SF Girls Chorus Blog

Postcard from David Harrington

To my young colleagues of the SF Girls Chorus, and your community and families,

Over the years there have been moments in our work when it seemed like the very best thing we could possibly do is to work with young singers and musicians, and I would say that this feeling has increased as time has gone on. Right now not only do we have our friend composer Sabha Aminikia here in SF but we also have our relationship with your amazing group of young musicians and your fabulous conductor Valerie Sainte-Agathe.

Kronos Quartet and the SFGC in rehearsal at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana for episode 1 of Lisa Bielawa’s TV opera Vireo, February 2015 (David Harrington is in the green plaid shirt, center)

It seems like one of our roles in life and in music is to be involved in learning new musical vocabularies together, and new sociological meanings too. At tonight’s concert one of the things I’m very excited about is for all of the SF Girls Chorus to hear Mahsa Vahdat, this incredible singer from Iran: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoevSSuO-jY

I think you are going to notice right away that there’s something about the way she sings and uses her voice that is beyond the notes, beyond the musical things. When you learn more about what she’s experienced in her life, you will discover that’s in part what informs her voice and the way she makes music. I want everyone to hear Mahsa!

It takes more than a love of expression and music to be able to be a musician. And it takes more than a lot of practice. You also need a lot of support from your community. Some people don’t get that support and they still are able to thrive, but most of us need as much support from our significant others, our parents, or whoever is part of our community – and those people need support as well. That’s one of the things I’m noticing right now: how important it is for our community to be together and to help each other any moment we can.

I started playing violin at age 9 as part of a public school program in Seattle. I had grown up hearing Dick Kesner and his Magic Stradivarius every Saturday on the Lawrence Welk Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8jP5PI-hFc

…and I just loved the sound of the instrument! So my parents rented me a violin and it wasn’t too long before I was playing in the Seattle “Little” Symphony, then the “Junior” Symphony, and then the Youth Symphony, of which I was a member until I was 17 years old. We had been living in a suburb but in order to be able to play quartets three or four times a week, in high school, my parents moved to the University District, which meant that I could go to Roosevelt High School there too, which had a really amazing music program. Every kid in the world needs a Ronald Taylor – that’s the name of my high school music teacher. He just got it. He knew how hard it was for me to be in high school, studying English and Geometry when what I really wanted to do was play string quartet music all day and all night. This was during the American war in Viet Nam era –my PE teacher was a sort of frustrated drill sergeant (that guy was impossible…); but Mr. Taylor established a chamber orchestra and I got credit for playing quartets and gave me cut slips to get out of PE class. That’s how I got through high school.

The first string quartet I ever heard when I was twelve years old. I had become a member of the Columbia Record Club, and I was reading a biography of Beethoven, and I was right up to the part about the late quartets when the Budapest Quartet released their recording of the E-flat major quartet, Op. 127. That was the first string quartet I ever heard in my life, and I LOVED that sound! The opening chords are inscribed in my heart even now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tBRQSlBkBk

So I went down to the public library and checked out the music, and I called up three friends from the Seattle Youth Symphony, we got into a practice room, and I’ll never forget that opening chord – for maybe two seconds it sounded like the record! So ever since I was 12 years old, I’ve believed in the power of that two seconds. That’s all it takes.

Trying to provide that kind of experience for my own family, my friends and our audiences – that’s what it is that we all try to do with every note we get to make.

One last word to the young singers of the SFGC: Don’t be afraid to ask any question of your elders. When you’re around other musicians, if there’s something you think they know that you might be interested in learning, don’t be afraid to ask them! There are no barriers in music. Age and experience don’t matter. I would welcome any question from anyone in the SF Girls Chorus, and I know everyone in Kronos – and Sabha – feel the same way. If there’s any way we can help, we will do it. Just don’t be afraid. All of the people we work with are musicians for life. We know how tough it can be to be a musician. All over the world there’s a very beautiful, generous community of people who are trying to further the role of music in our society. For us in the Kronos Quartet, to be in the company of such wonderfully dedicated young musicians is a privilege and we look forward to it every time.

