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Jerome Lowenthal makes a point in a masterclass at Hope College. (Andrew Le “Drew” photo)

As it has for several years past, the Music Academy of the West will eschew a big-bash kickoff gala for its 2011 Summer Festival.

It will slip into town relatively quietly, with an all-business week of masterclasses lead by the extraordinary faculty. Although we shall hear, in the course of the next eight weeks, from such luminaries as violinist Glenn Dicterow, violist Karen Dreyfus, cellist Zuill Bailey, pianists Ursula Oppens, Valentina Lisitsa and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, the Takás Quartet, and conductors Leonard Slatkin, Larry Rachleff, Daniel Hege, Nicholas McGegan and Peter Oundjian, this week we will sit at the feet of the, as it were, tenured faculty — who are all, of course, stars in their own right.

And no star burns brighter than that of the man who will get the whole festival started this year, as he has for decades past — maestro Jerome Lowenthal, leading a Solo Piano Masterclass at 1 p.m. Monday in Hahn Hall on the Miraflores campus.

Masterclasses will continue the rest of the week with such returning favorites as Dennis Michel (bassoon), Timothy Day (flute), Nico Abondolo (double bass), Donald McInnes (viola), Alan Stepansky (cello), Richie Hawley (clarinet), Marilyn Horne (vocal superstar and beloved legend), Warren Jones (magician and pianist) and Kathleen Winkler (violin).

The week (Monday through Friday) will conclude, as it begins, with the irreplaceable Lowenthal, who will introduce all the Solo Piano Fellows (students) in a grand recital that has become a tradition at the Academy, called “PianoFest.”

For tickets, schedules, programs and other information about this year’s festival, click here, call 805.969.8787 or visit the campus at 1170 Fairway Road in Montecito.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at