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SFCM Announces Composer Germaine Franco as 2024 Commencement Speaker

The award-winning composer is behind the music of hit films 'Coco', 'Little', and 'Encanto'. Franco will also be awarded an honorary doctorate at this year's ceremony.

April 17, 2024 by Mark Taylor

Hailed by NPR as a "history-making film composer who never quit the rhythm section" GRAMMY-winning and Oscar-nominated Germaine Franco will speak as part of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s (SFCM) 2024 commencement exercises on May 16 at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco. She will also be awarded an honorary doctorate as part of this year's graduating class celebrations. 

In 2021, Franco became the first woman to ever score a Disney animated film, writing the score for Encanto, which went on to win a GRAMMY award and an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score. Her work on the film Coco also earned her an Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature, making her the first Latina to ever win the category.

"I am excited to participate in this joyful journey of pursuing musical excellence together, one note at a time!" Franco said. "We will celebrate the new graduates for their dedication and achievements through many years of hard work, discipline, and grit. I commend their efforts!"

In addition to her composition work, Franco is also a percussionist, conductor, songwriter, arranger, and music producer. A passionate advocate for music education, she serves on the board of the Neighborhood Music School and gives frequent lectures and workshops worldwide at various universities, public schools, and corporations.

"The stories we tell through music have the ability to touch hearts, transcend cultures, and inspire generations. Music schools like SFCM are the fertile grounds where this art is cultivated. By nurturing aspiring musical minds, we grow not only future composers and performers, but also well-rounded individuals with a deep appreciation for the beauty and power of music.”

Franco has a longstanding relationship with SFCM. In 2021, she was on the committee for SFCM's Emerging Black Composers Project, working alongside SFCM faculty in selecting a winner on the annual project. 

"Germaine Franco is a brilliant artist and heroic trailblazer, a genuine pioneer and an example for all of us," said SFCM President David H. Stull. "She has forged a career defined by exceptionally creative work, while captivating us with her unique compositional voice and deep professional integrity. We are honored to have her as our commencement speaker and look forward to conferring our highest degree for her inspiring contributions to music."

Recent projects by Franco include scoring No.1 Netflix films, The Mother, Work It, and The Sleepover. Her other work highlights include crafting the epic adventure score to Paramount's Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Universal Picture’s Little and Warner Brothers Tag.

Franco's work has been performed in concert halls around the world, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall with The Los Angeles Master Chorale, The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, The San Francisco Symphony, The Puerto Rico Symphony, The National Symphony Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Houston Symphony, The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, The Taipei Symphony Orchestra. The Encanto Live concerts will continue around the world for the duration of 2023.

Germaine’s passion for music education is rooted in her experiences as a Sundance Music and Sound Design Lab Fellow and Mentor. Franco holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

At this year’s commencement, SFCM expects to award 159 credentials across its undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate and artist diploma programs.

Additional details for SFCM’s commencement activities are available online.