The Music Academy of the West, whose annual Summer School and Festival has become one of the country’s most prestigious showcases for exceptional young classical musicians, is the focus of a new syndicated special that will be distributed by the WFMT Radio Network in Chicago.
Hosted by iconic television star Carol Burnett, the two-hour program will air on classical and public radio stations nationwide, and internationally through the European Broadcast Union, beginning Wednesday.
Subtitled “The Future of Classical Music on America’s Riviera” and featuring performances and interviews from the academy’s 2013 Festival, the program was assembled and scripted by veteran producer Marty Ronish, whose numerous credits include Performance Today (NPR) and Chicago Symphony Orchestra broadcasts. Musical selections include the Queen of the Night aria from the Music Academy’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, an excerpt from the West Coast premiere of composer Matthias Pintscher’s new work bereshit, and a rollicking performance of the finale of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, conducted by the incomparable Leonard Slatkin.
Among those contributing commentary are conductors James Gaffigan and Nicholas McGegan, former New York Philharmonic principal flutist Jeanne Baxtresser, and former Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal percussionist Ted Atkatz, who is a Music Academy faculty member. Interviewees also include academy Fellows and administrative staff.
“We are delighted to be the subject of such a wonderfully entertaining program. This special expertly captures the richness, vitality and passion that characterize each summer season at the Music Academy of the West. We are excited to be sharing our unique Summer Festival experience with listeners nationwide and beyond,” Music Academy President Scott Reed said.
“The opportunity to document this remarkable educational institution for the WFMT Radio Network has proven to be a thrilling experience, and we’re eager to offer this special documentary to the many fine arts radio stations in the U.S. and around the world that carry our programs. The joy of learning, studying, and performing evident each summer at the Music Academy is infectious, and we know listeners will feel the excitement as they listen to this program,” said WFMT Executive Vice President and General Manager Steve Robinson, who served as executive producer for the project.
Burnett, whose eponymous TV variety show has been hailed as a broadcasting landmark, joined the Music Academy’s artistic roster last year to help prepare Voice Fellows for the academy’s annual Cabaret gala. Her numerous honors include 12 People’s Choice Awards — more than any other actress — eight Golden Globes, six Emmy Awards, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She also has been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. Ms. Burnett has penned The New York Times bestsellers This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection and her autobiography, One More Time, as well as a new memoir, Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story, which was released last spring. Hollywood Arms, the play based on her autobiography that she co-wrote with her late daughter, Carrie Hamilton, premiered at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in April 2002. Ms. Burnett, who received her first Grammy nomination in 2011 for the audiobook version of This Time Together, is a current Grammy nominee for the audiobook version of Carrie and Me. She was awarded the Kennedy Center’s prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in October.
The Music Academy radio special is generously supported by Linda and Michael Keston. Related photos and audio material is available by clicking here.
The Music Academy of the West’s 2014 Summer School and Festival will take place June 16 to Aug. 9. Highlights will include a fully staged production of Carmen, presented as a tribute to legendary mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, who has directed the Music Academy’s renowned Voice Program since 1997. Featuring the academy’s exceptionally talented Fellows, together with illustrious guest performers and faculty, the events will be presented at the academy’s scenic Miraflores campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara.
— Tim Dougherty is the communications manager for the Music Academy of the West.