Perfect July weather in Santa Barbara seems to include beautiful music, equally ravishing indoors at the Lobero and under a full moon beside a picturesque lake in wine country. On Tuesday, July 15, the Music Academy's Chamberfest program overflowed with interest and passion, a sure indicator that the school's curriculum has kicked into full gear. The lesson on tap in this instance had to do with counterpoint, and began with Richie Hawley playing a Steve Reich piece on clarinet-or rather on several clarinets, as Hawley recorded the extensive backing tracks that New York Counterpoint requires himself. Hawley took several minutes to introduce the work, communicating his excitement about preparing and playing it while assuring those present that he had kept this Lobero audience in mind throughout the taping of its prerecorded portions. The result was stunning, surely one of the best performances in a season fortunately full of excellent renderings of Reich's music. The intricate multiple lines bent and blended, but never blurred in a kind of musical version of Piet Mondrian's "Broadway Boogie Woogie." Hawley took three curtain calls and deserved many more for this thrilling, difficult solo.

Charles DonelanThe Santa Barbara Independant