On July 10, the Music Academy of the West (MAW) held its first post-COVID live event — a lovely Return to Miraflores — the 2021 version of its annual gala. The net proceeds from the sold-out event, which grossed $450,000, will go toward the full scholarships MAW offers all its fellows, its community-access initiatives, and its year-round engagement programs.
In the extended cocktail hour in front of Hahn Hall at its picturesque Miraflores campus, there was a spirit of glee that permeated the crowd of 300 supporters. Guests were excited to see one another again, to hopefully be emerging from the pandemic, and of course, to be celebrating the return of MAW programs and performances. A Steinway Spirio player piano entertained guests, while cocktails and tasty hors d’oeuvres flowed.
Guests then adjourned to the dining area, which was created and festively adorned in front of the Marilyn Horne Main House. There was a gourmet dinner by Duo Catering and tributes and performances, while guests were spared from any auction or paddle raise.
The gala honored Mary Lynn Staley and Warren Staley for both their philanthropic and volunteer leadership at MAW, as well as for their contributions to humanitarian causes globally. President and CEO Scott Reed praised the couple as extraordinary volunteers and noted that when Warren became board chair in 2018, his leadership immediately made the board stronger and more efficient.
Faculty violist Richard O’Neill (MAW ’98,’99) received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Last year, O’Neill received the Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo and also joined the faculty quartet in residence, the Takács Quartet. In accepting the award, O’Neill expressed his gratitude for MAW, which, he related, immersed him in musical excellence and provided him with diverse opportunities and the “great gift of lifelong friendships with faculty and this most special community.”
There were performances by O’Neill, Ben Bliss, Jeremy Denk, Conor Hanick, Nino Sanikidze, and the Takács Quartet.
Because of the virtual nature of last year’s Summer School and Festival, MAW invited all fellows back this year, and 103 of the 110 current fellows participated last year. As always, the fellows received full scholarships, which include free tuition, accommodations, daily meals, and local transport.
MAW’s Community Access Program shows MAW’s commitment to making classical music widely available to the community. For most events, all tickets are just $10, including its Community Concert at The Granada Theatre with the Academy Chamber Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop. For the pricier events, MAW offers a number of $10 tickets. MAW also offers free admission to all events for those ages 7-17 when accompanied by a ticketed adult.
MAW’s year-round engagement programs include the Innovation Institute, which spearheads entrepreneurial training and ventures through seminars, residencies, and substantial grants. Another is Sing!, a free, after-school choral program for area elementary students that seeks to inspire personal growth and expression.
Last year, Jamie Broumas took over as chief artistic officer, after having spent 18 years at the Kennedy Center, including the last five as director of classical and new music programs. In an interview, Broumas shared that she was drawn to MAW because after being a presenter for so many years, she was intrigued by the opportunity to work in an educational environment, where she could have a deeper impact on the careers of emerging musicians. Broumas was also drawn to the forward-thinking vision of MAW, including its efforts in innovation and entrepreneurship training, which she sees as critical to success. This year MAW has 70 faculty and teaching artists.
This year’s Summer School and Festival runs June 28-August 7, with more than 70 classical music events, and then a week of online programming. Tickets are still available for these live performances: The Academy Chamber Orchestra Community Concerts with conductor Marin Alsop (all $10 tickets; Aug. 7 at 2pm and 7:30pm); Mosher guest artist recital of pianist Conrad Tao (Aug. 3); and the Academy Chamber Orchestra with conductor Larry Rachleff (July 31).
For more info about MAW, go to http://musicacademy.org.
For recent coverage of MAW by Charles Donelan, go to independent.com/music-academy-comes-back and independent.com/music-academy-of-the-west-2021-season.
For coverage of other events, go to independent.com/society.