About Morrison

Photo of Student with Instructor

History and Philosophy

The special nature of chamber music lies in ability to bring a group of individuals together in perfect harmony. Contrary to the myth that it is esoteric and elitist, chamber music is truly an egalitarian medium. It touches people across all categories of culture and educational sophistication. Interpreted by small ensembles whose members contribute their personal perspectives to a musical whole that is always greater than the sum of its parts, and enjoyed in venues that are intimate enough to invite a strong sense of audience engagement and participation, chamber music epitomizes the central human values of communication, collaboration and democracy; indeed, it has been called “the most perfect form of human behavior.” Sensing that San Francisco State was a kindred spirit in pursuit of egalitarian and collaborative ideals, Edward Hohfeld, the executor of the May Treat Morrison Trust, chose to create the Morrison Chamber Music Center as a vital center for the study, preparation and dissemination of this important art form. A mere decade after the center’s founding, the Rockefeller Foundation, in its 1966 annual report, described the Morrison Chamber Music Center at San Francisco State in these terms: “It is the only program which gives admission-free concerts of top caliber to the community and represents the largest private gift on record for promoting excellence in chamber music.”

Morrison Chamber Music Center Timeline

  • 1939

    May Treat Morrison Trust established.
  • 1952

    Edward Hohfeld and Ferenc Molnar establish Morrison Chamber Music Center.
  • 1956

    Morrison Chamber Music Center becomes permanent.
  • 1970

    Andor Toth named artistic director.
  • 1972

    Lazlo Varga named artistic director.
  • 1989

    Alexander String Quartet named quartet-in-residence and Saul Gropman named artistic director.
  • 1990

    San Francisco debut by Eroica Trio.
  • 1992

    San Francisco debut by St. Lawrence String Quartet.
  • 1995

    San Francisco debuts by Gilles Apap and The Transylvanian Mountain Boys.
  • 1996

    San Francisco debuts by Palladian Ensemble (early music) and The Zephyros Woodwind Quintet.
  • 1997

    San Francisco debuts by Wendy Cheng, and the New Millennium Ensemble.
  • 1998

    San Francisco debut by Trio Voronezh.
  • 2000

    San Francisco debuts by eighthblackbird, Singphoniker, Thibaud String Trio, and Vida.
  • 2004

    San Francisco debut by FLUX Quartet.
  • 2005-06

    50th anniversary season.
  • 2010

    Ronald Caltabiano named artistic director.
  • 2011

    Richard Festinger named artistic director.
  • 2018

    Cyrus Ginwala named Artistic Director
  • 2020

    Morrison Chamber Music Center receives generous gift from the estate of Clement Galante; renames Morrison Artist Series "The Jane H. Galante Series of the May Treat Morrison Foundation"

The May Treat Morrison Trust and Jane Hohfeld Galante - An Appreciation

“If there is anything like the Morrison Artists Series in the world, neither I nor Google know about it. Imagine a rich program of prominent chamber-music concerts, complete with lectures, pre-concert talks, and master classes — all free. You don't need to imagine it, because San Francisco State University has been offering the series for six decades. As the longest-running chamber-music series in San Francisco and beyond, the Morrison Artists Series has presented more than 350 concerts, attended by an audience of some 100,000.”
- San Francisco Classical Voice

A native San Franciscan, Galante influenced the growth of the arts and chamber music in the Bay Area. A classically trained pianist, Galante performed across the U.S. and Europe during a performance career that spanned five decades. She was also a driving force for the Morrison Chamber Music Center and Morrison Artists Series, which provides the public with free access to world-class chamber music.

Galante's father, Edward Hohfeld, was administrator of the May Treat Morrison Trust, which was endowed by funds from the estate of Alexander F. Morrison and May Treat Morrison. In 1952, Hohfeld founded the May Treat Morrison Chamber Music Center at SF State with the goal "to offer the finest music in the most accessible way." He believed that students should have the opportunity to learn from master teachers and hear chamber music performed by world-class musicians.

The Morrison Artists Series at SF State debuted in 1955, allowing tens of thousands of students and music lovers in the Bay Area to enjoy free concerts put on by the world's finest chamber musicians.