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 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. In 2017, in Santa Barbara, the Philharmonic and the Academy Festival Orchestra will perform together, led by Alan Gilbert, to commemorate the Music Academy of the West’s 70th anniversary.

Twelve New York Philharmonic musicians are alumni of the Music Academy.

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.

Alan Gilbert conducted the New York Philharmonic in its debut at the Santa Barbara Bowl on August 3, 2015, featuring an all-American program of works by Barber, Copland, Gershwin, and Sousa, as well as Bernstein’s West Side Story Concert Suite No. 1 featuring soprano Julia Bullock and tenor Ben Bliss; the latter is a 2012 alumnus of the Music Academy of the West. Philharmonic Acting Concertmaster Sheryl Staples, Principal Cello Carter Brey, Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill, Principal Tuba Alan Baer, and Associate Principal Percussion Daniel Druckman joined Music Academy faculty members — including Philharmonic Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps — in a chamber music concert that included the West Coast Premiere of Steve Reich’s Quartet for vibraphones and pianos, and works by Ponchielli, Joseph Turrin, and Dohnányi, August 4, 2015, at the Lobero Theatre as part of the Music Academy Festival Artists Series. These five Philharmonic musicians also served as visiting artists for one week, August 1–8, 2015, training Music Academy fellows in collaboration with Academy faculty, including through master classes, chamber music coaching sessions, private lessons, and lectures.

Philharmonic Assistant Conductor Courtney Lewis served as a guest conductor at the Music Academy, leading an Academy Festival Orchestra concert, on July 18, 2015, at the Granada Theater, spotlighting the winners of the Concerto Competition as well as Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. Alan Gilbert served as one of three inaugural Luria Foundation Artists in Residence, part of a program designed to bring noted industry innovators to the Music Academy each summer to teach and perform in multiple areas and disciplines, inspiring creativity and fresh thinking among fellows. Mr. Gilbert taught a solo piano masterclass at the Academy on August 3, 2015.

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. and an anonymous donor, and other gifts made towards the Zarin Mehta Fund.

The Music Academy of the West’s partnership with the New York Philharmonic has been made possible through the generosity of lead sponsors Linda and Michael Keston.