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Music Academy of the West’s 2016 Season Opens This Week; June Highlights Include Performances by Members of the Takács Quartet, Jeremy Denk, and Thomas Hampson, Plus West Coast Premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s Second Nature

The Music Academy of the West’s 69th annual Summer School and Festival opens this week, presenting more than 200 concerts, recitals, and masterclasses – more than 80 of them free to the public – on its picturesque Miraflores campus and throughout California’s scenic Santa Barbara (June 13–Aug 6). Following a star-studded Opening Night Gala on June 4, which honored Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne, June highlights include recitals by members of the Takács Quartet with Warren Jones, Jeremy Denk and Thomas Hampson; as well as Matthew Aucoin – Los Angeles Opera’s inaugural Artist-in-Residence – conducting the West Coast premiere of his family-friendly opera, Second Nature. John Williams calls Music Academy of the West “a beacon of light in our American musical life,” and after the Academy’s 2015 season, the Santa Barbara Independent concluded: “The era in which classical music is stereotyped as either irrevocably highbrow or irreversibly in decline has finally ended.”

Opening Night Gala honors Marilyn Horne
In anticipation of the 2016 Summer School and Festival, the Academy presented its Opening Night Gala on June 4: a black-tie event comprising a red-carpet reception, a concert of operatic favorites, an al fresco dinner in the Miraflores courtyard, and the public unveiling of the newly renovated Main House, renamed for Music Academy Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne (’53), now in her 21st year at the helm of the Academy’s Voice Program and arguably “the most influential singer in American history” (Opera News). A stellar quartet of singers performed in Hahn Hall: soprano Simone Osborne (’08, ’09, ’11), one of the youngest winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions; Grammy and Tucker Award-winning mezzo Isabel Leonard (’05); tenor Ben Bliss (’12), who appeared in the Met’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail this spring; and baritone Quinn Kelsey, winner of the Met’s Beverly Sills Award. Faculty artists Warren Jones and Nino Sanikidze (’01, ’02) were at the piano, and they were joined by special guest conductor and pianist Speranza Scappucci (’96). Chaired by Santa Barbara resident and local philanthropist Sharon Bradford, the gala directly benefited the Academy’s full-scholarship program.

Attendees for the gala evening included actress Florence Henderson; Jerrold L. Eberhardt, former Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and former Senior Executive VP at Smith Barney; Eric L. Small, member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Trustee of the Flora L. Thornton Foundation; David Keller, President of the David and Anita Keller Foundation; Hyon Chough, owner of Blueprint Furniture in Los Angeles, accompanied by Maurice Singer, Managing Partner of Evergreen Advantage; Angela Lewis Houle, a psychologist, and Andre Houle, a Boeing engineer, who are also Marilyn Horne’s daughter and son-in-law, with their family; Linda and Michael Keston, Chairman and CEO of KFG Investment Co.; and Cheryl and Peter Ziegler, former partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

More June Highlights
Matthew Aucoin – “opera’s 25-year old hope” (New York Times) – is this summer’s 2016 Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation Opera Conductor, and in the fall he will become Los Angeles Opera’s first Artist-in-Residence, a position that was created specifically for him. In June, Aucoin leads the West Coast premiere of his own eco-themed youth opera, Second Nature, as part of the Festival Artists Series at the Lobero Theatre (June 28). Hailed as “a smarter, better way to hook the next generation on opera” (Chicago Tribune), Second Nature will feature six vocal fellows and an instrumental trio in an entertaining production with sets, costumes, and lighting. The dystopian fairytale takes place 105 years in the future, and sends a strong message about our relationship with our environment.

The first string quartet to be inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame, the Takács Quartet once again oversees the Academy’s innovative String Quartet Seminar, which provides 16 string fellows with intensive ensemble coaching over the course of two weeks. Three members of the quartet open the season for a second year with a Hahn Hall recital on June 13 with faculty member Warren Jones, and the next day they will take part in a free, all-day Open House. The Open House will feature masterclasses by the Takács Quartet, Mark H. Lawrence (trombone and tuba), Ted Atkatz (percussion), and Jorja Fleezanis (violin). The Academy’s Vice President of Artistic Planning and Educational Programs, Patrick Posey, will offer a season preview, followed by a string quartet recital in Hahn Hall.

