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Music Academy to Build $11 Million Education Center

The facility will be named in honor of benefactors Leatrice and Eli Luria

Heralding a new chapter in its storied history, the Music Academy of the West will begin construction of a multifunction educational facility in the heart of its Miraflores campus after the academy’s 2010 Summer School and Festival.

The Luria Education Center, named in honor of longtime academy benefactors Leatrice and Eli Luria, will better enable the academy to fulfill its mission of training the next generation of classical musicians, according to campus officials. Plans call for work to start in August and be largely completed by June 2011. The Music Academy has obtained all of the necessary permits.

The purpose of the Luria Education Center is improved facilities for academy Fellows and the 30 community organizations that utilize the Miraflores campus year-round. In addition to a new, 120-seat masterclass venue, the center will feature an expanded music library and listening area, the latest in computer and networking technologies, individual and ensemble practice rooms and teaching facilities, an enclosed dining pavilion and adjoining outdoor courtyard, a pair of lounges, and a catering kitchen and serving area.

“Aside from its wonderful capabilities as a facility for our Fellows, the Luria Education Center and its formal courtyard will serve to both complement and unite the various elements of the Music Academy campus,” academy board chairwoman Sharon Westby said. “This is a thrilling development in the academy’s ongoing evolution as one of the nation’s pre-eminent educational destinations for outstanding young classical musicians.”

“Education has always been one of the primary goals in my family, and to be instrumental in providing a new educational center for generations of talented young musicians is to experience a dream come true,” said Leatrice Luria, whose family has pledged $6 million to the Music Academy’s long-range capital improvement needs, including a lead gift of $4 million to help fund the Luria Center.

Construction of the center will cost about $11 million. The academy is relying exclusively on private donations to fund the project, with fundraising already 75 percent complete. Designed by Thomas Bollay Architects in collaboration with acclaimed architect and academy board member John Burgee, the Luria Education Center will blend with the distinctive architectural profile of the campus’ adjoining historic main building, and mark another milestone in the academy’s stewardship of the Miraflores campus for Fellows and faculty artists as well as the Santa Barbara community.

“As a Fellow, I remember scrambling to find a room to warm up in before masterclasses. I once had to resort to coaching a flute duet in the bathroom of Lehrer Studios. Fellows should never have to worry about space to practice,” said academy alumna Melanie Lançon, who serves as campus artistic program coordinator. “The Luria Education Center will do wonders for the overall well-being of our musicians.”

Work on the Luria Education Center will follow the recent completion of Hahn Hall, a project that has enhanced the experience of academy audience members, while providing musicians and community arts presenters with a world-class performance and rehearsal venue. The hall was recognized with a 2009 Santa Barbara Beautiful Award in September.

Frank Schipper Construction Co., which was the lead contractor for the building of Hahn Hall, will serve in the same capacity for the Luria Education Center. Schipper vice president and general manager Paul Wieckowski said the project will involve 46 subcontractors from the tri-county area and create about 250 jobs. Local construction material suppliers also will benefit, he said.

“We are extraordinarily fortunate to have the same leadership and construction teams that brought the Hahn Hall project to such a successful conclusion. That building was completed on time and under budget. For this reason, we are extremely confident that we’ll be able to adhere to the aggressive construction schedule proposed for the Luria Education Center,” said NancyBell Coe, president of the Music Academy of the West. “This facility and its construction will be of enormous benefit to the academy and the surrounding community.”

— Tim Dougherty is communications manager for the Music Academy of the West.

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