The gala concert, featuring an impressive roster of alumni, faculty, and fellows offers an uplifting program highlighted by Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

Local Philathropists Regina Roney and Judy Getto will Co-Chair the event   

  Alumnus pianist  Micah McLaurin  (’14, ’16) will perform  Rhapsody in Blue.  The iconic piece will be performed in a new critical edition using the original instrumentation and newly-restored music.

Alumnus pianist Micah McLaurin (’14, ’16) will perform Rhapsody in Blue. The iconic piece will be performed in a new critical edition using the original instrumentation and newly-restored music.

Santa Barbara, CA — The Music Academy of the West will host their 71st Anniversary Festival Gala, dedicated to the community of Santa Barbara, and themed Feast for the Senses on Saturday, August 4 in celebration of the 2018 Summer School and Festival. All proceeds will benefit the Academy’s full-scholarship program that brings 140 fellows from across the country and around the world to study and perform with world-class faculty and guest artists in Santa Barbara during the eight-weeks. Guests will enjoy a spectacular evening from start to finish, including a cocktail reception, a stellar performance, and an al fresco dinner In front of Hahn Hall.

The Music Academy’s annual benefit concert offers a celebration of distinguished alumni artists. Anchored by 2018 fellows and faculty members comprising the Academy Chamber Orchestra under conductor Nicholas McGegan, whom the New York Times calls “a constant source of life and sensuous color,” this year’s edition features alumni soprano Brenda Rae (’08), praised for her “dazzling, pinpoint coloratura” (Opera News); bass-baritone Brandon Cedel (’10, ’11), called “destined for stardom” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker); violinist and New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Frank Huang (’98); 2016 Gilmore Young Artist Award winner, pianist Micah McLaurin (’14, ’16); and faculty member and Principal Violist of the New York Philharmonic Cynthia Phelps (’79, ’83). The incredible array of artists will perform a festive program of repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary. The concert will be held in the Music Academy’s intimate Hahn Hall, which the Santa Barbara Independent dubs an “ultra-luxurious jewel-box venue.”

Nicholas McGegan stated, “This Gala showcases many aspects of the wonderful programs at the Music Academy of the West. Firstly, there is the chamber orchestra which plays both a leading and an accompanying role in music from the 18th to the 20th centuries. These are the instrumental stars of the future. The Music Academy of the West has so many distinguished alumni that it would take a whole summer of Gala concerts to fit them all in. So this evening will feature just a few but from different courses offered by the Academy. We have two exceptional string players who are now members of the New York Philharmonic, a star pianist, and some wonderful singers who have been part of one of the finest opera programs in the world.

I am of course thrilled to have been asked to conduct the Academy Chamber Orchestra for this spectacular event and to take part in celebrating and paying tribute to this wonderful institution to which all we musicians owe so much.”

The 2018 Gala will be Co-Chaired by former Board member Regina Roney and Board Member Judy Getto.

Judy Getto joined the Music Academy Board of Directors in January 2010. Born in upstate New York, Ms. Getto earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Cornell University before a completing a master's degree and doctoral work in educational psychology at UCLA. As an educator, she has taught, developed curriculum, and supervised teachers in Nashville, New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, including serving as the Bay Area coordinator for Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth.  Ms. Getto also has served on boards and chaired fundraising efforts for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco, and various schools and community youth programs in Harlem.

Regina Roney served on the Music Academy Board of Directors from 2011 through 2016, and is currently a member of both the Music Academy’s Buildings, Instruments, and Grounds and Board Travel Program committees. Born in New York City, Ms. Roney studied business at Berkeley College in New Jersey and interior design at Cañada College in the Bay Area before heading up her own firm in the region for 10 years. She also directed San Mateo County’s conflict resolution program for five years. Ms. Roney spent a decade as a full-time volunteer for the Beyond War Foundation and actively supports the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, serving on the steering committee of the latter organization.

Committee members include Sharon Bradford, Michele Brustin, Georgia Lynn, Stephanie Shuman, Patricia Toppel, Pam Valeski and Cheryl Ziegler.

For Tickets

Gala tables and tickets are now available for purchase, and an early sell-out is expected. Tables are set at $10,000, $25,000, and $50,000 and individual tickets are $1,000 each. For table sponsorships and more information, please contact Allie Rigonati by email at, by phone at 805-695-7929, or visit


ROSSINI Overture to L'italiana in Algeri ("Italian Girl In Algiers")

HANDEL "Vo' far Guerra" from Rinaldo
                Brenda Rae soprano

HANDEL "Sibillar gli angui d'Aletto" from Rinaldo
                Brandon Cedel bass baritone

MOZART Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major, K. 320d
                Frank Huang violin, Cynthia Phelps viola

BRITTEN Courtly Dances from Gloriana

BERNSTEIN "Glitter and be Gay" from Candide
                Brenda Rae soprano

GERSHWIN Rhapsody in Blue
               Micah McLaurin piano

About the Artists

Bass-baritone and Music Academy alumnus Brandon Cedel, a recent graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, is currently an Ensemble member of Oper Frankfurt. Alex Ross of The New Yorker wrote, “Capable of singing anything from Cavalli to Wagner, he may be destined for stardom.” His roles with the company in the 2017-18 season include multiple new productions, including Argante in Rinaldo, A Prisoner in From the House of the Dead, Dio in Il Serpente di Bronzo, and the bass-baritone part in a new commission titled A Wintery Spring, composed by Saed Haddad. He will also sing Donner in Das Rheingold and Lieutenant Ratcliffe in Billy Budd. In addition, he will appear in January with the BBC Philharmonic at a concert featuring Bernstein’s Songfest, conducted by David Charles Abell.

