Support Susan McMane
Wallace Foundation Study Suggests “New Direction”

I had the great pleasure of working with Susan McMane and Chorissima for several years, helping the girls sing with authentic expression. My experience has also included writing a book on expressive singing, coaching hundreds of excellent choirs across the country, and singing with world-class groups. Suffice it to say, I know a great director when I see one … and Susan McMane is a GREAT director.  

I agree with the sentiments expressed by the hundreds of other people upset about this decision, and suggest that the “new direction” might be best gleaned by reading the Wallace Foundations study entitled “Attracting an Elusive Audience: How the San Francisco Girls Chorus Is Breaking Down Stereotypes and Generating Interest Among Classical Music Patrons.”

That study examines in depth and detail (60+ pages) what SFGC has done to attract new audiences, and implicitly suggests this thesis: Susan McMane’s contract was not renewed because the board believes another director can attract more audience members, generate more money, and bring more fame to the organization.

Yikes. It appears to me that the board members who voted for this are misguided folks who understand neither the strengths and unique characteristics of SFGC nor the practical limits of the group’s audience size. The SFGC is an incredibly strong organization which fosters phenomenal musicianship, profound personal/social development, and amazing performances. Not to mention eliciting world-wide acclaim through its amazing international tours, CD’s, and collaborations/associations with some of the best composers and musicians.

That said, SFGC will never ‘draw the sort of classical music audiences who regularly attend concerts of the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.’ It simply won’t. Not to take anything away from Chorissima but there are some key reasons why this goal of executive director Melanie Smith and the board won’t be reached:

  • Chorissima is a choir, and choirs have smaller audiences than symphonies and opera companies — especially world class groups such as San Francisco’s.
  • Looking for a local choir which has more “fame,” one sees Chanticleer. However, those members are fully professional adults, dedicating themselves to as many performances as possible. The girls in Chorissima are young amateurs and have very busy lives; expecting them to perform more would be detrimental and counter-productive.
  • Chorissima is a youth choir, and a youth choir will never generate the same sort of adult buzz … unless they’re a novelty group like the Vienna Boys Choir which is steeped in religion and history.

So, no matter how much SFGC does to change the public’s assumption about what a “girls choir” can do, SFGC will never bring in the numbers of new audience members that the board envisions. To expect otherwise is akin to trying to turn a hummingbird into a bald eagle. Sorry, but it can’t be done. And attempting to do so shows that the person making the effort doesn’t understand the differences between the hummingbird and the eagle; both Chorissima and the San Francisco Symphony are excellent organizations with so much to be proud of … but they are birds of a different feather.

There is so much to appreciate with the phenomenal SFGC and Chorissima as it is right now. If only the board would see past their incredibly misguided vision of a “new direction” and realize what they have.

And keep the wonderful Susan McMane.

Sincerely,

Tom Carter

To the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Girls Chorus,

I am writing to express my concern about the termination of Susan McMane’s contract and the manner in which the Board has communicated about the transition. Susan is a dedicated and insightful musician, leader, and educator, and I believe the Board’s decision to end her contract was a alarming mistake that will lead to unintended consequences. As a chorister from 1988 to 1997 and a member of the Alumnae Chorus since 2008, I have witnessed firsthand the tremendous positive impact that Susan has made on the organization. More importantly than the international acclaim the chorus has received under her leadership, she has earned the trust, respect, and admiration of her singers (including me). Even if the Board wanted to take the chorus in a “new direction”, surely they could have found a more respectful, humane, and responsible way to do so. 

In a survey distributed this past fall, one question asked alumnae to identify which component of SFGC’s mission statement is most important. The Board’s actions over the past year clearly illustrate which part they believe to be the least important: the “youth” identity of the organization.  The manner in which Susan was dismissed and the subsequent tone of the Board’s correspondences violate two important truths that most schools and youth organizations acknowledge:

1.  Maintaining clear, consistent, and honest communication with youth, particularly regarding sensitive topics, is essential for their positive growth and their trust in the school/artistic community. Kids and adolescents are particularly savvy about sensing hypocrisy and insincerity. 

2. Transitions are tough for adults, but they are even harder for youth.  Any transition in leadership, particularly an extremely controversial one, needs to be well-timed and well-planned.  A poorly-managed transition will negatively impact the youth’s achievement (or musicianship, in this case)  and will sabotage the efforts of both current and future leaders.

