About the Music Academy of the West Partnership

The Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara is the first American partner in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy. The four-year partnership, which began in the summer of 2014, combines training of Music Academy fellows by Philharmonic musicians; biennial performances by the Philharmonic at the Music Academy Summer Festival; and Academy Festival Orchestra performances at Music Academy Summer Festivals led by Alan Gilbert. 

The partnership began with Alan Gilbert and Philharmonic musicians teaching in Santa Barbara in July 2014; the partnership inaugurated the Global Academy Fellowship Program, through which ten instrumentalists from the Music Academy of the West, selected as Zarin Mehta Fellows through auditions, traveled to New York to train and play with the Philharmonic, in January 2015. The second group of Zarin Mehta Fellows did the same in January 2016. The third will come in January 2018.

The Second Performance Residency

The New York Philharmonic will return to the Music Academy of the West on July 31–August 5, 2017, for its second biennial residency. The residency will feature Alan Gilbert leading a Philharmonic concert celebrating the Music Academy’s 70th anniversary as well as a concert featuring the Academy Festival Orchestra, a performance by the New York Philharmonic String Quartet, and Philharmonic musicians serving as guest faculty.

In his final appearances conducting the New York Philharmonic as Music Director, Alan Gilbert will lead Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, featuring soprano Susanna Phillips (2002 and 2003 Music Academy of the West alumna), mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke (2002 Music Academy of the West alumna), tenor Joseph Kaiser, bass Morris Robinson, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale directed by Grant Gershon, July 31, 2017, at Santa Barbara City College’s La Playa Stadium, the Music Academy of the West’s 70th Anniversary Community Concert. The performance will open with the Academy Festival Orchestra performing Gabriela Lena Frank’s Three Latin American Dances, led by Philharmonic Assistant Conductor Joshua Gersen. The event will close with a fireworks display over the ocean. With seating for 7,500, it will be the largest classical music event in Santa Barbara history; 7,000 seats will be offered free or for $10 as part of the Music Academy’s Community Access Initiative.

Alan Gilbert will also conduct the Academy Festival Orchestra in Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs, with soprano Renée Fleming as soloist, August 5, 2017, at the Granada Theatre. Principal Bassoon Judith LeClair, Associate Principal Percussion Daniel Druckman, and the New York Philharmonic String Quartet — comprising Concertmaster Frank Huang, Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples, Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps, and Principal Cello Carter Brey — will join Music Academy faculty members in a chamber music concert featuring works by Timo Andres, André Previn, and Beethoven, August 1, 2017, at the Lobero Theatre as part of the Festival Artists Series.

Five Philharmonic musicians — Concertmaster Frank Huang, Principal Cello Carter Brey, Principal Bassoon Judith LeClair, Principal Trombone Joseph Alessi, and Associate Principal Percussion Daniel Druckman — will be serving as guest faculty August 1–4, 2017, training Music Academy fellows in collaboration with Academy faculty, including through master classes, chamber music coaching sessions, private lessons, and lectures. They will also judge auditions for the 2018 New York Philharmonic Global Academy Fellowship Program; the selected Fellows will travel to New York City to train and play alongside Philharmonic musicians for ten days in January 2018.

The 2015–16 Season

The 2015–16 season activities included the second visit of Music Academy students traveling to New York as Zarin Mehta Fellows; Philharmonic musicians again serving as visiting artists in collaboration with Academy faculty in Santa Barbara through master classes, chamber music coaching sessions, private lessons, and lectures; and Alan Gilbert returning to conduct the Academy Festival Orchestra.

The Inaugural Performance Residency

The New York Philharmonic’s first performance residency at the Music Academy of the West took place August 1–8, 2015. Music Director Alan Gilbert led the New York Philharmonic’s debut at the Santa Barbara Bowl; the Philharmonic participated in side-by-side orchestra readings with the Music Academy’s Academy Festival Orchestra; and Philharmonic musicians served as visiting artists and engaged in educational activities with Music Academy students.

Highlights of the Inaugural Performance Residency

The Global Academy Fellowship Program, in association with the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, is supported in part by The Hilaria and Alec Baldwin Foundation, Inc., an anonymous donor, and other gifts made toward the Zarin Mehta Fund. Additional support provided by Shirley Young / US–China Cultural Foundation.

The Music Academy’s partnership with the New York Philharmonic is supported by Lead Sponsors Linda and Michael Keston.