John McCarthy has served on the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for over fifty years. He has also taught at UC Berkeley, Lone Mountain College, the Pacific Music Festival at Stanford University, and the International Institute for Young Musicians at the University of Kansas.
During his tenure as director of the Preparatory Division at the Conservatory, McCarthy brought the program to a place of international stature, and was a member of the Education Committee of the San Francisco Symphony. Upon retirement from administration in 2011, he was bestowed the title “Director Emeritus” by the Conservatory.
In 2006, McCarthy 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. This honor was received by him again in 2013, acknowledging his “substantial contributions to the development of our nation’s young people.”
As a performer, McCarthy has premiered works by David Del Tredici, Gerard Grisey and Frederic Rzewski, as well as recording for Composer Recording Society. He has performed with the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall and at the Ojai Festival with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. He and his wife, Annamarie, have performed numerous recitals as a piano duo, notably at Stanford University and the Bracebridge Concerts at Yosemite National Park. His principal teachers include Katja Andy, Bernard Abramowitsch, Martin Canin and Robert Helps.