Gavilan College campus in Gilroy. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Gavilan College campus in Gilroy. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Information provided by Gavilan College

Gavilan College has announced the Bach to Blues will be returning in 2021. The press release said this longstanding musical event will stream for its 2021 performance with  recorded performances featuring JJ Hawg Blues Band, along with faculty Maria Amirkhanian, Dahveed Behroozi and Albert Marques.  The local winner of the 2021 Youth Piano Competition, Diego Carillo, will also perform.

“Last year the event was cancelled one week before the performance date,” said Maria Amirkhanian, pianist and co-organizer of the event.  “It was a big deal for us, because it was also the Gavilan Centennial celebration.  Plus a number of special performances were planned.”

With the continuing pandemic protocols and required social distancing stretching into the second year, the music organizers reached out to faculty in the Communication Studies and Television and Film programs to reimagine the event.

In addition to the musical performances, Bach to Blues will feature interviews with Communications instructor Denise Besson, local musician Eric Siverson and retired Liberal Arts & Sciences dean Fran Lozano.

For decades, Bach to Blues featured the musical talent of the college.

“The event was not being offered when I became dean,” said Lozano.  “A few students came to me, asking how to revive it.”  A small team was formed: now-retired Theater instructor Marilyn Abad-Cardinalli, Public Information Officer Jan Bernstein Chargin, and Lozano appealed to music program lead Amirkhanian for support.

The hall of fame names include former South Valley Symphony director Al Navaroli, Dave Porcella, John Garcia and Nate Pruitt.  One year the SJSU choir participated, and often Gavilan theater students would present an original performance.

“Nate was a headliner for years,” said Marques.  “Come to find out he was the vocal instructor at Gav. His last song of the night brought down the house. Gilroy has amazing musicians.”

“It’s the magic of the concert, everyone wants to come,” said Lozano.  “People made it a tradition to come every year, and it usually sold out.”

Key to organizing the original event was now-retired music instructor Art Juncker, now living out of state.

“The first concert, with Art staying in the wings, just managing things,” said Lozano.  “At the end they rolled out a piano, and rolled out Art, too!”

“Art inspired me to be a better musician and a teacher,” said Amirkhanian.  “His humor, such a deep thinker in how he approached music.”

“Bach to Blues showcased talent and welcomed family each year,” said Besson.  Her daughters were both invited to sing at the event.  “It’s really golden, and brings out the community in community college.”

“One of my favorite moments was to sing, in Armenian, with my goddaughter Ava,” said Amirkhanian.  “Something new, different, and a highlight.”

The 2021 Bach to Blues event will be streamed starting Friday, May 14 at 6 p.m. at  It is a free concert to showcase musical talent at the college and in the community.

“There’s no charge,” said Marques, “But if you want to donate, all the money goes back into the music program.”