Ensembles

The School of Music offers a broad range of ensemble experiences including Rock, Afro-Cuban, Jazz, World and Classical - a small sampling is listed below. Please consult the Class Schedule for current offerings and view the course descriptions as well. Contact instructors (see below) for audition dates and repertoire. All ensembles are MUS classes, and carry unit credit. Add permits are available from course instructors during the first class meeting. Some ensembles can satisfy GE requirements. All ensembles are open to everyone, with placement auditions during the first week of each semester SF State students enrolled in ensembles are eligible for scholarships - see ensemble directors for information.

  • Undergrad and Grad: Register for MUS 386 "World Music Ensembles (Topic: Afro-Cuban Ensemble)"

Focusses on the interconnectedness of African influences in the Americas, Afro-Cuban performs Pan-African-American styles of music from South America and the Caribbean and jazz. Audition: Play or sing a song of your choice -- singers are encouraged, but not required, to sing in Spanish.

Contact: John Calloway, Director, jcallow@sfsu.edu

John Calloway is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger who has performed with renowned jazz artists Israel Cachao Lopez, Max Roach, Omar Sosa and Dizzy Gillespie. In the San Francisco Bay Area, John has built a solid foundation as a performer/arranger — including work with Pete Escovedo, Jesus Diaz, John Santos, Quique Cruz, Rebeca Mauleon and Wayne Wallace. As a faculty member at SF State, John founded the university’s Afro-Cuban Ensemble, which has enjoyed wide acclaim and popularity for many years.

John Calloway
  • Undergrad: Register for MUS 398 and 396 (non-GE) or MUS 400 - University Music Performing Ensembles (Topic: Chamber Music) (Upper Division GE Area C)
  • Graduate: MUS 378 and 778

Chamber music ensembles rehearse, perform and are coached by School of Music Faculty throughout the semester and ensembles receive additional feedback at a weekly master class attended by peers, faculty members and distinguished guests. Camerata is a professional-level string ensemble, consisting of students, alumni faculty and guests.

Contact: Zakarias Grafilo, Director, zgasq@sfsu.edu

Zakarias Grafilo has been the first violinist of the Alexander String Quartet since 2002. With the ASQ, Grafilo has made several recordings including works by Brahms, Mozart, Ravel, Schumann, alongside string quartet cycles by Bartók, Beethoven, Kodály and Shostakovich. Prior to joining the Alexander String Quartet, he served as principal second violinist of the Pacific Symphony and concertmaster of the Stockton Symphony. Grafilo holds a bachelor of arts degree in Liberal Studies from San Francisco State University, where he currently teaches violin and chamber music.

Zakarias Grafilo
  • Undergrad: Register for MUS 373 (non-GE) or MUS University Music Performing Ensembled (Topic: University Chamber Singers) (Upper Division GE Area C)
  • Graduate: MUS 373

Focussing on challenging classical repertoire for 16-20 singers, Chamber Singers performs on and off campus. Audition info: sign up for an audition time on the choral bulletin board outside of room 146 in the Creative Arts Building. No preparation required audition.

Contact: David Xiques, Director, dxiques@sfsu.edu

David Xiques: Professor of Music; teaches ear training/musicianship, directs University Chorus; fifteen years in K–12 choral, junior/high school band, general music classes; Kodály specialist, teaches at the Kodály Summer Certification Program at New York University; professional singer, tenor, with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, where he serves as assistant chorus director; author of "Solfege and Sonority: Teaching Music Reading in the Choral Classroom" with Oxford University Press; Choral arrangements include Bashana Haba'a and Chants of Faiths with Alliance Music Publications

David Xiques
  • Undergrad and Grad: Register for MUS 386 "World Music Ensembles (Topic: Creative Arts Ensemble)"

Draws from a variety of musical traditions and genres allowing students to create highly original intercultural arrangements and improvisations. Vocal and instrumental areas may include: Africa (kora, mbira, djembe), India (sarod, tabla), China (guzheng), Australia (dijeridoo), Philippines (kulintang), Europe (Celtic violin, Bulgarian women's choir, accordion), the Americas (Lakota vocals), Iran and the Arab World (daf, ney, santur, oud).

