De Chambre

by Gerald Carpenter

UNDER THE RADAR: Today (July 27) at 2 p.m., the Music Academy Young Artists present a free Community Concert in the auditorium of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. I don’t know the program — indeed, I don’t know the programs for any of the events I will discuss today — but I would guess that it will resemble those of the Picnic Concerts.

Both Jerome Lowenthal and Donald McInnes — masters, if the word has any meaning — will lead master classes in Lehmann Hall this afternoon (July 27); Lowenthal (piano chamber) at 1 p.m., McInnes (viola) at 3:15 p.m. These two musicians, along with violinist Zvi Zeitlin, remain, for me, the embodiment of the Music Academy. They were here when I came to town, just before Ronald Reagan was reelected, in 1984, and I fully expect them to be here when I move on, as writers must invariably do.

Musicians in America tend to take on the protective coloration of being just plain folks. The men profess to be sports fans; the women talk about their kids and fabric stores. I understand their motives, but it often makes even the greatest musicians rather uninteresting conversationalists. So, I was joyful, during my first interview with Lowenthal, when, in the middle of a discussion of the prevalence of “prestigious” prizes in today’s music scene, he reminded me: “You know, Proust himself campaigned for the Prix Goncourt.” That is what I call a civilized man.

McInnes I have been encountering sporadically and insignificantly over the last 44 years. The first time was when I was in high school and one of my closest friends was the son of Professor Abraham Keller of the University of Washington. McInnes, who was then playing in the Seattle Symphony, was a friend of the Keller family. One night, when I was dining at the Kellers, McInnes came in wearing a tuxedo. “Sorry to barge in in my work clothes,” he said.

When my friend went away to college, I stopped going over to the Kellers. I assumed that was the last time I had seen McInnes before moving to Santa Barbara. But a few years ago, idly turning the pages of my copy of Boswell’s Life of Johnson, I came across the program of a concert I had managed when working on a stage crew at the University of Washington, and it was a Don McInnes recital. When I mentioned it to Don, he said, “What was the date?” I told him, and he cited the entire program from memory, 30-some years after the fact.

Other master classes in the coming week will be led by the Takács Quartet (string chamber), Paul Merkelo (trumpet), Lowenthal again (solo piano), Zvi Zeitlin (violin), Edward Atkatz (percussion), Dennis Michel (bassoon), Nico Abondolo (double bass), Jeanne Baxtresser (flute), Anne Epperson (collaborative piano), Eli Epstein (horn), David Weiss (oboe), David Geber (cello), Peter Ellefson (trombone/tuba), and Marilyn Horne (vocal). For time, place, and admission charge, consult your program booklet, call the Academy at 969-8787, or visit the Web site at

THE JOURNEY BEGINS: There’ll be another of those fabulous Picnic Concerts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 28, in Abravanel Hall, programmed and performed by the Academy Young Artists.

If this week’s column has a theme, I suppose it is chamber music. We will get a lot of it this Saturday, July 29, starting at 10 a.m., when the Chamber Music Marathon begins in Abravanel Hall. It ends around 4 p.m., but a single ticket lets you go in and out all day.

The 2006 Summer Festival opera, Rossini’s The Journey to Reims, will open next Friday, August 4, but there will be a dress rehearsal of the show in the Lobero at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 2, conducted by Christopher Larkin and directed by Christopher Mattaliano, for less than half the admission charge of the performance itself.

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