New San Francisco center to share classical music with all

Nov 12, 2021, 3:43 PM | Updated: Nov 14, 2021, 11:16 am

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yo-Yo Ma spent the better part of the pandemic playing cello to an online audience seeking solace in his music.

On Friday, he marked his return to San Francisco by playing an energetic Bach cello suite before a live audience to inaugurate the opening of a new performance center designed to increase public access to classical and jazz music.

Ma praised the top-notch acoustics in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Bowes Center for Performing Arts and the “safe space that actually gives the students and faculty … the preconditions for creativity.”

The towering campus in Civic Center was among a handful of construction projects that was allowed to continue during the pandemic to house students and provide them classrooms, a recording studio and a radio station under one roof.

The centerpiece of the $200 million building, however, is a street-level recital hall with floor-to-ceiling glass windows to let passersby watch students hone their craft. With the recital hall and two other performance spaces in the building, the conservatory plans to offer free admission to 90% of its concerts each year.

The goal is to create a welcoming space and broaden the audience to include those who may not be able afford to experience a live performance.

“It was very important to us to create a space that encourages access and breaks down silos,” the conservatory’s president, David Stull, said. “For too long, the world of classical music has been seen as exclusive, with a huge barrier to entry — in its transparency, the Bowes Center invites the public in and builds connection.”

The glass design starkly contrasts the imposing neoclassical columns featured in the nearby War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, home to the city’s opera and ballet companies. The center, named after the late venture capitalist and donor William K. Bowes, Jr., is also walking distance to the conservatory and performance halls for SFJAZZ and the San Francisco Symphony.

A penthouse performance space where Ma and pianist Garrick Ohlsson played the music of Chopin overlooks City Hall and the bustling traffic on Van Ness Avenue. Thick glass walls allow natural light to pour in and keep out noise and vibration from the street.

“These two performance spaces I think will be magical for years to come,” said Mark Cavagnero, the building’s architect. “They’ll showcase the student work and professional musicians’ work and allow the public in. They will also showcase the city and the conservatory’s proud role within in.”

Construction was allowed to move forward during the pandemic to meet the city’s housing shortage. The conservatory paid to move out residents of a 27-unit apartment building previously on the site, covered their expenses temporarily and offered to move them into rent-controlled housing in the new building. More than 400 students and faculty members have also moved in.

The center was funded with money raised by the conservatory, including a $46 million donation from the family of late venture capitalist William K. Bowes, Jr. Construction began in 2018 and the facility was set to open last year before pandemic supply chain issues slowed it down.

Mayor London Breed called the center a “true jewel” for the city and said she supported the project since its inception “not just because of the amazing concert halls where you could have these experiences with these incredible views, but because it provided an opportunity to help students.”

She joked that when she wants to play hooky, she can walk across the street from her office to enjoy a free concert.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Courtroom notes showing that a Washington County, Oregon, judge threatened to hold Oregon Pu...
Associated Press

After firing public defense commissioners, new members named

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The day after Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters fired all nine members of the state commission that oversees public defense, she said Tuesday that she was appointing four new commissioners and reappointing five commissioners from the previous group. Walters had fired the commission members out of frustration that hundreds […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Musician R. Kelly leaves the Leighton Criminal Court building in Chicago on June 6, 2019. Ke...
Associated Press

R Kelly jury picked in child pornography, trial-fixing case

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal jury was impaneled Tuesday in R. Kelly’s hometown of Chicago to decide multiple charges against the R&B singer, as prosecutors and defense attorneys argued toward the end of the process about whether the government was improperly attempting to keep some Blacks off the jury. Kelly, who is Black, is accused […]
17 hours ago
Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at an event touting a new universal school voucher progra...
Associated Press

Gov. Doug Ducey takes victory lap over Arizona school voucher plan

Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and backers of universal school vouchers took a victory lap Tuesday over legislation the Republican-controlled Legislature enacted in June.
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Man guilty in Christmas Day slayings of wife, son, neighbor

PONTIAC, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois jury found a man guilty Tuesday of killing his wife, son and neighbor on Christmas Day 2019. The Livingston County jury convicted Clifford Brewer, 55, of Cullom, of murder in the three slayings. returning the verdicts a few hours after receiving the case. Brewer told police he woke […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Wichita City Council candidate Mark Gietzen, right, visits with Sedgwick County Commissioner...
Associated Press

Kansas abortion vote: Why recount with such a large margin?

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas on Tuesday began a partial hand recount of this month’s decisive statewide vote in favor of abortion rights, a move forced by two Republican activists even though the margin was so large that the recount won’t change the outcome. Nine of the state’s 105 counties are doing the recount at […]
17 hours ago
FILE - This image provided by the Hennepin County, Minn. Sheriff's Office shows Thomas Lane, who wa...
Associated Press

Ex-cop Lane will report to Colorado prison in Floyd killing

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane, who was sentenced to 2 1/2 years for violating George Floyd’s civil rights, will do his time at a low-security federal prison camp in Colorado. A court order Tuesday directs Lane to report to the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in the Denver suburb of Littleton on […]
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
New San Francisco center to share classical music with all