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Santa Barbara Symphony Welcome Vice President of Community Education & Enrichment, Dr Nicholas Fuentes

The Santa Barbara Symphony is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Nicholas Fuentes as its new Vice President of Community Education and Enrichment.

The Santa Barbara Symphony is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Nicholas Fuentes as its new Vice President of Community Education and Enrichment. In this key role, Dr. Fuentes will lead the Symphony’s award-winning, inclusive and accessible programs, and through this, create a community of lifelong learners who are passionate about music and the arts.

“As a first-generation American and a first-generation college student, I care deeply about educating young people and allowing them to see that anything is possible through the pursuit of learning,” shared Dr. Fuentes. “First-generation youth do not often possess the social capital necessary to succeed. I see it as my duty to ensure that all youth have the encouragement, mentorship and knowledge necessary to succeed. Music is a wonderful vehicle to inspire students to develop critical life skills through practicing, playing in ensembles, and performing for the public.”

Each year, the Santa Barbara Symphony provides more than 10,000 children throughout Santa Barbara County with high quality, equal-access music education through its Music Education programs: a continuum of connected programs designed to support and engage students every step along their musical journey; fostering collaboration, confidence and community, empowering students to be at their best through music. The Symphony offers the only music education programming in the region tied to a professional symphony orchestra. The Santa Barbara Youth Symphony has a long history in the community and notable alumni in and out of the field. Additionally, its strategic partnership with Westmont College provides even more opportunities for students through mentorship, creative youth development, and performances.

Dr. Fuentes has spent the past 12 years at CSU Channel Islands, as a director in the Extended Education division, and as the Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Prior to that, he served as the Registrar and Director of Student Services for the Professional and Continuing Education division at UC Santa Barbara.

Originally from Los Angeles, Dr. Fuentes earned a BA in Psychology from UC Santa Barbara, an MA in Organizational Management from Antioch University in Santa Barbara and an EdD in Educational Leadership. Fuentes has been passionate about music his entire life. He and his wife Renee have four grown children and live in Ventura with their two dogs.

Santa Barbara Symphony Music and Artistic Director Nir Kabretti commented, “We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Fuentes to the Symphony family to lead our diverse educational programs. This is a new milestone for the Symphony and shows our commitment to enrich the Santa Barbara community with the joy of music education. Music is a lifelong journey and with Dr. Fuentes’ expertise, we look forward to continuing and expanding the impact of music on kids and adults of all ages”.

About the Santa Barbara Symphony’s Music Education Programs

The Symphony’s Music Education programs will return to serving its Youth Ensembles students in-person this season for all three ensembles: the Camerata Ensemble and Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Marisa McLeod and Karen Dutton, and the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony conducted by Dr. Yvette Devereaux.

The Symphony’s programs, designed to engage elementary school students including BRAVO! after-school music instruction, Concerts for Young People and the Music Van, will be offered virtually during the pandemic. A “Virtual Music Van” video that was conceived and produced by the Music Education team provides a virtual music experience for students to learn from and enjoy. Guided by docents and volunteers, this video is available to our local schools as a virtual alternative to the in-person Music Van experience. Click HERE to see the Music Van Video. Educators may contact Marie Hebert at [email protected] to request the video and companion materials for the classroom.

About The Santa Barbara Symphony

Now in its 71st year, The Santa Barbara Symphony delivers artistic excellence, outstanding music education stewardship and programming, and community collaboration – all through symphonic music. Under the artistic leadership of Maestro Nir Kabaretti as Music & Artistic Director since 2006, The Symphony is one of the region’s premier cultural institutions. Through his charismatic leadership, this globally admired conductor and Santa Barbara resident invigorates audiences and musicians alike through his passion, creativity, and vast experience. As the only music education program tied to a professional symphony orchestra in the region, The Symphony serves more than 4,000 students annually throughout Santa Barbara County. While The Symphony continues to evolve, bringing joy, engagement, and connection remain steadfast pillars of its mission and were evident in the organization’s ability to thrive during the pandemic including the historic announcement that board chair Janet Garufis and President & CEO Kathryn R Martin join Nir Kabaretti in making a five-year commitment to serve in their roles. For more information, visit

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