Dr. Nicholas Fuentes and Natasha Miller-Zahn are joining the Santa Barbara Symphony staff as the orchestra prepares to launch its 2021-22 season in a few weeks.
Dr. Fuentes is the new vice president of community education and enrichment.
Ms. Miller-Zahn is the symphony’s first vice president of finance. The position was just created.
Dr. Fuentes will oversee the symphony’s equal-access, music education programs for more than 10,000 children throughout Santa Barbara County. The symphony offers the only education program in the region that is tied to a professional symphony orchestra, according to a news release.
“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,” Dr. Fuentes said in a news release.
“First-generation youth do not often possess the social capital necessary to succeed,” he said. “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.”
Dr. Fuentes has spent the last 12 years at Cal State Channel Islands in Camarillo, where he was a director in the Extended Education division and director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
Before that, the Los Angeles native and Ventura resident was registrar and director of student services for the Professional and Continuing Education Division at UCSB. That university is also where he earned his bachelor’s in psychology.
Dr. Fuentes went on to earn his master’s in organizational management at Antioch University in Santa Barbara.
His doctorate is in educational leadership.
Nir Kabretti, the symphony music and artistic director, said the orchestra is thrilled to welcome Dr. Fuentes as its leader of diverse educational programs.
“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,” Maestro Kabretti said in the news release.
As the new vice president of finance, Ms. Miller-Zahn will oversee the symphony’s overall financial strategies and systems.
“I’m not only excited to get to know Santa Barbara and call it our new home, but I’m extremely impressed with the creative vision and organizational opportunities that the Santa Barbara Symphony is undertaking to deepen its impact in the community,” Ms. Miller-Zahn said.
“Equally impressive is the fact that the symphony is expanding its investments in concert performances and music education programs as we are still emerging from the pandemic,” she continued. “This is only possible with trust and support in the organization coming from its patrons and donors here in the community.”
Ms. Miller-Zhan previously worked, since 2018, as the director of finance at the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. She has a bachelor’s in accountancy from Northern Arizona University.
“This is an exciting time for the Santa Barbara Symphony,” said President and CEO Kathryn R. Martin. “Natasha’s unique combination of financial best practices, deep knowledge of the symphony industry and an ability to know how to provide information in ways for both staff and board to make informed decisions will enable us to continue to expand and deepen our impact in the community.”
The symphony’s season will open Oct. 23 and 24 at The Granada with a fully staged production of “Kismet,” directed by Broadway’s Lonny Price. In addition to the symphony, the program will feature the State Street Ballet and performers across the globe. The choreographer is William Soleau.
For more information, go to thesymphony.org.