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San Francisco Girls' Chorus (Berkeley & SF, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Groups, Clubs, & Teams > San Francisco Girls' Chorus (Berkeley & SF, CA)



Jan 2013

Re: chorus that sings classical music
San Francisco Girls Chorus. sfgirlschorus.org They use the Crowden Music School in Berkeley for their East Bay students. My daughter has been singing with them for 3 years now and simply loves it. They meet 2x a week for singing and theory. Tryouts are 2x per year. I believe the next is in June. There are a number of performances coming up in the Spring which can give you and your daughter a chance to have a listen and see if its what you're looking for. Good luck.


Jan 2007

Re: Which chorus for 8-year-old?
I have two daughters in the San Francisco Girls Chorus, and they have advanced from the lowest to highest levels over the last 10 years. The chorus has provided them with friendship, leadership opportunities, support, pride, accomplishment, lots of challenges, hard work, and excellent training in classical singing. The chorus is a lot of work and does not do popular music. My daughters have sung in Mandarin, Estonian, Hebrew, German, French, German, Latin and Japanese, at least. They have been in two SF Opera productions and sung with the San Francisco Symphony numerous times--last year in Mahler's 8th, the Damnation of Faust, and in the summer ''Lord of the Rings'' concert. They recorded a CD at Skywalker Sound. They went as invitees to the World Choral Symposium in Japan, sang with the Tokyo Philharmonic, and this year one of them is going to China. I have learned how to love and appreciate opera and symphony and have been backstage at the opera, great fun. My eldest now helps teach the new girls. That said, it is a huge commitment for parents as well. Many hours, lots of driving. I had to drive one into the city this morning at 8 am. Of course, it was gorgeous. Now most of the time they BART, and groups of them BART together--that is handy.

I don't know anything about the Piedmont Choir--I have a feeling once you join either one you are too busy to learn about the other! Often in San Francisco


Hi, I would absolutely love to tell you about the pros and cons of Piedmont Choirs versus San Francisco Girls Chorus. I was in the San Francisco Girls Chorus for years, as were my sisters, so I am biased, of course! But I assume all of the responses to the questions will be.

In general, I would characterize the Piedmont Choirs as more laid-back, less serious, more "just for fun." The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) is a rigorous program, where students will really learn a lot about how to make quality music and be involved in the very sophisticated music scene of San Francisco.

I grew up in schools where people were in both choirs. Here are some of the things I noticed:

The girls in the SFGC felt that singing was one of their passions. They were very involved, very committed, and loved going to rehearsals and being with their friends at the SFGC. Chorus was "their thing."

Because the SFGC is in San Francisco, and because the top groups are much better than the Piedmont Choirs' top groups, often when there were major events happening, SFGC was asked to sing. For example, I participated in the UN's 50th anniversary commemoration, two SF mayor's inaugural events, a World Cup (soccer, of course), sang for the soundtrack for a major movie with Robin Williams, etc.

One thing that I think is important to note is that Piedmont choristers are rarely involved with the San Francisco Symphony or the San Francisco Opera. In contrast, SFGC choristers sing with these organizations almost every year -- the SFGC choristers were even on the recordings that won a Grammy for the SF Symphony! I can tell you that being in operas with the SFGC was so exciting -- going to the choreography/staging rehearsals, waiting in the wings to see stars like Denise Graves, putting on my costume, and getting my make-up put on each time, interacting with the opera company singers - are memories I cherish. I think that from these events I developed a lot of my self-esteem and confidence. Although I wouldn't have been able to describe it at the time, I thought to myself, "Look! These organizations want me to sing! They value me!"

Another important thing to notice -- SFGC is, of course, solely for girls, while Piedmont Choirs are co-ed. I know that I felt I developed very close relationships with my friends in the SFGC. Especially as I was becoming a teenager and social groups were splitting off into boy/girl factions, many girls at the SFGC became very important to me socially. I'm not sure if that would have happened (or not) in a co-ed environment.

I was very grateful that the SFGC provided me with continuity within the organization: the SFGC allows their students to be fully involved until they are 18. Maybe this has changed, but while I was in elementary and high school, I watched as my peers in Piedmont Choirs had to dramatically curtail their involvement when they became 14 or 16 (I'm not sure which). The SFGC provided a constant for me through the elementary/middle/high school transition.

Another major difference: SFGC (to me) has a much more diverse pool of singers. Piedmont Choirs do have students from many areas, but I would say the majority come from Piedmont/Oakland/Berkeley, and many families are very wealthy. In the SFGC, geographically, singers come from all over -- from some ridiculous number like 50 cities in the Bay Area! Socioeconomically, about 60% of the SFGC choristers are on scholarship. While the concept of diversity may be important to parents, I know that as a young girl in the SFGC, I began to learn how so many of my chorister friends had lives so different from mine, in terms of the kinds of schools they went to, their various family situations, their different cultural backgrounds.

