Music Academy Announces Guest Artists, Co-Chairs for Opening Night Gala

celebrating Jerome Lowenthal's 50th Anniversary at the Academy


June 14 Gala to celebrate Jerome Lowenthal’s 50th anniversary as an acclaimed piano faculty artist at the Music Academy, with a concert featuring Academy alumni

Gala is Co-Chaired by Michele Brustin, Stephanie Shuman, and Warren Staley, with Honorary Chairs Leatrice Luria and Kandy Luria-Budgor

Honorary Chairs Kandy Luria-Budgor and Leatrice Luria with alumnus pianist/Gala guest artist Evan Shinners (’09) and Co-Chairs Michele Brustin, Stephanie Shuman, and Warren Staley. Credit: Phil Channing


Santa Barbara, CA — The Music Academy of the West will host their Opening Night Gala, aptly themed “Honoring a Legend” on Friday, June 14 celebrating Jerome Lowenthal’s 50th anniversary as an acclaimed faculty artist at the Music Academy and the 72nd anniversary of the 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 5 pm cocktail reception, a 6 pm performance at Hahn Hall, and an al fresco dinner in the Miraflores courtyard that includes a special encore performance.

An archival photo of Honoree Jerome Lowenthal pictured at the Music Academy in the 1970s.

The unforgettable concert program, curated by the honoree, will feature star-studded Academy alumni pianists Micah McLaurin (’14, ’16), Elizabeth Roe (’01), Evan Shinners (’09), and Orion Weiss (’00), guest artist pianist Ursula Oppens, and Jerry Lowenthal himself. Jerry‘s program will reflect on his illustrious career. 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.”

The Gala Co-Chairs are former Board member Michele Brustin, Board member Stephanie Shuman, and Board Chair Warren Staley, with Honorary Chairs Leatrice Luria and Kandy Luria-Budgor. Gala Committee Members comprise Sharon Bradford, Paul Guido, Georgia Lynn, Maurice Singer, Diane Sullivan, Anne Towbes, and Pam Valeski.

Lead supporters for the event are Artist Sponsors Stephanie and Fred Shuman, and Dinner Sponsors Mary Lynn and Warren Staley.

This is such a special opportunity to honor one of the Academy’s and Santa Barbara’s legendary artists. Jerry has given so much to our organization and to this community – and on June 14, 350 of his biggest fans get to say ‘thank you’

— Michele Brustin, Gala Co-Chair

About Jerome Lowenthal

Jerome Lowenthal, born in 1932, has been a prominent presence in the international piano world for more than sixty years.  A student of three legendary musicians – William Kapell, Eduard Steuermann and Alfred Cortot (with coachings from Arthur Rubinstein) – Mr. Lowenthal has performed a voluminous and variegated repertoire that includes more than 63 different concerti, which he has performed with many of the world’s greatest conductors. Mr. Lowenthal’s recordings, for RCA Victor, Columbia, Bridge, and LPClassics, include both canonical repertoire by Beethoven, Chopin, and Tchaikovsky and the music of our time by Rzewski, Rorem, and Rochberg, Chihara and Corigliano, and Messiaen and Michael Brown. Mr. Lowenthal has performed in a large number of chamber music festivals and collaborated in concerts with violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Nathaniel Rosen, and pianists Ronit Amir, Ursula Oppens, Carmel Lowenthal, Vassily Primakov, and Michael Brown. Mr. Lowenthal has served on the juries of the Cliburn, Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, Cleveland, and Leeds piano competitions.  As a teacher at The Juilliard School since 1991, Mr. Lowenthal has been a mentor to many of the most internationally prominent of young pianists of our time. 2019 will mark his 50th summer at the Music Academy of the West.

Gala Partnerships

The Music Academy is grateful for exceptional Gala partners including: Seasons Catering, featuring scrumptious farm-to-table fare; Alexis Ireland Florals; Ambient Event Design, providing stunning lighting of our spectacular grounds; Town & Country Event Rentals; and La Tavola, providing luxurious linens.

For Tickets

Seating will be limited to 350 guests, allowing for an up-close-and-personal experience with the artists. Ticket and tables prices include $500 individual tickets and sponsored tables of ten with concert tickets at $5,000, $10,000, $25,000, $50,000, and $100,000. There is also the opportunity to contribute to a special Jerry Lowenthal Tribute Book. A half page tribute is $250 and a full page tribute is $500.

For table sponsorships and more information, please contact Allie Rigonati by email at  [email protected], by phone at 805-695-7929, or visit to purchase tickets and tables online.

