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Alumni Success Stories

Renowned ensembles. Principal positions. Tech innovation. SFCM alumni—and even current students—are finding themselves at the forefront of the creative world, performing with the most acclaimed orchestras and working at the most forward-thinking companies in today’s professional sphere.

Here’s how SFCM helped shaped who they are today.

Evan Kahn

Evan Kahn '18

San Francisco Opera Orchestra
Principal Cello
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I was lucky enough to study entirely with tremendously supportive teachers. The chamber music master’s program at SFCM is one of the best educational experiences around, not just for chamber music, but also for leadership positions in orchestras. I owe a lot of my ability to lead and listen to my time in SFCM’s chamber program.

Vivian Ling

Vivian Ling ‘22

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
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I loved my time at SFCM. I miss my teachers and the supportive faculty. I feel so blessed to have worked with the faculty through my years in SFCM. I wouldn’t be able to reach my goals without them.

Stewart Rosen

Stewart Rosen '14

Latin GRAMMY winner
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In addition to my work with Tinto Tango, I also play opera, orchestra, jazz, musical theater, rock, and all kinds of pop music. When I’m asked to learn a new style of music, I know that I can rely on the tools I learned at SFCM.

Seira McCarthy

Seira McCarthy '20

Music Designer
Sony Interactive Entertainment
Read More About Sierra

I came into the TAC program assuming that I would become a composer. I had no idea what I was gonna do with my life, to be honest with you, but I knew I wanted to do music. And TAC really helped me solidify, understand, and expand my idea of what is possible with audio and music.

Christian Hales

Christian Hales '21

Charleston Symphony
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This school was exactly what I needed. Not just Scott Pingel, my teacher, but other teachers gifted me significant amounts of time to help me succeed.

Jory Fankuchen

Jory Fankuchen '2000

San Francisco Chamber Orchestra
Principal Conductor
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The reason I think I'm in music today is because I fell in love with playing and studying chamber music. SFCM has an incredible chamber music department; it always has.em>

Ani Bukujan

Ani Bukujian '18

San Francisco Ballet Orchestra
2nd Violin Section, Principal

From the very start I was given a lot of opportunities and felt very active as a performer both in orchestra and chamber music. Ian Swensen, Dimitri Murrath, and Paul Hersh, as well as the rest of the chamber coaches, helped me see chamber music in a totally different way, and my recent achievement of becoming the Principal Second Violinist of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra would have been impossible if I did not have the support of my private teacher Sasha Barantschik as well as my excerpt class teacher Catherine Van Hoesen. This was definitely a year to remember!

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Colin Grant '17

Sony Playstation
Associate Dialogue Coordinator
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Joining TAC really opened my mind to all the ways in which audio is used in media. I use the skills that I honed in TAC everyday, both when I'm working on dialogue for games at work and on my own independent projects at home.

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Amy Hillis '14

1st Prize Winner of 41st Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition

I am extremely grateful for my time at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music because I am still continuously inspired by what my SFCM teachers taught me: to not just play the notes, but to actually share the music in a way that is real, genuine, and moves people. Particularly, my former teacher, Ian Swensen, allowed me to realize that playing the violin is not about mastering a technique, but rather it's about being able to navigate the instrument so that we can transport audiences to another place and make them forget they are just listening to a violin.

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Natalie Image '18

San Francisco Opera Center
2018 Adler Fellowship Recipient

What was wonderful about pursuing my master’s degree at SFCM was the amount of choice there was, especially for a relatively small conservatory. There were some core courses, but then SFCM and I were able to build a unique program that suited my individual musical needs, allowing me to focus on what I needed to develop so I could become a better singer and performer. SFCM also gave me a community of musicians, people with whom I still talk even though we’ve all graduated. I think this is an important aspect of schooling that sometimes we forget about. But as a musician, networking is extremely important—not only with the “important people” in the industry, but also with our peers. After all, we will likely be working together for years to come.

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Evan Kahn '18

Symphony Silicon Valley, Principal Cello
Opera San Jose / West Bay Opera, Assistant Principal Cello
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This [chamber music] program is particularly special because it’s really one of the only programs where you get to rehearse and perform with faculty, which I’m doing on a regular basis.

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Nikolas Korolog ’18

Music Coach, Launch Pad

The attention to detail that we are taught in the TAC program has helped put a professional polish on all the work that I do. I'm now listening for details that, pre-TAC, I wasn't aware even existed—and those details are what differentiate a professional production from an amateur one. Furthermore, the TAC program, and especially private lessons, pushed me out of my comfort zone consistently, giving me new challenges that I had never seen before on a weekly basis. Now I'm comfortable taking on projects I don't know how to do at the outset with the confidence that I can learn what I need to in order to do a good job in a timely manner.

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Douglas Kwon '15

Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Violin Section

The chamber music program at SFCM provided nurturing opportunities for me to invest in deeper listening and connect with what I love and people I love. All the wonderful faculty members are supportive, honest, and were determined to help guide me not only in music making, but also as a person.

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Linda Numagami '18

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Viola Section

Sharing music with the diverse faculty, visiting artists, and my warm colleagues at SFCM was an incredible joy and honor this year. I felt like each interaction had a unique message that was crucial for me to achieve a fundamental musical and personal development. My friends’ and teachers’ selfless dedication and musical performance was truly inspiring to learn from.

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Joshua Peters '15

Montreal Symphony Orchestra
2nd Violin Section, 2nd Assistant Principal

The two years I spent studying at SFCM in the chamber music program were the most intensive and productive years of my education. I was able to study and perform with many of the world-class faculty members, was given a wide range of performance opportunities, and was constantly pushed and motivated by my peers.

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Emily Pitts '18

Audio QA Specialist

One of the most valuable things about the TAC program is that the professors are also industry professionals. Because of this, one of my teachers was able to refer me to a position he'd heard about at Facebook that seemed like a good fit based on my programming knowledge and interest in audio. While I wasn't looking for a job specifically at Facebook, I was looking for positions that would combine my computer science background with my new audio learnings and allow me to explore what that might mean in a career.

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Christian Pursell '15

San Francisco Opera Center
2018 Adler Fellowship Recipient

During my time at SFCM, I found that our teachers strived to give us a well-rounded education that included skills to make us not only musical technicians, but artists. The three-year languages requirement gave me an advantage in grad school when choosing a language to pursue. (SFCM also offered intermediate/advanced language courses). Lastly, I was an odd duck, and the environment SFCM created allowed me to stumble and learn.

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Maria van der Sloot '19

Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
1st Violin Section

My education at SFCM has been very focused and tailored around my goals as an ensemble player, and I think that’s something that’s hard to find, particularly in a generalized program. As a chamber music major, I’ve been given so many opportunities to perform and study with artists whom I really admire, and those experiences have shaped my playing and inspired me over the last year. I’ve also received a lot of support from different departments across the school to allow me to take auditions, travel for concerts, perform frequently, and stay healthy. There’s a lot of flexibility here, and I’m grateful for it.

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Kevin Sun '17

Stanford University
School of Medicine
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This emotional expressivity, this clarity around ‘why I feel this way around certain things,’ and ‘how to put words to these emotions that are causing me suffering’ ... all of those things are related to music. All of those things are exactly what I learned to do through studying how composers wrote about their music, why they wrote the music they did and what they were trying to accomplish, and in music theory, how to analyze the very elements the composers have given us on the page, and finally, to perform it and to make it reality and to be probed by it … All of those skills are going to come in handy for me.