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Kohl fills important role in music education
February 10, 2012, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff

Tom Jung/Daily Journal Five young opera singers thrilled audiences Feb. 5 at An Evening of Operatic Highlights, a presentation of Music at Kohl Mansion in Burlingame.

Dwindling opportunities to expose youth to music are increasing demand for programs offered through Burlingame-based Music at Kohl Mansion.

Nearly 30 years after it started, Music at Kohl Mansion has continued to offer quality chamber music and music education at Kohl Mansion and in local schools. Offerings and partnerships with other organizations have grown over the years. Today, the program offers music to both adults and local youngsters.

Anneke Gaenslen, who serves on the board and as education chair, has been involved nearly the whole time. After the first year, her son Eric Gaenslen, a cellist who began playing while at Lincoln Elementary School, won a competition.

It was an introduction to the organization for Anneke Gaenslen who was interested in keeping music offerings for students alive. She noticed the school funding decline at the time — which has only continued over time.

In 1992, while at a conference, Gaenslen was exposed to a small nonprofit that was a resource for its community. She wanted Music at Kohl Mansion to be the same. The group began seeking to have resident music ensembles to supplement what was available in the area. Today, they have three. Part of reaching out to the community has taken shape in the Kohl for Kids program. For 19 years, Kohl for Kids has entertained and engaged more than 4,500 students annually through in-school performances and master classes by professional musicians for middle and high school students. Free concerts are also offered for schools as field trips. The reach of students attending the concert, which will be held later this month, has grown to include a variety of districts thanks to word of mouth through the education community, said Program Administrator Yvonne Wun.

Gaenslen added the program isn’t just about exposing children to Mozart. They bring in a variety of music styles from different cultures.

Music isn’t just offered for little ones; the organization offers a number of programs, said Wun.

For example, a partnership with the San Mateo Library brings one-hour free concerts exposing all who attend to music, poetry, language, history and other cultures. Normally held in the Oak Room at the library, 55 W. Third Ave., the next performance featuring Quartet San Francisco will be held 3 p.m. Saturday, March 31. No need to grab a ticket or even reserve a seat. Just head over.

Chamber concerts are available throughout the season at the mansion, acting as a fundraiser for the program. Tickets range from $15 to $60 for individual performances depending on the type of concert. Alternatively, tickets are discounted if a subscription to the season — featuring eight shows this season — is purchased. The next show featuring the Cypress String Quartet will be held 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26.

Music at Kohl Mansion also partners with MUST, Music in Schools Today, as an instrument donation center for local youth music programs.

With limited school funding continuing to be stretched, both Wun and Gaenslen noted an increased interest for the types of programs offered by Music at Kohl Mansion. Like most organizations helping the community, leaders at Music at Kohl Mansion are good at stretching a buck. Meeting needs that continue to grow would take additional manpower and donations.

To learn more about Music at Kohl Mansion, or to support the organization, visit Interested in dropping off an instrument? Arrange a drop off time by calling 762-1130.

Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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