About the Artists

Winner of the 2016 Gilmore Young Artist Award, Micah McLaurin (’14, ’16) is one of the outstanding and unique pianists of his generation. Micah McLaurin has performed as soloist with orchestras worldwide including The Cleveland Orchestra, Orquestra Filarmonica de Montevideo, Orquestra Juvenil de El Salvador, numerous times with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Hilton Head Symphony, South Carolina Philharmonic, Perugia Festival Orchestra, Virginia Symphony, Battle Creek Symphony, and Music Academy of the West’s Academy Festival Orchestra. Highlights include engagements with the North Carolina Symphony, The Paderewski Festival of Raleigh, his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra performing Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety, and a performance of Gershwin’s Concerto in F with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Mr. McLaurin studied privately with Marsha Gerber and Enrique Graf, and then studied for five years at the Curtis Institute of Music with Gary Graffman and Robert McDonald, followed by attending The Juilliard School studying with Jerome Lowenthal and Yoheved Kaplinsky.

Pianist Elizabeth Roe (’01) has been hailed “brilliant” (The New York Times), “an artist to be taken seriously” (The Chicago Tribune), “impressive” (BBC Radio), “incisive, lyrical and tender” (BBC Music Magazine), “sublime” (Classical Ear), “a mature, fascinating interpreter and an artist of intelligence, insight, and a genuine grace” (The Southampton Press), and “electrifying” (The Dallas Morning News), and she was named one of the classical music world’s “Six on the Rise: Young Artists to Watch” by Symphony Magazine. The recipient of the prestigious William Petschek Piano Debut Recital Award, she has appeared as orchestral soloist, recitalist, and collaborative musician at major venues worldwide, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Seoul Arts Center, the National Performing Arts Center (Beijing), the Ravinia Festival (Chicago), Salle Cortot (Paris), Teatro Argentino (Buenos Aires), the Esplanade (Singapore), the Adrienne Arsht Center (Miami), the Banff Centre (Canada), and the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Germany).

Evan Shinners (’09) is known for his unceasing devotion to the music of J.S. Bach, and his eccentric brand of original music. A graduate of The Juilliard School, Mr. Shinners is engaged in reciting the complete keyboard works of Bach over the next two seasons with recitals in Europe, Taiwan, and New York City. In 2020 Mr. Shinners aims to recite the keyboard works in one sitting: a physically and mentally challenging 15-hour effort. In 2012 he was invited to the White House Lawn to mix Bach with Holiday songs for 19,000 people at the National Christmas Tree lighting. In 2014, Tina Howe wrote a one act play for Mr. Shinners. He both acted and played Bach in an Off-Broadway production. His Bach-ian films were featured in an art gallery during Bushwick open studios in 2016 after the creation of his alter-ego, WTF Bach. In the same month he released two albums including an arrangement of the complete cello suites. In 2018 he released recordings of the complete French and English suites, the ‘organ sonatas’ arranged for piano, and the Inventions and Sinfonias under the title The Shape of Bach to Come.

One of the most sought-after soloists in his generation of young American musicians, the pianist Orion Weiss (’00) has performed with the major American orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and New York Philharmonic. His deeply felt and exceptionally crafted performances go far beyond his technical mastery and have won him worldwide acclaim. Named the Classical Recording Foundation’s Young Artist of the Year in September 2010, in the summer of 2011 Weiss made his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood as a last-minute replacement for Leon Fleisher. In recent seasons, he has also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and in duo summer concerts with the New York Philharmonic at both Lincoln Center and the Bravo! Vail Valley Festival. Awards include the Gilmore Young Artist Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Gina Bachauer Scholarship at the Juilliard School and the Mieczyslaw Munz Scholarship. Mr. Weiss attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Paul Schenly, Daniel Shapiro, Sergei Babayan, Kathryn Brown, and Edith Reed. In 2004, he graduated from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Emanuel Ax.

Ursula Oppens, a legend among American pianists, is widely admired particularly for her original and perceptive readings of new music, but also for her knowing interpretations of the standard repertoire. No other artist alive today has commissioned and premiered more new works for the piano. A prolific and critically acclaimed recording artist with five Grammy nominations, Ms. Oppens most recently released a new recording of Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated, nominated for a Grammy in 2016, and Piano Songs, a collaboration with Meredith Monk. Earlier Grammy nominations were for Winging It: Piano Music of John Corigliano; Oppens Plays Carter; a recording of the complete piano works of Elliott Carter for Cedille Records (also was named a “Best of the Year” selection by The New York Times long-time music critic Allan Kozinn); Piano Music of Our Time featuring compositions by John Adams, Elliott Carter, Julius Hemphill, and Conlon Nancarrow for the Music and Arts label, and her cult classic The People United Will Never Be Defeated by Frederic Rzewski on Vanguard.

About the Music Academy

The Music Academy of the West advances the development of 21st century classically trained musicians and cultivates discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences. Founded in 1947, the Academy operates on a 10-acre, ocean-side campus in Santa Barbara, California. Music Academy of the West’s world-renowned eight-week Summer Festival offers more than 200 events. Programs comprise voice, vocal piano, collaborative piano, instrumental, and solo piano. The Academy began a four-year partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra in 2018 focused on education and performance on both continents. For more information, visit


Released: May 15, 2019


Kate Oberjat

Director of Marketing and Communications

Music Academy of the West

[email protected]