US: Santa Barbara: Oil and music

Eric Boehm, who lives in Santa Barbara, comments on the postings about Santa Barbara: the oiñ spill and the Music Academy of The West:
-- I believe in 1969 --  was a major catastrophe and should not be confused with the (minimal) oil seepages in the sea bottom. The oil spill (on one of the oil drilling towers) also had a significant effect on my life: what does an environmentally concerned bibliographer do when there is an oil spill? We thought of an oil spill bibliography -- but that is a bit too narrow a subject.  Instead we initiated ENVIRONMENTAL PERIODICALS BIBLIOGRAPHY ("EPB") within the International Academy of Santa Barbara -- which also engaged in other activities.  As time went on "EPB" could not compete with a service  published by a multi-billion dollar corporation -- so the Academy sold it  -- only a year ago -- to another multi-billion corporation -- and the funds went mostly to sorely needed programs of the Santa Barbara City College. Another publication of the Academy, on world-wide government personnel -- on which Ronald Hilton served as an advisor-- went for  $1 to one of our employees --  and is also continuing.
is a major institution  that brings first-rate students --all on full scholarships--  and first-rate faculty -- to Santa Barbara --  all  from such  institutions as Juillard and Eastman School.. -- for about two months.  The many concerts and other musical events (including one opera) are barely known outside of Santa Barbara since we do not advertise widely -- locals consume all the  tickets offered!  Founder: Lotte Lehmann -- whom I still got to know shortly after we moved to Santa Barbara, in 1960.
I take this occasion to send greetings to my WAIS colleagues.  My present ("retirement"?) work -- I am only 87 -- is reflected in  pro bono work for BoehmGroup (see on the net  -- -- also known as Boehm Biography Group (with apologies: I just dropped my bli's and "morphed" from bibliography to biography).

Cameron Sawyer said:I first came face to face with crude oil on the beaches of Santa Barbara in 1977 where I spent a summer playing in the opera festival there they called Music Academy of the West.  There had been some kind of oil spill.  We all kept cans of lighter fluid about to use to get the stuff off our feet. Clyde McMorrow comments:
The crude oil on Santa Barbara beaches in the 70s was most likely not from an oil spill.  I remember oil along those beaches prior to the days of drilling.  It was natural seepage and very common.  By the way, Crisco works as well as lighter fluid and is a lot safer.  You might try it on your next visit.  I don't recall the Music Academy of the West, is it still in operation.  I played a couple of summers in the orchestra for San Diego's Starlight Opera and enjoyed every minute of it.  Did Music Academy do real opera or musicals?

Cameron Sawyer answers Clyde McMorrow's question about music in Santa Barbara, California: Music Academy of the West is still in existence:  At the time, and I suppose still today, it was one of the premier summer training programs for young musicians; like Tanglewood or Aspen but with a particular emphasis on opera.  Like the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, the MAW was fully endowed and did not take tuition from any of its students -- for those accepted, all expenses were paid including room and board.  Marilyn Horne and Davrid Shifrin are among its many famous alumni.  My participation in 1977 was one of the highlights of my short musical career.  In those days, Maurice Abravanel was the musical director. 

Clyde McMorrow said:: The crude oil on Santa Barbara beaches in the 70s was most likely not from an oil spill.  I remember oil along those beaches prior to the days of drilling.  It was natural seepage and very common. Gene Franklin comments: There was a widely publicized 'blow-out' at one of the off shore platforms about that time that led to many blobs of thick crude on the beaches of Santa Barbara.  The political fallout was a ban on off shore drilling.  More on the Santa Barbara oil spill on January of 1969 is found at:

According to this report, the reaction to that spill not only led to a 16 year ban on off shore drilling, it led to the first Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency and several other environmental organizations.

Ronald Hilton 2005


last updated: April 16, 2005