La Jolla Music Society and SummerFest Music Director Inon Barnatan Agree to New Three-Year Deal


As its 2022 SummerFest draws to a close on August 26, the La Jolla Music Society has announced that it has reached an agreement with the concert series’ musical director, Inon Barnatan, on a new three-year contract until in September 2025.

Barnatan, an internationally acclaimed concert pianist, has served as Music Director for SummerFest since 2019, creating the theme and programming for concerts at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in La Jolla and selecting the musical artists who will perform.

“As a longtime admirer of Inon the Artist and Inon the Person, I couldn’t be more thrilled to have the chance to work with him for another three years,” said the Artistic Director of the Music Society, Leah Rosenthal. “Thanks to Inon’s creative vision, collaborative spirit and impeccable artistry, the world’s most prolific and in-demand classical musicians, jazz artists and dancers are thrilled to come here to Conrad to play with him. There’s no one better suited to lead SummerFest into the next phase of its evolution as one of the top chamber music festivals in the United States, let alone the world.

The nonprofit LJMS did not disclose the financial terms of the contract.

SummerFest 2022 was the biggest in the organization’s history, offering 20 concerts over four weeks, as well as more than 70 free educational and community events.

“Working with Leah, Todd [Schultz, president and chief executive of the La Jolla Music Society] and the whole amazing team at The Conrad…has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my musical life,” Barnatan said. “It’s deeply gratifying to feel the audience respond with such enthusiasm and love to the work we staged. I can’t wait to see what the next three years will bring.

Barnatan’s work on SummerFest is year-round, in addition to his busy performing and recording schedule as he travels the world from his home base of New York, according to communications manager Stephanie Thompson. for LJMS.

She said planning is already underway for the 35th SummerFest, scheduled for July and August 2023.

“Inon has clearly found a new career niche that perfectly matches his skills and expertise,” Schultz said. “With each season, his skills as a curator grow and expand and you can feel his personal exuberance for work in the stage performances and in the artists he hires.

“Inon’s personal enthusiasm and creativity help attract new audiences. In fact, this summer’s festival — even after two years of quarantine and COVID — will nearly match the record sales of 2019, when The Conrad was brand new.

“The extension of Inon’s contract aligns perfectly with the strategic plan recently developed by the Board of Directors, which sets out goals for wider use of our new site and a dedication to deeper service to the community. “

Barnatan’s activities outlined in the contract include overseeing the committee that annually selects SummerFest Fellowship artists from an international pool of applicants. He also participates in various SummerFest education and community engagement events, including coaching workshops, meet-and-greets, open rehearsals, and artist conversations.

Barnatan is a regular soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors and was the first Associate Artist of the New York Philharmonic for three seasons. He is the recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Fellowship for
Outstanding Instrumentalists and the Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award for Emerging Artists and is a sought-after recitalist and chamber musician, performing at prestigious venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall.

— La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report.


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