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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Anonymous donation strikes a chord with music department

Desiree Erdmann
Jazz instructor Andrew Martinez with his saxophone outside the Garvin Theater on Feb. 23, 2021, at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. Martinez first started playing the saxophone when he was in 8th grade and has never put it down since.

The music department received a whopping donation of $375,000 from an anonymous donor this past December.

75% of the donation will be dedicated to the Jazz program with the remaining 25% being granted to the Symphony Program, as decided by a three-member committee consisting of Music Department Chair Nathan Krietzer, Dean of Fine Arts Elizabeth Imhof and Jazz Faculty Instructor Andrew Martinez. 

The donation has been affectionately dubbed as “the gift” by members across the music department; offering a promising array of new ideas and opportunities for those involved in the curriculum.

“The funds are intended to provide the Music Department with resources to initiate and fund special projects and critical needs of the programs which otherwise might not be possible,” SBCC Foundation CEO Geoff Green said. 

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Jazz Improvisation instructor Tony Ybarra said that the gift will hopefully provide the financial means to allow participants to travel abroad to music festivals and perform alongside other virtuosos alike once it is safe to travel.

In addition to spreading the sound of City College nationwide, Ybarra said that the donation will be enough to bring in outside talents to give students valuable insight and experience. With the gift, the Jazz program might be able to bring in an artist for a residency to be a part of an already “amazing” faculty for several weeks at a time.

Ybarra has even higher hopes when it comes to the benefits that the donation could bring. With options sprouting left and right, it’s no secret that the music department wants to bring in a few famous faces to the campus to enforce what’s already being taught. 

“It’s one thing to preach a message, but it’s another thing when someone who’s worked with the greatest of greats comes in and says the exact same thing, but says it with maybe a bit more pizazz,” said Ybarra. “It inspires our students to want to reach for that.” 

In 2019, students in the Jazz program had a field day jamming out with Grammy-award-winning artist Michael McDonald, former member of Steely Dan. The department plans to showcase a video of the special event, captured by the same team of cameramen behind the Academy Awards. 


The next best thing, Ybarra said, would be an event of some sort conducted online through platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet. This will allow students to have an in-depth Q&A with big names in their field of interest and get a firm grasp of what’s what in the world of music. 

Another vital aspect for enhancing the program is community outreach. Since the start of COVID-19, the music department has faced serious cuts. Ybarra said that enrollment must be boosted significantly to keep classes thriving. In order to accomplish this, the department is planning on using the rest of the money to reconnect with the community they were built upon. They’ve devised a plan to visit high schools and local music colleges alike to recruit both fresh and familiar faces. 

After all, the music department welcomes all those who are interested with open arms.

“We have a legacy with having a really outstanding relationship with our community. We just want to remind them that we are still here and our classes are still open to everyone and anyone,” Ybarra said.

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