The Granada Theatre will be filled with a double helping of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky this weekend, when German-born Christian Reif guest conducts the Santa Barbara Symphony for two days in a row. Tomorrow and Sunday, the 30-year-old conductor will lead the orchestra through a program of four pieces, all of which he described as “energetic and entertaining.” Titled “Reif Conducts: Tchaikovsky & Mozart,” half of this weekend’s concerts will consist of works by the latter composer. Growing up in the German state of Bavaria, Mozart was a huge part of his upbringing.
“Most of it is very close to my heart,” he said of Mr. Mozart’s oeuvre.
For both shows, Mr. Reif chose to include two latter-day Mozart pieces, “Overture to La Clemenza di Tito, K. 621” and “Symphony No. 39 in E-flat major, K. 543.” According to Mr. Reif, both were written during the last few years of the composer’s life, the latter the first in the final trilogy of symphonies that Mr. Mozart wrote. Selecting latter-day Mozart pieces wasn’t a deliberate decision to satisfy some theme, but rather were the right choices in designing a concert that would be exciting for both the performers and the audience members.
“They’re great pieces and I love performing Mozart… These pieces are amazing for the musicians and audience alike,” he said.
The Mozart numbers will comprise of the concert’s second half, while the first will open with Pulitzer Prize-nominated contemporary composer Michael Gilbertson’s “Graffiti: Concerto for Chamber Orchestra.” Though the conductor has not yet led an orchestra through a performance of Mr. Gilbertson’s piece, Mr. Reif remarked that it fits right in with the energetic tone of the rest of the concert. As the concerto’s name suggests, “Graffiti” is inspired by street artists in San Francisco, where Mr. Reif said he first met Mr. Gilbertson. San Francisco is also a city of great significance to Mr. Reif and his professional career. Last year, he concluded a three-year stint as resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and musical director of the San Francisco Youth Orchestra.
Following Mr. Gilbertson’s classical tribute to San Francisco, music by the concert’s first eponymous composer will be represented by “Variations on a Rocco Theme, Op. 33.” As his program contains two Mozart pieces, Mr. Reif thought it would be apt to include a composer from after Mr. Mozart’s time who was influenced by his work and the classical period in which he lived. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky fit the bill and and Mr. Reifs thinks that if the Russian composer were still alive today, he would be pleased to see his opus alongside Mozart’s works.
“Tchaikovsky, his hero was Mozart, so I ‘m sure he’d be very happy to be in the same company,” he said.
Tickets for “Reif Conducts: Tchaikovsky & Mozart” cost between $31 and $137 and can be purchased online at www.granadasb.org. Tomorrow’s concert will begin at 8 p.m. while Sundays will begin at 3 p.m. The Granada Theatre is located at 1214 State St.