About Us

MIssion

The Pacific Musical Society, founded in 1910, is the oldest active musical organization in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since our inception, we have nurtured the growth and careers of many young classical musicians through our annual competition

Recently we have expanded our mission, creating the Pacific Musical Society & Foundation, which will provide support throughout our musicians’ careers. Our goal is to help serious students of classical music not only find viable, fulfilling careers, but also emerge from their training with the life skills necessary to be successful all-rounders. In doing this, we are starting to tackle some of the broader, systemic problems that create roadblocks for young musicians pursuing a career in classical music. Your financial support directly contributes to our mission. Click here to donate.

Competition & Scholarships

Our prestigious annual competition identifies the next generation of stellar young artists and provides significant scholarship support to help them in their careers. In the last several years, it has been the most financially supportive competition for young musicians in the Bay Area.

Our annual Winners Concert highlights our scholarship recipients and gives the public early introduction to these rising stars in a highly-anticipated public gala. Pacific Musical also facilitates broader performance opportunities and exposure for our young winners.

We have begun expanding the scope of the competition, enlisting prominent classical musicians around the world as adjudicators. This expansion will enable students in the Bay Area to connect with and receive feedback from some of the most respected and influential musicians in the international classical music community. This format will be uniquely available to students in the Bay Area through the work of the Pacific Musical Society & Foundation.

Long-Term Career Support for Classical Musicians

Pacific Musical’s goal is to provide a circle of support that helps our students navigate barriers in the field of classical music and put them on a path to a fulfilling and self-sustaining career.

Among other efforts, we are creating an online network for our members that will connect them to former competition participants, other serious students, music lovers, and professionals around the world. Through this network, students will be able to learn from the experience of their predecessors, share challenges and solutions with their peers, and gain valuable insights from those who have achieved successful careers. With proper stewardship, we believe the network can encourage a balanced approach to studying music seriously and help our scholarship recipients become well-rounded individuals as well as accomplished performers.

This network will be a cornerstone of Pacific Musical’s work to bring attention to, discuss, and remedy the multi-faceted difficulties that challenge the field of classical music today. Important issues in music education, career opportunity, and the financial viability of musical arts organizations raise troubling questions about its continued vitality as an art form. Books such as The Crisis of Classical Music in America: Lessons from a Life in the Education of Musicians, by Robert Freeman, The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras: Artistic Triumphs and Economic Challenges, by Robert Flanagan, Curtains?: The Future of the Arts in America, by Michael Kaiser, Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, by Blair Tindall, Producing Excellence: The Making of Virtuosos, by Izabella Wagner, Classical Music in America: A History of Its Rise and Fall, by Joseph Horowitz, Who Killed Classical Music?: Maestros, Managers, and Corporate Politics, by Norman Lebrecht, together suggest a bleak picture for classical music’s future, not only in the U.S., but worldwide.

If these challenges are not addressed, the student musicians we support will continue to face an uphill battle in their careers, even with the best of support networks. The challenges facing classical music are well-known among professional musicians, yet are rarely brought to the attention of the public. It is a natural extension of our mission to take on these challenges as well, helping ensure that the students we support with scholarships today will have the best chance at a fulfilling and viable career tomorrow.

Board of Directors

Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown

President

Aaron Brown is a high-tech executive with a background in product management and marketing. Aaron has been an enthusiastic amateur violinist for over 35 years and studied with renowned violin master and teacher Roman Totenberg. He has performed with the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra in Cambridge MA, as concertmaster of the Prometheus Symphony in Oakland CA, and with the Yonkers Philharmonic in Yonkers NY. He has degrees in computer science from Harvard and UC Berkeley, and currently resides in San Francisco.

David Jacobson

David Jacobson

Vice President

David Jacobson, is a violinist, performer, and pedagogue and has appeared as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, and other orchestras throughout the United States and performed in recital in the major capitals of Europe. He is the founder and director of the San Francisco Institute of Music where he created a unique system of teaching--the SFIM Method. Mr Jacobson is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Ivan Galamian, He is a native San Franciscan and a former winner of the Pacific Musical Society Competition.

Linda Kim

Linda Kim

Treasurer

A native of Hong Kong, Linda began her early violin lessons with the Hong Kong Music Office. During her high school years, Linda served as concertmistress for the Hong Kong Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Diocesan Girls' High School Orchestra. Linda has a CPA and a CFA designation and received her MBA degree from The University of Chicago. Today, Linda works as a fixed income portfolio manager and plays violin occasionally with her family and friends.

Ruby H. Sanders

Ruby H. Sanders

Secretary

Ruby started her musical journey at a very young age as a pianist. A mix of Bach, Beethoven, and Willie Nelson shaped her musical identity through her formative years. At University, she channeled her creative energy from music to design and obtained a BFA in Graphic Communications from the University of Houston. Even though she focused on building her career in high-tech, she never lost her passion for Classical music. After relocating to the Bay Area, Ruby dove head first into fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing the violin. She currently works in Silicon Valley as Creative Resource Manager and enthusiastically finds every opportunity to play the violin (and piano) with others.

Michelle Lo

Michelle Lo

Director

Michelle Lo is a marketing and strategy consultant with a focus on consumer packaged goods and E-Commerce. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she completed the ABRSM piano exams through Grade 8 with distinction. She moved to the U.S. to attend Phillips Exeter Academy where she won the orchestra's concerto competition. During college at Harvard University, she studied with renowned pianist Anthony di Bonaventura who was Professor of Music at Boston University. Michelle received her M.B.A. from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

James Moore

James Moore

Director

James Moore was appointed to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music faculty in 2000 as teacher of oboe and chamber music and performs with the San Francisco Ballet and Opera orchestras, the California Symphony and frequently with the San Francisco Symphony. In addition to his work at the Conservatory, he is a coach for the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. He has also taught at the Oberlin Conservatory and the Aspen School of Music, where he was assistant to John de Lancie. Moore received B.A. and B.M. degrees from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music and an M.M. from the Conservatory. He has performed for the national touring productions of Ragtime, Aida, James Joyce's The Dead, Beauty and the Beast and Fiddler on the Roof as well as the world premiere of Wicked. His teachers were James Caldwell and John de Lancie.

Gabrielle Moyer

Gabrielle Moyer

Director

Gabrielle Moyer holds a Ph.D. in Literature from Stanford University and a BA in English and Art History from Wesleyan University.

Molly Smolen

Molly Smolen

Director

Molly Smolen is a litigator with a large law firm in San Francisco. Prior to her career in the law, Molly was a professional ballet dancer for sixteen years. Throughout her career she performed the principal roles in most major ballets in the classical repertoire--including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Don Quixote, Coppelia, and many more--in addition to performing principal roles in a wide range of contemporary and neoclassical repertoire. Molly performed with several international ballet companies and in theaters all over the world, before ending her career as a Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet and becoming a lawyer.

Achim Voermanek

Achim Voermanek

Director

Achim Voermanek is a high-tech executive in Silicon Valley and joined the board of Pacific Musical Society in 2014. He is originally from Germany, calls the Bay Area home for 20 years. He received his Masters of Information Science degree from Saarbrücken University in Germany and currently resides in San Francisco.

Advisors

  • Ruth Felt
  • Gordon Getty
  • Jake Heggie
  • Nicholas McGegan
  • Frederica Von Stade