Music Academy alumnus Frank Huang joined the New York Philharmonic as Concertmaster in 2015, and made his solo debut with the Orchestra as leader and soloist in Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in 2016. He previously served as concertmaster of the Houston Symphony, was first violinist of the Ying Quartet, and won the 2003 Walter W. Naumburg Foundation’s Violin Competition and the 2000 Hannover International Violin Competition. Solo engagements have included The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, and NDR Radio Philharmonic orchestras. Recent highlights include debuts at Wigmore Hall, Salle Cortot, and Kennedy Center, and the World Premiere of Donald Martino’s Sonata for Solo Violin at Alice Tully Hall. He is a member of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet; has performed at the Marlboro, Ravinia, Seattle Chamber, and Caramoor music festivals; and has toured with Musicians from Marlboro.

Recognized for his probing and revelatory explorations of music of all periods, Nicholas McGegan is in his 32nd year as music director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale in San Francisco. He is also principal guest conductor of the Pasadena Symphony. Best known as a baroque and classical specialist, McGegan has appeared with many of the world’s major orchestras. He was artistic director and conductor at the Göttingen Handel Festival for 20 years (1991-2001) and principal guest conductor at Scottish Opera in the 1990s. McGegan’s prolific discography includes more than 100 releases spanning five decades.  In 2010, he was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to music overseas.”

 Music Academy alumnus Micah McLaurin, winner of the 2016 Gilmore Young Artist Award, is one of the outstanding and unique pianists of his generation. Appearances as soloist with orchestras worldwide include The Cleveland Orchestra, Orquestra Filarmonica de Montevideo, Orquestra Juvenil de El Salvador, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Hilton Head Symphony, South Carolina Philharmonic, Perugia Festival Orchestra, Virginia Symphony, and Battle Creek Symphony, and is a laureate of international competitions such as the Ettlingen International Competition for Young Pianists, the Music Academy of the West Concerto Competition, and the Thomas and Evon Cooper International Piano Competition. Currently Mr. McLaurin studies at the Curtis Institute of Music.

Violist Cynthia Phelps‘ versatile career includes appearances as chamber musician, soloist, and Principal Violist of the New York Philharmonic, with which she has appeared as soloist on major stages across the globe in a wide range of repertoire. Other solo engagements include the Minnesota Orchestra, Shanghai, Vermont and San Diego Symphonies, Orquesta Sinfonica de Bilbao, and Rochester and Hong Kong Philharmonics. She has collaborated with artists including Itzhak Perlman, Emmanual Ax, Pinchas Zukerman, Gil Shaham, Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, and Yefim Bronfman, among many others, and she has given recitals internationally in the major music capitals. Her most recent recording, Air, for flute, harp and viola, was nominated for a Grammy Award. 

American soprano and Music Academy alumnus Brenda Rae is a highly sought after artist who regularly performs in many of the world’s leading opera houses, concert halls, and recital venues, and has been praised for her “tireless, golden soprano” (The Times), “dazzling, pinpoint coloratura” (Opera News), and “breathtaking mastery” (Frankfurter Rundschau).
This season the Grammy-nominated artist appeared with the Bavarian State Opera as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, the title role in Strauss’s Die Schweigsame Frau, and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos. At Oper Frankfurt, she returned to the roles of Gilda in Rigoletto and Amina in La Sonnambula. And this summer Ms. Rae makes her role debut as Cunegonde in Bernstein’s Candide at The Santa Fe Opera. Future projects include debuts with the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Oper Zurich, and Teatro Real Madrid.


About the Music Academy of the West

The Music Academy of the West is among the nation’s preeminent summer schools and festivals for gifted, young, classically trained musicians. At its ocean-side campus in Santa Barbara, the Academy provides these musicians with the opportunity for advanced study and performance under the guidance of internationally renowned faculty artists, guest conductors, and soloists. Admission to the Academy is strictly merit based, and fellows receive full scholarships (tuition, room, and board). The Academy’s distinguished teaching artists’ roster has included famed soprano Lotte Lehmann, composers Darius Milhaud and Arnold Schoenberg, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, pianist Jeremy Denk, and Honorary Voice Program Director Marilyn Horne. Academy alumni are members of major symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, ensembles, opera companies, and university and conservatory faculties throughout the world. Many enjoy careers as prominent solo artists. In 2014 the Music Academy entered into a four-year partnership with the New York Philharmonic, resulting in unprecedented training and performance opportunities for Academy fellows, and Summer Festival residencies for Philharmonic musicians.

The Academy has now launched a new partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra, highlighted by the following:

  • Musicians from the LSO will participate in each Summer Festival.
  • The London Symphony Orchestra will perform in Santa Barbara in 2019 and 2021.
  • Academy fellows will travel to London to perform in concerts with the LSO.
  • Academy competition winners will perform recitals in London.
  • Michael Tilson Thomas will serve as the Signature Festival Conductor of the partnership.
  • Sir Simon Rattle will oversee the fellows’ experience in London.

The Music Academy of the West cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences, presenting more than 200 public events annually. These include performances by faculty, guest artists, and fellows; masterclasses; orchestra and chamber music concerts; and a fully staged opera. The 2018 Summer School and Festival takes place June 18-August 11 at the Academy’s Miraflores campus and in venues throughout Santa Barbara. For more information, visit


Released: Jul 12, 2018



Kate Oberjat

Director of Marketing & Communications

Music Academy of the West



Print Friendly and PDF