since 1985

Musicians and Programs

Current members of CWO are: business owners, grad students, physicians, retirees, college professors, artists, stay-at-home moms, engineers, attorneys, music teachers, social workers, and more! Our skill levels range from beginning intermediate through performing professional, and we all share a passion for promoting women in music.

Each year we put on three full-length, semi-themed concerts (Fall Friends and Family, March International Women's Day, Spring Spectacular) and a chamber music fundraising event: our annual June "SoirĂ©e" and silent auction! We also host the Oakland Summer Reading Orchestra—a six-session, purely for fun, sight-reading ensemble that welcomes everyone and features some of the Bay Area's best orchestral conductors as guests.

Outside of rehearsals, our members coordinate monthly chamber music socials (over brunch!) and attend or offer coaching at our free Skills Clinic (generously funded by a grant from the City of Oakland). Hope to see you at any or all of our events!

Music Director: Dana Sadava

Dana Sadava is happy to return to CWO for her 5th season as Music Director.  At home in both the opera house and the symphony hall, Ms. Sadava has recently worked with the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Pacifica Spindrift Playhouse, Cinnabar Theater, Opera San Jose, UCSD, and Pasadena Opera, where she is also Artistic Director. She has worked with Wexford Festival Opera, the Boulder Chamber Orchestra, Pensacola Opera, Indianapolis Opera, the new music ensemble Zero Blue, and Banff Opera as Theatre, where she was a faculty member of the opera training program. She has been featured in masterclasses with Marin Alsop, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Gustav Meier. Before delving into musical life, Ms. Sadava was an engineer, earning a Bachelor of Science degree at the California Institute of Technology. She subsequently studied conducting with Michael Morgan and Alasdair Neale at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and with Kenneth Kiesler at the University of Michigan.

Composer-in-Residence: June Bonacich

Ms. Bonacich is a Professor of composition and musicianship at the San Francisco Conservatory Pre-College Division, where she is also an alumna. Her award-winning music has been performed extensively throughout the United States. Recently, the world premiere of her Concerto for Four Bassoons was featured on NPR's "State of the Arts" with Jeffrey Freymann and received an extended ovation at CWO's 2015 spring concert. "Group Therapy", a musical she wrote for the Lesbian Gay Chorus of San Francisco was performed at the 2005 Gay Games in Chicago. Her new work, "Life in the Produce Aisle," will be previewed CWO's February 21 concert and given in full on May 15, 2016.

Listen to a clip of Ms. Bonacich's "Concerto for Four Bassoons" (performed by CWO; May 2015) Bonacich_clip.mp3

CWO Board of Directors

Jane Anfinson, President

Elizabeth Voge, Vice-President

Darcie Polzien, Secretary

Jean Bogiages, Treasurer

Maren Amdal

Karen Fisher

Gar-Wei Lee

Serena Le

Meghan Rhea

Crystal Smolinski


The Community Women’s Orchestra (CWO) was founded as a community adjunct to the professional Women’s Philharmonic. Although the Women’s Philharmonic disbanded in 2004, the CWO continues to grow and flourish as an independent organization. In the past 34 years, it has grown from the original six-member ensemble to more than sixty members.

CWO has collaborated with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, including multiple performances at Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, Brava Theater, touring to Santa Rosa and Miami, Florida, and CD and DVD recordings.

CWO has been responsible for numerous regional, national, and world premieres of works by female composers, including Juliette Folville, Ethel Smyth, Martha Stoddard, Hilary Tann, and Mary Watkins. Other composers featured on CWO concerts include Florence Price, Jennifer Higdon, Gwyneth Walker, Cyndi McTee, Dione Tan, Clara Wieck Schumann, and Fanny Mendelssohn, to name but a few.


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Community Women's Orchestra is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
P.O. Box 30924, Oakland, California 94604
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