SFGC and Kronos in rehearsal for 2016 Kronos Festival, with Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov


Until tonight,
David Harrington
Violinist, Founding Member, Kronos Quartet

An Opera About Women, a postcard from Lisa Bielawa 1.21.17

The SFGC, directed by Lisa Bielawa at the historic 16th Street Oakland Train Station, in rehearsal for the filming of Episode 11: Circus.


Greetings SFGC Community,

As you read this, over 100 of our singers will be at the historic 16th Street Oakland Train Station, which we have taken over and transformed in order to shoot an episode of my opera Vireo. We are having an amazing and inspiring week together!

This is not just an opera that has roles for young women. It is an opera about them. When I was in college, majoring in literature, I became interested in studying the behaviors of teenage girls, particularly those who demonstrated some kind of strange visionary experiences, and how they were written about by the groups of men surrounding them throughout Western history – neurologists in Vienna, Surrealist poets in Paris, town councils in Salem, priests in Italy, the list goes on.

HERE a Dr. Charcot (Freud’s teacher) demonstrates the behaviors of an hysterical patient to his students and colleagues in the 19th century.
And HERE are the Surrealists, celebrating his work 50 years later, as “The 50th Birthday of Hysteria”

These girls seemed to see the ‘other side,’ and their accounts of what they saw caused chaos and confusion in their communities. This was a kind of power that young women did not otherwise often have in their communities, and it often unleashed dangerous consequences for them and for others. They were put in special hospitals, or sent to prison, or put on trial, or even displayed like circus curiosities. They were asked to name witches in their towns. If you want to learn more about this extensive research behind the libretto, there is an in-depth interview HERE.

I shared these young women’s stories with my cherished colleague, playwright and librettist Erik Ehn, and over many years, we created an opera around ‘her’ and named her Vireo. The opera Vireo is now reaching its culmination – it has evolved into the first-ever opera created for episodic TV and streaming media. And as you may imagine, it features many, many young women. Singers from the SF Girls Chorus premier ensemble participated in Episodes 1, 4, and 5. Premier ensemble member Emma MacKenzie plays one of the principal roles, as Vireo’s twin Caroline, born in Episode 6. And today, 110 members of the SF Girls Chorus School are spending their day – inauguration day, as it turns out – with the Vireo team in Oakland, shooting the climactic penultimate Episode 11: Circus.

One of our many talented design crew members told me that she was so excited to be spending this particular day with so many gifted young women. She said, “these girls will remember this day as one that was all about visionary women, making art together.” It’s true – I am feeling this way too.

SFGC Parents, there is no place I would rather be than among your daughters today, demonstrating and celebrating the fact that we now have more constructive avenues for feeling, reaching and exercising our power than these historical girls did.

Vireo’s story is difficult and even frightening, but in the end, this opera is – for me – a gift to all of the young women whose terrifying experiences paved the way for more and more avenues of expression for the generations that followed them. Vireo is a love letter, a paean, to the indomitable spirit of young women with visionary power. History can deal tragic blows to young women’s spirits. We still see this today. It is our job to inspire them, to be inspired by them, to help them raise their voices, in spite of and in the face of it all. I am deeply grateful to you all – this community that is committed to these very voices – and especially grateful to you families whose daughters join me and the Vireo cast, crew and production team for our day at the Circus.

Sincerely yours,
Lisa Bielawa

Postcard from Matthew Welch, 12.16.16

Dear SFGC Community,

I’m really excited to be in SF with you all – I arrive today straight from the airport to rehearsal! It’s great to reach out here through this postcard in anticipation of my visit.

When Lisa Bielawa approached me to write for the SFGC, I hadn’t written much yet for chorus. I do write for voice, and co-founded a group called Experiments in Opera in NYC, and we try to concoct innovative themes for concerts. We find various ways of putting opera through different lenses: operas in the form of a 3-minute film trailer, for example, or opera expressly for radio consumption so that all visual information is translated into traditional Foley techniques.

