Community of Music Makers

Location:  San Francisco, CA
United States
Project Description: 

The San Francisco Symphony’s Community of Music Makers program encourages music engagement by providing opportunities for amateur musicians, singers, and chamber ensembles to make music on the stage of Davies Symphony Hall. Over 1,000 community members take part in workshops each year under the guidance of the Symphony’s musicians and artistic staff.  The program aims to rekindle the joy of music-making and deepen people’s experiences as listeners and performers as part a lifelong engagement with music.

Each year, the program offers 10 workshops (two choral, four orchestral, and four chamber music).  These events have clearly filled a community need, as evidenced by the way they fill to capacity within days of being announced.  A low participation fee (with the possibility of opting out of payment) ensures that the experience is open to all. 

One of the most significant aspects of the program is having the Symphony’s artistic personnel serve as conductors and mentors at the workshops, allowing participants to interact in a very personal way with the Orchestra and Chorus members they usually see on stage. These behind-the-scenes connections are enriching for mentors and participants alike. Resident Conductor Donato Cabrera, who leads the orchestral workshops, and Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, who leads the vocal workshops, have achieved an easy and warm rapport with the workshop participants as well.

Access is another important aspect of Community of Music Makers.  The workshops are open to all, without audition and regardless of the skill level of the participants. They are structured to incorporate repertoire that is suitable for a wide range of abilities. The aim is for every participant to have a meaningful, stimulating, and inspiring musical experience that advances their musicianship.

Follow-up surveys after each workshop help the Symphony learn from the experience and refine the program going forward. The responses are demonstrating that Community of Music Makers is successful in increasing participants’ enthusiasm and appreciation for music.