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David Garner

David Garner headshot at the piano


Office 607



Courses Taught

Applied Lessons

Composer at the Piano


BM, San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Awards and Distinctions

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

Notable Studio Wins

ARZenter Grant (SF Contemporary Music Players)

IRCAN, Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra

The American Prize

SOCAN Foundation Young Composers Prize

2023 VOCES8

Choral Composer Competition (Prevenza, Greece)

Distinguished Alumni

Darius Derakhshani - earning PhD and on faculty at UC Santa Barbara

Dr. Shahab Paranj - head of Persian Studies at UCLA

Luke Mayernik - music director and organist at St. Susannah Catholic Church, Mason, OH, with numerous compositions published through Graphite and GIA Press

Nicholas Denton-Protsack, earning PhD from Victoria University, Wellington NZ

...a heady and touching revelation."

— San Francisco Chronicle


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.


Drawing from classical, neoclassical, jazz, rock, blues and non-Western traditions, the music of David Garner (b. 1954) reflects a unique blend of musical genres. An alumnus and full professor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Garner has taught composition, chamber music, music literature 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 various jazz-rock and blues bands. A composition autodidact, Garner won the 2015 American Prize in Composition/Chamber Music. His works have won several Global Music Awards. Garner’s works are recorded on Pentatone and Centaur Records and are featured online at 3232 Music. Numerous live performances of his works are available on YouTube.