Given that SFGC choristers produce music at a higher caliber than most adults,  it would be easy for people to assume that the singers no longer need to be “treated like kids”.  In terms of musical expectations, I agree. In the realm of social-emotional growth, though, they are most definitely not adults. As an educator with over ten years of experience working with youth, I am appalled at the Board’s negligence regarding this. If the Board continues to disregard the developmental needs of its singers, the girls will be far less likely to produce the “outstanding performances” or the “compelling sound” that the mission statement describes. 

I hope its clear that I’m writing this letter out of concern for an organization that I care very much about. I appreciate that you, the members of the Board, take the time out of your busy lives to help the SFGC prosper. As a result of the your recent actions, though, SFGC’s continued growth is very much in doubt. I hope that you will keep the above principles in mind when making future decisions, as they will be essential for helping the organization recover from this ordeal.   

Sincerely, 

Rachel Herbert  ’95

my letter

Dear Board of Directors,
            Since my first rehearsal in Level I in September 1997, the Chorus has basically been the ONLY constant thing I’ve had in my life. Whenever I was going through a tough time in my life, I always knew that the Chorus would be a drama-free zone, a safe zone, my artistic outlet that I could escape to through song. I promised myself that I would never abandon singing for anything, but now I have broken that promise.
            I have been under Susan’s leadership from my two years in Chorissima and my 3 1/2 years as a member of the Alumnae Chorus. In fact, I am one of the charter members of the Alumnae Chorus. I was able to travel to Japan and Utah, record, perform with other world-class musicians, sing in wonderful symphonies and premiere wonderful works of music by composers who have also written to you. Susan was one of the first people I told about my aspirations of becoming a choral conductor. I have always admired her conducting. She conducts so regally, so proudly, so confidently, that it’s hard not to watch her. She has a wondrous gift and we were and are blessed to have been able to receive it for many years.
           I have been a camp counselor for the past 4 years. This camp was one of the hardest camps I have ever attended. For the older Alumnae, I figure when Elizabeth and Sharon had their final camp, it was an experience that they would never wish upon a future chorister. Well this camp was it. Even though there were no visible problems other than the bee stings and getting the girls to be quiet, It was still a camp full of tears. I found out about this horrible thing at the camp meeting with the faculty and staff. I was completely shocked. I was totally unprepared for it. the silence that followed was one of the most awkward and confusing 30 seconds of my life. I had never fathomed the idea of Susan not being the Artistic Director since she joined the Chorus. I put her where I put Beth, someone who I knew for sure would never, EVER leave the chorus. Since I was a counselor, I could not address my opinions about your decision at camp. I was to remain neutral. But I was furious. I was one of the most outspoken and opinionated people in my years in Chorissima and the Alumnae Chorus and it was hard for me to hold my tongue for 9 days. I was supposed to re-audition for the Alumnae Chorus this semester but I couldn’t because of all this drama. I know it seems a bit selfish, but I have ALWAYS put the chorus on a pedestal for being a place that makes me feel like I could wash away my drama. Now, you all want to create it. Why? What has she done except take us to heights the Chorus never knew we could reach? Did you know that the Chorus was the 1st choir ever to sing at the Pacific Music Festival in the festival’s history? I was able to sing in that historic landmark in 2005 in Sapporo, Japan. How many children’s choirs get to say that their Chorus has 6 CD’s, or that they have 6 Grammys or that they got to travel to Cuba or that they got to perform at the inauguration of our country’s 1st black president? Not many. Why take her away from us now? Why take her away from us at all? You all have made me very angry with your decisions in the past; new costumes for CH, costumes for the Alumnae Chorus WITHOUT giving us an opinion, the elimination of Virtuose, I could keep going actually but that is besides the point. Susan loves each and every chorister, past, present, and future, every parent, every staff and faculty member, every donor, every composer, every artist we have ever worked with, and every Alumnae and I know that we all love her too. If we didn’t, you wouldn’t b receiving all of these letters AFTER your decision was so unjustly made.
            We choristers and Alumnae are genuinely the voice of this organization. We are the hope and the future,the reason why the chorus was founded and the reason why the organization has made it this far. Without us, there would be no San Francisco Girls Chorus or Board. Many of you board members are former parents of choristers who have sang under the leadership of Dr. Susan McMane. How do your daughters feel about this? If your daughters were in Chorissima right now, how do you think they would feel about having their conductor ripped away from them in the middle of a season, especially if your daughters were going to laureate at the end of the season? 
                    Tell us, the thousands of us, why you do not want to keep Susan and what exactly are your real and true reasons behind it. Stop trying to give us an answer you think we want to hear. We deserve the truth. Our money and voices are going to you so the least we deserve is respect and the truth. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter
KaTrina A.M.Clay ‘06Viva La Musica!

