts and education and expanded ties to the Pacific Rim will establish an unprecedented network, unique among professional music education programs.




SFJAZZ Collaboration


Recognizing that improvisation is a core musical experience critical to composers and performers alike, SFCM and SFJAZZ Center will embark in the creation of an entirely new course of study in Jazz, Improvisation and Roots Music featuring the members of the resident SFJAZZ Collective as primary faculty. This new major will include as part of its program recordings, outreach and side-by-side performances of students and professionals;




Graduate String Quartet Fellowship Program 


The Conservatory introduces a Graduate String Quartet Fellowship Program in fall 2014. This program will allow a pre-existing string quartet to study tuition-free under the mentorship of faculty and visiting professional quartets in residence, while receiving performance opportunities, a professional recording and professional development support. Inaugural quartets in residence will be the Pacifica Quartet (spring 2015) and the Borromeo String Quartet (spring 2016);




China and Pacific Rim Partnerships


Continuing and broadening its existing sister-school relationship with the Shanghai Conservatory, the Conservatory will also embark upon long-term partnerships with other top-tier institutions in China and the Pacific Rim;




Long-term Residency for San Francisco Merola Opera Program at Conservatory


The renowned Merola Opera Program, a summer training program affiliated with San Francisco Opera Center’s Adler Fellowship Program for young artists, will move to 50 Oak Street this summer for selected rehearsals and work to establish a long-term residency at SFCM beginning summer 2015;


Enhanced relationship with San Francisco Symphony


The San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the San Francisco Symphony enjoy a close working relationship, based not just on physical proximity in the Civic Center but on a shared community of musicians: 26 Conservatory faculty and 10 alumni are current members of the Symphony, approximately 30% of the orchestra’s roster. Building on this relationship, the Conservatory will seek to widen opportunities for Symphony musicians to mentor Conservatory students and for Conservatory students to mentor San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra players;




Residence Hall and Capital Project Development


To date, $17,000,000 in lead gifts from anonymous donors has been pledged to support a capital campaign for a new residence hall in a Civic Center location to be announced by June 30, 2014. The new facility will provide the physical capacity necessary to sustain a world-class professional educational environment. The building will house the majority of students, furnish practice rooms and include social and study spaces. It will also feature two public spaces—a street-level café and a live performance space—as well as a second recital hall and housing for guest artists and scholars.










Ann and Gordon Getty Challenge to Spur Philanthropic Support


After outlining these initiatives, President Stull concluded his remarks on Thursday evening with an important endorsement from one of the country’s leading philanthropists—Gordon Getty, who was in the audience for the announcement. As a first step to ignite community interest and help launch the school’s vision for the future, Ann and Gordon Getty pledged a $1 million challenge grant to inspire investment in the Conservatory’s Strategic Vision and Plan.




About the San Francisco Conservatory of Music:


Founded in 1917, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is the oldest conservatory in the American West and has earned an international reputation for producing musicians of the highest caliber. Notable alumni include Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern, Jeffrey Kahane, Aaron Jay Kernis and Warren Jones, among others. The Conservatory offers its approximately 400 collegiate students fully accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in composition and instrumental and vocal performance. Its Preparatory Division provides exceptionally high standards of musical excellence and personal attention to more than 580 younger students. The Conservatory’s faculty and students give nearly 500 public performances each year, most of which are offered to the public at no charge. Its community outreach programs serve over 1,600 school children and over 11,000 members of the wider community who are otherwise unable to hear live performances. The Conservatory’s Civic Center facility is an architectural and acoustical masterwork, and the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall was lauded by the New York Times as the “most enticing classical-music setting” in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, visit our press kit at











San Francisco Conservatory of Music


50 Oak Street


San Francisco, CA 94102




Where it all begins
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