The Community Music Center. Photo by Yujie Zhou.

Not every human being makes it to 100 years old, but the Mission’s Community Music Center (CMC) did. And, to ensure another 100, it celebrated Wednesday with an official marking of its expansion into an adjacent Victorian house. 

“Today, a long-held dream is becoming a reality,” said Julie Rulyak Steinberg, executive director of the Community Music Center at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new building next door to its headquarters at 552 Capp St.

CMC will begin its second century with more space, which will allow nearly 1,000 new students to study every year. Last year, the music center taught more than 2,800 students. “It’s so we all have a space to make music together,” Steinberg said at the ceremony.

The brief ceremony featured intergenerational performances by the center’s students, faculty and friends. “Las Mañanitas,” a traditional Mexican birthday song, and The Weavers’ “If I Had a Hammer” were chosen to celebrate the Music Center’s birthday and its new centennial plan.

“So many of you have been by our side since we first endeavored to make this vision a reality. It’s been 10 years,” said Barbara Kosnar, the center’s board president. “And, while we know that there are still challenges ahead of us, it’s because of you that we are standing here today and will stand strong here for the next 100 years.”

While guests were symbolically digging for the new building with golden shovels, Paul Sussman, a fan from Bernal Heights, shouted, “Watch the foundation!” The audience roared with laughter, as if a few shovels of earth would bring down the music center building. 

“I feel so proud. I feel so excited,” said the 68-year-old Sussman, who has long been a student. 

“When I took music in school, it was terrible. They make you do this. They make you do scales. Stupid music,” he said. “Here, people come here because they love music, because they want to come here.”

Sussman has been part of the center  for 30 years, including a period of time on the board. One of his sons, now a professional musician in New York City, learned to play the flute here. The son even met a girlfriend at the center after spending fifth grade through high school in this elaborate garden.

“This place is almost 100 years old,” Sussman said. “There’s only one building next door. When someone’s going to sell this building, we have to buy it, because we’re full. We didn’t have a plan. We didn’t have an idea. We just said, ‘We’ll make it happen.’ Nobody thought it would take 10 years, but now we’re 100 years old.”

“Will we be here forever?” Sussman said. “Well, as long as the world lasts.”

Picture by courtesy of the Community Music Center.

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REPORTER. Yujie Zhou is our newest reporter and came on as an intern after graduating from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She is a full-time staff reporter as part of the Report for America program that helps put young journalists in newsrooms. Before falling in love with the Mission, Yujie covered New York City, studied politics through the “street clashes” in Hong Kong, and earned a wine-tasting certificate in two days. She’s proud to be a bilingual journalist. Follow her on Twitter @Yujie_ZZ.

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  1. The house next door is zoned residential and was converted into commercial use for the CMC. Legally? Was replacement residential housing built to replace the lost units? Did the Planning Commission approve this change of use?