Each offers a wealth of opportunities for individual instruction, collaborative music-making, public performance, and personal growth.
Learn more about the details and highlights of each program below.
One of the first intensive and comprehensive acting training programs of its kind.
Singers will be immersed in the process of "conscious acting" through group-oriented classes, ongoing mentorship, and on-stage experience in opera, concert, and recital performances. Studio director James Darrah and guest instructors will coach singers in the dramatic preparation and presentation of audition repertoire and stagecraft while honing their artistry.
Intensive coaching in singing technique, diction, interpretation, style, and presentation, along with an exploration of literature from opera, musical theatre, and song. Plus:
Voice Program applicants must first submit a Pre-Screening Round recording as part of the online application. Applicants will be notified by the first week of November if they have been advanced to the Live Audition Round.
NEW! International Voice Program Applicants: those residing overseas (outside North America) at the time of the auditions may submit a video upload audition in lieu of a live audition, if advanced to the Live Audition Round.
Singers must demonstrate in their audition a thorough understanding of the character, dramatic situation, and meaning of each aria or song text.
The Music Academy provides the piano partner for the Live Round audition.
Singers not cast in the opera will enjoy other significant performance opportunities.
The prestigious Marilyn Horne Song Competition awards two first prizes – one to a singer and one to a vocal pianist – for excellence in song repertoire performance and audience communication. 2017 jurors included Marilyn Horne, Renée Fleming and Jake Heggie.
Each singer performs three songs of varying styles.
One song must have text in English.
Fellows will present a large-scale performance installation throughout the Music Academy campus. Vocal fellows will collaborate with instrumentalists, directors, and designers to present arias, visual art, and projections in unexpected locations, culminating in a new production of Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, conducted by Edwin Outwater.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the opera will be directed by James Darrah, and conducted by LA Opera Music Director James Conlon. The fully-staged and costumed production will be performed in the historic Granada Theatre. The Voice Program fellows will be accompanied by the Academy Festival Orchestra.
Read reviews from our 2017 production of Donizetti's Elixir of Love
Collaboration and coaching of vocal repertoire for advanced pianists, stressing proficiency in both operatic and song repertoire. Plus:
Vocal Piano Program applicants must apply online and perform a live audition. Auditions are 15-20 minutes each.
Applicants must use a Music Academy vocal partner. Partners are not available for rehearsal time prior to the auditions.
Enrolled Vocal Piano fellows arrive several days prior to the start of the festival in order to participate in pre-season training.
Play the following TWO selections:
Play the following selection:
Play and Sing ONE of the following selections of your choice:
SIGHT-READING WILL ALSO BE REQUIRED
The prestigious Marilyn Horne Song Competition awards two first prizes – one to a singer and one to a vocal pianist – for excellence in song repertoire performance and audience communication. 2017 Jurors included Marilyn Horne, Renée Fleming and Jake Heggie.
Each singer performs three songs of varying styles.
One song must have text in English.
In-depth exploration of the vast instrumental repertoire, focusing on general concepts of successful partnering, technical and pianistic concerns, building repertoire, and keys to professional development including: resumes, repertoire lists, and stage decorum. Covers a wide range of literature, including sonatas and duos, orchestral reductions, and character pieces. Plus:
Applicants must use Music Academy instrumental partners. There will be no exceptions made for substitution of partners. Partners are not available for rehearsal time prior to the auditions. Auditions are 15-20 minutes each.
Coaching with a primary emphasis on interpretive and stylistic mastery of the extensive literature for solo piano as well as concerto repertoire and chamber music with piano. Plus:
Video Upload Pre-Screening Round Audition followed by an Invitation-Only Live Audition Round
Video Upload Pre-Screening Round (all Solo Piano applicants)
Video Upload Auditions must include FOUR solo piano works of contrasting style (i.e. no concertos).
Invitation-Only Live Audition Round (20 finalists selected)
Live Audition Round must include THREE solo piano works of contrasting style. Selections from these works will be chosen at the faculty’s discretion during the audition.
Solo Piano competition sends a winning fellow to perform on national tour in partnership with Steinway & Sons, a first-ever collaboration as part of the Academy’s All-Steinway distinction
A new Solo Piano Competition was launched during the 2017 Summer Festival. The winner, selected by a panel of professionals, was presented with a cash prize and will tour, performing recitals in Steinway & Sons venues nationally.
The 2017 panel included guest composer Timo Andres. The 2017 winner, Zhu Wang, will perform a world premiere by Andres on the tour, commissioned by the Music Academy.
2018 Audition requirements
Live Audition OR Video Upload Audition *equal consideration granted to both audition methods
See 2018 repertoire requirements for your studio below.
Upon arrival at the Music Academy, woodwind and brass fellows interested in participating in a chamber ensemble will meet with faculty members to select repertoire and divide into chamber groupings
All string fellows will participate in a chamber music group while at the Music Academy. Chamber Music for strings is split into three courses of study, which applicants will order by their preference during the application process. Based on applicants’ audition and expressed interest, fellows will be placed into either the String Quartet Seminar, the Faculty Intensive Chamber Music Experience, or the Fellow Chamber Music Program:
Led by the Takács Quartet, the String Quartet Seminar offers sixteen string fellows comprising four string quartets a special two-week rigorous training course beginning the week prior to the Festival. Fellows in the SQS program will receive daily coachings by members of the Takács Quartet, participate in a string quartet masterclass, and watch the Takács Quartet work during an open rehearsal – all with a focus on helping fellows hone techniques vital in quartet and chamber music collaboration. The program continues with performances in Hahn Hall featuring all four quartets and additional coachings from faculty and guest artists throughout the summer. String fellows participating in this program also receive another two weeks of intensive training with the Takács Quartet when they return to the Music Academy later in the Summer Festival.
This intensive experience puts a faculty member in a chamber group with fellows. Each faculty member participating in the program will coach, rehearse with, and perform as a member of the group. Groups will rehearse frequently, culminating in a performance of a full work of standard repertoire at the end of the two week period.
Based on the repertoire information submitted by applicants during the admissions process, fellows participating in the Fellow Chamber Music Program will be assigned groups and repertoire based on prior chamber music experience and interest in repertoire. Each group will receive weekly coaching from a faculty member for three to four weeks before performing all or a portion of a work in a public concert and/or a public masterclass.
All instrumental fellows participate in this orchestra, which is led by distinguished guest conductors chosen for both artistic skill and dedication to making great music with pre-professional musicians. Each program is preceded by sectionals and five rehearsals.
International guest conductors lead rehearsals and sectionals culminating in Academy Festival Orchestra concerts at the historic Granada Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara. Academy faculty artists observe and participate as rehearsal coaches, and occasionally perform in the concerts.
Previous guest conductors include: Thomas Adès, Christoph von Dohnányi, Alan Gilbert, Peter Oundjian, Leonard Slatkin, and Osmo Vänskä. Larry Rachleff and Stéphane Denève, among others to be announced, will join the Academy in 2018.
2017 marked the fourth year of a partnership with the New York Philharmonic. Masterclasses, seminars, and private lessons took place at the Music Academy during a residency of the orchestra's leading musicians.
In addition, those musicians oversaw an audition through which ten Academy fellows were chosen to participate in an orchestral exchange program: an intensive, immersive residency to be held in January 2018 in New York City. Activities will include private lessons, chamber music, a mock audition, seminars with artists and administrators, and appearances with the orchestra in a subscription week of rehearsals and concerts. The exchange program provides travel and housing for participating fellows, who are also paid a stipend.