My new piece that the SFGC is premiering on Monday at Davies Symphony Hall came out of work I did at Chorus Camp this past summer. I brought materials from Highland piping pedogogy and from Balinese gamelan music and kecak.

Both of these two music traditions are strong backgrounds for me, and the materials I presented were the rhythms, melodic structures, and phonemes/syllables that comprise the music. At camp, I was able to present these building blocks to the singers in a very loose & improvisatory way in which I could interact directly with them – I would sing something to them and they picked it up very quickly. The girls were able to spontaneously layer the musical motifs over each other. Through the camp workshop, I got a really firm grip of their amazing singing skills – very inspiring for a composer! We had a lot of fun too! The rhythms of Balinese music involve a lot of social interaction within an ensemble – a remarkably different way of listening to each other that they also picked up immediately.

My piece for SFGC is a joyful piece – I was inspired by the surprise arrival of my son this year! He just turned a month old! The theme of the work lined his birth up with the theme of Nativity. In my nerdy way I made an association with Handel’s Messiah in which there’s a sinfonia in the middle called the “Pifa” which is traditionally thought of as the Nativity scene within the larger piece.

The types of sonorities evoked in that piece are very much imitative of bagpipes – which comes from the idea of the shepherd and the bagpipes as indicative of a rural setting, and also of the historic/biblical moment of Jesus’ birth. That I was going to be working with children was really inspiring to me and made me think about the initial joys of childhood music-making.

I was first given an old reed organ and eventually developed a totally nerdy small collection of accordions, which led me to bagpipes – I loved all these bold, bright, reedy sounds that could sustain tones endlessly. My first music-making moments were really improvisatory. As soon as I got my accordion I started figuring out how to create my own music with it. Whether or not it was technically advanced or spoke to anybody beyond me was irrelevant – music was about the joy of making sound.

It takes a long time to develop as a musician, and I think that if you have serious passion about it, it’s going to teach you how to meet all of its challenges along the way. Music somehow taught me organizational skills that helped me in other aspects of life. I became used to coordinating with people through music, which led to management skills for working with groups of people. I discovered that I could be good at music, but I that I’d have to work really, really hard at it. As a young person who loves music, a lot of people along the way are going to encourage you and many are going to discourage you. For me, music was about discovering myself, but along the way it introduced me to so many new people. Art is a grand social dialogue, and we’ve been having a great one together. I can’t wait to continue the dialogue with all of you, on Monday night!

From 35,000 feet in the air,

Matthew Welch

Postcard from Katrina Turman, 12.11.16

Katrina Turman at The Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden, Germany

Hello to all San Francisco Girls Chorus Families and to the community,

It has been only a few months since I began working for SFGC and it has been such a wonderful experience getting to know my students and their families. To help you all get to know me a little better, I was invited to write this postcard. I love the idea of doing a community outreach to connect the SFGC staff and faculty to the families and children we work with every day. I hope you enjoy!

I love to travel. I love being pushed outside my comfort zone, trying new foods, meeting people completely different from me and then realizing that we have a lot in common. I love traveling alone or with companions; there is something to be learned in either scenario. Traveling, even locally, is something that I believe is necessary for my general well-being. As a child, I traveled nationally and internationally with a children’s choir every year. These trips instilled in me a sense of fascination and respect for the world around us. A knowledge that there is much more outside of my immediate world. I have been so very lucky to have lived abroad a few times now, first in Germany and then in Hungary. While I improved as a musician while residing in both countries, I truly feel that I improved even more as a human being. In Germany, I learned patience while intensively studying a new language, independence while traveling around solo for the first time, and I learned that more than one place can feel like home.

These experiences absolutely led me to feel capable enough to apply to the intensive Kodály program in Kecskemét, Hungary one year later. If you’re interested in learning more about Zoltán Kodály and his teachings, please go HERE.

