How Beethoven for all and A-list alliances keep the Music Academy of the West thriving after 70 years

Santa Barbara suits Scott Reed. A fit, life-long swimmer, his perfectly tailored crisp white shirt and clean-cut red hair pop against the seaside city’s bright blue sky.

To look at him, you’d never know he got the job that led to him becoming president and chief executive of the Music Academy of the West, the venerable Santa Barbara classical music institution, by knocking on the front door of the place.

It was the late 1990s and he was a senior music student at UC Santa Barbara, where he’d come to the conclusion that although he loved music and wanted it to be an integral part of his life, he was more interested in a career in business than performance.

He had heard of the Music Academy — one of the country’s most respected classical music summer programs and festivals for gifted musicians — and thought maybe he could learn about the business side of running a music organization by working there. So he drove to the school and headed for the front entrance.

It was a cold call that paid off. In 2010, he was asked to lead the Music Academy.

Today, with this summer’s master classes in full swing and preparations underway for a slate of concerts, Reed led a tour of the academy’s picturesque campus as it prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

Each summer, more than 100 aspiring professional musicians in their late teens and early 20s, many of them current students or recent graduates of the world’s most elite music schools, attend the academy as fully funded fellows for an eight-week intensive training program. They spend busy days practicing, studying with esteemed faculty and performing in operas, string quartets and master classes.

Among this year’s master classes is a…

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