Music Academy of the West

The partnership between Music Academy of the West and the London Symphony Orchestra, launched in summer 2018, is based at the Academy’s annual Summer School and Festival in Santa Barbara, California, and at the Barbican and LSO St Luke’s in London.

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The Keston MAX Fellows with their LSO tutors in Santa Barbara, Summer 2018

Each year the LSO's principal players will be resident at the Academy during the eight-week Festival, to teach and mentor Academy fellows. Every other year the full London Symphony Orchestra will be in residence performing in concert and side-by-side with the Academy Festival Orchestra.

> Read the launch press release from spring 2018

Twelve of the 95 fellows will be selected via audition to travel to London the following winter for ten days of intensive training with the London Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Sir Simon Rattle. 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 principal clarinettist 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; I am really looking forward to learning more from him and the other LSO clarinettists while I am in London this January."
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...

Summer 2018

In the summer of 2018, five LSO section principals, David Alberman (2nd 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.

> Read more about the Fellows and Competition Winners

January 2019

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.

Keston MAX fellows with Sir Simon Rattle, January 2019
The Keston MAX Fellows meet Sir Simon Rattle during a lunchtime Q&A session, January 2019

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.

Fellows, Competition Winners and Mentors 2019
Each of the twelve Keston MAX Fellows were paired with an LSO Member as their mentor. 

Keston Max Fellows:
Alan Snow (first violin)
Agnes Tse (second violin)
Stephanie Block (viola)
David Bender (cello)
Nina Bernat (double bass)
William Cedeño (flute)
Taylor Isberg (clarinet)
Quinn Delaney (bassoon)
William Loveless (horn)
Francis LaPorte (trumpet)
Lisa Stoneham (bass trombone)
Joe Desotelle (percussion)


LSO mentors:
Laurent Quenelle (first violin)
Iwona Muszynska (second violin)
Anna Bastow (viola)
Daniel Gardner (cello)
Tom Goodman (double bass)
Gareth Davies (flute)
Chi-Yu Mo (clarinet)
Rachel Gough (bassoon)
Jonathan Lipton (horn)
Philip Cobb (trumpet)
Paul Milner (bass trombone)
Sam Walton (percussion)

Highlights from the Fellows' visit in January 2019

Chamber music Recital St Lukes 130119 1490

 Lauritano sun St Lukes 110119 0295 LSO Rehearsals Barbican 080119 277 
 Recording session St Lukes 120119 287  Sophiko Simsive St Lukes 110119 049

Summer 2019 

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. Read more about them here. This exchange was unavoidably postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.


In July 2020, five LSO Principals were due to return to Santa Barbara for another residency, but this work moved online as part of the Music Academy's Music Academy Remote Learning Institute. During this time the LSO members undertook online auditions and selected 12 Keston MAX fellows to come to London in April 2021. 

 The lead sponsors of the 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.