The Music Academy of the West has announced its Finale Capital Campaign with a visionary goal to raise $17.5 million for two significant construction projects to renovate and improve its historic campus.


Marilyn Horne

The campaign also includes funding for an instrument fund that will establish the academy’s All-Steinway institution status and a maintenance endowment.

All of the academy’s board members have participated in the campaign, joined by support from individuals and foundations in the Santa Barbara community. To date, $11.7 million has been raised to begin the renovation in August; the remaining goal is $5.8 million. The historic Main House on the Miraflores campus has been named for legendary mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne with a gift of $6 million, through a $3 million matching gift challenge from longtime academy benefactors Shirley and Seymour Lehrer.

“Our campaign completes a long-term strategy to fully preserve, renovate and expand our campus to guarantee we have world-class facilities,” Music Academy President/CEO Scott Reed said. “Our fellows arrive in Santa Barbara each summer from around the world to share their talent with us and further their artistry with our distinguished faculty. Enhancing our buildings will provide the best possible experience for our guests and our community.”

The Finale campaign will support the final phase of a long-term campus renovation and construction master plan envisioned 15 years ago. The improvement of the Marilyn Horne Main House is Part One of the Finale project, with a groundbreaking in August. The scope of the project includes county-mandated seismic retrofitting, replacement of early 20th century electrical and plumbing, implementing energy efficient options, modernized offices, and restoration of the patios, terrace and fountains.

Academy noard member Seymour Leher and his wife, Shirley, whom the Lehrer Studios were named for, challenged the Music Academy board and community philanthropists to match a $3 million gift, doubling it to $6 million, to name the Main House for Horne. The academy celebrates her extraordinary involvement dating back to the 1950s when she was a student studying with one of the Music Academy’s founders, Lotte Lehmann. Horne received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1995 and became Voice Program director in 1997. She oversees a full production of an opera each summer featuring the Voice Program fellows and the Academy Festival Orchestra.

Board chair Margaret Cafarelli said, “It is an extraordinarily selfless act of philanthropy that Shirley and Seymour Lehrer, joined by members of our Board and community, collectively contributed $6 million to name our iconic building to honor Marilyn Horne. Her legendary career serves as a symbol to our fellows and alumni that with hard work and perseverance, anyone can fulfill their dream.”

Part Two of the project, scheduled to begin in August 2016 if the fundraising goal is met, is a renovation and expansion of a dilapidated practice studio building. Large ensemble rehearsal rooms and faculty teaching studios will be created to accommodate the latest long-distance learning technology. A $2.1 million instrument fund allows for Steinway pianos to be purchased for the new studios, along with timpani and marimbas, and future instrument replacement. A $3 million endowment will be designated to assure funding for ongoing and upcoming maintenance.

“We invite the community to join us to support this extraordinary vision to preserve the legacy handed to us and create opportunity for the future,” Cafarelli said. “Nearly 40 community organizations utilize our campus during the non-summer months for meetings, rehearsals, performances, and teaching. We have 125 local music students studying here weekly from September through May. The need for our facilities has increased as Santa Barbara’s arts and non-profit community has continued to thrive.”

The History of the Campus

Miraflores, the stunning 10-acre garden estate that has been home to the Music Academy since 1951, originally served as the site of the Santa Barbara Country Club. The property’s main building, a clubhouse designed by Francis W. Wilson in 1909, was partially destroyed by fire in 1912 and rebuilt the following year.

Abravanel Hall, the antecedent to Hahn Hall, opened in 1972. The earlier building was named for the late conductor Maurice Abravanel, who served as music director at the Academy from 1954 to 1980.

Claeyssens Hall, the beautiful teaching and practice facility situated to the west of Anne’s Garden, opened in 1993. And in 2006 the Music Academy completed reconstruction of the Wood II building, since renamed Lehrer Studios in the Wood Building in honor of Academy benefactors Shirley and Seymour Lehrer. Originally a carriage house on the Jefferson estate, this campus facility features 16 acoustically designed practice studios and remodeled restrooms and shower rooms.

Hahn Hall — named in honor of Academy benefactors Carla and Stephen Hahn — was completed just prior to the start of the 2008 Summer School and Festival. During the off-season, the hall is used for Metropolitan Opera “Live in HD” simulcasts; area arts organizations also use the facility.

Completed in 2012, the Luria Education Center is named in honor of longtime Music Academy benefactors Leatrice and Eli Luria. In addition to a masterclass venue bearing the name of Academy supporter Robert W. Weinman, the facility features an expanded music library, individual and ensemble practice rooms and teaching facilities, a pair of lounges, and a catering kitchen and serving area. The center also includes a central campus courtyard named in honor of local philanthropist Leslie Ridley-Tree, and an enclosed dining patio bearing the name of Academy advocate Sarah Jane Lind.

About the Music Academy of the West

The Music Academy of the West is among the nation’s preeminent summer schools and festivals for gifted young classical musicians. At its ocean-side campus in Santa Barbara, the Academy provides these musicians with the opportunity for advanced study and performance under the guidance of internationally renowned faculty artists, guest conductors, and soloists.

Admission to the academy is strictly merit based, and fellows receive full scholarships (tuition, room and board). The academy’s distinguished faculty roster has included famed soprano Lotte Lehmann, composers Darius Milhaud and Arnold Schoenberg, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and current Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne. 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. In 2014 the Music Academy entered into a four-year partnership with the New York Philharmonic, resulting in unprecedented training and performance opportunities for Academy fellows, and Summer Festival residencies for Philharmonic musicians.

The Music Academy of the West cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences, presenting more than 200 public events annually, nearly half of them free of charge. These include performances by faculty, visiting artists, and fellows; masterclasses; orchestra and chamber music concerts; and a fully staged opera. The 2015 Summer School and Festival will take place from June 15 to Aug. 8 at the academy’s scenic Miraflores campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara. Click here for more information.

— Ana Papakhian is the vice president of marketing for the Music Academy of the West.