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Parties: Centennial Sounds

Written by Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Drew Altizer

High notes were hit on March 2 in the Julia Morgan Ballroom as Community Music Center ushered in its second century during the Centennial Gala. This heralded music school, which was founded by nurse and violin teacher Gertrude Field in 1921 and provides free and low-cost lessons to children and adult students, raised $800K for scholarships and tuition-free programs.

Led by CMC executive director Julie Rulyak Steinberg, San Francisco Giants public address announcer Renel Brooks-Moon and centennial chair Fred Levin, some 260 guests delighted in a musicale dinner program that featured a starry cast of performers, including jazz singer Paula West, trumpeter Sean Jones, the John Santos Trio, tenor Pene Pati, soprano Amina Edris, composer Jake Heggie and beloved mezzo-soprano Frederica “Flicka” von Stade.

“My family and I have been part of CMC for generations: It’s one of the first arts organizations we supported,” noted Levin. “Music brings joy to all of us. Even more so in providing scholarships for students with a desire to study.”

CMC recently broke ground to expand its historic Capp Street location in the Mission and ultimately accommodate at least 1,000 more students, in addition to the 3,100 it currently serves annually. CMC, which received San Francisco Legacy Business status in 2019, also has a branch in the Outer Richmond. (Read more about the organization, including forthcoming centennial events, in “Mind the Music,” page 44.)

“CMC’s 100-year commitment remains devoted to the same goal: access to music education for everyone,” continued Levin. “CMC ensures that the joy of musicmaking is not a privilege, but a study everyone can experience and enjoy.”

The gala included a special video tribute from philanthropist Roselyne “Cissie” Swig, a recipient of the 2022 Gertrude Field Community Impact Award. She was joined in those plaudits by fellow honorees Betty Wong, Shirley Wong-Frentzel and Cecilia “La Doña” Peña-Govea.

“When I became aware of CMC, I was overwhelmed by its mission: that young people, or older people as well, receive the opportunity to create a talent or accentuate a talent,” Swig enthused. “Whether it’s jazz music, classical, country or hip-hop, I love it all.” NHG Sponsored

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