Contact: Hafez Modirzadeh, Director, hafezmo@sfsu.edu

Hafez Modirzadeh (Ph.D., 1992) focuses on creative and cross-cultural music, as well as jazz and ethnomusicology. Both an NEA Jazz Fellow and Senior Fulbright Scholar, his Grammy-nominated work on saxophones can be heard on Pi Recordings, while his published research can be found in Black Music Research, Leonardo, Critical Studies in Improvisation, and Popular Music Studies. Composition grants include the MAPfund and Copeland, while other faculty positions include BANFF (Canada) and the California Jazz Conservatory.

Modirzadeh playing the saxophone; photographer: Walter Wagner
  • MUS 380 Instrumental Ensembles

Prerequisite: Audition.

Preparation and performance of literature for specific woodwind, brass, percussion, or string ensembles. Ensembles to be specified in the Class Schedule. Activity. May be repeated for a total of 8 units. [Formerly MUS 377]

Sections:

  1. Instrumental Ensembles: Percussion
  2. Instrumental Ensembles: Brass
  3. Instrumental Ensembles: Guitar
  • Undergrad and Grad: Register for “MUS 388 (Instructor: Speight)” or University Music Performing Ensembles (Topic: Jazz Combo) (Upper Division GE Area C)
  • Graduate: MUS 378

Small jazz combos play and study the music and concepts of modern jazz masters.Jazz combos rehearse, perform and are coached by the School of Music faculty throughout the semester.

Contact: Andrew Speight, Director, andrewspeight@mac.com

Andrew Speight is a clear-toned, hard-driving alto sax player — one of the Bay Area’s most lively and lyrical exponents of straight-ahead, joyous jazz. A native of Sydney, Australia, Speight came of age playing with American stars like Percy Heath, Nat Adderley and Benny Carter as they passed through town. His 1998 CD, “Andrew Speight Quartet,” won an Aria Award, the Australian version of a Grammy. Speight has been in the U.S. since the early 90s, leading jazz programs first at Michigan State University and now at San Francisco State University. But most importantly, Speight has been blowing the doors off of every joint lucky enough to have him on the bandstand.

Andrew Speight
  • Undergrad: Register for MUS 376 (non-GE) or University Music Performing Ensembles (Topic: University Opera Workshop) (Upper Division GE Area C)
  • Graduate: MUS 379

Presenting opera scenes, as well fully-staged productions with sets, costumes and orchestra. Recent full productions include Die Fledermaus, La Calisto, Alcina, Beatrice and Benedict and scenes programs of music including Mozart, Britten, Monteverdi, Cherubini and Handel.

Contact: music@sfsu.edu with questions about the Opera Workshop

  • Undergrad: Register for MUS 371 (non-GE) or University Music Performing Ensembled (Topic: University Orchestra) (Upper Division GE Area C)
  • Graduate: MUS 371

Large classical instrumental ensemble. Open to all. Members demonstrate an outstanding level of musicianship and commitment. Repertoire includes selections of standard repertoire, as well as new music from student composers, readings for orchestration projects and annual Concerto Competition Concert. Students should prepare five (5) minutes of music on their chosen instrument for audition.

Contact: Brad Hogarth, hogarth@sfsu.edu

Contact: Zakarias Grafilo, zgasq@sfsu.edu

Brad Hogarth is equally versed in the concert hall and classroom as a trumpeter, conductor, and educator. As a trumpeter he regularly performs with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and many more of the Bay Area’s professional ensembles. A committed conductor and educator, he previously served as the Band and Full Orchestra Director and Chair of Instrumental Music of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. San Francisco Conservatory of Music – M.M. & Eastman School of Music - B.M.

Brad Hogarth

Zakarias Grafilo has been the first violinist of the Alexander String Quartet since 2002. With the ASQ, Grafilo has made several recordings including works by Brahms, Mozart, Ravel, Schumann, alongside string quartet cycles by Bartók, Beethoven, Kodály and Shostakovich. Prior to joining the Alexander String Quartet, he served as principal second violinist of the Pacific Symphony and concertmaster of the Stockton Symphony. Grafilo holds a bachelor of arts degree in Liberal Studies from San Francisco State University, where he currently teaches violin and chamber music.

