Community Music Center rejuvenates

Dozens of seniors, mostly Spanish-speaking, are coming together in the Mission to sing for their friends and neighbors at a concert of great personal significance.

The Summit of Older Adult Choirs, a free performance on Friday at the Community Music Center’s Mission District Branch, features four choruses with nearly 100 singers performing together for the first time. The show will be recorded, and CDs will be on sale in the near future.

Director Martha Rodriguez-Salazar says the community center’s choral program teaches “everything” — from “how to sing, how to breathe, [to] the correct posture.”

Its benefits go beyond singing.

Sylvia Sherman, the center’s program director, translates from Spanish the comments of one chorus member: “When I began singing in the choir I was very depressed. I didn’t even want to get up and dressed in the morning. I had only been in the country (from Mexico) for two years and did not have many connections here. After joining the choir I started to come back to life. I loved singing with the choir, made several friends, and even started dancing again.”

Another singer, a member of El Coro Solera (Solera Singers) says, “For years, I have suffered from depression; I took medicines to keep going. I didn’t know how to breathe. To sing, you need to have air. Singing has saved me. Thank you so much.”

Two of the groups in Friday’s show are the community center-sponsored El Coro Solera and 30th Street Chorus, which primarily sing Spanish-language folklore and pop, but also perform in English and Tagalog. (Solera is a Spanish word describing the process of aging fine spirits such as sherry or brandy.)

The Community of Voices Choirs from the Mission Neighborhood Center and Centro Latino de San Francisco also appear on Friday. These groups are participating in a five-year research study funded by a National Institute on Aging grant focusing on whether singing in a community choir is a cost-effective way to promote health and well-being among culturally diverse older adults.

The upcoming concert includes “Alma Llanera,” a Venezuelan jarocho; “La Piragua,” a Colombian cumbia; “La Bruja” and “Cucurrucucu” from Mexico, and the Cuban cha-cha-cha “El Bodeguero.” Pianist-accordionist Jennifer Peringer is the accompanist.

Founded in 1921, the Community Music Center is the Bay Area’s oldest community arts organization and San Francisco’s largest provider of free and low-cost music classes and concerts. In the past school year, some 2,300 students of all ages, ethnicity and income levels enrolled in CMC programs, and more than 19,000 people attended musical performances at no or low cost.


Summit of Older Adult Choirs

Where: Community Music Center, 544 Capp St., S.F.

When: 1 p.m. Friday

Tickets: Free

Contact: (415) 647-6015,

Upcoming Community Music Center events

Friday – “A Rose for Mom” with violinist Ann Lam and pianist Candice Choi playing works by Mozart, Brahms, Liszt and Stravinsky; 7:30 p.m, $5-$10, free for mothers

Saturday-Sunday – “Little Opera,” a collaboration between 25 children and 10 composers featuring two short operas; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. Sunday, $10-15

Sunday – Ina Chalis Opera Ensemble’s “Music For Mothers”; 4 p.m., free (donations accepted)

May 17, Earplay open rehearsal; 2 p.m., free