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Crowden School Launches 40th Anniversary Year with Spring Concert Thursday, May 25

Crowden School Launches 40th Anniversary Year with Spring Concert Thursday, May 25

Evening Features Premiere of New Commission for String Orchestra
by Crowden Alum Gabriella Smith

23 May 2023 – Berkeley, CA: The acclaimed Crowden School ( kicks off its 40th anniversary year by celebrating the accomplishments of its inspiring Crowden School musicians at this annual end-of-the-year musical extravaganza, Thursday, May 25, 6:30pm (1475 Rose Street, Berkeley, California).  This all-school concert features chamber music, choruses, and orchestras, shining a spotlight on Crowden’s Upper School students in particular. This year’s premiere features a new commission for string orchestra, Capybaraologyin honor of Crowden’s 40th anniversary by Crowden alum Gabriella Smith.

“We are thrilled to premiere Crowden alumna Gabriella Smith’s piece for string orchestra, Capybaraology, at our upcoming Spring Concert to launch Crowden’s 40th anniversary season,” said Crowden Artistic Director  Eugene Sor. “Reflective of so many alumni who have attended The Crowden School and have participated in our acclaimed community programs over the past four decades, Gabriella embodies Crowden’s spirit of curiosity, creativity, and community-mindedness. It is an honor to continue to work with brilliant young Crowden students, who like Gabriella and the generations of alumni before them, will surely develop into amazing adults who make a significant impact on the world.”

Smith attended The Crowden School for two years, and later returned to study in Crowden’s John Adams Young Composers Program. She is a frequent guest artist for both programs.

“I approached this piece by recreating all the things I enjoyed doing on my violin at that age: exploring new sounds and techniques, harmonics, groove, and pretty melodies passed around the ensemble,” said Smith, 31. “I also included a technique called aleatory, a type of guided improvisation, that I did not learn about until a few years later as a teenager. This type of flexible timing is central to the feel of my work as a whole and also a nice reminder that music is not just about the notes and rhythms, but about having fun and looking at, listening to, and responding to each other. After I finished the piece, I asked if the students would enjoy coming up with a title for it. A few weeks later, I received a list of their title suggestions and was delighted to discover that a surprising number were related to capybaras, the world’s largest rodent, that lives in the rainforests. So in honor of their love of capybaras, I decided to call the piece Capybaraology.

In addition to the Capybaraology performance on May 25, Smith’s work will also be featured under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel that same evening with her Los Angeles Philharmonic commission Lost Coast.

When violinist Anne Crowden founded the Crowden School in 1983, she called it her “Grand Experiment.” She was entering unknown territory, and she certainly never imagined that her dreams of a supportive educational environment for musical children would develop into a thriving, established Bay Area cultural institution. Anne succeeded because of the quality of her vision and musical standards, and the force of her personality. Like Anne herself, Crowden inspires unusual dedication and passion.

Today, Crowden is a home for all to explore, to learn, to rehearse, to perform, and to listen to music. Between its rich array of music education offerings for the general public, day school for grades 3 to 8, concerts and events, and community partnerships, Crowden serves roughly 8,000 individuals each year. Anne’s unique stamp—the commitment to musical excellence, the intimate family atmosphere, the particular passion for chamber and new music, the deep experience of interdisciplinary and creative learning—still combine into that tangible Crowden magic.

In 2021, with a $10 million gift from the Getty Foundation, the Crowden Board of Trustees established the Ann and Gordon Getty Fund, to further Mr. and Mrs. Getty’s commitment to opening the doors to a Crowden education for all children and to reduce financial barriers to accessing a Crowden education for often marginalized groups of young people.

Ann and Gordon Getty’s extended relationship with Crowden spans over three decades. In addition to this truly transformative gift and annual support from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Getty have hosted regular receptions in their home to nurture the creative endeavors of Crowden’s young musicians, introducing many emerging talents to their first influential audiences. A composer himself, Mr. Getty has a particular interest in the incubation of young composers and was instrumental in founding Crowden’s John Adams Young Composers Program.

“Ann and Gordon have always valued Crowden’s philosophy of blending music with academic scholarship as the secret to a balanced education, and the foundational work that we specialize in,” remarked Crowden’s Director Emeritus Doris Fukawa. “Crowden started as a labor of love by teachers and that continues today. We really see each student, and we care, and our students know that—they feel seen, and are comfortable being and finding themselves. Our shared love for music, and the joy of playing together, translates for our students into a lifelong curiosity and passion for learning in all areas.”

