Postcard from Valérie: Welcome to our 40th Season!

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Dear Friends,
 
Welcome to our 40th season!
 
I am thrilled to take the role of SFGC’s Artistic Director this year, after being with you all as Music Director for the past 5 years! During that time, outgoing Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa and I incorporated more contemporary works into SFGC’s repertoire, and I intend to continue on this path by bringing even more artists to our community, increasing SFGC’s diversity in programming, and developing projects to empower our young women by encouraging them to use their voices in every area of their lives. Music education is the perfect tool to develop these concepts, and our entire team is dedicated to building our singers’ confidence and creativity, beginning even when they are 4 years old. I am honored to have the responsibility to lead this important mission.
 
One of my priorities as Artistic Director, and one of this season’s themes, is to incorporate and increase diversity, both by continuing existing initiatives and developing new projects. Some ways in which we celebrate diversity this season are:

  Valérie with several choristers from Dr. Charles R. Drew College Preparatory Academy after class at Bayview Opera House

Valérie with several choristers from Dr. Charles R. Drew College Preparatory Academy after class at Bayview Opera House

  • Programming diverse repertoire in various languages and styles including baroque, classical, impressionist, and contemporary, thereby incorporating several centuries of music history.
     

  • Representing different cultures and ethnicities with composers and performers from different countries who will each bring with them their unique musical background.
     

  • Programming many works by female composers, ranging from the 12thcentury to as-yet-unwritten commissions from 2018.
     

  • Providing access to music education to different communities in San Francisco. I am especially proud of our new collaboration with the Bayview Opera House (BVOH), bringing our curriculum to schools in the Bayview District. This past spring and summer, Prep Chorus Director Emily Ryan and I worked weekly with 10-15 young students from Dr. Charles R. Drew College Preparatory Academy at BVOH. In addition to continuing this program this season we will also expand our outreach program, in collaboration with BVOH, to visit several more schools in Bayview and perform a concert at BVOH for over 200 students.  


Tenor Nicholas Phan, contralto Kirsten Sollek, vocalist Mahsa Vahdat, and Kronos Quartet will join us as featured guest artists to celebrate our 40th Anniversary season. We will also be premiering commissions from composers Richard Danielpour, Fred Frith, and Aviya Kopelman, in addition to working with composers Danny Clay and David Conte. In celebrating diversity, we will also perform works by ten female composers: Hildegard von Bingen, Lili Boulanger, Nadia Boulanger, Louise Talma, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Reena Esmail, Kaija Saariaho, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Mahsa Vahdat and a new commission by Aviya Kopelman.
 

I am looking forward to sharing our next projects with you and in the meantime, please join me in celebrating some of our projects from this past spring and summer.


Last spring, we released our Premier Ensemble’s recording, Final Answer, on Philip Glass’ Label, Orange Mountain Music featuring our long-term friends and collaborators Kronos Quartet, Theo Bleckmann, and Matthew Welch. We are currently working on the post-production of our most recent recording, with The Knights orchestra and their conductor Eric Jacobsen, which was recorded in New York last spring. These projects are living proof of our ability to share the stage with some of the most prominent artists in the country and to be recognized as high profile performers with our own specific sound and technical versatility.

  Members of SFGC’s Premier Ensemble recording in New York with The Knights

Members of SFGC’s Premier Ensemble recording in New York with The Knights

  Valérie and SFGC’s Premier Ensemble with The Knights conductor Eric Jacobsen and composer-violinist Colin Jacobsen (who also played with us last Spring at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts!)

Valérie and SFGC’s Premier Ensemble with The Knights conductor Eric Jacobsen and composer-violinist Colin Jacobsen (who also played with us last Spring at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts!)

I’m also excited to highlight some of our young singers’ accomplishments this summer:
 
Premier Ensemble members Elisabeth Easton and Maggie Lu both received a “5” on their AP Music Theory test. Congratulations to you both and to their Ear Training and AP Music Theory instructor Bobby Chastain.


Erin Enriquez, Sophia Stolte, and Joy Jin sang the role of Yniold in West Edge Opera’s production of Debussy’sPelléas and Mélisande conducted by Music Director Jonathan Khuner. Thank you to our fierce Director of Voice Studies and Chorus School Pedagogy, Justin Montigne, who led them brilliantly through the entire preparation.

  Valérie and West Edge Opera’s Music Director Jonathan Khuner

Valérie and West Edge Opera’s Music Director Jonathan Khuner

  Valérie with SFGC choristers (L-R) Joy Jin, Erin Enriquez, and Sophia Stolte before a West Edge Opera performance

Valérie with SFGC choristers (L-R) Joy Jin, Erin Enriquez, and Sophia Stolte before a West Edge Opera performance

  Joy, Sophia, and Erin (in costume) with West Edge Opera

Joy, Sophia, and Erin (in costume) with West Edge Opera

We also have 14 singers performing with San Francisco Opera in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, which recently opened San Francisco Opera’s 2018-19 season. These choristers spent many hours rehearsing over the summer, and, as always, are having a musically rewarding, fun, and life-changing experience singing on stage at the War Memorial Opera House.

  SFGC choristers in costume with alumna Silvie Jensen before opening night of Pagliacci at SF Opera!

SFGC choristers in costume with alumna Silvie Jensen before opening night of Pagliacci at SF Opera!

There is so much to be proud of as we look back, and so much to celebrate as we start this new year. I wish you a wonderful 40th anniversary season with us!
 
Warm wishes,
Valérie