Announcing Jeff Gao ’16 as Presidential Alumni Council Chair

Jeff Gao giving lecture

The talented businessman and composer began his role this fall

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) is proud to announce the appointment of Jeff Gao as Chair of the Presidential Alumni Council (PAC). Gao received his MM in composition from SFCM in 2016 and joined the Board of Trustees in 2019. He began his role as chair of the committee dedicated to SFCM’s alumni community in fall 2020. In addition to serving on the Board and PAC, Gao’s family has another connection to SFCM now that their daughter studies piano in the Pre-College division.

Gao’s appointment follows the tenure of Gary Rust ’83, who recently stepped down after a decade of service.

“My experience at SFCM was life-changing, and I want others to have as rewarding journeys as I did,” Gao says of his decision to take on this leadership role. “I was excited to be invited to join the PAC by Gary Rust to contribute to the success of SFCM’s current and future alumni.”

As a composer, Gao’s music has been performed in the U.S., China, and Latin America. His works have been presented in prestigious venues including the Shanghai Oriental Art Center and São Paulo Contemporary Composer’s Festival. His collaboration with world renowned violinist Haik Kazazyan (prize winner of the Tchaikovsky International Competition) resulted in a series of critically acclaimed concerts in northern California. His music is currently carried by ALEA Publishing.

In addition to maintaining an active career as a composer, Gao brings more than twenty years of information technology and business development experience to his roles at SFCM. Most recently, he serves as Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships at Uniphore; his resume encompasses senior positions at companies including Seagate, Cisco, and Oracle. As someone who has cultivated dual careers in music and business, Gao uniquely understands the value of an SFCM education as preparation for a wide range of career paths, both in and outside of music.

When reflecting on his time as a student at SFCM, Gao emphasizes the impact of his studio teacher Elinor Armer, who “helped me better understand the virtue of simplicity and power of narratives, and inspired me to develop my own voice. She had a profound impact on me.” He also highlights the mentorship of Scott Foglesong: “I had the privilege of taking a class from him every semester at SFCM; from Scott I learned to balance experimentation and fundamental techniques in my writing.” Gao attributes his success in business to the creative thinking, attention to detail, and productivity that he honed in his musical training.

Gao’s vision for the SFCM alumni community is to “further connection, community, and contribution. Once you’re part of the SFCM family, you want to continue to be connected to SFCM musicians you’ve studied with, who will all continue to do wonderful things in and outside of music. Our mission for the PAC is to ensure that there are ways for alumni to meaningfully participate in an active community, and that there are opportunities for us to give back so that aspiring musicians can continue to thrive.”

Learn more about SFCM’s alumni community.