David Garner SFCM Composition Faculty
  1. Faculty

David Garner


"...a heady and touching revelation." —San Francisco Chronicle


  • Private Lessons
  • Composition Seminar


  • BM, San Francisco Conservatory of Music


  • Winner, American Prize in Composition (Chamber Music), 2015
  • Sarlo Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 1997
  • Global Music Awards, 2018 and 2021

What is your hometown?

Lincoln, NE

Who were your major teachers?

Nathan Schwartz, Beatrice Beauregard, and Roman Dukson.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

“There is nothing more terrifying than a blank piece of manuscript paper.”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

I’ve always known.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?


From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

Paris 1910.

What are your most important collaborations?

Working with librettist Mark Hernandez for the opera Mary Pleasant at Land's End; with soprano Lisa Delan for many vocal chamber music works and recordings (on-going); with Raeeka Shehabi-Yaghmai for the Persian Melody Project, and commissions by Pianist Dale Tsang, organist Joby Bell, the Del Sol String Quartet, and members of the San Francisco Symphony (on-going).

Who are three students you have had the privilege of teaching?

Shahab Paranj, Derek David, and Michelangelo Rodriguez.

What recordings can we hear you on?

Phenomenon, Pentatone
The Hours Begin to Sing, Pentatone
Surviving: Women's Words, Centaur Records
Once/Memory/Night, Centaur Records
Citrus, Quadre Music Group

December Celebration, Pentatone

Out of the Shadows, Pentatone

If the Song Be Worth a Smile, Pentatone

What is your unrealized project?

My 1st Symphony.


Touted as “a heady and touching revelation” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and “alluring” by the East Bay Times, the music of composer David Garner (b. 1954) reflects his historical knowledge, theatrical flair and humor. A full professor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Garner has taught composition, chamber music and music theory there since 1979. In 2007 he co-founded the award-winning Ensemble for These Times, which continues to gain recognition for innovative and original programming and recording. Trained as a pianist and cellist, he has performed on both the solo classical concert stage and in jazz-rock fusion bands. A composition autodidact, Garner’s recent accomplishments include the 2015 American Prize in Composition/Chamber Music, several Global Music Awards and most recently, the Del Sol’s performance of his String Quartet No. 1 has been showcased online with 3232 Music. The Del Sol recently premiered his piano quintet with pianist Dale Tsang. Garner’s works are recorded on the Pentatone and Centaur Records labels. Numerous live performances of his works are available on YouTube. www.davidgarner.us