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Music Academy Celebrates its 75th Anniversary with Flagship Programs

The Music Academy of the West looks boldly to the future in this milestone year.  Programming has expanded year-round for community, fellows, and alumni. Classically trained musicians are provided opportunities to unleash their creativity and connect with audiences onstage and offstage. 

Scott Reed

"Inspired by the people who have been a part of the Academy's history, we continue to evolve. We aspire to be the most relevant program for young artists through world-class training and innovation."

Scott Reed

Music Academy of the West President and CEO



$75,000 in prizes for the 75th anniversary will be announced later this month for four progressive Alumni Enterprise Award projects. Winners will have extraordinary access to industry advisors and entrepreneurial think partners who will help guide their work to success.


From March 24-27, the Music Academy welcomes back its international partner the London Symphony Orchestra for three unique programs in the Granada Theatre, all led by Music Director Sir Simon Rattle. This is a one-of-a-kind collaboration and the LSO’s only transatlantic educational partnership in its history. The first concert will be co-presented with the Community Arts Music Association (CAMA). How to Build an Orchestra, a Family Concert created by the LSO, will be offered free to all children with ticketed adults. The 75th Anniversary Community Concert will welcome 35 Academy alumni “all-stars” to perform jointly with the LSO. Three cohorts of the alumni fellows who were selected for the Keston MAX (Music Academy Exchange) program will travel to London for ten-day residencies in June and November for more joint performances with the LSO under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle and Principal Guest Conductor Gianandrea Noseda.


The Sing! children’s choral program returned in full force last month with 200 participants from 30 area elementary schools. A new partnership with the YPC National has created a transformative exchange, merging youth from various backgrounds to nurture their talent and creativity through dynamic music making. Young People’s Chorus of New York City’s founder and artistic director, MacArthur Fellow Francisco Nuñez, together with YPC leaders, will bring choristers and conductors from all over the country in their YPC National Studio and Lab Programs with Sing! this summer in Santa Barbara.


Young artists launching careers need the opportunity to showcase their own programs and to hone their craft by performing in front of audiences. The Music Academy aligns Summer Festival competition winners with notable composers to present their commissioned world premieres. Funding from an Innovation grant will allow the competition winners to add creative new elements of their choice into the recitals. 2021 Competition winners will be presented in three special evenings in the Competition Winners Recital Series April 5-7 at Hahn Hall. Artists from the Duo Competition (pictured): violist Keoni Bolding (’20, ’21) and pianist Melivia Raharjo (’20, ’21), Solo Piano Competition: Hsin-Hao Yang (’20, ’21), and Marilyn Horne Song Competition: tenor Shawn Roth (’19, ’20, ’21) and pianist Alexander Soloway (’20, ’21) will premiere works commissioned for them by Conrad Tao, Tyshawn Sorey, and Carlos Simon, respectively. These three composers represent expansion of the classical genre, welcoming experimentation and improvisation.


140 fellows, 60 faculty and teaching artists, and an audience of more than 20,000 will converge in Santa Barbara to celebrate the 75th Summer School and Festival. Details of events will be announced in April including a new Chamber Music Series, beloved masterclasses, and the return of a favorite, Picnic Concerts, where fellows share their own repertoires. As a gift to audiences, a 75th Anniversary Welcome Concert will be produced at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Other highlights include:


This year’s signature benefit event is the 75th Anniversary Gala. Academy alums Metropolitan Opera star Isabel Leonard (’05) and faculty artist pianist Nino Sanikidze (’01, ’02) will be paired in an unforgettable performance under the stars on Saturday, June 18.


The Innovation Institute will challenge Academy artists with a cutting-edge curriculum to address the changes needed for classical music to thrive. The Fast Pitch Awards competition will nurture experimentation and risk-taking. Access to technology, media training, and dynamic mentors will fuel the future disruptors of our industry and society.

Speranza Scappucci


The Academy prides itself in introducing the world’s leading conductors to the next generation of artists. The Academy Festival Orchestra will be led by Teddy Abrams, Stéphane Denève, Hannu Lintu, and Larry Rachleff. Academy alum Speranza Scappucci (’96) has been selected to lead the final Festival concert. She is making her Met debut next season following an acclaimed debut at La Scala as their first female Italian conductor.



There is no better way to celebrate an anniversary than to bring new works to life. The Academy’s commitment to empowering diverse perspectives exhibits itself best in the commissioning of composers of our time, many of whom will be in residence. Chris Cerrone, Tom Cipullo, Stewart Goodyear, Robyn Cee Kay Jacob, Molly Joyce, Jessie Montgomery, and Nico Muhly are all composing works to be premiered in 2022 and 2023.

