Celebrating 50 Years at MAW

By Richard Mineards   |   June 20, 2019
Orion Weiss with honoree Jerome Lowenthal, Ursula Oppens, Elizabeth Roe, Micah McLaurin, and Evan Shinners (photo by Priscilla)

Piano legend Jerome Lowenthal was honored for his half century of teaching at the Music Academy of the West and the launch of the institution’s 72nd annual summer school and festival at a record-breaking gala, which netted $475,000 towards scholarships and other funding.

New York-based Lowenthal, 87, who is also chair of the prestigious Juilliard School piano department in Manhattan, was presented with a bronze bust by academy president Scott Reed, which will be placed with a pantheon of academy music legends, including Metropolitan Opera soprano Marilyn Horne, who teaches on the expansive Miraflores campus.

A piano studio in the complex is also being named in honor of the self-effacing classical pianist, who made his debut aged just 13 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, going on to play with many of the world’s greatest conductors, including Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Daniel Barenboim.

Fred Shuman, Stephanie Shuman, Scott Reed, Terry Valeski, Marilyn Horne, and Pam Valeski at the Music Academy of the West (photo by Priscilla)
Sharon Bradford, David Bradford, Cheryl Ziegler, Aris and Illene Demetrios, Ruth and Stuart Birdt, and Ted Cronin (photo by Priscilla)

A concert celebrating his work was held in the packed Hahn Hall with Lowenthal, a frequent judge in international piano competitions, playing with a heavenly host of the other accomplished keyboardists including Grammy-nominated Ursula Oppens; Gilmore Young Artist Award winner Micah McLaurin; Elizabeth Roe, who has performed worldwide; Evan Shinners, who has played at the White House; and Orion Weiss, with works by Liszt, Carter, Gershwin, Barber, Dohnanyi, Rachmaninoff, and Lutoslawski.

During the three-course dinner for the record 325 guests at the gala, co-chaired by Michele Brustin, Stephanie Shuman, and board chair Warren Staley, Lowenthal appropriately played Claude Debussy’s 1905 work “Clair de Lune” on a white Steinway grand piano.

Among the hoard of music lovers, who also gathered for cocktails outside Hahn Hall where an electronic Steinway Lang Lang grand piano, one of only 96 made, played were Jamie and Marcia Constance, Robert and Margo Feinberg, Palmer and Susan Jackson, Robert and Valerie Montgomery, Dana and Andrea Newquist, Jock and Ellen Pillsbury, Leslie Ridley-Tree, Anne Towbes, Mary Dorra, Maurice Singer, Kevin Marvin, Janet Garufis, Luke Swetland, Terry and Pam Valeski, Marilyn Horne, Leatrice Luria, George and Laurie Leis, Robert Weinman, Hiroko Benko, Hillary Hauser, Eve Bernstein, David and Sharon Bradford, George Burtness, and Virginia Castagnola-Hunter.

Leatrice Luria and Kandy Budgor-Luria at the “Honoring a Legend” event (photo by Priscilla)
Arthur Gaudi, Virginia Castagnola-Hunter, honoree Jerome Lowenthal and his daughter Leora Lowenthal, Orion Weiss, Keegan Singh, Evan Shinners, Ursula Oppens, Micah McLaurin, and Leora Zeitlan (photo by Priscilla)
Joan and Palmer Jackson, Jim Westby, Lee Luria, Jan Westby, Warren Staley, Maryan Schall, and MAW President Scott Reed (photo by Priscilla)

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