Education Icon Research Icon Students Icon Community Icon General Support Icon Gift Cart Icon
Skip to main content
A black and white photo of a small outdoor music concert at night.

The Divine Spark

Through new endowed investments, opera and choral music thrives at UCSB

Inspired by the late Professor Emeritus Carl Zytowski, friends, family and alumni have united to honor the tradition of opera and choral music that this renowned musician led during his 44-year career at UC Santa Barbara. Carl is beloved by generations of students for the chamber choir he founded in 1964, The Schubertians. After Carl retired in 1995, he continued supporting musicians by establishing for graduate students the Carl Zytowski Fellowship in Voice and Collaborative Piano in 2000. Moved by Carl’s passing in 2019, generous supporters have converged in a crescendo of support for the UC Santa Barbara Department of Music.

Carl and Don Zytowski.
Carl and Don Zytowski

Carl and his brother, Don, grew up in a St. Louis home full of song. Carl was a tenor who could hit a high D. In June 1944, the 8th Air Force Quartet that Carl led while stationed in England sang over the BBC in the midst of a blitz. Wherever Carl went — from England to UC Santa Barbara — he formed singing groups. Don and his wife, Kay, established the Zytowski Fund for Opera in Carl’s memory to nurture the love of music and share their family’s legacy.

“Music has been a thread in my whole life, from taking accordion lessons in kindergarten to now, as a supporter,” said Don. “What would it be like if we didn’t have music? It connects us.”

From 1964-1995, Carl led over two hundred Schubertians through 355 works by 125 composers in a dozen languages. The group performed in more than 140 venues across 31 years. Rodney Punt ’68 was among the first Schubertians, students handpicked from the UCSB Glee Club. In Rod, Carl saw not only a talented musician but also a skilled organizer. Rod credits his arts administration career to his days managing the Glee Club and directing choirs in Santa Barbara.

Rodney Punt ’68.
Rodney Punt ’68

“I always knew that Carl was one of the most important relationships of my life,” said Rod. “He was a mentor who helped me in many ways.” The organizer of many Schubertians reunions, Rod initiated the Zytowski Vocal Award with the group in 1984 to support undergraduate voice students at UC Santa Barbara. To that end, he and his wife, Ruth ’71, made a major gift to the fund at the Zytowski memorial Rod organized last November at Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall on campus.

“The Department of Music is truly grateful for the wonderful generosity of our donors,” said Robert Koenig, chair. “The impact of this continued philanthropy is life changing for many of our students. [It] demonstrates how the power of music is universal and part of the human experience.”

Pianist Erik Lawrence ’23 is a recent recipient of the Zytowski Endowed Fellowship in Voice and Collaborative Piano, established by Carl.

“Graduate studies are about finding your place at the beginning of your career and finding exactly what you’re good at as a person,” said Erik, who accompanied vocalists at Carl’s memorial concert. “People supporting you in that is meaningful. Working with emotion and melding the piano and the voice together — these past years at UCSB have been a synthesis.”

The character-building and emotional support of The Schubertians helped Jonathan Pevsner ’79 find himself at UC Santa Barbara. His wife, Madeline, established the Pevsner Endowed Fund for Voice in memory of Jonathan, who passed away 13 years ago. Jonathan and Madeline met while training as doctors and were married for 20 years. Their three children share the family love of music.

“When singing in a group, all have to do their part to maintain intonation with others, blend vocal colors, and phrase carefully to convey the message,” Rod observed.

For Rod and Ruth, Don and Kay, the Pevsner family, and many other music donors, their support indeed sends a bright message to the UC Santa Barbara community.