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ON THE TOWN: Chamber group celebrates violist with lifetime achievement award

SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS
JOSEF WOODARD, NEWS-PRESS CORRESPONDENT
April 15, 2007

Violist Donald McInnes was honored with Camerata Pacifica’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to classical music. He resigned as the principal violist of the chamber group to become chair of the String Department at the prestigious USC Thornton School of Music.

The black tie dinner (the honoree wore the McInnes tartan kilt) was held in the Loggia Room of the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara.

At the celebration were major supporters of classical music in the Santa Barbara area as well as former students who came from across the country to honor a beloved teacher. Professor McInnes grew up in Santa Barbara and attended local schools.

The program for the evening was wonderfully timed and orchestrated by co-chairmen David Robertson, Camerata Pacifica board president, and Robert Light, board member, assisted by Marion Stewart. “Marion Stewart did the heavy lifting,” the president confessed.

There were short tributes and many toasts between each of the four dinner courses. No rush as guests table-hopped to greet friends and the honoree.

Presenters included NancyBell Coe, president of Music Academy of the West, who proudly said, “As a student, Don was admitted to the academy 53 years ago. Now, as a teacher, his students have gone on to great orchestras in the world. Thank you for being such a presence at the Music Academy.”

John McInnes, son of the honoree, produced a charming and funny film about his father and life in the McInnes family. “I grew up with parties that featured musicians and chamber music. Dad performed with some of the finest, including Leonard Bernstein.”

More members of Don’s family at the tribute were: daughter Jennifer Crowe and husband Kevin; son David McInnes with Michele Liss; John’s wife, Brea; cousin Mary Flowers and husband Hon. Judge Clifton Flowers; and Don’s partner, David Pittman.

Adrian Spence, founder and artistic director of Camerata Pacifica, gave the closing (Irish) toast and introduced the new violist for Camerata Pacifica, Richard O’Neill, who presented the award.