In a few weeks, the Crowden School will announce details of its full schedule for its 40th anniversary year with the following “Save the Dates” put forth for advance calendaring:

  • May 25, 2023            
    Crowden School Spring Concert featuring premiere from Gabriella Smith (Crowden School ’05 and John Adams Young Composers Program)
  •  September 17, 2023
    Sundays @ Four: Baumer String Quartet (featuring Crowden alums Nathan Olson (’00), David Requiro (’99), and Aaron Requiro (‘95))
  • October 8, 2023                   
    Community Music Day
  •  November 12, 2023             
    Sundays @ Four: Jay Campbell (’03)
  • February 17–19, 2024         
    Chamber Music Festival featuring Alexander String Quartet
  • March 3, 2024          
    Sundays @ Four: Fry Street Quartet
  • Spring (March or April) 2024         
    Crowden School Tour
  • April 21, 2024                       
    Sundays @ Four: Catalyst Quartet featuring Crowden alum Karla Donehew Perez (‘99)
  • May 10, 2024            
    Crowden School Spring Concert
  • May 25, 2024            
    40th Anniversary Concert (Hertz Hall) & Reception
  • May 26, 2024            
    Alumni Brunch (at Crowden)
  • June TBD                   
    Cello Bash

.  For more information, go to 

About The Crowden School:

The Crowden School for grades 3–8 combines inspiring, collaborative academics with daily music to empower students to become their best, most curious and confident selves. The Crowden School’s project-based academics challenge students to develop critical thinking skills, curiosity, self-confidence, and a lifelong love of learning. Small class sizes and close student-teacher interactions give each student the opportunity to be recognized and appreciated as a unique individual, and to develop confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Established in 1983 and still the only school of its kind in the country, Crowden’s unique chamber music inspired curriculum features intellectually engaging academics side by side with its esteemed music program. Experiential learning, Socratic questioning, and discussion inspire curiosity about the world, while interdisciplinary projects engage students in active problem-solving, tap into their creativity, and build independence. This approach cultivates an environment of empathy and trust, and fosters close bonds of friendship and respect among students.

Learn how music changes everything at

Crowden School Spring Concert Program

In addition to Capybaraology, the program includes chamber, choral, and orchestral works by:

·        Richard Meyer

·        Wu Man

·        Charlton Singleton

·        Gioacchino Rossini

·        Ludwig van Beethoven

·        Felix Mendelssohn

·        Lajos Bárdos

·        Robert Hugh

·        Irving Berlin

·        Serge Rachmaninoff

·        Alexander Glazunov

·        W.A. Mozart (including 1 piece arranged by Crowden faculty member Arkadi Serper)

·        P.I. Tchaikovsky

·        Franz Schubert

·        Johannes Brahms

·        Sviridov/Shostakovich/Khachaturian (arr. by two Crowden faculty, Eugene Chukhlov, Arkadi Serper)

·        G. F. Handel, arr. Nelson

·        Leroy Anderson’s Fiddle Faddle (traditional close to all Crowden School Spring Concerts)

About Crowden Music Center:

Crowden Music Center, a nonprofit Berkeley cultural institution founded in 1983, is committed to excellence in education, performance, and creative endeavor, and to the cultural enrichment of the larger community. It serves over 8,000 individuals each year with a rich array of music education programs and concerts, including more than 1,000 community music students of all ages and levels of experience. Crowden is renowned as an innovative incubator of young musicians and composers, and children in general, with its focus on using the collaborative art of chamber music in remarkable ways to nurture, inspire, and develop young people in their formative stages. Flagship programs include The Crowden School for grades 3–8, the John Adams Young Composers Program, and Crowden’s esteemed chamber music programs for youth and adults. We believe that music is an inherent part of being human, and we believe in the power of music to change lives—indeed, to change everything.

About Gabriella Smith:
Crowden connection: Gabriella attended The Crowden School (Class of 2005), and later studied in the John Adams Young Composers Program.  Composer Gabriella Smith grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area playing and writing music, hiking, backpacking, and volunteering on a songbird research project. Described as “the coolest, most exciting, most inventive new voice I’ve heard in ages” (Musical America) and an “outright sensation” (LA Times), Gabriella’s music comes from a love of play, exploring new sounds on instruments, building compelling musical arcs, and connecting listeners with the natural world in an invitation to find joy in climate action. Recent highlights include the premiere of her organ concerto, Breathing Forests, written for James McVinnie and LA Phil, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen; performances of Tumblebird Contrails by San Francisco Symphony and Esa-Pekka Salonen, both at home and on their European tour; and the release of her first full-length album, Lost Coast, recorded in Iceland with cellist Gabriel Cabezas, named one of NPR Music’s “26 Favorite Albums Of 2021 (So Far)” and a “Classical Album to Hear Right Now” by The New York Times. Gabriel and Gabriella have since debuted a (cello-violin-voice-electronics) duo version of Lost Coast at the Philharmonie de Paris, and in May 2023 Gabriel will premiere the cello concerto version of Lost Coast with LA Phil, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

About Capybaraology:

Capybaraology is a Crowden commission by Crowden alum Gabriella Smith, in honor of Crowden’s 40th Anniversary. Written for string orchestra and conductor, it will be premiered by 18 Crowden School  students, in fifth–eighth grades, and conducted by Crowden Artistic Director Eugene Sor. Preview an excerpt of Capybaraology, performed at Crowden’s Spring 2023 Benefit April 2023: