[Scene Magazine] William, it was really something
Symphony brings Shakespeare (and actors) to The Granada
By Ted Mills, News-Press Correspondent
If music be the food of love, said Orsino in "Twelfth Night," play on. Expect an evening of love, then, with Santa Barbara Symphony's "Shakespeare Set to Music," three selections of Bard-inspired classical works conducted by Nir Kabaretti, who originated and designed the program. There are two chances to hear this romantic concert, tomorrow night and on Sunday, at The Granada Theatre.
The three works are a Suite from William Walton's score for "As You Like It," the "Romeo and Juliet" Suite for ballet by Prokofiev, and Mendelssohn's incidental music for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" featuring the unforgettable "Wedding March." You might just feel inspired to tie the knot or renew your vows right after.
These are three very different pieces, but what is making the evening more special is the collaboration with actors from Ensemble Theatre Company, who will perform some of Shakespeare's poetry during the Mendelssohn work, as it was written to be performed alongside the play. This makes the third collaboration between Executive Artist Director Jonathan Fox's Ensemble company and the Symphony, after music featured in Ensemble's "Amadeus," and actors reading Schumann's love letters during the Symphony's Valentine's Day concert.
"Working jointly with other art forms allows us to expand our conception of theatrical performance," says Mr. Fox in the Symphony's current press release. "For the audience, hearing Shakespeare's poetry in combination with Mendelssohn's beautiful music offers the opportunity to discover each in a new light.
The small cast features Charles Pasternak as Demetrius, Katharine Leonard as Hermia, Rebekah Tripp as Helena, Ross Hellwig as Lysander, and Connor Kelly-Eiding as Puck.
Expect more such collaborations too, by the way, based on one very important factor: the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts building on the 1300 block of State Street. It's in this building that the majority of our city's arts organizations have kept their offices since 2009. Opera Santa Barbara is here, as is the Choral Society, and several others. Casual meetings between offices inspire collaboration, not competition. It was designed that way, and it's what is happening to performing arts communities across the country. Resources are smaller.
British composer Walton's "As You Like It" was written for Paul Czinner's 1936 film starring Laurence Olivier and Elisabeth Bergner. Charming and full of gusto, it is very friendly to the year. Walton would collaborate with Olivier (and Shakespeare) again on "Hamlet," "Henry V" and "Richard III," but this was his lighter side.
As for the Prokofiev suites, they are more modern and more recognizable to the music lover, and though the full ballet is long, this is a more digestible selection.
"It's important for orchestras to explore outside their normal boundaries of what they do," says the Symphony's Executive Director David Pratt about the evening. "And in this organization I've found that audiences enjoy collaborations like these. And it brings in other audiences to the Symphony and its something communities really want."