Music Academy of the West President/CEO Scott Reed and Montecito Bank & Trust President/CEO Janet Garufis introduce the “Up Close and Musical” program to the children in the audience. (Clint Weisman photo)

Montecito Bank & Trust teamed up with the Music Academy of the West and the United Way of Santa Barbara County for the fourth straight year to host 270 local children for a unique musical outreach program titled “Up Close and Musical,” featuring the Music Academy’s Festival Orchestra, led by special guest conductor Christopher Rountree.

The United Way’s Fun in the Sun program participants from Aliso Elementary, Franklin Elementary, El Camino Elementary, Santa Ynez Elementary and La Cumbre Junior High arrived at the Music Academy’s Miraflores campus for outdoor activities, including musical chairs with live music, face painting, arts and crafts and a photo booth.

The outdoor activities were a precursor to the entertainment inside Hahn Hall, where the children enjoyed Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Tom Johnson’s Narayana’s Cows.

Rountree led the Festival Orchestra in the performance, and engaged in lively discussions with the kids about the connection between music and everyday life, tying into the theme of this year’s program, The Nature of Music. Rountree also showed the audience how the orchestra could work together to create natural sounds, like wind, raindrops, and thunderstorms.

Scott Reed, Music Academy of the West president and CEO, said, “This is such a great opportunity to bring local kids in to learn more about music, learn that music is part of their everyday lives, and it’s so wonderful for our fellows who participate in the program to understand why giving back to communities is so important. This year we’re representing 13 different states and seven different countries, and we hope each one of our fellows will take this great program and produce it their own communities so kids around the world can enjoy music and make it part of their everyday lives.”

Paul Didier, president and CEO of the United Way of Santa Barbara County, had similar thoughts about giving kids the opportunity to experience music in new ways.

“These children don’t have any exposure to this kind of music and how it can reaffirm the positive parts of your life, or even become a possible career path,” he said. “To find out that there are all of these resources in their hometown at the Music Academy is pretty powerful.”

Up Close Musical

Fun in the Sun students battle it out in the final stages of musical chairs. (Clint Weisman photo)

Montecito Bank & Trust became the Music Academy’s Festival Corporate Season Sponsor during its 65th anniversary celebration in 2012, and it was then that the idea of creating the concerts for children was imagined by Janet Garufis, president and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust, and Reed. The collaboration between these organizations continues to grow, and this particular event has quickly blossomed into a highly-anticipated tradition.

“When we started this partnership four years ago, and the bank became the Festival Corporate Season Sponsor, the Music Academy offered us an opportunity to provide a musical experience for our customers,” Garufis said. “After thinking about it, we decided we wanted to make the Music Academy available to people who otherwise wouldn’t even know it was here, and that’s why we invited kids from Fun in the Sun and other community programs to come experience music. It’s extraordinary how it has evolved since we started this adventure in 2012. The Music Academy’s commitment to outreach and to bringing music alive for children in our community is wonderful to see and it’s my expectation that this program will continue to get better every year.”

Rountree is artistic director, conductor and founder of the experimental classical ensemble “wild Up,” a 24-piece orchestra that blends new music, classical repertoire, performance art and pop. Known for his lively conducting style, he has been praised by the Los Angeles Times for his “infectious enthusiasm” and The New York Times for his “elegant clarity.”

Founded in 1947, the Music Academy of the West is among the nation’s preeminent summer schools and festivals for gifted young classical musicians. The academy provides these promising musicians with the opportunity for advanced study and frequent performance under the guidance of internationally renowned faculty artists, guest conductors, and soloists. Academy alumni are members of major symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, ensembles, opera companies, and university and conservatory faculties throughout the world. Many enjoy careers as prominent solo artists. Based in Santa Barbara, the Music Academy of the West presents more than 200 public events annually, including performances by faculty, visiting artists, and Fellows; masterclasses; orchestra and chamber music concerts; and fully staged opera. For more information, visit

Montecito Bank & Trust received a 2014 designation of a Super Premier Performing Bank by The Findley Reports, an independent service which rates the annual financial performance of California banks. The Findley Reports has designated Montecito Bank & Trust as a Premier Performing or Super Premier Performing bank 29 times in its 40-year history.

Montecito Bank & Trust, an S Corporation, is the oldest and largest locally-owned community bank in the tri-counties. Founded in 1975, with branch offices located in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Solvang, Montecito, Carpinteria, Ventura and Westlake Village, and a Financial Services Center in Camarillo, the bank offers a variety of competitive deposit and lending solutions for businesses and consumers, including business loans and lines of credit; commercial real estate finance; SBA loans; consumer loans; credit cards; merchant services; and online services, including mobile banking and cash management. Its Wealth Management Division provides full investment management as well as trust services for all branch office markets.

— Andy Silverman is a communication specialist for Montecito Bank & Trust.