San Francisco, CA March 12, 2015 – The five-time Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Girls Chorus will give a free public performance Thursday, May 28, in the rotunda of San Francisco City Hall to celebrate the legacy of Elizabeth “Beth” Avakian, who will retire after 32 years as a beloved teacher and SF Girls Chorus School Director in June. During the course of more than three decades, Avakian has been responsible for the music education of thousands of girls and young women.

The dedication, inspiration, professional values and joy of music she has inspired in them and their families and friends have influenced their careers in music and other fields and the community. The 40+ voices of the San Francisco Girls Chorus will be conducted by Music Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe.

Elizabeth Avakian has been a member of the San Francisco Girls Chorus music faculty since 1983.  She directed and supervised the Chorus School from 1983 until 2014, and she currently conducts Level IV, the Chorus School’s most advanced ensemble.  Avakian prepares singers for performances with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, and other notable performance organizations.

She studied conducting at the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music, and received a BM degree from the University of Georgia.  Postgraduate studies were completed at Arizona State University.  She conducts sight-reading clinics for the American Choral Directors Association, adjudicates at choral and vocal music festivals, and serves as a clinician for youth choruses throughout Northern California.

About the San Francisco Girls Chorus For 36 years, the thrilling sounds of the extraordinarily gifted young women of the San Francisco Girls Chorus have captured the attention and fired the imaginations of audiences worldwide. Following a phenomenal 30th anniversary season that included featured performances at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, a New York debut at Lincoln Center and unprecedented ticket sales, the San Francisco Girls Chorus has furthered its status as an internationally celebrated professional choral ensemble. In 2010, the ensemble won its fourth and fifth Grammy Awards for Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. In 2013 it toured to Berlin, Germany, to participate in new Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa’s large-scale spatial symphony, Tempelhof Broadcast, and performed as part of the San Francisco iteration of the ambitious piece, Crissy Broadcast, in October 2013.

The 40 members of the professional-level ensemble are 11-17 years old and come from all over the Bay Area. Each singer represents as much as a decade of musical training and performance experience. Audience members and critics have come to expect a soaring, exquisite sound, remarkable versatility and concerts of great beauty and depth.

Each year, dedicated young artists present season concerts, tour nationally or internationally, and appear with respected sponsoring organizations, including San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Opera. The Chorus has been honored to sing at many prestigious national and international venues, including the World Choral Symposium in Kyoto, Japan, in 2005. In 2007 the Chorus toured to China and South Korea, and Cuba in 2011.

Known as a leader in its field, the San Francisco Girls Chorus was honored in 2001 as the first youth chorus to win the prestigious “Margaret Hillis Award” given annually by Chorus America to a chorus that demonstrates artistic excellence, a strong organizational structure, and a commitment to education. Other awards include three ASCAP awards for Adventurous Programming in 2001, 2004 and 2011.

The San Francisco Girls Chorus has produced CD recordings including Heaven and Earth, a two-disc set that represents some of the greatest sacred and secular repertoire ever written for treble voices; Voices of Hope and Peace, which includes many SFGC commissions; Christmas, a collection of diverse holiday selections; Crossroads, a compilation of world folk music; and Music from the Venetian Ospedali, a disc of Italian Baroque music. The San Francisco Girls Chorus can also be heard on several San Francisco Symphony recordings. Highly regarded for collaboration, the Girls Chorus has participated in joint projects with composers Luciana Souza, Rollo Dilworth and others, and choreographers and directors including Brenda Way, Joe Goode and Stephen Petronio.

The Chorus embarks on a tour of Estonia, Finland and Norway in June, 2015. For more information about the San Francisco Girls Chorus, its School, programs and performances, visit