Press Room

Music Academy of the West Announces 70th Anniversary Season Highlights:

NEW YORK, NY – The Music Academy of the West announced highlights of its 70th anniversary season on January 11 at Lincoln Center in New York City. To celebrate this major milestone anniversary, the Festival will launch three important new initiatives – the Commissions and Premieres program, the Enterprise Awards program for alumni, and the Steinway competition and tour – besides presenting the inaugural Evolution/Revolution conference and the largest classical music event in the history of Santa Barbara, California, for which Alan Gilbert will lead the New York Philharmonic in the final performance of his eight-year tenure with the orchestra. Taking place from June 12 through August 5, 2017, the 70th Festival will comprise more than 200 masterclasses, recitals, performances, and events in Santa Barbara, many of which are free to the public. Festival events will feature the Summer School’s 140 fellows, drawn from more than 20 states and ten countries, as well as nearly 70 faculty and guest artists.

Commissions and Premieres program

The Academy will launch an ongoing Commissions and Premieres program in 2017. This important new initiative is designed to make Santa Barbara a front-line destination for contemporary music with an emphasis on Music Academy of the West alumni as composers and performers.

To inaugurate the program, the Music Academy will present ten world and west coast premieres, of which six are new Academy commissions. In its opening season, the program will showcase world premieres by American composers, including Mosher Guest Artist Matthew Aucoin, alumnus James Stephenson, Jeremy Turner, Joe Tompkins, Caroline Shaw and Jake Heggie, in addition to American/west coast premieres of works by Mosher Guest Artist Stephen Hough, Timo Andres, and others to be announced.

As the centerpiece of the program’s initial offerings, Matthew Aucoin – “the young composer taking classical music by storm” (NPR)has been commissioned to create a concert suite from his opera Crossing. He’ll conduct the premiere with the Academy Festival Orchestra and soloists from the Voice Program on July 15. He will also curate an evening of vocal chamber music, including some of his own works.

70th Anniversary concert and celebration with New York Philharmonic on July 31

In the fourth and final summer of its innovative partnership with the New York Philharmonic, the Music Academy of the West looks forward to presenting the orchestra in the largest classical music event in the city of Santa Barbara’s history. More than 7,500 $10 and free tickets will be available for the performance on Monday, July 31, at Santa Barbara City College’s ocean-side La Playa Stadium. This historic 70th Anniversary Community Concert will mark Alan Gilbert’s final appearance as New York Philharmonic Music Director. Maestro Gilbert will conduct Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, featuring superstar Music Academy alumna soprano Susanna Phillips (‘02,’03), tenor Joe Kaiser, and bass Morris Robinson as soloists in the work’s iconic “Ode to Joy.” The event will close with a stunning fireworks display over the ocean.

The Music Academy’s partnership with the New York Philharmonic is supported by Lead Sponsors Linda and Michael Keston.

Alumni Enterprise Awards program

The Music Academy is thrilled to present its new Enterprise Awards program. To fund original ideas in artistic expression, audience development, education, and technology, the program will foster risk-taking and educational initiatives with awards of up to $20,000 per project. All Academy alumni are eligible to apply. Applications are due on October 1, 2017, with winners announced in December 2017. Awards will be granted by the Academy’s distinguished National Advisory Council members Marcy Carsey, Jeremy Geffen, Gregg Gleasner, Ara Guzelimian, Mark Newbanks, and Chad Smith, along with the administration of the Music Academy of the West.

Classical Evolution/Revolution Conference – June 19 and 20

The Music Academy will be a pioneer for thought leadership in music and the arts this summer, when it launches a first-of-its-kind Classical Evolution/Revolution Conference. Held on June 19 and 20, this two-day event will draw to Santa Barbara a wide range of experts in the fields of music, technology, arts, business, and media, to engage in discussion and debate surrounding the evolution of classical music in our current culture. Topics will include the role of tastemakers and experts, redefining the live experience, development of virtual art, new financial models, audience development and diversity, and art as a response to social and cultural issues, among others.

Community access and live streaming

The Music Academy continues to expand its Community Access initiatives to foster greater community involvement season after season. Anchoring the effort are philanthropically subsidized $10 Community Access tickets, which are made available on a first-come, first-served basis for all Festival events. Additionally, young people ages 7-17 accompanied by ticketed adults are granted free admission.

Live streaming continues for the fourth season, after having reached more than 150,000 people around the world in 2016 via Facebook Live and the Academy’s YouTube channel. The Academy will live stream up to 20 events during the 2017 Summer Festival. The live stream archive available at includes masterclasses, performances, and competitions recorded in multiple venues in Santa Barbara.

