2017 MERIT YOUTH OUTREACH PROGRAM

Program Dates: July 17-28, 2017

The Music Academy of the West is home to a unique full-scholarship outreach program that sharpens young minds through an intensive regimen of music performance and instruction. Inaugurated in 1998, the MERIT (Music Education Reinforces Intellect and Talent) Program provides musicians ages 11 to 17 with intensive mentoring from Music Academy fellows including: private instruction, chamber music coaching, masterclass participation, and social activities. Participants also have the opportunity to observe some masterclasses and rehearsals led by Music Academy faculty. The MERIT program is open to players of all orchestral instruments as well as pianists. MERIT fellows perform in concert at Hahn Hall on Friday, July 28 at noon. This performance is free and open to the public.

Please Note: The MERIT program is a weekday program lasting from 9:30 am to 3 pm. Lunch is provided as part of the program and parents take turns bringing snacks for all participants. No overnight accommodations are provided.

How to Apply

Please complete the MERIT Application Form and two MERIT Reference Forms by Monday, March 6. Email all completed forms to Kelly MacLennan, Merit Program Coordinator at meritprogram@musicacademy.org

Acceptance to the MERIT Program requires a successful Live Audition on Saturday, March 11 at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. Applicants may also submit an Audition Video by sending Youtube video links with their application and reference forms. Application deadline for video auditions is also Monday, March 6.

Audition Requirements

  • Two pieces or movements of contrasting styles.
  • Applicants should have the full movement or work prepared.
  • Piano accompaniment is not required and must be provided by the applicant if desired.

For video submissions: Please submit two links, one for each piece. The full piece or movement should be recorded, without any breaks or stops in the recording.

Nico Abondolo, MERIT Program Faculty Advisor

Mr. Abondolo, also the Music Academy’s Double Bass Faculty Artist, works closely with the Academy’s administration on the development and implementation of the MERIT program. Mr. Abondolo is an internationally recognized double bass soloist and chamber musician, and was appointed principal double bass of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra during the 2011-12 season. He made his debut at age 14 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and in 1983 became the first double bassist to win first place in the International Competition for Musical Performers in Geneva, Switzerland. He has since appeared with orchestras and in recital throughout the United States and Europe. He has been principal double bassist for many film composers including John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, and Alan Silvestri. He has been on the faculties of UCSB and USC, and currently teaches at Azusa Pacific University. He joined the Music Academy faculty in 1990, after attending as a fellow in 1987 and 1988.


A full-scholarship program, MERIT is supported by Patricia and Larry Durham, Connie Frank and Evan Thompson, The Cheeryble Foundation, The Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, The Henry E. and Lola Monroe Foundation, the Elizabeth Firth Wade Foundation, and Goldman Sachs.

For more information: Kelly MacLennan MERIT Program Coordinatormeritprogram@musicacademy.org