Morrison Chamber Music Center Announces 2019 - 2020 Season of Admission-Free Concerts

Wednesday, September 04, 2019
SAN FRANCISCO — Through its signature Morrison Artists Series, the Morrison Chamber Music Center works to advance the art of chamber music and its appreciation by offering admission-free concerts and educational programs of the highest quality, including lectures, pre-concert talks and public master classes/artist residencies, to elevate public awareness, encourage and develop new audiences, and provide future generations of performers with mentorship by the world’s greatest practitioners of the art.
Photo: The Juilliard String Quartet
The Juilliard String Quartet will close the Morrison Artists Series on April 26, 2020. Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco.

Programs for the Morrison Artists Series’ 2019 – 2020 season ( will be presented in two adjacent venues: SFSU’s 700-seat McKenna Theatre and the more intimate Knuth Hall (both at 1756 Holloway Avenue), and each concert will be preceded by an informative lecture in Knuth Recital Hall (no tickets are necessary to attend the lectures). In addition to their concerts, all artists will participate in instructive residency activities under the auspices of the Morrison Chamber Music Center. All concerts and master classes are admission-free to the public. Admission-free tickets for concerts will be made available to the public three weeks prior to the concert date. No tickets are necessary for master classes.

“We look forward to welcoming our continually expanding and diverse audience to our new concert season. Patrons will notice expanded offerings including staged events, new-artist introductions and informal artist interactions,” Artistic Director Cyrus Ginwala says.

The 2019 – 2020 Morrison Artists Series schedule includes:

  • Sunday, October 6, 2019, at 3 p.m.: Alexander String Quartet. Music of Mozart, Shostakovich and Beethoven. Master class: Monday, October 7, at noon.
  • Sunday, November 3, 2019, at 3 p.m.: Ensemble Phase. Traditional and contemporary works for Korean instruments. Contemporary works by Benjamin Sabey (world premiere), Christine Lee and Sunghyun Lee (U.S. premiere). Residency activities: to be announced.
  • Sunday, February 9, 2020, at 3 p.m.: InterMusic SF Showcase, featuring performances by Brass Over Bridges, Curium Trio and Alaya Project. Residency activities: to be announced.
  • Sunday, February 23, 2020, at 3 p.m.: Septura. Music for brass ensemble. SFSU Brass festival: Saturday, February 22, 2020 (contact
  • Sunday, March 15, 2020, at 3 p.m.: Core Ensemble with Actress Shinnerrie Jackson. Ain’t I a Woman! — a chamber music/theatre piece celebrating the life and times of four powerful African American women: Zora Neale Hurston, Sojourner Truth, Clementine Hunter and Fannie Lou Hamer. Residency activities: to be announced.
  • Sunday, April 26, 2020, at 3 p.m.: Juilliard String Quartet. Music by Beethoven and Kurtag. Residency activities: to be announced.

The 2019-2020 Morrison Artists Series will open and culminate, respectively, with concerts by storied string quartets: San Francisco State’s Quartet-in-Residence the Alexander String Quartet and the legendary Juilliard String Quartet. Embracing the Bay Area’s diversity, the series will feature contemporary music performed on traditional Korean instruments (Ensemble Phase), a fusion of Indian and Western musical forms (Alaya Project) and a chamber music/theatre piece with a score drawn from spirituals of the Deep South, the urban exuberance of the Jazz Age and concert music by African American composers that include Diane Monroe (Core Ensemble).

Finally, three Bay Area ensembles new to the Morrison Artists Series will be featured in the InterMusic SF Showcase, and Septura will be the featured ensemble in a two-day Brass Festival (February 22 – 23, 2020) under the auspices of the Morrison Chamber Music Center.

Continuing its dedication to the music of our time, the series will feature Ensemble Phase in the world premiere of SFSU School of Music faculty member Benjamin Sabey, along with the U.S. premiere of a work by Sunghyun Lee and a recent work by Christine Lee. And, the Juilliard String Quartet will feature renowned Hungarian composer György Kurtág’s 6 Moments musicaux, for string quartet, Op. 44 (2005).

The 2019 – 2020 Morrison Artists Series will continue its process for reserving seats for its free concerts: two advance tickets per patron may be reserved 3 weeks prior to each concert through the Morrison Artists Series’ website. Reserved tickets will be available for pick up at the Box Office beginning prior to the event or at Will Call on the day of the event. Patrons may print tickets at home or download an electronic ticket on their smart phones. Box office hours are two hours prior to events. No tickets are necessary for master classes; attendance is available on a first come-first served basis. For additional information on the artists and/or programs, please visit the Morrison Artists Series’ website or telephone the box office at (415) 338-2467.


History of the Morrison Artists Series

The San Francisco Bay Area is replete with cultural, architectural, and natural jewels about which even the most knowledgeable natives and long-time residents are sometimes unaware. The Morrison Artists Series is one such jewel. As the longest running chamber music series in San Francisco, the Morrison Artists Series has presented more than 350 admission-free concerts, attended by more than 150,000 people. Each year the series features innovative chamber music programming, offering a wide variety of outstanding new, young and established artists. All concerts are presented admission-free in the 700-seat McKenna Theatre in San Francisco State University’s College of Liberal & Creative Arts.

The Morrison Chamber Music Center has been funded, since 1955, through an endowed fund from the May Treat Morrison Trust. Edward Hohfeld, a founder of the law firm Morrison and Foerster and longtime friend of the firm’s most prominent partner Alexander F. Morrison and his wife May Treat Morrison, was administrator of the Charitable Trust endowed by funds from the Morrison Estate. Mr. Hohfeld believed that music should be taught in two ways: by providing students with the opportunity to learn their skills from master teachers and by giving students the chance to hear chamber music performed by the finest practitioners. He believed, too, that attendance at concerts should not be the privilege of the few, but should be accessible to everyone, and he especially hoped that by endowing a series of concerts and presenting them to the public free of charge, parents would bring their children, introducing each new generation to classical music and to the dedicated musicians who perform it.

Since its inception, the goal of the Morrison Artists Series is to provide exquisite small-ensemble performances and educational opportunities to students and the community. Each program is preceded by a pre-concert talk offering musical and historical insights and perspectives. The public is also invited to observe the artists in master classes working intensively with student and pre-professional ensembles on interpretation and performance of masterworks from the chamber music repertoire. All programs are open to the public and are admission-free. Although admission is free, tickets are required for the concerts.

The program has flourished over the years under the superb musical leadership of its artistic directors: Ferenc Molnar, Andor Toth, Laszlo Varga, Saul Gropman, Ronald Caltabiano, Richard Festinger and Cyrus Ginwala, the generous support of the trustees of the May Treat Morrison Foundation,and the ongoing support of San Francisco State University.

Artistic director

Professor Cyrus Ginwala is the director of the San Francisco State University School of Music and artistic director of the Morrison Chamber Music Center. As a conductor, Ginwala has appeared with the Roanoke Symphony, the Boca Pops, the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, the Aspen Concert Orchestra and the Sewanee Summer Festival Orchestra. He has served as visiting faculty at the Peabody Conservatory and the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia.

Music director of the Symphony of the Mountains, a professional orchestra, youth orchestra and symphony chorus, from 1996 to 2005, he conducted more than 100 works in subscription and pops series, while expanding the orchestra’s concert and education programs. During the same period, Ginwala was resident conductor of the Sewanee Summer Music Center, one of the oldest summer orchestral training programs in America and, from 2002 – 2004 conductor of the Musica Piccola Summer Orchestra at the North Carolina School for the Arts.

Media Contact: 
Richard Aldag, 415-290-4174,
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