Strauss' 'Alpine Symphony' at The Lobero Set for 6/21
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Principal Trombonist Jay Friedman will conduct his unique brass arrangement of Richard Strauss' landmark tone poem An Alpine Symphony to open the Music Academy of the West's first orchestra concert of the 2014 Summer School and Festival in Santa Barbara's newly renovated Lobero Theatre at 8 pm on Saturday, June 21. The program also will include Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony and Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 under the baton of acclaimed conductor Larry Rachleff, who has led the Academy Festival Orchestra in triumphant season-opening performances each of the past six years. Tickets cost $45.
Described by the Chicago Tribune as a "take-charge maestro who invests everything he conducts with deep musical understanding," Mr. Rachleff has served as music director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic for 18 seasons. He also serves as music director of Rice University's Shepherd School Orchestras in Houston, and recently stepped down as music director of the Chicago Philharmonic, a post he held for 23 years. Mr. Rachleff has appeared as a guest conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Houston, Seattle, Indianapolis, Utah, and Kansas City symphony orchestras, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In 1993 he was among four American conductors selected to lead the Cleveland Orchestra at Carnegie Hall under the mentorship of Maestro Pierre Boulez.
A former faculty member at Oberlin Conservatory, where he was music director of orchestras and conductor of the Contemporary Ensemble, Mr. Rachleff also has served as conductor for USC Thornton Opera. In 1988 he led the highly acclaimed American-Soviet Youth Orchestra tour, and he has conducted and presented masterclasses at the Chopin Academy in Warsaw, the Zurich Hochschule, and the Sydney and Queensland (Australia) conservatories. In constant demand as a conductor and masterclass clinician, Mr. Rachleff is frequently invited to lead other conservatory orchestras, including those at Juilliard, England's Royal Northern College, and New England Conservatory. He has collaborated with such leading composers as Samuel Adler, the late Luciano Berio, George Crumb, and John Harbison.
Mr. Rachleff led the Academy Festival Orchestra in well-received concerts to open the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Summer Festivals. Writing in the Santa Barbara Independent, critic Charles Donelan observed that the conductor "moves so well on the podium that he can be easy for the audience to overlook, but that is clearly not the case on the musicians' side of the proscenium, where smiles, warm glances, and the gentle thunder of pounding heels met his every effort."
Mr. Friedman joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1962 and was appointed principal trombonist two years later. He has soloed with the orchestra on numerous occasions, including a concerto by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. An active conductor, Mr. Friedman was named music director of the Symphony of Oak Park & River Forest in 1995. He conducted the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for the first act of Wagner's Die Walküre, in a performance the Chicago Sun-Times later hailed as "the best Civic concert in the past 30 years." In 2002 he was chosen Conductor of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras. Mr. Friedman's conducting career has included guest appearances with orchestras around the world, including Italy's RAI National Symphony Orchestra, the Malmo Symphony Orchestra, and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome.
The Lobero Theatre is located at 33 East Canon Perdido Street in Santa Barbara. The Music Academy's 2014 Orchestra Series is generously supported by Robert W. Weinman.
Beginning June 16, the Music Academy of the West's 67th annual Summer School and Festival will include some 200 events over eight weeks. The coming season will mark the first of a multiyear partnership with the New York Philharmonic that will bring Music Director Alan Gilbert and other Philharmonic musicians to the Music Academy for performances and teaching. Mr. Gilbert's 2014 residency will include conducting members of the Academy Festival Orchestra in the Lobero Theatre on July 26. Additional season highlights will include performances by pianists Jonathan Biss, Jeremy Denk, and Stephen Hough; soprano Deborah Voigt; the contemporary chamber music ensemble eighth blackbird; violinist Daniel Hope; cellist Joshua Roman; and the Takács Quartet, as well as conducting turns by Thomas Adès, James Gaffigan, Edward Gardner, and Joshua Weilerstein. Featuring the Academy's exceptionally talented Fellows, together with illustrious guest performers and faculty, the events will be presented in venues throughout Santa Barbara.