Dear Board of Directors,

I’m not overtly doubting your reasons for all of this. I’m sure you’re thinking about the good of the choir, but I’ve been through this before. I’m in Chorissima, and although I’m new to Chorissima and the SFGC, I love it like I’ve been in it my whole life. I love it more than anything else. Singing is the only way I can express myself, and I’ve learned to love music as well as my conductors. Before the SFGC, I was in a different choir in another state, that was of the same caliber as the SFGC. We made CD’s, won 2 Grammy awards for Best Classical Album and Best Classical Performance, and performed at various places such as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. When our conductor retired, it was a tragedy, about 75% of the WHOLE CHOIR quit and the new conductor turned it into a Broadway/Glee Club, demoralizing all we had worked for for so many years. When we moved to California, although devastated to leave my old friends, I discovered the SFGC, I became uncontrollably excited. I knew that through the SFGC,I could have the same experiences once again. I auditioned for Level IV and was accepted, I loved Level IV and made so many wonderful friends and learned so much. I always looked up to Chorissima, as they reminded me exactly of my old choir (in a good way), and how we were all a big happy family. I also really looked up to Susan, I couldn’t wait until I was in Chorissima and she would be my conductor. I was overjoyed when I found out that I would sing in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with Chorissima and the SF Symphony last March. That work with Chorissima and Susan specifically is what really motivated me the most to graduate and audition for Chorissima. The sound, the feel, the choir, the repertoire, I felt a desperate need to be a part of it all.  I studied my music theory 2 hours a day, worked so hard on my sight-singing and personalizing our music. I worked harder than I’ve ever worked for anything in my life..and I graduated. I was so happy to be able to audition for Chorissima, I didn’t even mind the nerves. I thought that if I was accepted, it would be just like my old choir. Something that I had lost, and thought I would never see again, was now resurfacing. When I discovered that I had been accepted into Chorissima, I cried. I was so happy. I was so very excited to work with Susan—she seemed like a really awesome conductor, and I had a lot of respect for her. I believe that being in Chorissima, more than anything else, has inspired me to be a conductor. I look at how much Susan loves her job, and how GOOD she is at it, and it makes me want to be just like her.I’m extremely, genuinely concerned about your decision and how it effects me personally. It feels like the people on the Board are making all of our decisions for us completely against our will. People who aren’t us, aren’t in the choir can never fully, completely understand. I beg of you, please do not let this happen to Chorissima.

As I said before, Susan had inspired me to become a conductor. I love Chorissima and Susan like I’ve been in it for years  and feel like I’m apart of something wonderful and important again. Choir is still the place where I can come and leave behind all of my worries and troubles, and just do what I dearly love to do:sing. I’ve always thought of a choir as like a human body, with the conductor being the heart. The heart helps and contributes to the life of every other organ, so that as a whole, the body survives. If a new heart is needed, a careful and steady (and expensive) procedure can be done to replace the heart. At first, everything is a little awkward and it takes some getting used to, but it can be done, and even serve better than the original heart. However, if the heart is ripped from the body, (especially without any reason to be), the whole entire body will shut down, even the brain, and the life inhabiting it ceases to exist, and the body itself ultimately withers away and dies. Everyone in Chorissima is like family, and Susan is like the mom. She teaches us how to be true musicians—how to love music and express ourselves through music, when maybe there are no other ways we can express ourselves. We know that when we go to practice every day, Susan isn’t there to hold every little flaw against us like some teachers at school, and we don’t have to worry about bullying from other choristers. That is how close we all are, LIKE A FAMILY, to casually take her away is the equivelant of taking the mother away from a family. So again, I know that the people on the Board probably have the choir’s best interests at heart, and hopefully you are trying to improve the choir in the long run, but Please, PLEASE take into account what I have said. I absolutely could not bear sitting and watching the SFGC and all it stands for prevent-ably deteriorate.

