Recently, I was a piano fellow of the 2014 Music Academy of the West. This 8 week long festival consisted of more masterclasses and performances than I could have imagined and, more importantly, each of which was well-attended by an astoundingly involved community. Having at least 2 solo or chamber performances and masterclasses each week while orchestral musicians had rehearsals each morning and a symphony concert each weekend, this made out to be quite a busy summer for the fellows.
The community of Montecito and other patrons who live in the Santa Barbara county give a life to music-making at the Academy that is truly unique from anything I have experienced before. Throughout every day of the festival's two months, the fellows were consistently greeted by audience members and curious fanatics of music. Masterclasses, which I have traditionally found to be scarcely attended events in the past, always held an enthusiastic crowd of people eager to listen and to find out the way musicians worked on their music.
I've found that this community surrounding the Academy, if nothing else, is what truly separates the experience I had at Santa Barbara from others. Owing also to the small amount of fellows whom are chosen to attend the festival, I've also made friendships which I hope to make last beyond this summer. And, as I've also found out during my first year at Juilliard, one learns sometimes even more from one's peers than from the teacher.
At some point, I hope to return to Santa Barbara, perhaps also to visit my two compeer couples, Ernie and Judy Getto and Patty and Daniel Weber, both of whom were essential in bringing me up close to life in Montecito and making me feel right at home. As of right now, it is time to get ready for my second year in college.