Facing the Music

The Fresno-based femme punk band Besos4Baby: Gracie Torres (left) and Autumn Cedillo

Photo by Tam Vu

Student photographers have been capturing the stories behind the music by putting Gator performers in front of the lens

In the SF State course “Journalism 435: Studio Lighting and Business,” Lecturer Scot Tucker teaches his students editorial photography and professional practices. The goal: giving budding shutterbugs the skills they’d need to launch and sustain careers as photojournalists and studio photographers. As part of their classwork in the fall, Tucker’s 14 students set out to create portraits of Gators who’ve dedicated themselves to a different artform — music.

For example, SF State Music major Autumn Cedillo (above right) is half of the Fresno-based femme punk band Besos4Baby (with Gracie Torres, left). The band released a five-song EP, “you’re the reason i’m afraid of the mosh pit,” in 2022.

Siena Choy

Photo by Peter Ngugi

Siena Choy is an aspiring singersongwriter whose influences include Antônio Carlos Jobim, Tori Kelly and Dodie.


Sean Young holding a trumpet

Photo by Dan Hernandez

A transfer from Santa Rosa Junior College, Sean Young is working toward his B.A. in Journalism. He plays the trumpet in his spare time for fun. 


Ailing Zhao

Photo by Michaela Mateo

Ailing Zhao is a fourth-year piano student in the School of Music. She has been a musician since she was 5 years old and is now a music teacher while working toward her B.A. at SF State. She has been teaching for 16 years, 10 years in China and six years in the U.S.


Flute player Bridget Altez

Photo by Feven Mamo

Flutist and Music major Bridget Altez gave a recital in Knuth Hall in December.


Guitar player Mateo Jordan

Photo by Andrew Fogel

Mateo Jordan (pictured with his guitar) has performed on campus with the University’s Afro-Cuban Ensemble (which celebrated its 25th birthday this year).


Solomon “DJ Solo” Orr holding a radio and a red briefcase

Photo by Vanden Harris

Solomon “DJ Solo” Orr, 22, grew up listening to all kinds of music — Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Usher, LL Cool J — developing a deep love for it as he explored artists and genres. He’s a fourth-year Broadcast & Electronic Communication Arts (BECA) major with a minor in Music.


Aaron Jerico Balot

Photo by Neal Wong

Fifth-year Music student Aaron Jerico Balot plays a marimba in Knuth Hall. While studying at SF State he also served as director of percussion for the music department at Capuchino High School in San Bruno.


Gavin Hiller with a stand-up bass

Photo by Gustavo Hernandez

Gavin Hiller, pictured with his stand-up bass in October, is a freshman.


Shahin Shahbazi with a tar instrument

Photo by David Jones

Shahin Shahbazi is a graduate student in music composition who plays the tar, a traditional Persian lute instrument. The winner of multiple awards for performing and composing, he immigrated to the U.S. from Iran in 2013.



Photo by Ryo Kojima

DJ 4DHILA, a third-year student majoring in Race and Resistance Studies, shows off her turntables and set gear in a campus studio.


Zheng (Audrey) Ma

Photo by Colin Flynn

Zheng (Audrey) Ma says she first became fascinated by the piano when she heard a neighbor playing when she was a child. Because she would stand outside and listen whenever the neighbor practiced, her mother spent all her savings to buy her a piano of her own. “I am doing what I love every day because of my mother,” she says. “Even though she is no longer here, each time I play I feel like I am connecting with her.”


Steven Horowitz

Photo by Gabriel Studer-Randall

Lecturer Steven Horowitz is a composer, bassist and Grammy-winning engineer best known for his original score for the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Super Size Me.” At SF State he teaches courses on scoring for film and games.


Cameron Korving

Photo by Leilani Xicotencatl

Cameron Korving, a Psychology major, has been playing the tuba for nine years and has performed with the SF State Wind Ensemble and Orchestra.


a troupe doing a hula performance with artwork of a woman in the background

Dance Masters

Associate Professor of Dance Ray Tadio and alumnus and kumu hula (master hula teacher) Patrick Makuakāne use groundbreaking approaches to traditional dance to express who they are and where they come from. 

cover art of comic book 'thinking on the drawing board'

Novel Graphics

SF State students working toward a Creative Nonfiction Comics Making certificate tell the story of the innovative program through the very medium they’re learning to master: comics!

Chris Larsen

In Conversation with Chris Larsen

Legendary journalist and Gator Ben Fong-Torres talks to cryptocurrency pioneer Chris Larsen (B.A., ’84) about the future of investing and why going to SF State was the “bargain of the century.”