The Summer Program Winds Down

If you’ve been meaning to check out a master class, which includes high-level student performances and individual instruction from professional musicians covering nearly every classical instrument and are scheduled at 1 and 3:15 pm weekdays, now is your last chance. There is also still time to see several small-group performances, as both the student Picnic Concerts and faculty Tuesday@8 performances have dates remaining on the schedule.

And with the season winding down, it’s also time for two of the most popular events featuring the young vocal artists, as both the annual opera production and Cabaret performance are still ahead.

But hurry. It all comes to a close on Sunday, Aug. 12.

This Week’s Schedule

Thursday, Aug. 2: The penultimate Picnic Concert – the finale is on Wednesday August 8 – should find the young instrumental artists in fine form, as six weeks of coaching and rehearsals shape the works they’ve been readying all summer. Make sure to come early and enjoy the al fresco dining opportunities of Miraflores (I recommend the grotto area behind the main building for a change of pace), before the music begins at 7:30 pm.

Friday, Aug. 3: Nearly 500 young singers auditioned for spots in this year’s vocal program at the Music Academy of the West, but only 24 were chosen. Now those up-and-coming artists – including soprano Nadine Sierra, who won this year’s Marilyn Horne Foundation Vocal Competition at the tender age of 18, two years younger than the next oldest singer and a full 13 years removed from two of her eldest colleagues – will get a chance to show why they were selected when MAW presents “La Boheme.”

Soprano Leticia Brewer, who received one of the five “Encouragement Awards,” stars as Mimi while tenor Noah Baetge takes on the role of Rodolfo in Puccini’s most famous opera, and arguably the world’s most popular.

The opera – last performed at MAW 20 years ago, ten years before Horne took over the voice program – will be conducted by Christopher Larkin and stage directed by Casey Stangl, who served in the same capacities for the first time last year. But while 2006’s “Il viaggio a Reims” was largely imported, “La Boheme” is a fresh, new production with an original set. An orchestra featuring 35 of the MAW instrumentalists will accompany the singers for the fully staged show. Performances are 7:30 pm tonight and 2:30 pm Sunday at the Lobero ($68).

Saturday, Aug. 4: Santa Barbara’s favorite violinist, Gilles Apap, returns to the Music Academy for a third season (with a year’s hiatus in 2006 due to his hectic touring schedule) leading the Academy Chamber Orchestra. Alexander Mickelthwate is special guest conductor for two concerti featuring the violinist, while Apap will both play and conduct Mozart’s Divertimento. Come early as seating is unreserved at the First Presbyterian Church, located at State & Constance Streets (8 pm; $40). [See “Classical Corner” for an interview with Apap.]

Monday, Aug. 6: The Canadian Brass, hailed for preserving and expanding the classical brass repertoire, returns to the Music Academy for a seventh consecutive year, albeit with a vastly scaled-down schedule. The quintet will perform tonight on campus at Abravanel Hall (7:30 pm; $37) – as opposed to church concerts in previous years – and conduct the brass ensemble master class tomorrow afternoon in the same location (1 pm, free). Also, clarinetist David Shifrin begins his short MAW residency with a special one-shot clarinet master class this afternoon (Lehmann, 1 pm, $12) prior to joining regular faculty members tomorrow night at the Lobero.

Tuesday, Aug. 7: Shifrin, who attended MAW in 1968 and received its Distinguished Alumni Award 30 years later, is featured in an unusual wind-oriented Tuesday@8 performance boasting a full dozen faculty members playing Pinchielli’s Il Convegno, Divertimento for Two Clarinets and Piano (with Fred Ormand and Margaret McDonald); Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata No. 2 in E-Flat (with Jonathan Feldman, piano); Strauss/Hasenohrl’s Till Eulenspiegel einmal anders! (with violinist Jeff Thayer, bassoonist Dennis Michel, horn player Eli Epstein, and double bassist Nico Abondolo); and Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581 (with violinists Peter Salaff and Kathleen Winkler, violist Donald McInnes and cellist David Gerber). [8 pm, Lobero, $38.] Meanwhile, fresh from the opera, Marilyn Horne and the young academy singers offer the final vocal chamber music master class of the season, this afternoon at 3:15 pm [Abravanel; $16.]