Traditionally, SFCM begins its concert season with a weekend of performances in September highlighting several departments and ensembles. While the Conservatory kept with tradition this year, SFCM’s special Centennial Celebration Weekend shined especially brightly.
It all started Saturday, September 16 with a season preview event in Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall. Deepa Pakianathan, Executive Vice-Chair of SFCM’s Board of Trustees and a Pre-College parent, addressed attendees speaking to the impact of multiple programs offered at the Conservatory. After giving a few hints about what to look forward to at this year’s Centennial Gala and Fanfare Luncheon, Pakianathan welcomed SFCM President David H. Stull to the stage.
President Stull delved into details about the founding of the Conservatory, mentioning Ada Clement and Lillian Hodghead, SFCM’s founders. He noted their fearless ambition which gave rise to a culture of achievement that continues to this day at the Conservatory. Going over centennial highlights such as Sunday with the Sopranos (with Patricia Racette, Frederica von Stade, and Deborah Voigt), SFCM in New York, and events surrounding the launch of the Roots, Jazz, and American Music [RJAM] program in partnership with SFJAZZ, it became apparent that this centennial year is teeming with special events.
Remarks were also given by RJAM Executive Director Simon Rowe and Pre-College Director Michael Roest. Provost and Dean Kate Sheeran spoke to fresh curricular initiatives at the Conservatory and introduced the newest faculty members. Special performances were given by new guitar faculty member Judicaël Perroy as well as Eugene Izotov and Jonathan Vinocour, performing alongside students.
Following the preview, the SFCM community congregated in the Phyllis Wattis Atrium for an open house. With an “SFCM” cake and complementary cold brew coffee from Blue Bottle, students, alumni, and community members celebrated the Conservatory’s centennial by singing “Happy Birthday to You” and mingled with friends old and new.
Saturday continued with a Pre-College concert followed by a performance by the Conservatory Orchestra. Led by Eric Dudley, the Orchestra performed faculty member Mason Bates’ Icarian Rhapsody in addition to Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments and Respighi’s Pines of Rome—two works composed shortly after the Conservatory’s founding.
Sunday saw a chamber music concert featuring students and faculty performing works by Chopin, Mozart, Fauré, and Ernest Bloch (the Conservatory’s first artistic director). The concert was a manifestation of the collaborative environment students find themselves in at SFCM.
The closing concert of Centennial Celebration Weekend was also a student-faculty side-by-side event. This time, it was SFCM’s Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) department that took the spotlight. Osher Salon, the perfect setting for TAC’s multipurpose setups, was awash in all colors of the spectrum, fitting the music from acoustic and electronic sources like a glove. It was an ideal setting to showcase the unique attributes of each composer’s work.
Ultimately, the weekend served as an appetizer—a teaser for the year ahead. And what a year it will be.