Generous support from the Samuel B. and Margaret C. Mosher Foundation brings two world-class artists to the Music Academy in June: legendary pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, who offers a solo piano masterclass on June 27 prior to his performances with the Festival Orchestra over the Independence Day Weekend, and Thomas Hampson (’78, ’79), America’s foremost baritone, founder of the Hampsong Foundation and a “Distinguished Alumni Award Winner (’94).” Hampson performs with faculty artist pianist Tamara Sanikidze (’05, ’06, ’07) in Hahn Hall on June 22, and leads a vocal masterclass on June 24. Marilyn Horne also gives a vocal masterclass on June 17, and additional masterclasses will be presented throughout the month by faculty and guest artists in voice, solo piano, and instrumental series. A masterclass sampler on June 20 will include clarinetist Richie Hawley, Marilyn Horne, and Festival Orchestra conductor Larry Rachleff. All masterclasses are open to the public.

The Luria Foundation Artist in Residence program, now in its second season, showcases artists who offer the fellows forward-thinking perspectives across all disciplines and areas of classical-music training. The program’s June honoree is pianist Jeremy Denk, winner of both a MacArthur “genius grant” and the Avery Fisher Prize. The residency sees Denk perform alongside Academy fellows in the Festival Artists Series on June 21, give a Hahn Hall recital titled “Medieval to Modern” on June 18, and teach solo piano masterclasses on June 13 and 20.

Other June highlights include a performance by the Academy Festival Orchestra at the historic Granada Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara (June 25), with a program pairing Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun with Respighi’s Pines of Rome. On the podium will be Larry Rachleff, music director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Rice University’s Shepherd School orchestras, and “a take-charge maestro who invests everything he conducts with deep musical understanding” (Chicago Tribune). On June 24 Academy fellows will perform in the annual PianoFest, followed by the OperaFest on June 25 & 27.  On June 29, the first Concerto Competition finals will take place, with the finalists in strings, winds, brass and percussion.

In addition to the concerts and masterclasses, MAW hosts some related events in June for the benefit of both fellows and the public. On June 13 hornist Sarah Willis teaches a class called “Media Strategies for the 21st Century Musician.” Born in the U.S. to a foreign correspondent father, Willis was the first woman to be hired in the Berlin Philharmonic brass section, a position she won in 2001, and she often doubles as a media presenter both on TV and online. One of her many projects is the classical music program “Sarah’s Music” on Deutsche Welle, which will be filming during her time in Santa Barbara. Renowned trumpeter, performance coach and educator Bill Williams will also teach a workshop, “The Path to Optimal Performance,” on June 16. Later in the month, in partnership with the Jenny Schatzle Program and KCRW Radio, 88.7 FM, MAW will present its first-ever classical music yoga class at the Carrillo Recreation Center in downtown Santa Barbara. The class will feature String Program fellows from the Music Academy performing live music, and will be followed by a healthy refreshments after-party hosted by KCRW DJ Aaron Byrd (June 26).

For tickets and further information for all Music Academy of the West events: call the Ticket Office at 805-969-8787, email [email protected], or visit online at To request a brochure, email [email protected] or write to the Music Academy of the West, 1070 Fairway Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93108.

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 roster 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, nearly half 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

High-resolution photos may be downloaded here, and a PDF of the Music Academy’s 2016 season brochure may be downloaded here.


