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Larry Rachleff Returns to Conduct Music Academy’s Season-Opening Concert

Acclaimed conductor Larry Rachleff, who has led the Music Academy of the West Festival Orchestra in triumphant season-opening performances each of the past five years, will again be on the podium on Saturday when the Music Academy presents its opening orchestral concert of the 2013 Summer School and Festival at Santa Barbara’s historic Granada Theatre.

Featuring Béla Bartók’s vivid score for The Miraculous Mandarin, Claude Debussy’s influential tone poem La Mer and Maurice Ravel’s Viennese waltz tribute La Valse, the performance will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $15.

Described by the Chicago Tribune as a “take-charge maestro who invests everything he conducts with deep musical understanding,” Rachleff has served as music director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic for 17 seasons. He also serves as music director of Rice University’s Shepherd School Orchestras in Houston, and recently stepped down as music director of the Chicago Philharmonic, a post he held for 23 years.

Rachleff has appeared as a guest conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Houston, Seattle, Indianapolis, Utah and Kansas City symphony orchestras, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In 1993, he was among four American conductors selected to lead the Cleveland Orchestra at Carnegie Hall under the mentorship of Maestro Pierre Boulez.

A former faculty member at Oberlin Conservatory, where he was music director of orchestras and conductor of the Contemporary Ensemble, Rachleff also has served as conductor for USC Thornton Opera. In 1988 he led the highly acclaimed American-Soviet Youth Orchestra tour, and he has conducted and presented masterclasses at the Chopin Academy in Warsaw, the Zurich Hochschule, and the Sydney and Queensland (Australia) conservatories.

In constant demand as a conductor and masterclass clinician, Rachleff is frequently invited to lead other conservatory orchestras, including those at Juilliard, England’s Royal Northern College, and New England Conservatory. He has collaborated with such leading composers as Samuel Adler, the late Luciano Berio, George Crumb and John Harbison.

Rachleff led the Academy Festival Orchestra in well-received concerts to open the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Summer Festivals. Writing in the Santa Barbara Independent, critic Charles Donelan observed that the conductor “moves so well on the podium that he can be easy for the audience to overlook, but that is clearly not the case on the musicians’ side of the proscenium, where smiles, warm glances, and the gentle thunder of pounding heels met his every effort.”

The Granada is located at 1216 State St. in Santa Barbara. The concert is supported by a gift from Robert Weinman.

The Music Academy of the West’s 2013 Summer School and Festival began Monday. Over the course of this year’s eight-week season, the academy will present 200 events, including a new production of Wolfgang Mozart’s beloved opera The Magic Flute as well as the West Coast premiere of bereshit by exciting young composer/conductor Matthias Pintscher. Additional highlights will include performances by violinist Midori, pianist Jeremy Denk, baritone Vladimir Chernov, and Brooklyn Rider, as well as conducting turns by Leonard Slatkin, James Gaffigan, Bernard Labadie, Nicholas McGegan, Warren Jones, Tito Muñoz and Pintscher. 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.

For tickets and information, call 805.969.8787 or click here.

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

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