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Music Academy of the West’s Season Ends on High Note as New York Phil Makes Santa Barbara Bowl Debut and Players Give Masterclasses; Voice Program Fellows Lead CABARET; and Christoph von Dohnányi Conducts Academy Orchestra

The 2015 season at Music Academy of the West reaches its rousing conclusion this August as it continues its range of compelling concerts and events. The New York Philharmonic arrives at the Academy, making its Santa Barbara Bowl debut (Aug 3) in an all-American program that is already sold out. Some of its members will join the faculty to give high-level coaching to Academy fellows throughout the last week – including Music Director Alan Gilbert demonstrating his versatility with a piano masterclass (Aug 3) – and join Music Academy artists for a program that includes the West Coast premiere of Steve Reich’s Quartet (Aug 4). Members of the Vocal Program bring together classical, pop and Broadway songs in the Academy’s signature gala CABARET under the direction of Marilyn Horne (Aug 7). The season ends on a triumphant note with Christoph von Dohnányi making his Academy debut conducting the Academy Orchestra in a program of Webern, Ligeti, Wagner and Brahms’s transcendent Second Symphony. Aptly summarizing the variety and vitality on display this summer, Charles Donelan of the Santa Barbara Independent wrote of the Academy’s 2015 season: “The era in which classical music is stereotyped as either irrevocably highbrow or irreversibly in decline has finally ended.”

In August, three events will be streamed live online with select videos subsequently available to watch on demand: the Academy Festival Orchestra under von Dohnányi (Aug 8, 8pm PDT), and masterclasses with Cynthia Phelps (Aug 4; 3:15pm PDT) and Nico Abondolo (Aug 5; 3:15pm PDT). All livestreamed events can be accessed at

New York Philharmonic Debut at the Santa Barbara Bowl
In the second summer of its innovative four-year partnership with the New York Philharmonic, the Music Academy will present the orchestra in its debut performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Monday, August 3. Led by Music Director Alan Gilbert, the world-famous ensemble will perform an all-American program, including music from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Soprano Julia Bullock and tenor Ben Bliss, a 2012 alumnus of the Music Academy, will join the Philharmonic as soloists in West Side Story Concert Suite No. 1. With more than 4,000 tickets offered at $10, thanks to the generosity of the Academy’s supporters, the concert is already sold out.

Under terms of the New York Philharmonic’s partnership with the Music Academy, up to five Philharmonic musicians serve as guest faculty for one week each summer to train fellows in  collaboration with Academy faculty, offering masterclasses, chamber music coaching, private lessons, and lectures. Presenting masterclasses this August will be Acting Concertmaster Sheryl Staples (Aug 3), Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps (Aug 4), Principal Cello Carter Brey (Aug 5), Principal Tuba Alan Baer (Aug 4) and Associate Principal Percussion Daniel Druckman (Aug 4). The Academy’s own faculty will also continue to give masterclasses throughout the final week, including Marilyn Horne, Director of the Music Academy’s Voice Program, who leads the last vocal masterclass of the season on August 5.

On August 4, the faculty and visiting artists from the New York Philharmonic join together for the Music Academy Festival Artist Series concert. They will play the West Coast premiere of Steve Reich’s Quartet, a duo for clarinets with piano by Ponchielli, contemporary composer Joseph Turrin’s accented Fandango, and a string trio by Ernst von Dohnányi.

As well as conducting the New York Philharmonic in Santa Barbara, Music Director Alan Gilbert serves as an inaugural Luria Foundation Artist in Residence for the 2015 Summer Festival. The program is designed to bring noted industry innovators to the Music Academy each summer to teach and perform in multiple areas and disciplines, inspiring creativity and fresh thinking among fellows. Gilbert is of course best known as a conductor, but he is also an accomplished pianist, and will demonstrate this versatility when he gives a solo piano masterclass on August 3.

