By: Dana Bernstein
On Sunday, January 24th our very own AVS music teacher Jessica Bejarano guest conducted the Winter Concert for the San Francisco Civic Symphony at the Nourse Theater. Many AVS students enthusiastically attended the concert to see their teacher perform. As 3rd grader Samantha Jacoby explained, it is particularly exciting to see music performed live when someone you know is conducting. I spoke with Jessica a bit about her involvement with the San Francisco Civic Symphony and why she feels it’s important for kids to see live music.
DB: How did you become involved with the San Francisco Civic Symphony?
JB: One of the board members, who had seen my work with other orchestras in previous years, asked me if I was interested in guest conducting for the San Francisco Civic Symphony. Of course, I said, “Yes!”
As guest conductor, I was given artistic freedom to program the concert as I wished. So I selected music that I knew would inspired the musicians to practice and attend rehearsal, music that would move and engage the audience and music that would showcase my strengths as conductor.
DB: How was the AVS community involved in the concert?
JB: This is a cute story! From the beginning of my experience with SFCS they read my biograhpy and knew that I was a music teacher at AVS so I was representing us at every rehearsal, every week leading up to the performance. I also did a live radio interview where the host asked me about AVS and I was able to shed a very bright light on our students, teachers and administration! And here’s the cute part. At the performance, before I got on stage, one of the board members was introducing me to the audience (at this point I’m back stage listening), and when he read my bio and mentioned that I was a music teacher at AVS, I suddenly heard students yelling, clapping, whistling, and cheering! This to me made my heart melt, because they were not just random audience members in the concert hall, but rather people, students who felt like they belonged….and they did! I thank Katie and Sarah, our wonderful drama teachers, for putting together an outing through their matinee club!
DB: Can you explain why it’s important for the kids to see live music?
JB: I feel that it’s important for kids to experience live music because it immerses them in music, community and active learning. I also feel that the students experience had depth because they know the conductor, me. And it’s also important for them to have seen a young female conductor on the podium. There are not many female conductors out there. It has been a male dominated field for the past 250 years and gradually, yet slowly, women pioneers like myself are passionate and determined enough to shift those statistics and history! Passion and perseverance is quite powerful!
Congratulations to Jessica on this concert and thank you for letting the AVS community be part of this amazing experience!