In summer, Santa Barbara’s classical music flows mostly from Miraflores, the extraordinary Montecito estate campus of the Music Academy of the West. This is more true in 2010 than ever, as the venerable Tuesdays at Eight series, long headquartered at the Lobero, moves to the Music Academy’s own Hahn Hall, opening up another evening — in addition to the traditional Friday picnic concerts — during which audience members will be encouraged to bring their own food and beverages for a pre-concert feast on the bluff.
Tonight, Thursday, June 24, at the Arts and Letters Café in the Sullivan Goss Gallery, the popular Opera Under the Stars series begins with the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, as performed by Megan O’Toole, soprano, and Josh Shaw, tenor. Reservations recommended. On Friday, June 25, at the Music Academy, Jerome Lowenthal introduces his 2010 crop of solo piano fellows in an exciting recital at Hahn Hall. On Saturday, June 26, the Music Academy Festival Orchestra will take the stage at the Granada under the baton of maestro Larry Rachleff for a program that includes works by Richard Strauss, Samuel Barber, and Béla Bartók. The first Tuesdays at Eight concert of the season will take place on June 29, and will feature violinists Jeff Thayer and Kathleen Winkler, among other distinguished members of the Academy faculty. Thursday, July 1, brings Puccini to the fore at the Arts and Letters Café’s Opera Under the Stars. On Saturday, July 3, Larry Rachleff conducts the Academy’s Chamber Orchestra in the more intimate confines of the Lobero Theatre. The program includes music by Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith, and Joseph Haydn. The July 6 installment of Tuesdays at Eight promises to be one of the season’s highlights, as an eight-voice, two-piano assault will be made on the Liebeslieder Waltzes of Johannes Brahms.
The music on Saturday, July 10, begins early as the annual Concerto Competition commences at 9:30 a.m. in Hahn Hall. Morning and afternoon sessions will be used to decide which solo pianist or instrumentalist will win the privilege of guest soloing with the Festival Orchestra on July 24. Other Music Academy season highlights include the annual visit from the Takács Quartet to the Lobero on Thursday, July 15, and the return of the Academy Festival Orchestra to the Granada on Saturday, July 17, conducted by Jeffrey Kahane. Another outstanding solo piano concert by Christopher Taylor is on tap for Wednesday, July 21, at Hahn Hall. Taylor will play music by Fredric Rzewski and the Goldberg Variations of J. S. Bach.
The Music Academy’s full-production opera is always one of the year’s most exciting events. This time around it will be Mozart’s Don Giovanni, with performances on Friday, August 6, and Sunday, August 8, at the Granada. In between those dates, the Academy Chamber Orchestra will appear on Saturday, August 7, at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Barbara with guest conductor Nicholas McGegan, a world-renowned expert in 18th-century music. The whole magnificent season winds up on Saturday, August 14, at the Granada with Peter Oundjian at the helm of the Festival Orchestra. And if you still haven’t gotten enough, head over to the Arts and Letters Café on Thursday, August 19, where the three tenors (in this case, Josh Shaw, Gary Smith, and Eric Carampatan) sing “Nessun dorma.”