John McCarthy has performed with the San Francisco Symphony in Davies Symphony Hall and at the Ojai Festival with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. He and his wife Annamarie have appeared extensively as a piano duo, with recitals at Stanford University, the Bracebridge Concerts at Yosemite National Park, and at CAMI (Columbia Artist Management Hall) in New York City.
McCarthyʼs involvements in contemporary music include premieres of works by Elinor Armer, Elaine Bearer, David Del Tredici, Gerard Grisey, Alden Jenks, and Frederic Rzewski, as well as recording for Composer Recording Society.
Contact with young musicians is close to his heart. In addition to his many decades of teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, he served as director of Preparatory and Extension Divisions for sixteen years. McCarthy brought the Preparatory Division to a place of international prominence during his tenure, and represented the Conservatory on the Education Committee of the San Francisco Symphony. Upon his retirement from administration in 2011, he was bestowed the title of “Director Emeritus”
An award winning teacher of long experience, John McCarthy is recognized as one of today’s leading pedagogues. In 2006, he was one of three teachers of classical music to receive a Distinguished Teacher Award from the Department of Education and the White House Committee on Presidential Scholars in the Arts at a ceremony in Washington D.C. This honor was received by him again in 2013, acknowledging his “substantial contributions to the development of our nation’s young people.”
His students have appeared as concerto soloists with the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philharmonia Baroque, Royal Scottish National Symphony, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, California Symphony, and with several youth orchestras, including San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and California Youth Symphony. They have performed at the Gewandhaus in Germany, the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, in Merkin, Stern and Weill Halls at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, in San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, at Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and on the nationally televised “From the Top at Carnegie Hall.”
They have received numerous awards, including a Davidson Fellowship, and three students have been named Presidential Scholars in the Arts. They have received first prizes at the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig, the Scottish International Piano Competition, Stravinsky International Piano Competition, the International Bach Competition in Wurzburg, the Rosalyn Tureck International Bach Competition in New York City, the Corpus Christi and Lennox International Young Artist Competitions in Texas, and competitions in Ukraine and Armenia. Eight students have been named winners by the National YoungArts Award Foundation.
McCarthy relocated from the East Coast to accept a full scholarship from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. After graduation, he was appointed to the faculty, a position he has held since 1972. His teachers include Katja Andy, Bernard Abramowitsch, Cecilia Gniewek Brauer, Martin Canin, Robert Helps,Thomas LaRatta, Milton and Peggy Salkind. Additional studies at Boston Conservatory, Hofstra University and the Mannes School were important in his formation.
He has been on the faculties of UC Berkeley, Lone Mountain College, the Paciﬁc Music Festival at Stanford University, and the International Institute for Young Musicians at the University of Kansas. McCarthy continues to teach at the San Francisco Conservatory and has an active private studio.