In Kecskemét, I was a full-time music student, so my musical abilities naturally improved. Yet, again, I feel that what I learned about the world around me during my time there is arguably more important than my expanded knowledge of harmony. Living in Hungary was an extreme experience for me. If you think learning Spanish or French is difficult, you should try Hungarian some time! Test your Hungarian skills HERE!

I was often stuck relying on sign language and the kindness of others while trying to communicate in our small town. Hungary is a very traditional country with an interesting mix of East and West. Part of continental Europe, its ancestors originally hail from Mongolia. My music teachers at the Kodály Institute, while incredibly caring individuals, were also very hard and straightforward. It is their belief that a student needs to be torn apart to be reconstructed in the proper way. While I grew to appreciate and even like their honesty and teaching style, it was an incredibly difficult transition for me (a somewhat pampered American) to overcome in those initial months. Yes, I learned to read music faster and minimize mistakes, to give a clear upbeat, and what the best pedagogical method was to teach a class to sing in multiple part harmony. Yet, from those same lessons, I also learned to take criticism, to push myself further than I thought possible, to support my classmates, and to accept my imperfections.

I have found that exploration and travel can give back so much more than what the traveler puts into it. There are countless beautiful moments I have locked away in my memory that never would have been possible if I stayed stationary. I have gotten to perform with 100,000 singers in Estonia, experienced the horrors of visiting World War II concentration camps at Dachau in Munich, climbed the Dolomite mountains, gotten lost in downtown Hong Kong. I will have these memories forever.

Thank you for reading a little about me. Whether you are traveling this holiday season or staying close by, I wish you a pleasant holiday break and I hope to see you all on December 19th at Davies Symphony Hall!

Katrina Turman

In this week’s Postcard, Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa writes ‘home’ from Florida

Greetings SFGC Friends from Orlando, Florida!

And no, I am not riding rollercoasters here, as tempting as that is. I am here with conductor Eric Jacobsen, who will share the stage with many of our own singers in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center in April with his Brooklyn-based orchestra, The Knights. But this weekend he is leading his “other” orchestra – yes, Eric is the conductor of two orchestras in two totally separate parts of the country! – the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.

I’m here because I get to hear Eric conduct the world premiere of a new piece I wrote called “Drama/Self-Pity,” on a concert that otherwise has piano concertos by Mozart and Beethoven, played by the inimitable pianist Emanuel Ax.

SFGC AD Lisa Bielawa meets Conductor and SFGC Collaborator Eric Jacobsen’s “other” orchestra, the Orlando Philharmonic, in rehearsal last night.

SFGC AD Lisa Bielawa meets Conductor and SFGC Collaborator Eric Jacobsen’s “other” orchestra, the Orlando Philharmonic, in rehearsal last night.


You may be wondering, “What’s a brand-new piece with a goofy title doing on a concert with two great Classical piano concertos?” It’s a good question, on the face of it – but it turns out that Eric’s new artistic leadership here (this is his second season as Music Director) is built around these kinds of mash-ups. Listen to him talk about his philosophy of artistic programming in this video the OPO made to introduce their audience to their new Director:

Which of these four ‘pillars’ of inspiration – Classics; Intimacy; Living Composers; and Heroes – do you feel most passionate about as a listener? Does his speech make you want to come hear this orchestra, and watch him conduct? Who are your “Heroes”? His invitation to bring me and my new piece there is part of the third pillar, of course, and I can feel the excitement among the entire OPO community around the fact that they are helping bring a new piece into the world. Eric’s vision of creating new works in Orlando that can go on into the world fills the community here with pride – in their orchestra but also in their city. What role does a cultural institution play in the life of a city? Is it similar to the role that a sports team plays, for example?

