Santa Barbara Symphony prepares for diverse, energetic season
Monks just want to have fun.
That’s among the themes in an eclectic 70th anniversary season at The Granada for the Santa Barbara Symphony, which plans to present everything from “Carmina Burana” (about monks who want to have fun between their sacred duties) to a concert dedicated to iconic movie composer John Williams.
There’ll even be a program of Frank Sinatra tunes.
“What makes this season unique is its broad range of styles and different kinds of music,” Nir Kabaretti, music and artistic director, told the News-Press. “We have jazz, romantic, classical, contemporary, world premieres and music that combines language, theater and dance. We’re versatile.”
The 2022-23 season will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15 and 3 p.m. Oct. 16 with a concert featuring the State Street Ballet, the Santa Barbara Choral Society, the Quire of Voyces and the Music Academy of the West’s Sing! Children’s Chorus.
The program will feature “Pavane” by Gabrielle Faure’, featuring a ballet choreographed by William Soleau of the State Street Ballet. The concert will also include Camille Saint Saens’ “Bacchanale” from “Samson and Deliah” and Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” complete with the choirs and State Street Ballet.
Maestro Kabaretti said “Carmina Burana” is about “middle-age monks who just want to have fun when they’re off from their sacred duty. The work is a very funny and enjoyable piece. It’s very rhythmic.”
Orff wanted the symphony performed with dancers and choirs, Maestro Kabaretti said. “You have to have enough space for the dancers and a big orchestra and the chorus. Luckily we can put this together at The Granada.
“It’s another example of what we are doing best, collaborating with other musical institutes in town,” he said. “This is going to be a very energetic and remarkable performance.”
At 7:30 Nov. 19 and 3 p.m. Nov. 20, the symphony will perform the world premiere of Cody Westheimer’s “Wisdom of the Sky, Water, Earth.”
“Cody went through our youth symphony program before he moved to Los Angeles and started a nice career with Hollywood studios,” Maestro Kabaretti said. “It’s great to have him back.”
The symphony director said Mr. Westimer’s new work is inspired by Chumash legacy and poetry. He added that the music will include narration by a Chumash representative and images on a screen.
“It’s all concentrated around cultural treasures and wisdoms,” Maestro Kabaretti said, noting the Chumash connection with nature.
Also on the program are Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Jean Sibelius’ “Valse Triste” (a waltz) and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor.
The next concert, which is at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 and 3 p.m. Jan. 22, has an interesting name: “Plains, Trains & Violins.”
The symphony will perform Elmer Bernstein’s Toccata For Toy Trains, Uruguay-born composer Miguel Del Aguila’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 94 (“El viaje de una vida” or “The Journey of a Lifetime”) with violin soloist Guillermo Figueroa and the always popular Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “from the New World.”
The Bernstein Toccata was arranged specifically for the Santa Barbara Symphony by Elmer’s son, Peter Bernstein.
At 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 and 3 p.m. Feb. 19, the orchestra will emphasized transformation with a program featuring Ernst Von Dohnany’s “Variations on a Nursery Song,” Opus 25 (featuring symphony pianist Natasha Kislenko); Ted Nash’s “Transformation for Symphony Orchestra and Narrator”; Richard Strauss’ “Death and Transfiguration” and Ravel’s “Bolero.”
Mr. Nash’s “Transformation” will feature Mr. Nash, a Jazz at Lincoln Center saxophonist, and his trio, improvising with the symphony.
Maestro Kabaretti said that the nature of jazz improvisation means the performance by Mr. Nash and his trio at the Feb. 18 concert, will differ from the Feb. 19 concert.
And Maestro Kabaretti told the News-Press that transformation is the essence of symphonic music. “If we just play one tune and not transform it, it no longer has the structure that we call a symphony or a concerto. It would just be a song. In the classical, symphonic world, we have a theme. We develop it. We transform it.”
At 7:30 p.m. March 18 and 3 p.m. March 19, the symphony will dedicate a concert to Oscar and Grammy winner John Williams, who composed scores for everything from “Star Wars” to “Jurassic Park,” Jaws” and “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial.”
“He’s probably the most important composer of our time,” Maestro Kabaretti said. “What I love about his music is it’s very rich. He has an incredible way of capturing the audience’s ears and hearts with brilliant orchestrations.”
At 7:30 p.m. April 15 and 3 p.m. April 16, an Ensemble Theatre Company actor will be on stage as part of Ella Milch-Sheriff’s “The Eternal Stranger,” based on a dream by Beethoven.
The symphony will also perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 and his Piano Concerto No. 5 (“The Emperor”).
At 7:30 p.m. May 13 and 3 p.m. May 14, the symphony will officially celebrate its 70th anniversary with its “Platinum Sounds” program.
The concert will feature American composer Jonathan Leshnoff’s Concerto Grosso (commissioned for the symphony’s 60th Anniversary), shining the spotlight on the symphony’s principal players; Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (featuring Grammy-nominated violin soloist Philippe Quint); and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1.
Besides all that, the symphony will perform its annual New Year’s Eve concert with guest conductor Bob Bernhardt at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 31
And vocalist and pianist Tony DeSare will join the symphony for “An Evening with Sinatra” at 7:30 p.m. June 15.
“It’s part of the most important soundtrack in America,” Maestro Kabaretti said. “I can hardly think of someone who wouldn’t know songs like ‘My Way,’ “New York, New York.’
“Frank Sinatra recorded with huge orchestras. The charts are so well-written,” Maestro Kabaretti noted.
The symphony director also expressed his gratitude to Santa Barbara for its support over the decades.
“We are lucky to be in such an artistically supportive environment,” Maestro Kabaretti said. “Not too many cities our size, not too many small communities can afford any kind of orchestra, let alone a symphony orchestra. We are blessed.”