Guest Artists and prominent faculty appointments

Generous support from the Samuel B. and Margaret C. Mosher Foundation will once again enable the Music Academy to host guest artists during the 2017 Summer Festival. Mosher Guest Artists for 2017 are composer/conductor Matthew Aucoin, LA Opera’s Artist in Residence, and renowned pianist Stephen Hough, just named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Additional Mosher Guest Artists will be announced prior to the Festival.

Jeremy Denk, the winner of both the Avery Fisher Prize and a MacArthur “genius grant” fellowship, who has previously appeared at the Music Academy as a guest artist, will formally join the faculty in 2017 for a four-week residency, in collaboration with returning faculty artists Jerome Lowenthal and Conor Hanick. The Takács Quartet also officially joins the faculty next summer as the Academy’s first String Quartet in Residence, performing in an opening-night recital and returning later to perform on the Festival Artists Series.

New guest artists in 2017 include violinists Pamela Frank (’83, 84), Martin Beaver, and Nicholas Mann, who will be teaching private lessons, chamber music lessons, and masterclasses. Additionally, Academy alumnus and cellist Robert deMaine (’90) and pianist Robert McDonald will return this anniversary season as guest artists.

All-Steinway distinction, 70th Anniversary Gala, and Inaugural Solo Piano Competition

The Music Academy has achieved All-Steinway distinction, denoting a permanent collection of 55 Steinway pianos on the Music Academy campus, soon to include a new Hamburg model D concert grand piano for use in the Academy’s exquisite concert venue, Hahn Hall. The Academy selected faculty artist Jeremy Denk to make the Hamburg model selection at the factory in Germany this past December. This distinction will be the theme of the 70th Anniversary Gala on May 21, 2017, which marks an upbeat to the 2017 Summer School and Festival. The Gala will directly benefit the Academy’s full-scholarship program.

A new Solo Piano Competition will also be launched during the 2017 Summer Festival. As well as receiving a cash prize, the winner will undertake a national tour, performing recitals in Steinway & Sons venues throughout the country.

The Elixir of Love

The opera event of the summer will be a new production of Donizetti’s masterwork, The Elixir of Love, helmed by world-renowned conductor and Academy alumna Speranza Scappucci (’96) in collaboration with Los Angeles-based director James Darrah, known for creating “once-in-a-lifetime experiences” (Opera News). Overseen by Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne, the fully staged and costumed production will take place at the historic Granada Theatre on July 27 and 29. The opera will be sung in Italian with English supertitles.

New York Philharmonic Partnership

As part of the Academy’s partnership with the New York Philharmonic, five Philharmonic musicians will serve as guest faculty for one week to train fellows in collaboration with Academy faculty, including masterclasses, chamber music coachings, private lessons, lectures, and a Festival Artists Series performance. They will also judge auditions for the 2018 New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program. The selected Fellows will travel to New York City in the 2017–18 season to train and play alongside Philharmonic musicians for ten days. In addition to conducting the 70th Anniversary Community Concert with the Philharmonic, Music Director Alan Gilbert will conduct the Academy Festival Orchestra in the final concert of the season.

NPR’s From the Top

To honor the landmark anniversary, the Music Academy has been selected to appear on NPR’s signature radio program From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley this season. With an audience of more than three million, From the Top is America’s largest national platform dedicated to celebrating the stories, talents, and character of classically trained young musicians. The program will air twice nationally, including on KUSC in Southern California.

About the Music Academy of the West

The Music Academy of the West is among the nation’s preeminent summer schools and festivals for gifted young classically trained musicians. At its ocean-side campus in Santa Barbara, the Academy provides these musicians with the opportunity for advanced study and performance under the guidance of internationally renowned faculty artists, guest conductors, and soloists. Admission to the Academy is strictly merit based, and fellows receive full scholarships (tuition, room, and board). The Academy’s distinguished roster of teaching artists has included famed soprano Lotte Lehmann, composers Darius Milhaud and Arnold Schoenberg, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, pianist Jeremy Denk, and current Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne. Academy alumni are members of major symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, ensembles, opera companies, and university and conservatory faculties throughout the world. Many enjoy careers as prominent solo artists. In 2014 the Music Academy entered into a four-year partnership with the New York Philharmonic, resulting in unprecedented training and performance opportunities for Academy fellows, and Summer Festival residencies for Philharmonic musicians. The Music Academy of the West cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences, presenting more than 200 public events annually, many of them free of charge. These include performances by faculty, visiting artists, and fellows; masterclasses; orchestra and chamber music concerts; and a fully staged opera. For more information, visit

For further information, contact:

Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group: [email protected]; 212-625-2038
Kate Oberjat, Music Academy of the West, Director of Marketing and Communications: [email protected]; 805‐695-7908

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© 21C Media Group, January 2017

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