Press Room

Music Academy of the West and London Symphony Orchestra Announce New Transatlantic Partnership, to Launch This Summer

The Music Academy of the West and the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) today announce a major new partnership, based at the Academy’s annual Summer School and Festival in Santa Barbara, California, and at the Barbican and LSO St Luke’s in London.

Michael Tilson Thomas, the LSO’s Conductor Laureate, will be in residence in Santa Barbara each summer as Signature Festival Conductor, joined by principal players from each section of the LSO during the eight-week festival, to teach and mentor Academy fellows.

Twelve of the 95 fellows will be selected by audition to travel to London the following winter for ten days of intensive training with the London Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director Sir Simon Rattle. They will experience a week in the life of an LSO musician, taking part in rehearsals, performances, and mock auditions; receiving lessons; performing chamber music with musicians from the orchestra; and gaining invaluable insight into the life of an LSO member.

The Academy fellows are the gifted young musicians (aged 18-34) from America and around the world accepted annually into the Academy’s summer school. They are all on full scholarship, which allows talented musicians from a variety of backgrounds to participate.

Music Academy President and CEO Scott Reed said:

“This historic collaboration is transformative for the Music Academy and our community. We are thrilled to expand the Music Academy’s global footprint and collaborate with an international partner in providing the best possible training experience for our fellows. We are inspired by the LSO’s musicians and administration and the significant impact they make on the world of music.”

Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, said:

“Nurturing the next generation of musicians is central to the LSO’s work, so I’m delighted that the orchestra will collaborate with the Music Academy of the West, which each summer hosts some of the most gifted young players in America. I’m especially pleased to be inviting twelve of them to London where they will get to experience the orchestra day-to-day under the expert guidance of Simon Rattle, and that Michael Tilson Thomas will lead the project in the U.S., where his work with young musicians at the highest level over many years is second to none.”

The new partnership will bring an extraordinary roster of guest artists to Santa Barbara each summer, and in 2019 and 2021 the full London Symphony Orchestra will be in residence performing in concert and side-by-side with the Academy Festival Orchestra.

This summer, Michael Tilson Thomas will participate in a special panel discussion, and six LSO guest artists will be in residence. Elim Chan, winner of the 2014 Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition, will conduct the Academy Festival Orchestra, and five LSO section principals – David Alberman (second violin), David Elton (trumpet), Rebecca Gilliver (cello), Andrew Marriner (clarinet), and Neil Percy (percussion) – will teach, perform, and oversee the audition process for the London training program.

Michael Tilson Thomas is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra.

The lead sponsors of the London Symphony Orchestra partnership are Linda and Michael Keston and Mary Lynn and Warren Staley. Additional support has been provided in remembrance of Léni Fé Bland.

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About the London Symphony Orchestra

The London Symphony Orchestra was established in 1904 and has a unique ethos. As a musical collective, it is built on artistic ownership and partnership. With an inimitable signature sound, the LSO’s mission is to bring the greatest music to the greatest number of people. The LSO has been the only Resident Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in the City of London since it opened in 1982, giving 70 symphonic concerts there every year. The orchestra works with a family of artists that includes some of the world’s greatest conductors – Sir Simon Rattle as Music Director, Principal Guest Conductors Gianandrea Noseda and François-Xavier Roth, Michael Tilson Thomas as Conductor Laureate, and Conductor Emeritus André Previn. It is a pioneer of music education, offering musical experiences through LSO Discovery to 60,000 people every year at its music education center LSO St Luke’s on Old Street, across East London, and further afield. The LSO is a close partner of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, ensuring students there build strong links with the profession before they graduate. Opportunities include the Guildhall Artist Masters program in Orchestral Artistry, delivered jointly with the LSO, and a platform at free early evening recitals before LSO Barbican concerts. With the formation of its own record label LSO Live in 1999, the LSO pioneered a revolution in recording live orchestral music. The LSO strives to embrace new digital technologies – having successfully moved into digital film, Blu-Ray Audio, downloads, streaming and virtual reality – and it continues to innovate with platforms such as LSO Play, a web-based video player that allows people to observe the orchestra from different angles. The LSO is a highly successful creative enterprise, with 80% of all funding self-generated. For more information, visit

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 teaching artists roster has included famed soprano Lotte Lehmann, composers Darius Milhaud and Arnold Schoenberg, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, and current Honorary 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. The Music Academy of the West cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences, presenting more than 200 public events annually. These include performances by faculty, guest artists, and fellows; masterclasses; orchestra and chamber music concerts; and a fully staged opera.

The new partnership builds on the success of the Academy’s recent four-year collaboration with the New York Philharmonic. This resulted in unprecedented training and performance opportunities for Academy fellows, as well as Summer Festival residencies for Philharmonic musicians. The partnership concluded last summer with a special community concert to celebrate the Academy’s 70th anniversary, at which Alan Gilbert made his final appearance as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. Their account of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony drew an audience of 7,500, in what represents the largest classical music event in Santa Barbara history. For more information, visit


For further information, contact:

Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group: [email protected]; 212-625-2038

Ana Papakhian, Music Academy of the West, Vice President of Marketing and Communications: [email protected]; 805‐695-7907

Kenny Morrison, Hatcham Comms., for the London Symphony Orchestra: [email protected]; +44 7834 061295


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© 21C Media Group, April 2018

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