The Music Academy’s signature gala benefit CABARET takes place this year on August 7 at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort. One of the most anticipated benefits of the year, the event will feature cocktails, a gourmet dinner, a live auction, and a performance by Academy Voice and Instrumental Fellows of classical, Broadway and pop hits, under the direction of Marilyn Horne. All proceeds from CABARET support the Music Academy of the West’s full-scholarship program.

Academy Festival Orchestra
The season wraps up with one of the world’s most distinguished conductors, Christoph von Dohnányi, making his debut conducting the Academy Festival Orchestra at the Granada Theatre on August 8. Together, they will perform Ligeti, Webern, Wagner and Brahms. The young players and audience alike will be in for an inspiring evening, according to a recent review in The Guardian: “In von Dohnányi’s conducting – never remotely showy – it is the clarity of his approach and his inclination to underline the natural democracy of Brahms’s orchestral writing that is absorbing.” As for the Academy Festival Orchestra itself, the Santa Barbara Independent remarked about its recent festival performance under Larry Rachleff: “The conductor pushed the thoroughbred musicians with no hesitation, and the results were amazing and bravissimo!” The performance will be livestreamed online at beginning at 8pm PDT.

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 classical 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 based on merit, and fellows receive full scholarships (tuition, room, and board). The Academy’s distinguished faculty 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. The 2015 Summer School and Festival takes place from June 15 to August 8 at the Academy’s scenic Miraflores campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara. For more information, visit

“For eight weeks each summer,” states the Santa Barbara News-Press, “the Music Academy blithely and blissfully takes over our town, presenting a thicket of classical music for our listening pleasure, spoiling us with a high caliber of music and celebrated visitors.”

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here, and a PDF of the Music Academy’s 2015 season brochure can be downloaded here

Music Academy of the West 2015
Summer Festival: August 1–August 8
Santa Barbara, CA

August 1 – 8
New York Philharmonic Visiting Faculty Residency

August 1
Rossini’s Cinderella (see July 30)
PercussionFest with Ted Atkatz and Michael Werner, faculty artists; Academy Percussion Fellows

August 3
Solo Piano Masterclass: Alan Gilbert
Flute Masterclass: Jim Walker
Violin Masterclass: Sheryl Staples
New York Philharmonic debut at the Santa Barbara Bowl – Sold Out
Alan Gilbert, music director
Julia Bullock, soprano
Ben Bliss, tenor
Barber: The School for Scandal Overture
Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite
Leroy Anderson: Fiddle-Faddle
Rodgers: The Carousel Waltz
Bernstein: West Side Story Suite
Gershwin: Lullaby

August 4
Trombone/Tuba Masterclass: Ralph Sauer, Alan Baer
Viola Masterclass: Cynthia Phelps *Livestream at 3:15pm PDT
Percussion Masterclass: Daniel Druckman
Music Academy Festival Artist Series: Music Academy & New York Philharmonic Artists
Steve Reich: Quartet (West Coast Premiere)
Ponchielli: Il Convegno, Divertimento for two clarinets
Joseph Turrin: Fandango
Ernst von Dohnányi: Serenade

August 5
Oboe Masterclass: Eugene Izotov
Cello Masterclass: Carter Brey
Double Bass Masterclass: Nico Abondolo *Livestream at 3:15pm PDT
Bassoon Masterclass: Dennis Michel
Vocal Masterclass: Marilyn Horne

August 6
Academy Fellows Chamber Concert
Collaborative Piano Masterclass: Jonathan Feldman
Picnic Concert with Academy Fellows

August 7
Clarinet Masterclass: Richard Hawley
Trumpet Masterclass: Paul Merkelo
Horn Masterclass: Julie Landsman
CABARET: The Music Academy’s Signature Gala

August 8
Von Dohnányi Conducts Brahms *Livestream at 8pm PDT
Academy Festival Orchestra, Christoph von Dohnányi, conductor
Webern: Im Sommerwind
Ligeti: Atmosphères
Wagner: Prelude to Lohengrin (Act I)
Brahms: Symphony No. 2

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© 21C Media Group, July 2015

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