Barbro Osher and Deepa Pakianathan, co-chairs
Jeremy Denk, piano
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When San Francisco Conservatory of Music President David Stull chose to honor William Bowes at the recent Giving Gala, some wondered how he'd convince the notoriously modest conservatory trustee to accept.
"That's easy," related Stull, with a laugh. "I'm going to tell Bill we're honoring (venture capitalist and Bowes' Stanford University classmate) Pitch Johnson."
It was a big night for Bowes, a venture capitalist, founding Amgen shareholder and Lowell High grad who was awarded the conservatory's inaugural honorary doctorate of humane letters.
It was also a big night for the conservatory (a longtime recipient of largesse from Bowes' foundation, including a $16 million gift in 2013), now prepping for its new Van Ness Avenue residential tower-performance space.
Led by co-chairs Barbro Osher (honorary consul general of Sweden) and Deepa Pakianathan (a conservatory trustee), this musicale dinner-dance (held in a swank Riccardo Benavides-designed tent, with McCall's catering) raised almost $1 million for student scholarships.
Conservatory students and pianist Jeremy Denk performed a mashup, from classical and house (supplied by SFCM faculty-turned-DJ Mason Bates) to a sizzling set from SFJazz Collective, a Civic Center neighbor.
Ticking off partnerships the organization has developed with other neighbors (including student jobs and internships with the S.F. Symphony and S.F. Opera orchestras), Stull announced a new neighborly initiative coinciding with the conservatory's centennial year.
In fall 2017, the conservatory will launch the nation's first Roots, Jazz and American Music bachelor's degree program, in conjunction with SFJazz and led by former University of the Pacific Brubeck Institute director Simon Rowe.
But back to Bowes, who was surprised with a video tribute from colleagues (including SFCM board chairman Timothy Foo, VC Bill Draper and philanthropist Bernard Osher) singing praise for his quiet prowess.
Yet the eloquent Bowes summed up his conservatory commitment with signature succinctness: "Music is pretty fundamental. It's good for the soul and anything I can do to push that along is just as good for science to me. (The conservatory) takes young people and develops them. It's venture capital in a different sense."
From the San Francisco Chronicle article "William Bowes honored at Conservatory gala" by Catherine Bigelow.
Read more about the 2016 San Francisco Conservatory of Music Gala:
Red Carpet Bay Area - "San Francisco Conservatory of Music Honors Bill Bowes"
Downbeat - "SFJAZZ To Collaborate on Four-Year Degree Program"