Shanghai and San Francisco skylines

The San Francisco-Shanghai International Chamber Music Festival

The origins of the San Francisco-Shanghai International Chamber Music Festival date back to 1981, when the San Francisco Conservatory of Music admitted its first five students from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music as part of a diplomatic rapproachement between the two countries. Today, more students enter SFCM from the Shanghai Conservatory than from any other single institution. Recognizing their special affinity, the two conservatories decided to strengthen ties by producing an annual music festival as part of a formal "sister school" relationship. First held in 2011, the San Francisco-Shanghai International Chamber Music Festival has become a model of artistic collaboration, innovation and excellence. Each year's festival, hosted alternately in San Francisco and Shanghai, features joint performances of chamber masterworks as well as commissions written by students and faculty composers from each school premiered by ensembles from their sister institution. Working side-by-side in master classes, coachings and performances, festival participants have forged even deeper artistic, professional and personal relationships. As the U.S. and China continue to pursue a fruitful partnership based on mutual understanding, the San Francisco and Shanghai conservatories stand as a shining example of what talented individuals from both countries can achieve by working together.


The Fourth Annual San Francisco-Shanghai

International Chamber Music Festival

March 10-15, 2014
Wei He and Jensen Lam, co-artistic directors
Made possible by a generous grant from The Cha Foundation of Hong Kong, Inaugural Sponsor.

When siblings live on separate continents, an annual reunion is a cause for fanfare and celebration. And so it is for the sister conservatories of San Francisco and Shanghai, who reunite this spring when the San Francisco-Shanghai International Chamber Music Festival returns to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for the second time on March 10-15. Intensive master classes, rehearsals and coachings come to fruition when faculty and students from both schools perform together in concerts on March 13 and 14 at the Conservatory's Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall at 50 Oak Street.

Festival performances feature Mozart's Piano Quartet in G Minor, K478, Beethoven's "Ghost" Piano Trio, Brahms' String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 67, and Mendelssohn's Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20. In keeping with its mission to honor traditional literature as well as champion the creation of new chamber music, the festival also presents compositions commissioned from faculty and students at both conservatories. String Quartets from San Francisco Conservatory faculty composer David Garner and from Guohui Ye, dean of the Shanghai Conservatory composition department, enjoy world premieres, while trios composed by students Kenji Oh in San Francisco and Minzuo Lu from Shanghai receive their first public performances.

Co-directing the festival are Wei He, a member of the San Francisco Conservatory's violin faculty, and Jensen Lam, director of the Shanghai Conservatory's chamber music atelier.  Representing the Shanghai Conservatory in San Francisco is a delegation of 13 leading administrators, faculty and students, including Vice President Xianping Zhang, Jiwu Li, director of the Orchestral Department, Dandi Wang, faculty cellist of the Affiliated Middle School at the Guangzhou Xinghai Conservatory of Music, and noted faculty ensemble the Han String Quartet. The festival also features San Francisco Conservatory faculty performers Ian Swensen, Wei He and Bettina Mussumeli, violin; Jodi Levitz and Paul Hersh, viola; and Bonnie Hampton and Jean Michel-Fonteneau, cello. Rounding out the roster of participants are hand-picked students from the pioneering chamber music program of the San Francisco Conservatory, the nation's first school to offer a degree in chamber music more than 25 years ago.

"We are honored to welcome our great colleagues from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and look forward to continuing our collaboration, says David H. Stull, president of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Stull stresses that the festival offers a model of how nations can celebrate together and learn from each other through artistic collaboration. "The exchange of culture between these two important institutions represents the future of music in this country and the world beyond."

 Shuya Xu, president of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, also sees a bright future for the joint endeavor. "I believe that this international chamber music festival elevates the reputation of both institutions as worldwide leaders in chamber training and performance and provide San Francisco audiences world class performances of chamber repertoire both classical and new."

Prior to the concert on March 13, a private reception for donors, patrons and community leaders is planned in partnership with the Asia Society and the Asian Art Museum. San Francisco Conservatory President Stull will trade remarks with Shanghai Conservatory Vice President Xianping Zhang. Dr. Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum, will speak on the importance of strengthening relationships with arts and cultural institutions in China, while Dr. Chi-Foon Chan, co-CEO, Synopsys, Inc., will address the integration of arts and technology in education.

 Now in its fourth year, the festival was born in Shanghai in 2011 as the result of a five-year sister school agreement with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music to take turns hosting annual events.  A natural affinity, with origins in the longstanding sister city affiliation between Shanghai and San Francisco, led to the partnership. In 1981, the first Shanghai Conservatory students arrived in San Francisco to study at the Conservatory's former campus on Ortega Street; today, more San Francisco Conservatory students hail from the Shanghai Conservatory than from any other institution.  And following in the footsteps of San Francisco, which developed the first chamber music degree program in the U.S., the Shanghai Conservatory also established the first chamber music program of its kind in China. The San Francisco Conservatory's participation in the festival is made possible by a generous grant from its inaugural sponsor, the Cha Foundation of Hong Kong.