On Sunday, June 13, at 4pm the Lobero Theatre will echo with the sound of love as friends and beneficiaries of the Leni Fe Bland Foundation’s awards for young musicians gather to pay tribute the Baroness Fe Bland, the woman who has made possible so much culture in this community. Over the past 20 years, the Fe Bland Foundation has made more than 1200 scholarship awards to instrumentalists under 25 and vocalists under 30. Collectively, the amount granted to these musicians totals more than $1.5 million, an extraordinary feat of generosity that still only represents a fraction of what Leni Fe Bland has given to this city. The free concert, which is already fully booked, has been organized in part by the Music Academy of the West and is being programmed by Miwa Gofuku, the Director of Operations and Artistic Planning at the Santa Barbara Symphony. Gofuku is also a past receipient of the Fe Bland Award, and many alumni of this distinguished program will join her onstage.
Music Academy of the West Vice President for Institutional Advancement Scott Reed has been in on the planning of this event, which he describes as “mostly a surprise” to Fe Bland, who will likely be thrilled to see so many old friends and well-wishers all together for the sake of beautiful music. In addition to an announced group including baritones Nmon Ford and Evan Hughes, violinist Simeon Simeonov, and soprano Xi Wang, the concert will include a world premiere composition by composer/conductor and Fe Bland Award recipient Cody Westheimer. More than thirty previous scholarship winners are confirmed to attend, and the Westheimer premiere promises to be spectacular.
Leni Fe Bland belongs to a small group of super-philanthropists who have defined Santa Barbara in the last 25 years as the country’s leading smaller city fine arts community. Her dedication to the world of music has also been expressed through countless other acts of generosity towards organizations and venues such as the Granada and the Music Academy of the West, but nothing represents her personal touch and profound interest in the development of individuals more fully than these awards, which she has supervised for two decades. Each recipient becomes a part of a now vast network of those who have received the award in the past, and the special spirit of camaraderie among these elite musicians will be in evidence on Sunday as they join together in tribute to their patron.