Sincerely,

Kayla Lynn Wilfong, 14. (Member of Chorissima).

 

Dorian Kingman Chong

President of the Board

San Francisco Girls Chorus

September 23, 2011

Dear Dorian and Board Members:                                                                                             

I have had a close association with the Girls Chorus for quite some time now. I know them both professionally, as Artistic Director of the Sonos Handbell Ensemble which has performed and recorded with the chorus, and personally, as a former SFGC board member of several years’ tenure during the exciting times of purchasing the Kanbar Center. At that time I was very impressed with the individuals on the board and the incredible work they did in securing the future of the entire organization.

In the past I have worked with most of you who are currently on the board and found you to be good and honorable people. I have read the material from choristers, parents, advisory board members and other concerned individuals about the board’s decision not to renew Artistic Director Susan McMane’s contract. I have seen some of the written responses from the board to letters addressed to them from these individuals. I have talked with some of the current staff and recently resigned board members.  

Having been ­on quite a few boards of directors of non-profit organizations as well as being head of musical organizations where I was responsible to boards of directors, I have seen issues from both perspectives. Never have these boards been solely responsible for dictating the artistic direction of the organization. It is not healthy, especially if the board members are not artists themselves.

There has been major pushback to Susan’s dismissal from the choristers, parents and artistic professionals in the local and national arena. These are involved people, not afraid to be passionate about their views. Although any major change always brings resistance, the breadth of this resistance cannot have been easy for you to endure. It is therefore all the more puzzling to see the current intransigence of the board in considering other options. In the face of criticism, you reply that the board is taking the chorus in a “new direction.” Because you have not furnished any details of such new direction, nor explained why Susan cannot be a part of it, I find your actions unacceptable.

By your own public admission, Susan has done everything asked of her, and more, meeting and exceeding expectations over her 10-year tenure. She was even highly praised by you at the recent gala. In that presentation it was acknowledged that she is highly respected by the local, national and international community for her artistic endeavors and her personal character. Shortly, after the gala, she was told that her contract would not be renewed. No discussion of why the board felt this was necessary was presented. Susan was only allowed to present her response to you at a follow up meeting.

A final 6 to 5 vote on this major issue by members present, with two resignations over the decision, is very telling. A board for this size organization needs to be larger and more representative than it currently is.

I’m trying to be kind here, but this is not responsible behavior and I support my colleagues Emil Miland and Vance George in their decision to have their names removed from the chorus’s Advisory Board. As a result of these responses and others surely to come, the reputation of the Board of Directors, and consequently the chorus, is sustaining a very bad mark in the public eye.

 

Dorian, I know you to be a vigorous and steadfast defender of what you feel is right. Were I ever to be in need of such a friend, I would be deeply grateful for your support. Please consider in this case that an alternative course of action by you and the board would be the higher ground.

Nobody volunteers to be on a board with the expectation that they would stir up a widespread hornet’s nest of opposition to their decisions, but you have. How you deal with it will now face great public scrutiny. 

I would like to see the board postpone the contract decision, take some time to evaluate all of the community input, decide in great detail what you really want, counsel with professionals in the community as well as the artistic staff and then plan a substantial transition period if that is what you decide. If you do not feel you can do this, then you should resign and let someone else take your places on the board. The whole process needs to be completely transparent to regain the respect and support of all of those who have a stake in the Girls Chorus. The fact that so many have raised concerns speaks to the esteem in which the organization is held. Do not trample lightly on that esteem.

I hope that your answers to these issues raised by me and others will be clear and compelling at the meeting this Saturday at the Kanbar Center from 10-noon. I plan to be there.

Sincerely,

James Meredith

Artistic Director

Sonos Handbell Ensemble

To: the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Girls Chorus
 
Good people:
 
I am a long-time professional Bay Area solo and choral singer who has on several occasions worked and recorded with the San Francisco Girls Chorus.  I have observed at close hand the fine discipline and musicianship the young artists of the SFGC have acquired and exercise under the leadership of Dr. Susan McMane.  In addition I have been thrilled by SFGC concerts because they provide exciting, imaginative programming executed at an extremely high level of competence.  The concerts, under the superlative direction of Dr. McMane, have been nothing short of amazing.  I simply do not understand, therefore, why you have chosen not to renew Dr. McMane’s contract.  Look at all the success, high standards, and critical praise she has brought to the San Francisco Girls Chorus.  You are casting away your best asset!  
 
