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LSO musicians and Music Academy Fellows playing together in a workshop at LSO St Luke's

Music Academy, Santa Barbara

The LSO’s transatlantic partnership with Music Academy in Santa Barbara was launched in 2018, encompassing residencies at the Academy’s annual Summer School and Festival in California, and training and performances at the Barbican and LSO St Luke’s in London.

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About the Partnership

Each year the LSO’s principal players have a residency at the Academy during the eight-week Festival, to teach and mentor Academy fellows – and every other year the full London Symphony Orchestra is in residence, performing in concert and side-by-side with the Academy Festival Orchestra.

Each year a cohort of Fellows is selected via audition to travel to London the following winter for intensive training with the LSO. They will experience a week in the life of an LSO musician, taking part in rehearsals, performances, and mock auditions; receiving lessons; and performing chamber music with players, giving them invaluable insight into the life of an LSO member.

‘I had the opportunity to work with LSO Principal Clarinet Andrew Marriner, as he taught lessons, gave a masterclass, and sat in on a few of our orchestra rehearsals. Not only is he an amazing musician, but he is also a fantastic teacher.’ – Taylor Isberg, Keston MAX Fellow, clarinet

The Academy Fellows are the gifted young instrumentalists (aged 18–34) from America and around the world accepted annually into the Academy’s summer school, all on full scholarships, enabling talented musicians from a variety of backgrounds to participate.

The Story So Far


In the summer of 2018, five LSO Principals, David Alberman (Second Violin), David Elton (Trumpet), Rebecca Gilliver (Cello), Andrew Marriner (Clarinet) and Neil Percy (Percussion) spent ten days at the Academy teaching and performing, and selecting the twelve Fellows who would travel to London in January to work alongside the LSO for ten days. Also selected to join the Fellows were the winners of the Solo Piano Competition and the Marilyn Horne Song Competition, who gave recitals at LSO St Luke’s.


On Sunday 6 January 2019 the Fellows and Competition Winners arrived in London for their ten-day residency. The Fellows joined the Orchestra for the rehearsals for our concerts with Sir Simon Rattle on 9, 10 & 13 January (and performed in the concerts), received instrumental lessons, undertook mock auditions, performed chamber music as part of the LSO Discovery Day, explored the work of LSO Discovery, and attended a recording studio session workshop jointly with GSMD students.

The winners of the Solo Piano Competition, Sophiko Simsive, and the Marilyn Horne Song Competition, Kelsey Lauritano and Andrew Sun, performed solo recitals at LSO St Luke’s on Friday 11 January.

In July 2019, the full LSO embarked on a trip to Santa Barbara, performing at the Granada Theatre with Daniel Harding and violinist James Ehnes, as well performing an immersive Family Concert, Voyager, with conductor Elim Chan. The coaching of the fellows continued alongside these performances, with individual and sectional sessions, as well as side-by-side orchestral rehearsals leading to a sold-out performance of the combined LSO and Academy Festival Orchestra at the spectacular Santa Barbara Bowl. An orchestra of 140 musicians conducted by Daniel Harding gave a rousing performance of Star Wars as an encore – a night to remember! LSO members also auditioned the fellows and selected 12 Keston MAX fellows to come in London in April 2020, though this exchange was unfortunately unavoidably postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 & 2021

Despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Music Academy and the LSO were able to maintain a close relationship through online collaborations, remote coaching sessions and digital concert broadcasts in 2020 and 2021, as part of the Music Academy’s Remote Learning Institute.


A visit to California in March 2022, the LSO’s first long-haul tour in over two years, included at its heart a residency at the Music Academy, with performances again including an LSO Discovery Family Concert, How to Build an Orchestra, and a joint concert with the 30 Music Academy fellows, the LSO and Sir Simon Rattle.

In June 2022, six Fellows travelled to London for coaching and workshops with LSO musicians. They gave a recital as part of LSO Discovery’s regular Free Friday Lunchtime Concert series, and performed alongside LSO and Guildhall School musicians in a spectacular Gala concert at St Paul’s Cathedral.

In July, five musicians – Angela Barnes (horn), Daniel Jemison (bassoon), Rebecca Gilliver (cello), Neil Percy (percussion) and Sarah Quinn – spent ten days at the Academy’s Summer Festival, coaching and mentoring the 2022 Fellows.

In November, over 30 Fellows joined the LSO for an intensive two week residency in London, with rehearsals, masterclasses and performances alongside LSO Members at the Barbican and LSO St Luke’s.

Music Academy Fellows with Sir Simon Rattle outside St Paul's Cathedral

The lead sponsors of the Music Academy/London Symphony Orchestra partnership are Linda and Michael Keston and Mary Lynn and Warren Staley. Additional support has been provided in remembrance of Léni Fé Bland.

Header Image © Mark Allan