Zakarias Grafilo

Ensemble for woodwind, brass, voice and percussion. Rehearsal and concerts including university and athletic events. Repertoire includes a variety of music in popular, jazz and traditional styles

Contact: Brad Hogarth, hogarth@sfsu.edu

Brad Hogarth is equally versed in the concert hall and classroom as a trumpeter, conductor, and educator. As a trumpeter he regularly performs with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and many more of the Bay Area’s professional ensembles. A committed conductor and educator, he previously served as the Band and Full Orchestra Director and Chair of Instrumental Music of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. San Francisco Conservatory of Music – M.M. & Eastman School of Music - B.M.

Brad Hogarth
  • Undergrad: Register for MUS 375 (non-GE) or University Music Performing Ensembles (Topic: University Treble Singers) (Upper Division GE Area C)
  • Graduate: MUS 375

Welcomes treble-voice singers of all genders and experience levels who love to sing. Performs a wide variety of music each semester, from spirituals and protest songs to art music and choral masterworks for high voices. Performs on- and off-campus. Entrance is by a simple, friendly audition at the beginning of each semester.

Contact: Reuben Zellman, Director, reubenz@sfsu.edu

Reuben Zellman was born and raised in California, and has studied and worked in Santiago de Chile, Jerusalem, New York and Los Angeles. He received his B.A. in Linguistics from UC Berkeley, M.M. in choral conducting from San Francisco State University, and M.A. in Hebrew Literature and Rabbinical Ordination at Hebrew Union College. He trained in chazzanut (Jewish modal theory and performance practice) under Cantors Jackie Mendelssohn and David Bentley. Reuben is the Director of Music at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley. His research interests include Jewish music of the Baroque and early Classical periods. An educator in the transgender community, Reuben speaks and has been published extensively on gender identity and religion.

Reuben  Zellman
  • Undergrad: Register for MUS 379 (non-GE) or University Music Performing Ensembles (Topic: University University Chorus) (Upper Division GE Area C)
  • Graduate: MUS 379

The largest performance ensemble at SF State, the University Chorus is an auditioned ensemble open to all. Audition sign up on bulletin board outside of room 146 in Creative Arts Building during the first week of classes. No preparation necessary for audition. You will be asked to sing vocal exercises and may be asked to sight-read a melody.

Contact: David Xiques, Director, dxiques@sfsu.edu

David Xiques: Professor of Music; teaches ear training/musicianship, directs University Chorus; fifteen years in K–12 choral, junior/high school band, general music classes; Kodály specialist, teaches at the Kodály Summer Certification Program at New York University; professional singer, tenor, with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, where he serves as assistant chorus director; author of "Solfege and Sonority: Teaching Music Reading in the Choral Classroom" with Oxford University Press; Choral arrangements include Bashana Haba'a and Chants of Faiths with Alliance Music Publications

David Xiques
  • Undergrad and Grad: Register for: “MUS 388 Jazz Combos (Topic: Vocal/Jazz Modern Music)"

Opportunities to explore jazz music and perform with a group and as a soloist are highlighted. Students participate in active listening, analysis and group/individual rehearsal of assigned material. Special attention to historically significant jazz recordings, films, video documentaries may be included.

Contact: Dee Spencer, dspencer@sfsu.edu

Dee Spencer founded the jazz studies program at San Francisco State University and is a renowned composer, performer and vocalist who has played on stages across the world.

Headshot for Dianthe Spencer, a Black woman with long hair smiling at the camera. The photograph is black-and-white.
  • Undergrad: Register for MUS 372 (non-GE) or MUS 400-02 and 400-03 (Upper Division GE Area C)
  • Graduate: MUS 372

Large classical instrumental ensemble.Open to all. Members demonstrate an outstanding level of musicianship and commitment. Repertoire includes selections of standard repertoire, as well as new music and commissions. Students should prepare five (5) minutes of music on their chosen instrument for audition.

Contact: Brad Hogarth, hogarth@sfsu.edu

Brad Hogarth is equally versed in the concert hall and classroom as a trumpeter, conductor, and educator. As a trumpeter he regularly performs with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and many more of the Bay Area’s professional ensembles. A committed conductor and educator, he previously served as the Band and Full Orchestra Director and Chair of Instrumental Music of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. San Francisco Conservatory of Music – M.M. & Eastman School of Music - B.M.

Brad Hogarth