Santa Barbara Symphony to perform Ted Nash’s ‘Transformation’
Grammy-winning jazz saxophonist and composer Ted Nash understands the transformative power of music and words.
That will be clear when the Santa Barbara Symphony, Mr. Nash and the Josh Nelson Trio perform Mr. Nash’s deeply personal “Transformation for Symphony Orchestra and Narrator” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at The Granada, 1214 State St.
This weekend’s performance will feature the world premiere of Mr. Nash’s new, extensive orchestrations in the latest version of “Transformation.”
The orchestra’s performance will be accompanied by a video, projected behind the ensemble, of Mr. Nash’s son Eli reading a “Dear Dad” letter in which he comes out as transgender.
“Transformation” began as a collaboration between Mr. Nash and movie star and jazz enthusiast Glenn Close.
“Several years ago, Ms. Close and I worked together on my album ‘Presidential Suite,’ ” Mr. Nash told the News-Press, answering questions by email.
“Working with her was such a great experience, as I have always been a fan of her artistry. We decided to collaborate on a bigger project and chose the theme of transformation,” said Mr. Nash, a Los Angeles native who co-founded the New York-based nonprofit Composers Collective. He is also a long-standing member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.
“For the concerts, which were presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center, Ms. Close curated the pieces, and I composed the music,” Mr. Nash said. “Many of the pieces were based on personal stories, and the most deeply personal for me was ‘Dear Dad,’ based on my son’s letter to me coming out as transgender.
“For the concert, which took place in late January 2020, my son Eli read his letter live while the band played a supportive role, and then for the second half featured me on the ‘Response,’” Mr. Nash said.
“This piece and my son’s courage and honesty are so important to me, and I wanted to have another chance to share this with people, and having the opportunity with the symphony is the perfect setting,” Mr. Nash continued. “For these concerts, Eli’s reading of ‘Dear Dad, which was just recently recorded on video specifically for this project, will be projected behind the orchestra as we play.
“The concept for ‘Dear Dad’ is the same as it was during the premiere, but re-orchestrating for the symphony is allowing me to use many more colors and textures to create an even more lush and supportive environment over which Eli will read, and an even more rich and powerful setting for my Response,” Mr. Nash told the News-Press.
Mr. Nash added that everything in creation can be perceived as some type of transformation.
“Being creative is transforming our experiences, thoughts and feelings into an expression,” he said. “In music, we can take a few notes (there are 12) and transform them into symphonies. The transformations that I embraced for these concerts include taking classical music themes (Scriabin, Mozart) and turning them into completely new pieces.”
Mr. Nash added that he just returned from Cuba on his latest project, in which he worked with high school students to compose music inspired by paintings.
“It was an intense five-day workshop that culminated in a concert performing 15 new compositions. Many of the young musicians had never composed music before. The whole week was recorded and will be released as a documentary.”