When the news of the non-renewal broke, the first thing I did was read your mission statement.  I wondered what might be there that is not being carried out under the Susan’s artistic leadership, but there is nothing.  The mission statement is being fulfilled in spades under Susan’s direction.  As a fellow musician, former teacher, and avid concert-goer, I can think of no way in which things could be improved.  The results speak for themselves:  superlative concerts, Grammy® and other awards, prestigious performance invitations.  All these things are testimony to Susan’s leadership and to the very fine education offered by the chorus school.  
 
What is this “new direction” you are being so coy about?  That you have not made any attempt to explain yourselves makes the whole thing look poorly thought-out at best.  Is that worth all this turmoil, and the resultant damage to morale and product?  Is that worth the resignation-in-protest of prestigious members from your artistic advisory board?  Why, when you should be rewarding a job well done, are you discarding your best asset?  If you are trying to make a name for yourselves, is this the impression you wish to make?  It is damaging to the Girls Chorus reputation, demoralizing to the staff, highly upsetting to the students/choristers, and it threatens the financial support of the community.  This is hardly acting to the benefit of the organization you are pledged to serve.
 
While it may be true that under your by-laws you do not answer to anyone but yourselves, it is clear to me and a great many others that not renewing Susan’s contract is a serious mistake.  It is not too late to admit this and to do the right thing: renew Susan’s contract!  Those of you who cannot live with that should step down from the Board.  
 
Respectfully yours,  
 
Pamela W. Sebastian

I Hope That You Reconsider

Dear SFGC Board:

As a singer and as a voice teacher, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of students and with many choral conductors. I have been privileged to work with Susan McMane in a professional context through SFGC.  I have always been struck by her professionalism and her kindness to her choristers and to those she works with.  I am greatly saddened to hear of the Board’s decision to dismiss her.

I ask that the Board reconsider for the following reasons. Ms. McMane works so well with the SFGC girls. She knows the voice quite well and is able to address the individual vocal needs of the girls as well as those of the group. She is able to move both individual students and the group as a whole to higher levels of achievement vocally, musically and developmentally. Her sense of musicality is outstanding.

Likewise, Ms. McMane’s rapport with her singers is  remarkable. Her singers respect her and respond well to her. Under her leadership the SFGC has established a reputation as one of a handful of the top choral groups in the nation. Under her guidance, the girls are vocally healthy and are able to continually sing beautifully and with a wonderful sense of musicality.

I cannot address the “new direction” that the Board wishes for SFGC, but I do hope that such new direction, if it must be taken, does not cause damage to the girls, to the organization, or to the relationships that the organization has fostered over the years.  In these days of a foundering economy, profound change can sometimes prove unwise.

Finally, I am hopeful that whatever direction the Board wants to take can continue to include Ms. McMane. She is, quite simply, too valuable an asset to be dismissed.  I hope that you will reconsider your decision.

Sincerely,

Audrey Howitt

In Our Hearts!

