Interview with Outgoing SFEMS President Joyce Johnson Hamilton

Our wonderful board president, Joyce Johnson Hamilton, is stepping down this week after serving as president for four years. Many of you may not be aware of how hard our board works to keep SFEMS working smoothly, and what a blessing it is for a nonprofit arts organization to have such a strong board of directors. In the interest of giving you a peek behind the curtain, Joyce was kind enough to give us a short interview. We hope you enjoy it!

SFEMS: What sparked your interest in early music?

JJH: I started playing the piano and trumpet in elementary school. I became interested in playing the recorder in high school. Curiosity led me to eventually collect a full consort of recorders. Since I was a trumpet major in college, the very first mention in a music history textbook of the existence of instruments such as the cornetto and natural launched me on a lifetime goal of performing on those instruments.

SFEMS: How did you get involved with SFEMS?

JJH: While pursuing a career as a professional trumpet player, my ongoing interest in early music led me to apply to Stanford to be admitted to the doctoral program for the performance practice of early music and conducting. I completed the course work but opportunities to conduct symphony orchestras and the arrival of 2 children provided a decade long break from pursuing early music and completing my doctoral degree. When I did return to performing on the natural trumpet and cornetto in the 1990’s, the instruments were much, much better. When I learned that Bruce Dickey, a world class cornetto player, would be teaching at a SFEMS workshop, I jumped at the opportunity to work with him! I think I have attended at least six or eight SFEMS workshops. The biennial Berkeley Festival was also a fabulous opportunity to become enveloped for a full week in all forms of early music performances.

SFEMS: What accomplishment(s) do you feel proudest of in your work with SFEMS?

JJH: I have always been deeply appreciative of the hard work of various symphony boards of directors who have generously supported my own artistic efforts. The first three years I sat on the SFEMS board brought me up to speed on the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. I knew that fundraising needed serious attention because it was obvious that the beloved festival was draining resources and staff. I was aware that board oversight of SFEMS finances needed strengthening so that we could do sound planning at the board level. SFEMS needed a plan to build a strong board of members experienced and eager to serve on governance, finance, fundraising, education, and concert committees. Our wonderful summer workshop programs survived and thrived throughout this pandemic due to the tremendous effort of our staff and terrific, creative workshop faculty. The accomplishment I am most proud is being able to throw off doubt and drive forward making crucial calls, contacts, connections, collaborations over the past four years. I have had superb help from the board members who have chaired and served on key committees and our wonderful staff who have carried out all of SFEMS’ activities.

SFEMS: What’s your next adventure/project?

JJH: I’m looking forward to playing more music—retiring as a trumpet/cornetto player but enjoying playing recorder and now I have taken up the baroque flute. I will continue serving on the SFEMS Concert and Educational Outreach committees. I am very interested in learning how to create interactive online music educational resources. I love working in our large garden. I will continue working with Martha Blackman who is a former renowned performer on the viola da gamba and was my viol teacher at Stanford. She suffers from aphasia as the result of a severe stroke. Our friendship through music has helped find ways to provide stimulating activities during our frequent visits. I am a member of PEO which is a women’s philanthropic and educational organization. In September, I will represent six PEO chapters from the Peninsula area of California at the International Convention. We enjoy frequent family visits from our children and granddaughters who are all nearby. To summarize: I will just keep doing what I do!

SFEMS is grateful to Joyce for her hard work and her many, many contributions to SFEMS over the years—we wish her all the best moving forward! 


Written by Heidi Waterman