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Celebrating 30 years of the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music program

Third and fourth grade students from Sanchez Elementary School dance in their seats as percussionist Jesús Díaz and Caribbean Express perform. Photo: Stefan Cohen

The San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music program celebrated its 30th anniversary April 24. Joining the celebration were San Francisco Symphony President Sakurako Fisher; San Francisco Symphony Executive Director Mark Hanson; San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell; San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews. Also in attendance was an enthusiastic group of friends and leaders from City Hall and the Unified School District, parents, teachers, symphony supporters and board members, and media representatives.

Presented in partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District, AIM is the longest running and most comprehensive program of its kind in the country, providing free music education to first through fifth grade students in every public elementary school in San Francisco.

The gathering at Sanchez Elementary School began with remarks by Sakurako Fisher, who highlighted the remarkable partnership between the San Francisco Symphony and the SFUSD, which led to the creation of AIM in 1988. Fisher then presented congratulation letters sent to the symphony by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Kamala Harris, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. “Every time I see the AIM program in action, my hope in mankind is renewed and my commitment to art and music,” Fisher said.

(L-R) SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent D. Matthews, San Francisco Board of Education President Hydra Mendoza-McDonell, Mayor Mark Farrell, San Francisco Symphony President Sakurako Fisher, San Francisco Symphony Executive Director Mark Hanson pose with the Mayor’s Proclamation to make April 24, 2018 “Adventures in Music Day” in San Francisco. Photo: Stefan Cohen

(L-R) SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent D. Matthews, San Francisco Board of Education President Hydra Mendoza-McDonell, Mayor Mark Farrell, San Francisco Symphony President Sakurako Fisher, San Francisco Symphony Executive Director Mark Hanson pose with the Mayor’s Proclamation to make April 24, 2018 “Adventures in Music Day” in San Francisco. Photo: Stefan Cohen

Mayor Farrell presented the symphony with a city proclamation naming April 24, 2018 “Adventures in Music Day” in the city and county of San Francisco. “What is so valuable to me is that the symphony really embraces the idea of inclusiveness, of making sure they educate everybody in the city of San Francisco,” Farrell said. “Students are not only able to have artists come here to their schools, which is amazing, but also to be able to go to the symphony itself to hear and witness performances — that is enlightening. And the fact that this has happened now for 30 years in the city of San Francisco is just an amazing feat that I think we all need to celebrate. This is what it’s all about in San Francisco,” he said.

Superintendent Matthews highlighted the significance of AIM’s 1988 creation, and shared his own experience with the program, both as a public-school teacher and as a principal. “There are two pieces that really stand out to me about the program: its equity and consistency. This program is one of the only arts programs that every single elementary student in our district has access to, and that is critical. The symphony has been empowering our school district teachers for 30 years, and this is worth celebrating,” Matthews said.

The program concluded after third and fourth grade students from Sanchez Elementary filed into the school’s cafetorium to enjoy a lively educational performance, presented by AIM teaching ensemble Caribbean Express. Students and guests engaged in a fast-paced and interactive exploration of island music — from Reggae to Calypso to Merengue — by the ensemble comprising steel pans, conga, bongos, claves, cowbell, drum kit, and electric bass.

 

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