For my part, it’s the life of cities that gave rise to my piece, “Drama/Self-Pity,” in the first place. And I also had my own philosophy about how my piece could cohabit with Mozart and Beethoven on this concert – you can read more about that here in this fun article from Orlando Weekly. Centuries may come between these iconic composers’ music and mine, but things like humor, drama and, yes, self-pity, are timeless. Can you think of any Classical music that could bear this same title? Do you hear Self-Pity in, say, this aria of Mozart’s?

And would you say that Beethoven has a tendency to be a little Dramatic at times too? Listen to Emanuel Ax talk to this young pianist about a passage in one of Beethoven’s piano concertos that he feels is actually meant to be funny – not taken quite so seriously, “…so it sounds really weird!”

Let’s hope we make some really weird sounds together this weekend! It’s been great fun so far, and now I can’t wait to hear it all unfold.

See you all soon!


Lisa Bielawa

Samantha Rowell Postcard

Dear SFGC Colleagues and Friends,

As Development Director for the SF Girls Chorus, I handle all of the efforts made to raise the necessary funding for us to do what we do so well. But I am also a lifelong artist, with two degrees in music and theatre, and a certificate in acting from ACT. Like many of our choristers, I grew up performing as a child – I sang, conducted choirs, and wrote a few plays with original music. These days, poetry is my primary form of artistic expression. I sometimes experience a little “writer’s block” and by happy coincidence, the SF Girls Chorus shook loose a major case of it for me recently.

Rewinding a bit…in September, I had the opportunity to fly to Istanbul, Turkey for an amazing collaborative project. I wrote some poems and composer Pieter Snapper set them to music. Peter recently won a 2016 Donizetti Classical Music Award for Best Recording (see picture), and founded various robust programs in Turkey for music composition and sound engineering. Pieter was the first person I felt truly “got” my style and tone, even my most raw, eviscerating work. When we found each other and decided to collaborate, I felt truly heard and understood.


Pieter Snapper (sound design) and Emine Serdaroğlu (piano), winning a Donizetti Classical Music Award for their piano and cello album.

Creating poems to be set to music was a different way of working – I had to write FOR something, and with some basic parameters like length and tone. I was a little stuck, frankly, when I began this project. And a little intimidated. Writing for me has always been about expressing something very personal, just for myself. I often try to distill images down into their most elemental form.

Pieter asked me to express a kind of creative desperation arising from inner turmoil and conflict, in the first person. We were also writing for a particular singer – the incredible soprano Juliana Snapper, who happens to be a Girls Chorus Alumna! I couldn’t believe it! Juliana and I grew up and sang together, and she would be recording the songs that my poems would inspire!


Samantha Rowell (poet) and Juliana Snapper (soprano)

I sat down to write at my computer in the morning after receiving my first directives from the composer, but felt powerless to respond. I sat staring at a blinking cursor and leaned on the space bar, creating sheaves of blank pages.

That evening, as I dreaded returning home to sit in front of a blank screen some more, I attended an open rehearsal of the Girls Chorus. The premiere ensemble sang one of the pieces they were preparing for their trip to perform for the New York Philharmonic’s Biennial. The piece, Theo Bleckmann’s “Final Answer” sounded like thousands of pecking birds…all of the voices overlapping in such richness and cacophony. It was a beautiful asynchronous conversation in song. Standing there and listening, I was suddenly struck by how similar their voices sounded to my own voice during many conversations and arguments as a child when I sang with (and sometimes disagreed with) my dear friend Juliana Snapper.

And that did it. I was free of my writer’s block. I went home after rehearsal and wrote in a frenzy – a flood of words spilling out on the page.

And it got me thinking about the creative process, and how elusive and fickle the creative impulse can be. What do you do when you are feeling as if you can’t rise to an occasion in your own life? When you are unsure that you can push ahead, and complete a project in front of you, what is your method for relaxing into the work at hand? Are there specific things that you do to get yourself unstuck? And, like I found in my collaboration with Pieter, what does it take for you to feel truly heard and understood?



