Preview | Music Academy’s Summer Season Returns to Santa Barbara

Eight Weeks of Events Bring a Stellar Schedule of Live Entertainment to Embrace

Academy Festival Orchestra with Larry Rachleff | Credit: Phil Channing

The hills come alive with the sounds of music once again, as the Music Academy of the West (MAW) kicks off its 75th anniversary summer season, bringing the annual summer school and festival back to full strength for the first time since the start of the pandemic with eight weeks of exciting live events.

Featured artists for the June 15 – August 6 season include Augustin Hadelich, Susanna Phillips, Sō Percussion, and composers Tom Cipullo, Robyn Cee Kay Jacobs, Molly Joyce, and Jessie Montgomery, who will all be in residence; honoring a tradition that includes public performances and masterclasses, as well as private lessons for fellows.

Special appearances include Distinguished Alumni Award winner Isabel Leonard, the red hot Metropolitan Opera star who receives the Academy’s highest honor and headlines the anniversary signature benefit event on June 18. Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke makes a special appearance as well, for the world premiere of a new commission from Composer-in-Residence Tom Cipullo on June 28.

Teddy Abrams, Musical America’s 2022 “Conductor of the Year,” leads this season’s five Academy Festival Orchestra concerts. Other highlights include three-time Diapason d’Or-winner Stéphane Denève; Hannu Lintu, making his festival debut; new Principal Opera Conductor Daniela Candillari, who takes the podium for a fully staged production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin July 15 and 17; Creative Producer of Special Projects James Darrah directs the world premiere presentation of Hahn Hall 1922-2022, an original new cabaret event on July 28; and returning favorite Larry Rachleff conducts Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, the annual Community Concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl on June 25. A special gift to the community in remembrance of Léni Fé Bland, all tickets are only $10, and kids are free with ticketed adults.

Finally, 1996 Academy alumna Speranza Scappucci — who looks forward to making her Metropolitan Opera debut next season after making history as the first female Italian conductor at La Scala — leads the season-closing concert: a program of Rossini, Respighi and more on August 6. For more information, visit

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