September 9, 2011

Dear Board of Directors of the San Francisco Girl’s Chorus,

I am extremely disappointed that all the letters of support for Susan McMane to you from choristers, parents, musicians, including donors are being ignored. Most of all, I am worried that the organization as we have known it will carry a dark and long-lasting shadow. What seems to worry me the most is the insensitivity to all the choristers that have been waiting to enter Chorissima and those who are leaving. In a more reasonable thought, if you wanted her to leave, you should have asked her after seven years in 2009 that her contract is up in June of 2012. That preparation time would have made human sense and given a reasonable transition. Parents and choristers would have had time to decided to continue in Level IV or to leave. However, now, we have a disaster at hand with so many people unhappy and expectations shattered that it seems to me, the San Francisco Girl’s Chorus will not be able to prosper into its fourth decade, but will be tarnished by all who have a sense of decency toward educating young women in the art of music. The cries and tears of the girls and their parents are not heard. The courageous yet tearful March For Susan was ignored. The news on TV has been ignored. I would like to know how you can ignore this entire movement and schedule a meeting about the future, and act like “business as usual?” I think the only solution is to renew the contract of Dr. McMane for another five years and do justice to the girls and their parents who have worked so hard to reach their goal to get into Chorissima and to avoid a total disaster at the upcoming laureation. My daughter was dreaming getting into Chorissima since she was in third grade, I remember. When her conductor in level three left unexpectantly during camp, she dropped out of chorus from one day to another, frustrated with the substitute. The only reason she finally came back was because she wanted to finish and audition to Chorissima so that she can travel and be with the top level singers. I am fortunate that she has laureated with Susan last year, but what about those other girls and parents who drive some hundered’s of miles a year? Imagine just for a moment: If I feel this way about this situation, can you imagine how much more the other parents feel, and how much more hurtful the girls feel? Yes, there are laws and contracts in this world, and legally Susan’s contract came to an end, but the girls did not know that!! For them their contract has been broken by this sudden unexpected shift in control, and that fact, many hundreds of musicians, parents, alumns, & donors find unacceptable - especially since many agree that the direction of Dr. Susan McMane is simply wonderful. It’s as if the girls and supporting parents are getting a forced divorce. And we know that in a divorce there are the kids who suffer. The relationship between the parents and girls with Susan McMane is outstanding. I have never heard ANYBODY complain whatsoever. It was my daughter who shouted “Mom, let’s go, I’ll be late for rehearsal”! My daughter has blossomed during the two years she was in Chorissima. Her personal maturity took basically off during those two years and she turned into a wonderful and responsible young woman. She is now a senior and applying at conservatories and universities to study Vocal Performance. Since my husband and I are both musicians, we are supportive and happy, but a few years before entering Chorissima, she did not think, she wanted this. This is the direct and impeccable result and leadership of Dr. Susan McMane. It is as Tolstoy would say say about art  infectious. All great art that has the element of truth and not only pretense is infectious. That is the reason for this support group! All who support Susan have a part of her generous spirit and wonderful talent in their hearts. All.

Thank you for reading this and I hope that you can find a voice in your hearts that let’s you come to the right decision.

Adriana Ratsch-Rivera

Joseph and Patricia Beyer
The Sequoias
1400 Geary Blvd. #2110
San Francisco, CA 94109
July 30, 2011


Dorian Kingman Chong, President
San Francisco Girls Chorus Board of Directors
44 Page Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, CA  94102-5989


Dear Dorian Chong:

As long time attendees (since Elizabeth Appling’s time) and supporters of the San Francisco Girls Chorus, we were shocked to learn the news that the Board decided not to renew the contract of its outstanding Artistic Director, Susan McMane.

We have been very impressed with the amazing artistic and performance improvements that have been made under her leadership.  It is obvious that she has great stage presence and rapport with the audiences.  It’s also obvious that she is loved and has the respect of the girls in the Chorus.  Under her leadership, the San Francisco Girls Chorus has developed the reputation of being one of the finest choruses in, not only the United States, but the world.

Sometimes mistakes are made; but they usually can be corrected. We sincerely hope that you and the Board will reconsider your decision.  As it stands now, our continuing support of the San Francisco Girls Chorus is in doubt.


Very Sincerely,

Joe and Patty Beyer


Cc: Melanie Smith, Executive Director

Regarding the non-renewal of Susan McMane’s contract.

To all concerned on the Girls Chorus Board,

I was very saddened to hear of the non-renewal of Susan McMane’s contract with the SF Girls Chorus.  I have worked with Susan for many years professionally, accompanying the SF Girls Chorus on harp at many of their Christmas Concerts, a number of other concerts during the years as well as several of their recordings. Susan has been one of the most highly professional people to work with both musically and inspirationally.  I have been so impressed with what and how she produces the results with the chorus and the high standards that they continually achieve, which is often far better than many professional  choruses that I have performed with in my 30 years of playing professionally.

Susan’s ability to teach and expose the girls to an amazing variety of music and musical styles, has been a pleasure to see.  She has a wonderful touch as a teacher-totally informed of the music and all of the vocal parts, firm, sincere, understanding with a lovely sense of humor and a huge generosity of spirit and dedication.  The girls in the chorus has been very lucky to have had the opportunity to study and learn from her.  Not only has Susan given them the intense and special musical experience, she has given them more in learning and lessons for life.  Each of the girls comes out a winner, a true music fan and someone who has accomplished a sense of pride from the hard work they have done.   I only hope the board will reconsider the magnitude of loosing someone of her caliber and dedication.  She is one in a million.  

Sincerely,  Karen Gottlieb,  

San Francisco Symphony-acting 2nd harpist, since 1985       San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, harpist since 1990