Samantha Rowell

An Important Message

Dear SFGC Community,

It has been a tumultuous week in the public life of our country, and as we – the staff of the SFGC – convened yesterday morning to resume our work together, we began to talk about what that work means in the bigger picture. You all are part of this work.

Our role is to inspire, by showing what heights of artistic excellence can be achieved by the very young, and to make the image and voices of young women more visible and audible in our society. We – staff, faculty, and choristers alike – share the joy of mastering a craft, of striving together for the highest level of musical expression, and sharing inspiring performances with diverse audiences. Our singers are artists first, and we are custodians of their artistry, starting from the time they walk into their first rehearsal. A happy by-product of this artistic focus is that we are igniting the ambitions and aspirations of young women within a larger community of advocates.

But this week we’ve been thinking about how our singers are also witnesses to history. They are called upon to be ambassadors of the city and sometimes of the whole country, and it is their achievement that places them in this important ambassadorial role. As a member of the SFGC in the 1980’s, Lisa sang at the Democratic National Convention at which Geraldine Ferraro was on the ticket as Walter Mondale’s running-mate; we greeted Queen Elizabeth on the pier as she stepped off the QE2; we welcomed President Mitterand to City Hall; we sang at the celebration of 300 years of German-American friendship in Krefeld, West Germany. Years later, our singers helped to usher in President Obama at the 2008 inauguration.

These experiences place our young singers in unique proximity to events on the world stage and shape their understanding. Now, as an organization we advocate for this new generation and see how SFGC’s presence in public life is a clarion call to all young women to be visible, to make their voices heard.

Our singers have the opportunity to testify to history.

Let’s celebrate and champion the important work we do together – it has never been more relevant or more fulfilling than at this moment.

We thank you for your continued support.

Best Wishes,


Lisa Bielawa, Artistic Director

Shelton Ensley, President, Board of Directors





San Francisco, CA, November 7, 2016—More than 350 voices of the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Girls Chorus and acclaimed Chorus School will take the stage of Davies Symphony Hall Monday, December 19, at 7:30 pm for A Highlands Holiday. Curated by SF Girls Chorus Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa and conducted by Music Director and Principal Conductor Valérie Sainte-Agathe, the evening will feature the world premiere of Salute on the Birth of Rory Mor for large chorus and bagpipes by Matthew Welch, James MacMillan’s New-Made for A King and Nova! Nova! Ave fix et Eva, Britten’s Missa Brevis, Kurt Erickson’s “We Three Kings” (world premiere), John Tavener’s “The Child Lived from Carnival of the Animals, and a host of holiday music by Holst, Purcell, Rutter and traditional English carols and sing-alongs bringing the community together with a joyful program that looks ahead to the 2017 summer tour to the British Isles. Tickets are priced $30-$60 and may be purchased at www.sfgirlschorus.org .

The UK has brought us some of the most beloved Christmas music of all eras, but it also boasts some of the most innovative choral composers in the present day. This is a chance for our audiences to hear the elegant heraldry of the English Baroque master Henry Purcell alongside the masterful Benjamin Britten, born a century ago, and the pioneering contemporary composer James MacMillan, whose Scottish-Irish influenced music for voices is captivating a whole new musical generation. Matthew Welch leads a rousing team of local pipers for a truly unique festive sound, and both Welch and Bay Area composer Kurt Erickson receive world premiere performances.

About Matthew Welch
The music of Matthew Tobin Welch (b.1976), Composer/Multi-instrumentalist, stems from a multi-faceted foundation. As a virtuoso of the Highland Bagpipe, he studied traditional music with Gold Medalist masters such as Colin MacLellan, Jack Lee, Angus MacLellan and Andrew Wright. Matthew also was a member of the four – time World Champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, winning with them in 1999 and 2001.

