The Story of The Songbirds

songbirdsThe Children’s Theatre Association of San Francisco (CTA) is a non-profit organization that has put on plays for the school children of San Francisco and the Bay Area since 1934. The SONGBIRDS is a part of CTA and serves as an outreach to our community. The group was formed in 1994 from the CTA membership and is composed of ladies who volunteer their time to sing together in three- and four-part harmony. All music is memorized and professionally presented in our twice-a-year performances.

The SONGBIRDS was formed to inform our community about what CTA does each year for 7,500 school children who otherwise would not have an opportunity to see live theater. As we reach out we find that we bring so much joy to the Senior Community in both the public facilities and the retirement homes and health facilities. We fill a real need that is not being met. Through music we replace joylessness with good memories. Just by being there we show them we care and by giving a great and well-rehearsed performance we give them a feeling of self-worth, importance and respect. We bring a little of the outside world to them and make them happy. We have found that even the most forgetful seniors will remember their favorite song and sing it with us.

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Our Musical Director is Dwight Okamura, a pianist and composer well known in the Bay Area and nation wide. We have a Spring and Holiday Program and perform in as many as 30 venues. Thanks to Dwight, our Holiday music takes on a global sincerity with selections representing a variety of religious traditions.

The SONGBIRDS are a dynamic, interesting and unusual group of singers. The words “shy“ and “retiring” are replaced by “fun loving” and “outgoing” as we travel around the Bay Area to find our audiences. We have sung at Aquatic Park, Town and Country Club, Towers, Sequoias, Edgewood for Children, Laguna Honda, Kororo, Western Park and Eastern Park, The Granada, Institute for Aging, Swindells Center, Francisca Club, Coventry Park, Calvary Church, Century Club and St. Francis Church. We have also sung at Calvary Presbyterian Church, Glide Memorial, The Town and Country Club, Metropolitan Club, Laurel Heights Convalescent and California Convalescent. In Marin County we have sung at The Tamalpais, Smith Ranch Healthcare, Kindred Healthcare, Marin Village and many more. We also sing at private parties and special events.

All the money we raise, after expenses, goes toward supporting the CTA play productions. We suggest a donation of $200-250 for each performance, but we never turn down a worthy institution because it is unable to donate. Members of the SONGBIRDS have not only donated their time, but individually have covered most of the incidental expenses.

OkamuraDwi MUSICAL DIRECTOR Dwight Okamura
Dwight Okamura has been the orchestral pianist for the Berkeley Symphony, the California Symphony, the Skywalker Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony. He has accompanied various Bay Area vocal ensembles including Chanticleer, the Bracebridge singers, The Choral Arts Society, The Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, The San Francisco Symphony Chorus, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Dwight has composed numerous commissioned works, as well as many commissioned arrangements for the Girls Chorus, of which Sakura is published by Alliance Music. He is also the composer of three musicals: Grow Up, produced in 1984 by the New Conservatory Children’s Theatre; Strikers, produced in 1995 by Doublemask Productions; and Burning Louise, currently in workshop stage. He has been involved with a number of theater companies including American Conservatory Theater, Kaliyuga Arts, Theater Flamenco, and the New Music Theater Workshop. Dwight is also a keyboardist with the Best of Broadway series, and has played for the pre-Broadway premiers of Mamma Mia, Wicked, The Mambo Kings, Lestat and Legally Blonde, in addition to The Lion King, Altar Boyz, Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands, and the revival of A Chorus Line, where he also played on the cast recording. When not in the pit, he is active as a recital and cabaret pianist, playing for performers ranging from Frederica Von Stade to Bruce Vilanch.

CONTACT
For scheduling or more information, please email us at songbirds@ctasf.org.