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My Life in Music: Seven Students Share Their Stories

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WATCH: Get to know students, how they started their music journey, and what brought them to SFCM.

February 21, 2024 by Mark Taylor

Like the notes of a symphony, everyone's story in music is different—as is a student's journey to SFCM.

The moments that led up to picking up an instrument that would change your life vary greatly, from five-year-old Joshua Gordon, whose mother gave him a cello as big as he was, to pianist Lauryn Kurniwan, who fell in love with film scores as a teenager, to Britton Fugazzi, who was in fifth-grade band and the trombone was the only instrument he could make a sound with!

These musical moments are found far and wide at SFCM and come from all over the world. Born in Cuba, Jennifer Redondas was gifted a violin from her mother when she was five. In Venezuela, Fabio Valery was 11 when he started playing bassoon, and in the Philippines, a young Aaliyah Capili grew up listening to her cousins sing karaoke, which helped her discover her singing ability and inspired her to turn it into a career.  

These students all then found their way to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The SFCM Newsroom asked these current students about how they got their start in music, and what brought them to the Conservatory.

Jennifer Redondas, Violin

"I chose SFCM because of the Professional Development (PDEC) classes, and the department in general. All of the classes help you to become more than a musician, it's more about being an entrepreneur. I never pictured myself on the West Coast but I am very glad I made that decision."

Britton Fugazzi, Trombone

"The close-knit community of SFCM really allows you to get to know everyone: All the different backgrounds, all the diversity that is here, it's really wonderful. That kind of community, that kind of dedication to your craft, is really only found in the top-level schools and that definitely is one of the best reasons to come here for sure."

Joshua Gordon, Cello

"Choosing SFCM was mostly because I was interested in a lot of the really big professional opportunities that students get here through their teachers. A lot of the teachers here are really well connected and I knew San Francisco is a really big hub for classical music. It has been great to get that step into the professional world early, and I don't think I would have gotten that as effectively at other places as I've gotten here."

Lauryn Kurniawan, Technology and Applied Composition

"I chose SFCM because I found out about the TAC program where they combine technology and practical composition music theory together. That is just something super unique. To be able to be in a program that understands technology really well and apply that to something very musical, very abstract, that's super important."

Lorenna Garcia, Viola

"I chose SFCM because they offered a lot of professional development driven courses and opportunities that I could pursue on top of performance, so I can focus on my own playing, but also expand myself as a musician. I also really like how close SFCM is to all of the major performance arts entities, the Opera and the Symphony are down the street and you have SFJAZZ and the Ballet."

Fabio Valery Villanova, Bassoon

"What I like about SFCM is that the community is just really full of really passionate people who work really hard at becoming better at their instruments and trying to find ways to connect with the audience, and that really resonated with the type of musician that I am. Just finding the people around me wanted to bring that up was just for me the perfect school, it just connected with me immediately."

Aaliyah Capili, Voice

"I chose SFCM because of the performance opportunities that they provide to students. As singers we get to do operas, and I think that is important, just practicing to perform. I also really like how the people at SFCM are very supportive and kind and how everyone is so talented and I love learning from all of them." 

Learn more about studying at SFCM.