Music Academy of the West
2016 Summer Festival: June 13–August 6
Santa Barbara, CA

Festival highlights for June “at a glance”
June 4               Opening Night Gala
June 13            Takács Quartet
June 13            Media Strategies: Sarah Willis
June 14            Community Open House
June 15            Voice Program Opening Night
June 18            Jeremy Denk in Recital
June 20            Masterclass sampler
June 21            Festival Artists Series: Brahms Serenade
June 22            Thomas Hampson and Tamara Sanikidze in Recital
June 24            PianoFest
June 25            Academy Festival Orchestra performs Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun & Pines of Rome
June 26            Live Classical Music Yoga
June 25 & 27  OperaFest
June 28            West Coast premiere of Second Nature by Matthew Aucoin
June 29            Concerto Competition Finals (strings, winds, brass, percussion)

Chronological listing of June events
June 13
Solo Piano masterclass: Jeremy Denk
Takács Quartet in concert
Media Strategies for the 21st Century Musician: Sarah Willis

June 14
Chamber masterclass: Takács Quartet
Trombone/tuba masterclass: Mark H. Lawrence
Percussion masterclass: Ted Atkatz
Violin masterclass: Jorja Fleezanis
Season Preview/String Quartet Seminar Concert: Patrick Posey, Matthew Aucoin, Academy fellows

June 15
Oboe masterclass: Robert Walters
Cello masterclass: Alan Stepansky
Double bass masterclass: Nico Abondolo
Bassoon masterclass: Dennis Michel
Voice Program Opening Night: Marilyn Horne, Warren Jones, Academy fellows

June 16
Collaborative piano masterclass: Jonathan Feldman
Viola masterclass: Karen Dreyfus
Flute masterclass: Jim Walker
The Path to Optimal Performance: Bill Williams

June 17
Clarinet masterclass: Richie Hawley
Trumpet masterclass: Barbara Butler
Horn masterclass: Julie Landsman
Vocal masterclass: Marilyn Horne
Picnic concert: Academy fellows/String Quartets

June 18
Guest Artist Recital: Jeremy Denk

June 20
Solo piano masterclass: Jeremy Denk
Masterclass Sampler: Richie Hawley, Marilyn Horne, Larry Rachleff

June 21
Trombone/tuba masterclass: Mark H. Lawrence
Percussion masterclass: Ted Atkatz
Violin masterclass: Kathleen Winkler
Festival Artists Series: Brahms Serenade, Jeremy Denk

June 22
Oboe masterclass: Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida
Cello masterclass: Alan Stepansky
Double bass masterclass: Nico Abondolo
Bassoon masterclass: Dennis Michel
Mosher Guest Artist Recital: Thomas Hampson, Tamara Sanikidze

June 23
Collaborative piano masterclass: Jonathan Feldman
Viola masterclass: Cynthia Phelps
Flute masterclass: Jim Walker

June 24
Clarinet masterclass: Richie Hawley
Trumpet masterclass: Charles Geyer
Horn masterclass: Julie Landsman
Vocal masterclass: Thomas Hampson
PianoFest: Academy fellows

June 25
Academy Festival Orchestra/Larry Rachleff: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun & Pines of Rome

June 25 & 27
OperaFest: John Churchwell, Giuseppe Mentuccia, Bruce Donnell, Academy fellows

June 26
Live Classical Music Yoga: String Program fellows

June 27
Solo piano masterclass: Jean-Yves Thibaudet
The Path to Optimal Performance: Bill Williams

June 28
Harp masterclass: JoAnn Turovsky
Trombone/tuba masterclass: Mark H. Lawrence
Percussion masterclass: Michael Werner
Violin masterclass: Glenn Dicterow
Festival Artists Series: Matthew Aucoin’s Second Nature

June 29
Oboe masterclass: Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida
Cello masterclass: Alan Stepansky
Double bass masterclass: Nico Abondolo
Bassoon masterclass: Dennis Michel
Concerto Competition finals: String, Winds, Brass, Percussion fellows

June 30
Chamber music masterclass: Peter Salaff
Collaborative piano masterclass: Jonathan Feldman
Viola masterclass: Donald McInnes
Flute masterclass: Jim Walker

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];

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© 21C Media Group, June 2016

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