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Music Academy of the West’s Festival Gala to Offer a ‘Feast for the Senses’

Alumnus pianist Micah McLaurin will perform “Rhapsody in Blue” during the Music Academy of the West’s 71st anniversary Festival Gala. The iconic piece will be performed using the original instrumentation and newly restored music. Click to view larger
Alumnus pianist Micah McLaurin will perform “Rhapsody in Blue” during the Music Academy of the West’s 71st anniversary Festival Gala. The iconic piece will be performed using the original instrumentation and newly restored music. (Music Academy of the West photo)

The Music Academy of the West will host its 71st anniversary Festival Gala, dedicated to the community of Santa Barbara, and themed "Feast for the Senses" at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4 in celebration of the 2018 Summer School and Festival.

All proceeds will benefit the academy’s full-scholarship program that brings 140 fellows from across the country and around the world to study and perform with world-class faculty and guest artists in Santa Barbara during the eight weeks. Guests will enjoy a spectacular evening from start to finish, including a cocktail reception, a stellar performance, and an al frescodinner in front of Hahn Hall.

The Music Academy’s annual benefit concert offers a celebration of distinguished alumni artists. Anchored by 2018 fellows and faculty members comprising the Academy Chamber Orchestra under conductor Nicholas McGegan, whom The New York Times calls “a constant source of life and sensuous color,” this year’s edition features alumni soprano Brenda Rae (’08), praised for her “dazzling, pinpoint coloratura” (Opera News); bass-baritone Brandon Cedel (’10, ’11), called “destined for stardom” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker); violinist and New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Frank Huang (’98); 2016 Gilmore Young Artist Award winner, pianist Micah McLaurin (’14, ’16); and faculty member and New York Philharmonic Principal Violist Cynthia Phelps (’79, ’83).

The array of artists will perform a festive program of repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary. The concert will be held in the Music Academy’s intimate Hahn Hall.

“This gala showcases many aspects of the wonderful programs at the Music Academy of the West," McGean said. "Firstly, there is the chamber orchestra, which plays both a leading and an accompanying role in music from the 18th to the 20th centuries. These are the instrumental stars of the future. The Music Academy of the West has so many distinguished alumni that it would take a whole summer of Gala concerts to fit them all in. So this evening will feature just a few but from different courses offered by the Academy. We have two exceptional string players who are now members of the New York Philharmonic, a star pianist, and some wonderful singers who have been part of one of the finest opera programs in the world.

"I am of course thrilled to have been asked to conduct the Academy Chamber Orchestra for this spectacular event and to take part in celebrating and paying tribute to this wonderful institution to which all we musicians owe so much.”

The 2018 gala will be co-chaired by former board member Regina Roney and board member Judy Getto.

Getto joined the Music Academy board of directors in January 2010. Born in upstate New York, Getto earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Cornell University before a completing a master's degree and doctoral work in educational psychology at UCLA.

As an educator, she has taught, developed curriculum and supervised teachers in Nashville, New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco, including serving as the Bay Area coordinator for Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth. Getto also has served on boards and chaired fundraising efforts for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco, and various schools and community youth programs in Harlem.

Roney served on the Music Academy board of directors from 2011 through 2016, and is currently a member of both the Music Academy’s Buildings, Instruments, and Grounds and Board Travel Program committees.

Born in New York City, Roney studied business at Berkeley College in New Jersey and interior design at Cañada College in the Bay Area before heading up her own firm in the region for 10 years. She also directed San Mateo County’s conflict resolution program for five years. Roney spent a decade as a full-time volunteer for the Beyond War Foundation and actively supports the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, serving on the steering committee of the latter organization.

Committee members include Sharon Bradford, Michele Brustin, Georgia Lynn, Stephanie Shuman, Patricia Toppel, Pam Valeski and Cheryl Ziegler.

Gala tables and tickets are now available for purchase, and an early sell-out is expected. Tables are set at $10,000, $25,000 and $50,000, and individual tickets are $1,000. For table sponsorships and more information, please contact Allie Rigonati by email at [email protected], by phone at 805.695.7929 or click here.

— Kate Oberjat is the director of marketing and communications for the Music Academy of the West.

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