One thing that the top groups in the Piedmont choirs do have is that they tour almost every year to a foreign country. Yes, I was jealous that my Piedmont peers got to go more often to different countries. However, any musical group can pay to have an organization set up tours for them in different countries. Piedmont Choirs do this every year so that they can have their top students go to different countries. SFGC choristers go on tour also (most recently, to Japan in 2005, and they will go to Korea summer 2007), but when they do, it is because they are participating in a prestigious world-wide conference of some type. For example, when I went to Italy with the SFGC, it was centered around being invited to sing at the world-famous Spoleto Festival (a huge honor).

SFGC girls simply have better musical training. We sing more complex pieces with more depth and nuance. SFGC choristers are trained and well-prepared to take on more challenging music! After having regularly sung in so many different languages, to try to pronounce something in, for example, any Romance language, was not frightening to me -- I just remembered all of those songs we had sung in that language in chorus! In rehearsals, we looked at the translations of the pieces we were doing, and tried to understand the poetry of the lyrics, and how to best express this (this really helped me with my critical thinking development). SFGC girls are well-prepared to take the AP music theory exams, and several of my friends are now professional opera and pop singers. I know that in college, when I was singing extracurricularly, I had no trouble getting into the groups I auditioned for: when I told people I had been in the SFGC, that carried a lot of weight, and people knew that I had been trained to be an accomplished musician.

Lastly, I know that being the in SFGC helped me get into the schools I wanted to get into. To many colleges I sent one of the CDs produced by the SFGC that had my voice. I was absolutely sure that any music professor evaluating SFGC CDs would come away with a positive impression of my musical aptitude.

Well, I hope that that gives you a good low-down on SFGC versus Piedmont Choirs. Clearly, I owe a lot of my personal development and success to having been in the San Francisco Girls Chorus, and I hope my passion comes through! Good luck.


Sept 2005

Re: Chorus for 6-year-old girl
My daugter has been singing with the San Francisco Girls Chorus since 2nd grade. She has received extensive vocal training and music theory. This is a wonderful organization that practices 2x week at the Morman Temple in Oakland and then in San Francisco in Level 4 and beyond. They will be having auditions in January. Highlights include great teachers, friendships, and a holiday concert at Davies Symphony Hall. My daughter is 13 and in Chorissima now and loves the Chorus. Check them out at www.sfgirlschorus.org


July 2004

If youb ridge truebeautyiseverywhere@yahoo.comre a girl who likes to sing, the San Francisco Girls Chorus is the place for you! This is our familyb ridge truebeautyiseverywhere@yahoo.coms 13th year with them and I can truly say that this has been a life-defining experience for my 3 daughters. The Chorus School offers a deep and well-rounded music educatiobnchoral singing, music theory, vocal technique, sight-singing, music history, and more. Choristers perform in a variety of settings. More advanced singers have opportunities to sing with the San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Symphony. Chorissima, the concert and touring ensemble, presents full concerts and tours internationally. The first 3 Levels of the Chorus School rehearse in Oakland and San Francisco; advanced groups meet in San Francisco. Call (415) 863-1752 to find out about the next audition or visit their website, www.sfgirlschorus.org. If I can help with any personal insights, just ask. We've had lots of great experiences! Ruth


Aug. 2000

I want to heartily endorse a previous recommendation for the San Francisco Girls Chorus. In addition to the main attraction, singing, the 4-level Chorus School presents a program that includes music theory, vocal technique, sight-singing, music history, and performance excellence. Upon graduation from the Chorus School, girls may audition for the concert and touring group, Chorissima, and from there to the smaller ensemble, Virtuose. The repertoire includes music in many languages from many cultures and covers historical periods from classical through contemporary. Along with SFGC's own concert schedule, all the levels perform at a variety of venues around the Bay Area. My daughters have sung with the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Opera and have toured around California and internationally. My 3 daughters are entering our family's tenth year with SFGC and are thrilled with the breadth of musical experience they have received. The good news for East Bay families is that the first three levels rehearse in both Oakland and San Francisco. By the time girls are ready to move to the more advanced levels, families know if they want to commit to going to SF. For us, it's been more than worth it. Auditions are held several times a year with the next one on August 26 at the Oakland site. Call (415) 673-1511 or visit www.citysearch.com/sfo/sfgirlschorus. Ruth


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