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All-Star Faculty Lineup Anchors New Virtual Summer Programs

Latest SFCM News

Online courses offer prospective students a taste of the SFCM experience

June 15, 2020 by Tim Records

San Francisco Symphony Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik. Mezzo soprano legend Frederica von Stade. Global piano superstar Garrick Ohlsson. SFS Principal players Eugene Izotov, Scott Pingel, Mark Inouye, Tim Higgins, and Robert Ward. These are just some of the SFCM faculty members who created online summer programs for prospective students, launched today.

In a normal year, these classical music titans would be teaching and performing at festivals across the country. But amidst a global pandemic, these players are making a not-normal move to open up their coveted studio slots for a few weeks.

The Conservatory’s summer offerings will include two cutting-edge courses in Technology and Applied Composition, including a partnership with leading video game developer Valve and an opportunity to rescore original Disney animations on a rare loan from the Walt Disney Family Museum. Private and group instruction will be available through the String, Brass, Voice, and Piano departments, and incoming SFCM Music Director Edwin Outwater will lead a conducting seminar that includes lessons, career coaching sessions, and Q&As with managers, orchestra musicians, and orchestra administrators. The Roots, Jazz, and American Music program will offer an online summer camp with master classes on technique, improvisation, composition, and using technology such as Logic, Finale, and Sibelius to collaborate with other musicians remotely.

Participants in performance programs get personalized attention via private lessons and master classes while working on audition prep, repertoire, technique, sound, and range—everything necessary to prepare for college auditions and to win a future job. Above all, students get the opportunity to discover what it would be like to study at SFCM combined with unprecedented access to the faculty roster of teachers who are members of San Francisco Symphony, Opera, and Ballet orchestras, as well as global competition winners and soloists. Program areas include:


This summer, students get a taste of the department whose graduates regularly land jobs at companies like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Facebook, PlayStation, Dolby, and other Silicon Valley powerhouses. TAC and game developer Valve will offer practical instruction on the intersection of music composition and video games. Participants will create a kit of musical sketches, test their music pack in the context of the game, and have their final work considered for official launch within an upcoming CS:GO release. In a second offering, students will rescore original Disney animations on loan from the Walt Disney Family Museum, learning how to create a tempo map, building an instrument template and piano draft for animation, and executing the orchestration.


Get to know the RJAM Program through faculty members who are also some of the world’s most sought after and successful jazz musicians of our time: Joshua Redman, Carmen Bradford, Julian Lage, Matt Wilson and David Sánchez to name only a few. In addition to individual private instruction, students will also participate in master classes on topics such as technique, how to practice, how to learn tunes, jazz improv, composition and how to use technology such as Logic, Finale or Sibelius to collaborate with other musicians remotely.


SFCM violin faculty are concertmasters of the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Ballet, touring soloists and chamber musicians, and teachers of international competition and orchestra audition winners. Over the last two years, students of the SFCM viola department have won principal auditions at both Dallas and Atlanta Symphonies—and now their teachers become your teachers. With cello, from a longtime member of the Kronos Quartet to founding the String and Piano Chamber Program at SFCM, the cello faculty know how far training in chamber music will take you. And double bass players will learn firsthand from Scott Pingel and Stephen Tramontozzi, principal and associate principal at San Francisco Symphony, respectively.

All participants will experience string studies at SFCM through two private lessons, historical performance seminars, and technique and orchestral repertoire classes, plus join master classes across all string instruments, so that students will have an opportunity to meet other players and see friends who play different instruments.


Brass players may drool over the opportunity to spend quality time with the majority of the brass section of the San Francisco Symphony. The SFCM brass faculty not only play in top orchestra jobs, they compose and arrange for ensemble as well. From Mahler and Wagner to Scarlatti and Gabrielli, these programs specifically focus on chamber and orchestral repertoire, as well as audition prep via private lessons, mock auditions, and master classes.


SFCM piano faculty actively perform as touring soloists and chamber musicians. Students interested in studying piano at the collegiate level will have the opportunity to work with the faculty in two private lessons, master classes, performance practice and technique seminars, healthy playing classes, and historical performance classes. Renowned concert pianist Garrick Ohlsson offers a capstone final master class with select participants.


Students will focus on developing healthy habits that prime them for long term success in college and beyond, all while enjoying song cycle seminars with legendary collaborative pianist and coach Martin Katz, private lessons with artists who have performed on the world’s biggest stages, and a master class for select participants with renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. Seminars on opera, musical theatre, and diction round out the SFCM Vocal Studies experience.


New SFCM Music Director Edwin Outwater will begin accepting full time students for enrollment in the fall of 2021, but students strongly interested in conducting studies may get to work with him now. As a prelude to his role here, a few selected aspiring conductors will receive personal coaching this summer. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.


Programs are designed for students aged 15-21 (see individual program pages for details specific to each offering), run 3-4 days each during July, and have limited space available in order to provide high-level individualized attention to students who enroll.

Learn more about SFCM’s summer opportunities, including cost to attend and application deadlines where applicable.