Golden Gate Philharmonic is a San Francisco-based string youth orchestra dedicated to music education for all students, with particular outreach to those students with no or limited access to music education through their schools. The program is based on a nationally recognized format that:
- Encourages student musicians to attain the highest standards of musical excellence in the orchestral and chamber music repertoire by providing a stimulating performance-oriented program coupled with music theory,
- Nurtures individual potential by developing musical skills in an organized and engaging way,
- Gives opportunity, through outreach, to Bay Area youths to help them develop skills that will enhance their academic aspirations, and also
- Creates a sense of community and community service among young musicians.
It is the overarching belief that the richness of the GGP experience will be an important factor in shaping students to become valued members of society.
We began in 1995 as an after-school enrichment program and we have attained a solid record of achievement in both musical excellence and outreach to students and families in underserved communities. Similar to a conservatory, GGP offers an integrated program of chamber music, theory and sectional coaching by professional musicians. The orchestra presently numbers approximately 100 students, with ages spanning grades K through young adult from 40 Bay Area schools. Since neither the SF Conservatory nor the public schools has established an all-city group for this age range or ability level, and only slightly over half of the schools our students attend even offer orchestra, GGP fills a need for basic orchestral training and prepares many students for the higher demands of the SF Symphony Youth Orchestra. For those students attending schools with a music program, GGP students enrich their school groups with new skills and enthusiasm.
Experienced students from GGP act as mentors and role models for younger musicians, making it possible for beginning students to progress more rapidly. Peer coaching gives older teens work experience transferable to the real world. These students also help parents of younger students to see what can be accomplished over time.
Former students have proven time and again that honing their instrumental skills was the key to summer music camps and, later, college scholarships. This, in a modest way, is our “affirmative action.” The common goal of performing challenging music enables youngsters to overcome background differences and to open exciting new horizons to all. Through this experience they learn respect for one another and discover individual strengths hitherto unknown. Many lives have been changed through the power of music; all have been enriched!
GGP’s chamber groups have been the musicians-in-residence at the Inn in the Presidio, where we play every Friday evening since 2012, and continue to be in-demand for playing at weddings, receptions and special occasions. Past long-term gigs include a three-year commitment at the Rex and Carlton Hotels in Union Square. This type of extra activity provides our kids with real world experience and responsibilities.