Artists premiering works during the 2022 Summer Festival include alum Sasha Cooke (’02), faculty artist pianist Conor Hanick, Mosher guest artists Sō Percussionand Academy fellows.



Signature Visual Artist who will create a work inspired by music will be revealed in the spring. During the Summer Festival, a contemporary visual brand identity for the Academy will be launched. A Digital Commemorative about the Academy’s history will be shared throughout the Festival.


vocal institute

Thanks to the generosity of a multi-million dollar endowment gift from Shirley and Seymour Lehrer and the Lehrer family to the Innovation and Sustainability Campaign, the Academy’s Vocal Institute will now be named the Lehrer Vocal Institute. Shirley and Seymour have been engaged with the Music Academy for over 25 years. They generously supported the construction of the Lehrer Studios and provided the lead gift to name the Marilyn Horne Main House. The couple were part of the inaugural Compeer group and have supported many singers as Compeers and scholarship funders. Lehrer Family members supporting this significant gift include Board member Tom Orlando and his wife Ellen Lehrer Orlando, and Karen Lehrer and her husband Steve Sherwin.


A pinnacle for the Lehrer Vocal Institute this summer will be the return of fully staged opera to the Granada Theatre in a new production of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin conducted by Principal Opera Conductor Daniela Candillari. The Music Academy produced dozens of operas from 1955 all the way until the pandemic.


Other highlights include a staging of works by composer Tom Cipullo, and performances and fellow training from guest artist alum Sasha Cooke (’02) and Mosher guest artist alum Susanna Phillips (’02, ’03).


To cap off many masterclasses and performances, Lehrer Vocal Institute fellows will perform in a daring new presentation by phenom director James Darrah, the Academy’s Creative Producer of Special Projects. The event will showcase the $1.65 million dollar technology upgrades made to Hahn Hall video, audio, and lighting capabilities, generously funded by the Hind Foundation.


Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish. The Music Academy is adjacent to Butterfly Beach and butterflies return here each year as they migrate.

The new Mariposa Concert Series will connect audiences with live music beyond the summer season and provide opportunities for artist residencies on the Academy campus. Faculty artists, to appear in concert in this new series, will be announced this fall.



The Women’s Auxiliary of the Music Academy led by Chair Judy Astbury has expanded, adding over 50 new members in the past 12 months. The vibrant, inter-generational volunteer group and social network supports funding for Sing! through membership, micro-fundraisers, a car donation program, and an annual online auction. They enjoy world-class concerts by Academy alumni at Auxiliary events throughout the year. The members serve as champions in the community and cultivate new Academy fans.



In the 1930s, conductor Otto Klemperer and soprano Lotte Lehmann, former colleagues from the Hamburg Opera, emigrated to Southern California to escape Nazi Germany. After World War II, they were among a group of iconic leaders who sought to establish a premier training program for musicians in Santa Barbara. Chamber music, orchestra concerts, opera, and public masterclasses have been a cornerstone of the Academy’s curriculum since the 1940s.

Klemperer was the fourth music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Lehmann, an international opera star, inspired new generations to rise from the Music Academy through her teaching and left an indelible impact on the community.

In 1947, Lehmann gave a benefit recital at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara to help establish funding for what has evolved into a continuous training program for young artists and summer festival experience for passionate audiences. Lehmann’s championship of the art of lieder (song, in German) was passed on to her students including mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, who was the Academy’s Vocal Program Director from 1997-2018.

Many additional prominent musicians and philanthropists helped to burnish the Music Academy’s brilliant reputation over the decades by supporting full scholarships for all students and offering them opportunities to perform. In 2018, this generosity extended to the founding of a children’s chorus, Sing!, available free of charge to all local elementary students.



The Music Academy extends our sincere thanks to the major investors for their leadership and support to help make this extraordinary anniversary year possible.   

Leslie & Philip Bernstein
Susie & Ted Cronin
Karl Kramer Foundation
Linda Keston
Mosher Foundation
William Randolph Hearst Foundation
Shirley & Seymour Lehrer
Luria Family Foundation
Marilyn & Dick Mazess
Katharine and Sandy Mallin
Mercedes Millington & John C. Mithun
Mozilo Family Foundation
Stephen Schaible & Daron Builta
Stephanie & Fred Shuman
Mary Lynn & Warren Staley
Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation
Pat Yzurdiaga
In remembrance of Léni Fé Bland

Visit for the latest information about Academy training and events.


Kate Oberjat (she/her/hers)

Director of Marketing & Communications

Music Academy of the West

805‐695-7908 /


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