Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 5:56 am | Fair 66º


Music Academy Festival Cues Up for Santa Barbara

Weeklong series of classes and concerts concludes with ensemble orchestra performance at Lobero.

A great tradition of the Music Academy of the West is the opening with a Masterclass by Jerome Lowenthal.

Since 1947, summer in Santa Barbara has meant the Music Academy of the West‘s miraculous Festival, when 140 gifted young classical singers and instrumentalists come to Miraflores estate in Montecito to study and make music with guest artists, conductors and faculty — all of it, almost, in front of live and appreciative audiences. There are musical events — operas, masterclasses, orchestral and chamber concerts — that would grace any venue in any of the great musical capitals of the worlds, from New York to St. Petersburg, and half of them are free. Click here for a complete schedule or call 805.969.4726 to request a brochure.

This year’s festival slips elegantly into existence at 1 p.m. Monday in Hahn (formerly Abravanel) Hall, with a Solo Piano Masterclass led by Jerome Lowenthal — a master if ever there was one. (Reserved Seating: $14 keyboard side, $12). At 3:15 p.m., same day and venue, there will be a Percussion Masterclass taught by Ted Atkatz (Free), while at the same time in the exquisite Lehmann Hall, there is a Violin Masterclass with the exquisite Kathleen Winkler (Open Seating $12, $11 students/seniors) and, in Singher Studio, a Bassoon Masterclass by Dennis Michel.

Tuesday will offer a Brass Ensembles Masterclass (Free), a Flute Masterclass with Timothy Day (Free) and a Double Bass Masterclass featuring the popular faculty artist Nico Abondolo (Free). On Wednesday, in addition to a Horn Masterclass by David Jolley (Free), a Collaborative Piano Masterclass with Jonathan Feldman (Open Seating $12, $11 students/seniors), an Oboe Masterclass by David Weiss (Free), a Cello Masterclass by Alan Stepansky (Open Seating $12, $11 students/seniors), and a Trombone-Tuba Masterclass led by Mark Lawrence (Free), there will be a special Vocal Masterclass at 3:15 p.m. in Hahn Hall, during which Music Academy legends Marilyn Horne and Warren Jones will introduce the 2008 voice and vocal piano Fellows (Reserved Seating $18, $16 students/seniors).

Paul Hindemith is a modern composer with staying power.

Thursday and Friday will witness another masterclass by Lowenthal, as well as masterclasses by the great violist, Donald McInnes; the accomplished clarinetist, Richie Hawley; trumpter Paul Merkelo; and, at 3:15 p.m. in Hahn Hall, there is the first regular Vocal Masterclass led by that dazzling virtuoso and inspiring teacher, Warren Jones (Reserved Seating, $18, $16 students/seniors.

The festival’s first week concludes, like most weeks, on Saturday. At 8 p.m. June 28, in the Lobero Theater, the Academy Festival Orchestra — that astonishing Phoenix ensemble, reborn to glory every summer — will be conducted by Larry Rachleff in performances of Paul Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Opus 73. (Reserved Seating $45; call the Lobero at 805.963.0761).

Hindemith (1895-1963) is one 20th century composer who seems destined to survive on our concert programs. It is probably impossible to like all his music (personally, I find his song cycle Das Marienleben, based on poems by Rilke, to be aggressively obnoxious), but there is none of it that does not give some evidence of his genius. The Symphonic Metamorphosis, like his symphony Mathis der Maler, represents him at his most accessible: pungently romantic, clear-sighted and totally brilliant, it is a great place to start appreciating this eccentric master. Among his notable students were Easley Blackwood Jr., Norman Dello Joio, and one of Santa Barbara’s greatest gifts to the world of contemporary music, Emma Lou Diemer.

Noozhawk contributor Gerald Carpenter can be reached at [email protected]

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