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The Academy’s Greatest Asset

The Music Academy of the West has a lot going for it. It’s a prestigious institution with a storied history. It’s located in the “American Riviera” only steps away from a gorgeous beach. Its administration is forward-thinking, its community warm and supportive. But the Academy’s greatest asset by far is its faculty. From the earliest days when the likes of Lotte Lehmann, Roman Totenberg, and Darius Milhaud signed on to teach at a new school in Santa Barbara, to today’s list of world-renowned musicians, the Music Academy has always been blessed with pedagogues of immense talent, passion, and knowledge.
How does one begin to highlight such an august group of people? Music Academy faculty have been honored with the Grammy for Lifetime Achievement and received the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of the Arts—and that’s just Marilyn Horne! As musicians our faculty have sung and played on stages around the world. They are avid recitalists, recording artists, and arts advocates. They serve on boards and work with organizations big and small. They represent the San Francisco Opera, the Los Angeles Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera, and have worked with dozens of other companies. They are or have been members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Tokyo String Quartet, and the San Francisco Symphony, as well as the Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Houston, Montreal, Pittsburgh, San Diego, and Seattle symphonies, just to name a few. 10 of them are currently principal musicians in their respective orchestras, while a few past principals include Jorja Fleezanis, the longest-tenured concertmaster in the Minnesota Orchestra’s history and only the second woman in the United States to hold the title of concertmaster; Glenn Dicterow, the longest tenured concertmaster in the history of the New York Philharmonic; Mark Lawrence, who served as principal trombone of the San Francisco Symphony for 34 years; Julie Landsman, principal horn of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 25 years; and Ralph Sauer, principal trombonist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 32 years.
One could easily say that the Music Academy faculty represent decades of experience in the world of classical music, but does that truly do them justice? Certainly not. Take, for example, Fleezanis, Dicterow, Lawrence, Landsman, and Sauer. In only the aforementioned positions, they represent an astounding 145 years of experience! As teachers, our faculty work with students at the finest conservatories and music schools in the world. They currently serve on the faculties at The Juilliard School, The Colburn School, The Manhattan School of Music, The Curtis Institute of Music, The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, The Rice University Shepherd School of Music, Mannes School of Music, The University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, The San Francisco Conservatory, The New England Conservatory of Music, McGill University, UC Santa Barbara, The University of Colorado at Boulder, The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, The University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music, and The University of Michigan.
It’s important to see this laundry list of teaching posts laid out, because it demonstrates the breadth of their experience. They are all dedicated, passionate educators in addition to being world-class performers. They are also good people who seek to form relationships with the fellows in ways that the Music Academy is uniquely suited to allow. Since its founding, the size of the Academy’s program and the close-knit nature of its community has kindled an intimate faculty-fellow relationship. During a typical Summer Festival, you can see faculty enjoying lunch with the fellows, or joining them for picnic dinners in the Academy’s gardens. They get to know them not just as musicians, but as people. The Compeer Program only strengthens these relationships, with faculty, fellows, and community members often getting together for activities that range from pool parties to whale watching. Where else but the Music Academy might a young musician be the afforded opportunity to share a table with Marilyn Horne and listen to her amazing stories or enjoy a day at the beach with Richie Hawley?
Today we highlight in the Concert Hall Online faculty members Richard O’Neill, Eugene Izotov, and Julie Landsman. But as the plethora of information above shows, choosing one—or even a few—to highlight in writing from such an embarrassment of riches is an impossible task. Take this as a challenge today: visit our faculty page and read their biographies. Then think on how lucky our fellows—and all of us—are to spend each summer with the Academy’s greatest assets. To read more about the Music Academy’s distinguished faculty and teaching artists, click here. – Henry Michaels Resonance editor, Audience Services and Community Access Manager, Music Academy of the West

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