Mr. Welch holds two degrees in Music Composition, a BFA from Simon Fraser University (1999), and an MA from Wesleyan University (2001), having studied with noted composers such as Barry Truax, Rodney Sharman, Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton. After locating to New York City in 2001, he has worked with a host of other artists such as John Zorn, Julia Wolfe, Zeena Parkins, and Ikue Mori. The eclectic breadth of his interests in Scottish bagpipe music, Balinese gamelan, minimalism, improvisation and rock converge in compositional amalgams ranging from traditional-like bagpipe tunes to electronic pieces, improvisation strategies and fully notated works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, orchestra and non-western instruments. Since 2002, Mr. Welch has been running and composing for his own eclectic ensemble, Blarvuster, and he has recorded for the Tzadik, Mode, Cantaloupe, Leo, Porter, Muud, Avian, Newsonic and Parallactic record labels.

TICKETS AND INFO: $30-$60  www.sfgirlschorus.org .

Scott Horton Communications

Announcing The 2016-17 Season


Join us for the San Francisco Girls Chorus 2016-2017 Season!
Subscriptions and single tickets to our concerts can be purchased through City Box Office at 415-392-4400 or by visiting http://www.cityboxoffice.com/SFGC.

Coming off the groundbreaking performance at the NY PHILHARMONIC BIENNIAL at Lincoln Center in June, the San Francisco Girls Chorus presents a season that celebrates the artistic breadth of our young singers, who show audiences at every performance that young women’s voices can give utterance to the whole range of human experience.

This season, we explore the vagaries and foibles of love, the deep solemnity of spiritual devotion, the ecstasy of the natural world and the excitement of joining together with others to make joyful noise in community. We welcome new friends to share the stage with us, including rising star mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin, bagpiper/composer Matthew Welch, and the esteemed Trinity Youth Chorus from Manhattan in their West Coast debut.

This season, we explore the vagaries and foibles of love, the deep solemnity of spiritual devotion, the ecstasy of the natural world and the excitement of joining together with others to make joyful noise in community. Our season looks to the British Isles and its generations of music traditions, in anticipation of our summer tour to England and Scotland. The variety of styles and musical languages that have come from this part of the world is redoubtable. A rich tapestry to explore – come join us!

Check out the full season schedule 

Welcoming The Ellerhein Girls Choir


Estonia’s Ellerhein Girls Choir and the San Francisco Girls Chorus during their collaboration on the Nordic tour in June 2015.

We are so proud that our young singers and Music Director Valerie have been invited to partner with a growing list of superb collaborators this past year, forging new territory for them and for the organization as a whole. Within these individual collaborations is an ever-growing awareness that the SFGC is emerging as an international leader among girls choruses from all over the world.

One of the very finest of these – among the most renowned choruses of any kind, in the world – is the Ellerhein Girls Choir from Tallinn, Estonia founded in 1951.  This group generously hosted our singers on our Nordic tour, with a respectful awareness that two very fine world-class musical ensembles were coming together and forging a new, powerful community. Among our long-term goals at the SFGC is to build an international community of girls choruses , and the arrival of Ellerhein in our community is an indication that this vision is starting to become a reality.

We would like to invite you to a special free performance of the Ellerhein Girls Choir on July 22nd at 7 PM here at the Kanbar Center and home of San Francisco Girls Chorus (44 Page Street, San Francisco) This is a special and unique opportunity since they will depart the next morning to join our girls at the Summer Music Camp in Healdsburg. Please help us show these young women that the San Francisco Bay Area is proud to have another world-class girls choir here among us! This relationship will certainly serve to create more opportunities for our own girls.

We are looking forward to seeing all of them again, and will be thrilled to be able to welcome them surrounded by the greater SFGC community, powerful advocates of this new vision for young women through artistic excellence.

We are also pleased to announce the hiring of the Interim Executive Director of SFGC, Beth Schecter, whom we will introduce at the performance.  Beth comes to us with the experience of helping many other nonprofits through leadership transitions and we are excited she is with us for the next several months. There will be a small reception after the performance so we hope you can join us for a lovely evening.


Lisa Bielawa                                                 Beth Schecter

Artistic Director                                          Interim Executive Director

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