SFCM and Aquila Theatre Announce New Collaboration

Carmen Bradford sings with RJAM Students

San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Aquila Theatre to collaborate on special production of The Great Gatsby featuring new music written, performed and recorded by students.

The presentation, made possible through SFCM’s alliance with Opus 3 Artists, will premiere original music for Aquila Theatre’s adaptation of the play from a racially and ethnically diverse perspective.

San Francisco, CA, November 12, 2021—At the inauguration event for its new, 12-story, $200 million Ute and William K. Jr., Bowes Center for Performing Arts in the city’s Civic Center, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) announced today a new collaboration with Aquila Theatre to workshop and present a special production of the company’s new adaptation of The Great Gatsby featuring music composed by students from the SFCM Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) program and recorded by those studying Chamber Music and Roots, Jazz, and American Music (RJAM).

“The Bowes Center will serve as a crucible for developing the future of music. At this new home for presenting art and supporting artists, we can bring together students and professionals to live, learn, create and perform in one spectacular space,” said SFCM President David Stull. “Our partnership with Aquila Theatre is a terrific example of the culturally innovative projects we can imagine together, develop in San Francisco, and present to the world.”

Aquila Theatre is represented by leading management company Opus 3 Artists, which was acquired by SFCM in late 2020, and is one of the foremost producers of innovative interpretations of classical theatre, as well as educational offerings and public humanities programming.

Aquila’s winter/spring 2022 national tour -- which will visit 25-30 American cities between January and April -- will include their new, racially and ethnically diverse theatrical adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The production will explore how the 1924 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald resonates within current culture by revealing a society where success seems to be defined by wealth, obsession masquerades as love and prejudice is weaponized to bolster an individual’s fragile sense of self. As artists who are part of a first-of-its-kind program rooted in the history and tradition of Black American music with special focus on jazz in its present form, musicians in SFCM’s RJAM program will play a critical role in bringing the San Francisco staging to life.

During Aquila Theatre’s planned residency at SFCM in early February 2022, members of the troupe will lead a series of workshops and rehearsals with the students that will culminate in a performance of select scenes of The Great Gatsby which will incorporate the student-composed new music, specially made for this theatrical adaptation at SFCM’s Hume Hall in the Ann Getty Center February 10-11. Ticketing information is forthcoming.

“I think this will be a wonderful opportunity for young emerging artists at SFCM to have an opportunity to collaborate with professional artists, think deeply about how F. Scott's Fitgerald's story resonates today, and respond with new music and soundscapes that are inspired by the original Black artists and innovators of the day, but also reflective of their own unique present day perspectives,” said Aquila’s Executive Artistic Director Desiree Sanchez, who has adapted and directed the play.

In addition, the theatre group and SFCM students will engage in and livestream Warrior Chorus: American Democracy. In this National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant-winning program, Aquila Theatre brings the veteran community together with audiences to investigate the connections between classical literature and contemporary America. In response to acclaim for The Warrior Chorus, Aquila was invited by Lin-Manuel Miranda in spring 2021 to perform at the U.S. Capitol in support of the NEH.

Educational programming is an essential component of Aquila’s mission. During past tours, Aquila reached 15,000-20,000 middle and high school students through talk-backs, master classes, workshops and special performances. Aquila’s emphasis on outreach aligns with SFCM’s vision to advance music education and bring performances of enduring quality and importance to young people.

“There is no better way for us to showcase the new alliance between Opus 3 Artists and SFCM than through this multidisciplinary collaboration, pushing actors and musicians to think through each other’s lens in a collaboration that spans music and theater, but also race and politics, all while giving SFCM students the unique opportunity to work so closely with Aquila Theatre,” said Opus 3 Artists Vice President Matthew Oberstein, who helped envision the collaboration. “I hope this is the first of many such collaborations.”

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About the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

SFCM draws on the bold creativity of San Francisco to offer unparalleled training for the 21st century musician. We support students in developing the skills and vision to chart successful careers and advance the human experience through music. We believe a musical education must extend far beyond technical and performance skills. Our commitment to music of enduring quality and importance is the foundation of our innovative curriculum, cultivating critical thinking and business acumen alongside artistic practice and creating a transformative environment of inquiry, collaboration and entrepreneurship. Our DNA combines a global perspective with the unstoppable energy and imagination of our hometown. Our pioneering programs and partnerships with leading institutions and businesses prepare students to seize opportunities in music and a wide array of the fastest developing sectors today. SFCM is a magnet for exceptional faculty whose ongoing professional experience benefits our students. As the only conservatory partnered with a leading artist management company, we are able to provide our students unique insight and access to the music industry.

www.sfcm.edu | @sfconservmusic

About Opus 3 Artists

Opus 3 Artists is a leading company managing the careers and touring activities of many of the world’s greatest performing artists and ensembles. The company traces its roots to the pioneering role of the legendary Sol Hurok, the great 20th century impresario. Opus 3 Artists’ talented and respected team of managers has been led since 1995 by its President and CEO David V. Foster. The company also includes a dedicated staff of booking representatives and program and travel, marketing and tour production specialists, all sharing a common passion for artistic excellence. While the focus of Opus 3 Artists’ roster includes instrumentalists, vocalists, conductors, composers, chamber music ensembles and touring chamber and symphony orchestras, it is increasingly complemented by a growing roster of dance and theater companies, jazz, world and new music ensembles and artists. True to the Hurok legacy, Opus 3 Artists continues to be a leader in discovering, nurturing and developing young artists by helping to establish the network and foundation for their art and performing careers. The company is proud of the many impressive examples of this long-term commitment to young artists who have become major figures in the international cultural scene.

About Aquila Theatre

Aquila Theatre Company was founded in London by Peter Meineck in 1991 with a production of Aeschylus's Agamemnon at the Bridge Lane Theatre before touring in the United States. The company, along with its founder, moved to the United States in 1994; in 1998, Aquila Theatre became a U.S.-based non-profit theatre company. It went on to build up an extensive international touring circuit while becoming an established part of the New York City theater scene with its productions of Iliad: Book One at the Clark Studio at Lincoln Center, followed by long-running Off-Broadway productions of Comedy of Errors and Much Ado About Nothing. Aquila has also had the pleasure of working with the acclaimed Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich in its 2004 production of Agamemnon. Aquila is now one of the foremost producers of classical theater in the United States visiting 50 - 60 American cities per year with a program of two plays, workshops and educational programming. Since 2012, it has been under the Artistic Directorship of Desiree Sanchez. The company has been awarded numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities, from which it received a Chairman's Special Award, the New York State Councils for the Arts and Humanities and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Aquila has performed at the White House under the Bush and Obama administrations and has performed for the U.S Supreme Court and for the National Council on the Arts.