What We Do


Forty-four seasons of new music. Nearly 200 commissions and over 1,200 regional or World Premieres — plus exciting new formats for public outreach programming. The artistic leadership of a world-renowned music advocate and an unflagging commitment to sharing the discovery of new music with all.

There’s a reason why SFCMP is considered the “Bay Area’s premiere new music ensemble.*” We hope you’ll join us on a great musical adventure!

Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

Led by Artistic Director Steven Schick, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players plays an important role in the regional and national cultural landscape. The most long-standing, continually performing new music ensemble outside the East Coast, SFCMP uses performances, collaborative projects, commissions, and educational outreach activities to give audience members and participants opportunities to discover musical repertoire that is new to them – and to use these experiences as ways to better understand, interact with, and enjoy their lives and our world.

We are devoted to 20th and 21st century repertoire because – as with all art – our collective societal imagination requires the stimulation of the new. Across cultures and stylistic constraints, composers today are creating a vast and vital 21st-century musical language. We want to share it with as many people as possible, both inside and outside the traditional concert setting.

In addition to programmatic innovation, our performances are rooted in artistic virtuosity. Our 20 core SF Contemporary Music Players are among the Bay Area’s leading musicians and educators. They are active as soloists and chamber musicians and leaders of several dynamic performance groups in California and beyond.

Now in our 44th season, we have performed more than 1,200 new works by over 550 composers. Nearly 150 of these have been premieres, and we have commissioned some 80 new works from such composers as John Adams, Chaya Czernowin, George Lewis, Shulamit Ran, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Olly Wilson, Julia Wolfe,  and Zhou Long. SFCMP has been presented by leading cultural festivals and concert series including  San Francisco Performances, Cal Performances, the Other Minds Festival, and the Stern Grove Festival, the 2013 Festival of New American Music at California State University at Sacramento, the Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles, the Ojai Festival, and in 2009 at France’s prestigious MANCA Festival in Nice.

As the second most-longstanding new music ensemble in the US, we are confident in our ability and our commitment to our leadership in executing a new wave of activity for the music and our communities, one which surpasses the familiar model of “concertizing” and, we hope, continues to hold collaboration and co-creation at its core.

Fundamental to our strategy around audiences is our understanding that contemporary music has the potential to engage many members of our community, even those who do not have a stated affinity for classical music. It is to our advantage that new music has wide crossover appeal, often due to interests in electronic music, polyrhythmic music and other techniques that the pop and underground cultures have adopted from late 20th century maverick composers. Our interest is in meeting audiences “where they live” and in seeing what interesting results these encounters can lead to.

In recent years and under our new leadership, we have moved beyond our typical five-performance season through large-scale community events, free concerts, pop-up concert events, and collaborations. We are exploring the use of smaller venues, extended runs, and other programming innovations, such as the Players Show (spotlighting, and curated by, our ensemble members to showcase their musical activities and ensembles outside of SFCMP), and the “Breaking Bread with the Composer” informal “hang” with guest composers and young/emerging composers/musicians at the Center for New Music. We delight in bringing opportunities that include multi-media and enhanced technological experiences to the audience member. We embrace new works that touch upon important ideas and societal themes. When presenting historic works, we do so within a thematic framework to offer something new along with illumination of the not-so-new.

Our 2013 office move to the Center for New Music in San Francisco’s Mid-Market (Tenderloin) district places us in close physical proximity to a hub of cultural activity, excitement, and opportunity. We are open to building partnerships and delivering new programs that reinforce authentic and honest relevance to all members of the community, including the underserved, youth, and those who do not constitute the traditional classical music audience. At the same time, we are committed to delivering high-quality, esthetically compelling, and adventuresome music, continuing to exceed our longstanding audience member expectations and building on the foundation of our reputation and identity.

History of SFCMP:

The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP) was founded by Jean-Louis LeRoux, Marcella DeCray and Charles Boone as “Bring your Own Pillow” on March 25, 1971 and incorporated as a nonprofit on August 14, 1974. Throughout its history, SFCMP has been led by six Artistic Directors and six Executive Directors with continuous authorization, support and fiscal oversight by a Board of Directors.

Join With Us

If our goals and plans interest you, there are several ways you can get involved:

1) Make a tax-deductible gift to support our work

2)  Contact us to learn about corporate sponsorship and volunteer opportunities

3) Browse this website, where features, links and even a SFCMP Spotify playlist can help set you on a path of discovery all your own!

4) Tell your friends about what we do!

Thank you! We look forward to sharing a great musical adventure with you!