“FOR SEATTLEITES, CHAMBER MUSIC WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.” Seattle Times
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Enthusiastic advocate for American music, brilliant conductor and chamber music coach, Founding Artistic Director of the Santa Barbara Chamber Music Festival (2003-2007) and conductor of the American Collegiate Symphony Orchestra (1983-2005), General Manager of the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra (2008-2009), professional arts critic for the Santa Barbara News-Press and CASA magazine among other publications for decades, adjudicator of integrity and spirited intellect, currently working on a new international orchestra project, Emeriti Philharmonic — Daniel Kepl has well earned Northwest Arts magazine’s singular 1982 imprimatur: “Visionary.”
Mr. Kepl’s video interview web site Bravo California! keeps tabs on the pulse of the arts community throughout California, as he hosts informal, animated, and intelligent video chats with artists from various disciplines.
Daniel Kepl was born in Spokane, Washington in 1948. As a youth, he participated in an accellerated education program of the Spokane City Schools with particular emphasis on the arts and languages. He began clarinet and piano study at an early age, and after moving with his family to Santa Barbara, California in 1960, began serious conducting training in 1964 with Dr. Erno Daniel, conductor of the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra.
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One year later, at the age of seventeen, Daniel Kepl founded the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony Orchestra, conducting the Youth Symphony for three seasons, under the additional tutelage of the Santa Barbara Symphony’s co-founder and concertmaster, Stefan Krayk, before moving to Los Angeles to begin study at Walt Disney’s California Institute of the Arts as its first conducting major. In 1974 Mr. Kepl was invited to conduct a re-launch concert by the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, which had ceased operations when Kepl moved to Los Angeles, and later Seattle, to continue his conducting career. The Youth Symphony re-inauguration concert featured as soloist, the then ten year-old violinist Nina Bodnar, who later became concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. The Youth Symphony is now under the wing of the Santa Barbara Symphony, and will be enjoying its 37th season in 2011-2012.
“HIS ORGANIZATIONAL ABILITY HAS BEEN EVIDENT FROM THE START, AND DISTINGUISHES HIM AS ONE TO WATCH.” Santa Barbara News-Press, about the 18 year-old conductor
During his college years in Los Angeles, Daniel Kepl studied conducting with Henri Temianka - founder of the Paganini Quartet, founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic‘s Symphonies for Youth series, and founder/conductor of the California Chamber Symphony - during his initial undergraduate years at California State University-Northridge. Kepl was accepted to Walt Disney’s California Institute of the Arts as its first conducting major in 1970, studying with Lawrence Leighton Smith, winner of the 1964 Mitropoulos International Conducting Competition and a conductor of international repute. Lawrence Leighton Smith remains to this day, Mr. Kepl’s mentor. Additional study with pianist/conductor Reginald Stewart, at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, led to Mr. Kepl’s first professional conducting engagement at the age of 22: the 1970-1971 season of the San Luis Obispo Symphony Orchestra.
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An inveterate arts entrepreneur, Mr. Kepl sponsored recitals in Santa Barbara by artists in the infancies of their careers in the early 1970′s: the Kronos Quartet, pianist Emanuel Ax, and violinist Daniel Heifetz. By the mid-seventies, having studied conducting in London (Trinity College of Music) with Bernard Keeffe, principal conductor for BBC Television, and Irwin Hoffman, conductor of the Belgian National Radio and Television Philharmonic Orchestra, Daniel Kepl settled in Seattle, Washington, where his conducting duties over
the next 12 years, included engagements with Seattle Festival Ballet, Oregon Light Opera (Portland), Seattle Wind Ensemble, which toured for three weeks in London in 1976, and Seattle Debut Orchestra.
“HIGH PRAISE AND GRATITUDE TO DANIEL KEPL. HE HAS BROUGHT A UNIQUE AND MEMORABLE MUSICAL EXPERIENCE TO SEATTLE.” Northwest Magazine
In 1979 Daniel Kepl presented the first residency in Seattle, by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, America’s premiere chamber music festival. The entire roster – 22 internationally famous musicians – were flown from the Festival’s New Mexico home, to Seattle, for a seven-day celebration of chamber music, including master classes, solo recitals, and concerts. The unprecedented support of the Seattle Times, which had never before sponsored a classical music event, and the School of Music at the University of Washington, which provided rehearsal space and Meany Hall for the Performing Arts for concerts, guaranteed the residency’s success, which was acclaimed unanimously by the critics, as an epiphany for Seattle music lovers. The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival residencies in Seattle, spawned a host of new chamber music festivals in the region.
“AN INESCAPABLE AND JOYOUS PART OF THIS CITY’S MUSICAL LIFE.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Returning to Santa Barbara in 1982 to be closer to his aging parents, Daniel Kepl accepted the post of CEO of Pacific Music Society (Richard Dunn, Founder) which had presented concerts in Santa Barbara since 1970. Kepl began planning the first Santa Barbara Chamber Music Festival: a dream since childhood. The Festival, which celebrated American chamber music exclusively, launched it’s first summer season in June 2003, and enjoyed four seasons (2003-2006) but was compelled to cancel it’s fifth season (American Tango) as the economy moved into recession. The critics had made clear though, that the Santa Barbara Chamber Music Festival had significantly impacted the artistic community:
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“ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING NEW DEVELOPMENTS ON THE LOCAL CULTURAL LANDSCAPE.” Josef Woodard, Santa Barbara News-Press (2004)
“BREATHTAKING CLARITY AND SENSITIVITY.” Gerald Carpenter, Santa Barbara Independent (2004)
“A SMORGASBORD OF DELECTABLE CURIOSITIES.” Peter Frisch, Santa Barbara News-Press (2005)
“AN EXTRAORDINARY COMBINATION OF BRILLIANT PERFORMANCES, AND WONDERFULLY FRESH AND BEEAUTIFUL MUSIC.” Gerald Carpenter, Santa Barbara Independent (2006)
WATCH THE 2005 SANTA BARBARA CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL VIDEO PSA, AND A 2007 TELEVISION INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL KEPL ABOUT THE FESTIVAL’S FIFTH SEASON, “AMERICAN TANGO.”
Daniel Kepl was appointed General Manager of the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra for it’s 2008-2009 season, but the position was eliminated the following year, because of the recession. A classical music, dance and theater critic for the Santa Barbara News-Press and other publications for decades, Mr. Kepl recently launched his statewide video arts interview blog BRAVO CALIFORNIA! Chatting informally, with California artists from all disciplines, Mr. Kepl is actively paying attention to the pulse of California’s dynamic arts scene. Mr. Kepl is presently working on a new, nationwide orchestral project, Emeriti Philharmonic, which will bring together professional musicians from throughout the United States for collaborative performance residencies in towns that have never before seen or heard an orchestra concert.
“A RESPONSIBLE, SERIOUS-MINDED MAN, OF CONSIDERABLE TALENT AND DEVOTION TO HIS ART.” Henri Temianka, California Chamber Symphony
Daniel Kepl enjoys a laugh with New York City-based choreographer William Soleau, during a video interview for a piece in the Santa Barbara News-Press about Mr. Soleau’s ballet “Starry Night.”
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