Honoring a Legend

By Lynda Millner   |   July 4, 2019
MAW honoree Jerome Lowenthal
Opera singer Marilyn Horne enjoying the MAW soirée

Jerome Lowenthal is one of the most electric pianistic personalities before the public,” so says one of his reviewers. Santa Barbara’s The Music Academy of the West (MAW) claims him for their own because he has been a part of their eight-week summer program for an amazing 50 years mentoring students. Yet he has appeared all over the world. He began at age 13 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and has been with virtually every major American orchestra. For the coming year, he’ll tour in Yugoslavia, Sweden, New Zealand and Latin America besides Cleveland, Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. I should add that he is 87 years classic and is chair of the piano department at Juilliard School in New York.

You can always depend on MAW to put on a memorable and elegant event and this evening was no exception. The three co-chairs: Michele Brustin, board president Warren Staley, and Stephanie Shuman should be proud of the atmosphere they created. You would never know you were standing in a driveway parking lot for the cocktail reception with a white Steinway player piano to delight the guests. Behind the blue satin curtain was an exquisite dining “room” complete with crystal chandeliers hanging from the trees and towering floral centerpieces. In between we were in Hahn Hall for an unforgettable concert curated by Jerry and featuring some former Academy alumni.

MAW co-chairs Michele Brustin, Warren Staley, and Stephanie Shuman
Hilary Hauser from Heal the Ocean, MAW president and CEO Scott Reed, and Palmer Jackson Sr. at the gala
Nan Holt with Ray and Mary Freeman at the MAW fête

Also entertaining us was Ursula Oppens, who is a legend herself. No other artist alive today has commissioned and premiered more new works for the piano. There was the winner of the 2016 Gilmore Young Artist Award Micah McLaurin. Among Elizabeth Roe’s many credits was being named the classical music world’s “Six on the Rise: Young Artists to Watch” by Symphony Magazine. Evan Shinners has been to the White House to mix Bach and holiday songs for 19,000 people at the National Christmas Tree lighting. Orion Weiss was named the Classical Recording Foundation’s Young Artist of the Year in 2010 and since has performed from Los Angeles to Toronto and many places in between. Orion says of Lowenthal, “If the music world were an ocean, he’d be some kind of multicolored far-traveling fish that there’s only one of, that all the other fish talk about joyfully.”

No wonder there was a standing ovation after the performance and an encore bow. But as Jerome said, “It’s time to satisfy another hunger besides music” and so dinner was served.

Proceeds benefit the Academy’s full scholarship program, community access initiatives and community and alumni programs. There are 200 different events during the eight weeks that the students are here, some events with community access $10 tickets. Over 1,000 students compete for the 140 vacancies. Call the ticket office at 805.969.8787 to reserve yours.


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