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Music Academy of the West Presents Second Annual Classical Evolution/Revolution Conference on June 22

Representatives of some of the world’s most influential arts and business organizations come together for the Music Academy of the West’s second Classical Evolution/Revolution Conference on Friday, June 22. Engaging creators, thinkers, CEOs, and media leaders to consider the arts as the cultural fabric of society, the conference addresses such topical concerns as the increased pressures created by today’s political climate, cultural activism, unconventional career paths, broadening access to the arts in underserved communities, and overhauling the outdated gender dynamics that have allowed the world of culture to become rife with abuses of power.

Fellows attending the Music Academy of the West will have the opportunity to participate, ask questions, and be inspired by five panel discussions that draw on the expertise of an exceptionally distinguished roster of guest panelists and speakers. The conference, which is open to the public as well as faculty, fellows, and members of the industry, builds on the success of last year’s inaugural edition, which established Music Academy of the West as a pioneer of thought leadership in music and the arts. As the Los Angeles Times concluded, “The news from picture-perfect Montecito is that however great the challenges may be for classical music, the possibilities are greater. And there are a lot of people who care.” See full details of this year’s speakers and panels below.

Guest panelists and speakers:

  • Brad Barrish, Director of Customer Care Experience at Sonos
  • Clive Chang, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Disney Theatrical Group
  • Shannon Connolly, Senior Vice President and General Manager of WQXR
  • Margo Drakos, former cellist, tech entrepreneur, and Founder of ArtistYear, a national service program developing engaged citizen-artists
  • Jorja Fleezanis, Dorothy Richard Starling Chair in Violin at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music
  • Vijay (Robert) Gupta, co-founder of the Street Symphony and a violinist in the Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Ted Hearne, composer and Associate Professor of Composition at the USC Thornton School of Music
  • Gillian Moore, Director of Music at London’s Southbank Centre
  • Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, Founder and Artistic and Executive Director of Chineke!, the first professional orchestra in Europe to be made up of majority black and minority ethnic musicians
  • Jeff Poulin, Arts Education Program Manager of Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit whose primary focus is advancing the arts in the U.S.
  • Paola Prestini, Composer, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of National Sawdust, the renowned Brooklyn music incubator and performing arts venue
  • Jay Raman, Director of the Cultural Programs Division at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Louise Shackelton, violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra
  • Peabody Southwell, director, designer and performer
  • Chad Smith, Chief Operating Officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Artistic Director Designate of the Ojai Music Festival
  • Chandrika Tandon, Founder of Tandon Capital Associates, Inc. and Grammy-nominated tambura artist
  • Neda Ulaby, Arts Desk correspondent for National Public Radio
  • Winners of the Academy’s inaugural Alumni Enterprise Awards will also be in attendance.

Panel discussions:

Interpreting the Value of American Arts & Culture (9am)

Changes in U.S. politics have put increasing pressure on the need to justify the importance of arts in our society. What role do the arts play now? What is their value as a social currency, and how have perceptions about their importance and value changed over time? What are the key changes and trends for arts organizations and individual artists? What can we do to protect and encourage the right to create and participate in the arts, for all segments of society? What impact do the arts have on American life, at home and abroad?

Tear Down the Walls! Access & Demand for Arts (10:30am)

With increasingly underfunded education systems and overworked, financially struggling adults, many people are without access to quality cultural programs, events, and opportunities. Race, class perceptions, and economic considerations contribute to the divide between those who have access to the arts and those who don’t. Learn about the life-changing results of programs that were created to address these inequities. What actions can we all take to change perceptions and policy, and to address the needs of our many underserved communities?

Art Sparks Action – Social Justice Through the Eyes of the Artist (1pm)

Art is always a reflection of the time in which an artist lives, and “cultural activism” is as old as art itself. As shown by the recent rise of biting historical and social commentary in operas, plays, and symphonies, and of provocative visual and performance art, artists have never felt more urgently compelled to express themselves about the issues of the day. How best can they reach, engage, and mobilize their audiences?

Gender & Power Dynamics in Music: A Long-Overdue Appraisal (2:30pm)

Since the explosion of recent sexual harassment cases, we as a society have belatedly undertaken a serious examination of relationships and power dynamics in both our personal and professional lives, with a particular focus on the pervasiveness of inappropriate sexual behavior, sexism, and gross abuses of power. The world of arts and culture is not immune: from mentoring relationships to auditions, promotions, casting decisions and more, our environment is rife with abuse and inequality. What steps need to be taken to change this broken system and to set a better course for the future?

The Road Less Traveled: Artist Entrepreneurs & Innovators (4pm)

What future do musicians imagine for themselves? A tenured position in a major orchestra? Creating a new-music series in a warehouse in Brooklyn? Touring the world’s great opera houses? Or starting a completely new business? Opportunities for artists to develop their own career paths have never been more varied and exciting. Attendees will have the chance to get inspired and spark some ideas for the future by hearing from leaders who have succeeded both inside and outside the traditional performance world by following and realizing their dreams.

The conference is generously supported by lead sponsors Regina and Rick Roney and supporting sponsor Marcy Carsey.

About the Music Academy’s Summer School and Festival

The conference takes place during the Academy’s 71st annual Summer School and Festival, which presents 139 talented fellows and more than 70 outstanding faculty members in 200 concerts, recitals, and masterclasses on its picturesque Miraflores campus and throughout scenic Santa Barbara, California (June 18–Aug 11). Other highlights include the launch of a major new four-year partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra that sees key LSO conductors and principals in residence this summer; the Academy Festival Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale in a special Community Concert of Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony under the leadership of Mosher Guest Artist Gustavo Dudamel, as a sign of the Academy’s continued commitment to community access; a Composer-in-Residence program featuring six composers and five premieres; four Academy Festival Orchestra concerts with Larry Rachleff, Stéphane Denève, and the LSO’s Elim Chan; a new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro that marks the festival debut of James Conlon; a new series of faculty artist recitals; and recitals by Jeremy Denk, the Takács Quartet, Mosher Guest Artists David Fray and Simon Keenlyside, and many more. Summer Festival Subscriptions and single tickets are now on sale. For more information and to view the subscription brochure, click here.

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, pianist Jeremy Denk, and 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. 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 Academy has now launched a new partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra, highlighted by the following:

  • Musicians from the LSO will participate in each Summer Festival.
  • The London Symphony Orchestra will perform in Santa Barbara in 2019 and 2021.
  • Academy fellows will travel to London to perform in concerts with the LSO.
  • Academy competition winners will perform recitals in London.
  • Michael Tilson Thomas will serve as the Signature Festival Conductor of the partnership.
  • Sir Simon Rattle will oversee the fellows’ experience in London.

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 2018 Summer School and Festival will take place June 18-August 11 at the Academy’s Miraflores campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara. 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


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© 21C Media Group, June 2018

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