Preview | Music Academy Goes Orchestral at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Launching its Series of Academy Festival Orchestra Concerts, the Music Academy Brings Beethoven’s “Fifth” to the Santa Barbara Bowl, Affordably

Takács String Quartet | Credit: Zach Mendez

Last Wednesday in the inspired chamber of Hahn Hall, the Music Academy’s summer sound feast officially kicked off, with the refined refreshment of Haydn’s “Lobkowitz” string quartet, courtesy of the Takács String Quartet’s elegant account. Haydn’s wit and wisdom provided a very good place to start, not only for a string quartet concert dealing with the essential father of the quartet form, but as a buoyant commencement piece for the vast tapestry of the Music Academy program to come.

In this milestone 75th anniversary year, a name nudge and new branding makeover have been deemed in order. The long-standing moniker Music Academy of the West — although still the institution’s official full name — has lost weight, as well as the old acronym MAW. Welcome to the Music Academy, with a lean, sharp new logo referencing both sun rays and the musical “circle of fifths.” Otherwise, it’s on with a show very much in progress and growing its reputation in the global music scene.

Next up on the busy “MA” calendar: the assuring “greatest hit” grandeur of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in the suitable outdoor grandeur of the Santa Barbara Bowl on Saturday, June 25, the first of several orchestral outings by the Academy Festival Orchestra. On the program, conductor Donato Cabrera also leads Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and the famed Danzon No. 2 of Mexican composer Arturo Márquez (whose Fandango for Violin and Orchestra was performed by Anne Akiko-Meyers and the Santa Barbara Symphony last month).

Not incidentally, this conscientiously planned “community concert” reaches out with the affordable price tag of $10 per ticket, with free admission for 7-17-year-olds who join ticketed adults.

In what has become a tradition of the Takács as season opener, the Music Academy pact runs even deeper now, with the addition of violist Richard O’Neill, an Academy faculty member, former member of the Santa Barbara–based Camerata Pacifica, not to mention a veritable celebrity in his native Korea.

On Wednesday, the Takács also played music of African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Dvořák, but with its gleaming Haydn, the best came first. Game on. See musicacademy.org.


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