Recently, Westmont announced a new partnership with the Santa Barbara Symphony to work with its music education program. This alliance will provide an opportunity for Westmont orchestra students to shine brightly in their field, and a serves as a way for the Westmont community to learn about and experience elegant music.
The goal of this intentional partnership is to utilize Westmont’s resources as an institution of higher education, including its faculty and students, to help the Santa Barbara Symphony better engage with local schools and communities. Westmont is a strategic bridge between budding musicians and professionals. Westmont faculty helped facilitate and will continue to work with this alliance. Dr. Michael Shasberger especially played a major role in setting up this program. He is the Adams Professor of Music and Worship and conductor of the orchestra and choir here at Westmont.
The benefits for students at Westmont are a unique aspect of this partnership. Dr. Shasberger outlined some of the advantages aimed at students: “The same sorts of things that our student musicians will be doing for their younger musical relations, the professionals of the Santa Barbara Symphony will be engaged in with our musicians. Those activities will include private lessons, sectional coaching, ‘side-by-side’ mentoring rehearsals and concerts, helping substitute when vacancies exist, and other mentorship roles.”
Students who choose to participate will also gain internship experience and can receive free admission to the symphony’s rehearsals and concerts. Through this unprecedented opportunity, Westmont’s students have the ability to invest in younger musicians while simultaneously learning from seasoned ones. More opportunities for involvement should arise as the Symphony moves back toward an in-person format after the pandemic subsides.
Westmont faculty are an essential part of this process. Notably, the Conducting Artist in Residence and Community Liaison, Yvette Devereaux, will be the new conductor of the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, Dr. Shasberger said. This position was created to bring together the Symphony and Westmont’s music program. Also, Professor Daniel Gee will teach musical curriculum to Youth Symphony students with Dr. Shasberger. Of the faculty’s involvement in the program, Shasberger said, “Our faculty intersect at every level as they at times serve as the teachers of pre-college musicians and play as members of the Santa Barbara Symphony.”
Additionally, this program is teaching both Westmont and the Symphony how to adapt during times of COVID-19. Classes and rehearsals will be held online, as students are not able to meet in person to play together. Those involved in the program look toward meeting together in person once it is safe to do so.