Santa Barbara Symphony’s New Leader Plans Innovative Solutions to Looming Challenges
June 24, 2015
Seeking solutions to some of the most serious challenges in its 63-year history, the Santa Barbara Symphony has turned to newly-appointed executive director, David Pratt, to help fashion a new business model.
Pratt, an out-going native of Australia with an international track record of success, was selected as its new executive director at a time when the majority of symphonies across the U.S. are being faced with complex financial difficulties. These have been caused primarily by a combination of the economic downturn, an aging season-ticket and donor base, and competition from the Internet and other entertainment sources.
“There is no doubt that for us, like most other symphonies, it can’t be business as usual anymore,” said Pratt, who led major marketing missions throughout the world for various Australian and U.S. music and film organizations before serving as the executive director for the Savannah Philharmonic in Georgia for the past five years. “But, Santa Barbara is a special city, with a high level of culture, and I am confident that we can meet these challenges head-on. We plan to continue to provide the beautiful classical music productions this symphony is known for, but we will need to create some innovative new programs as well. I’m excited to get started.”
The Santa Barbara community has long been one of the most supportive on the West Coast, but Pratt and the symphony Board of Directors now must figure out how to reach out to the next generation, one that grew up listening to the Beatles and rock music. Bringing the baby boomers into the classical world at a time when finances are still tight for many is not going to be a simple task, but Pratt is enthusiastic about the possibilities.
“We’re already working on a number of potential new programs to reach out into the community, because we believe there are many people here who would quickly get hooked on classical musical if they were more exposed to it,” he said. “For example, we will expand our collaboration in the 2015-16 season partnering with The Ensemble Theatre Co. for Mendelssohn’s incidental music to Midsummer Night’s Dream as part of our November concert, and there is a fabulous collaboration with the State Street Ballet, Choral Society and the Center for the Performing Arts presenting Carmina Burana as our season opener in October."
In the longer term, Pratt said he is also working on the timing of providing one major concert that will be free to the public. The symphony already has an entire suite of education programs available to area students and it plans to continue and expand those, while widening its musical repertoire.
“We’ll be offering concerts not just for core classical lovers, but for those who enjoy more mainstream music, such as popular film sound tracks,” he said. “Our challenge will be to achieve just the right balancing act, to please our primary supporters and the orchestra musicians, while attracting new fans. It’s really important that we get that balance right.”
Pratt, who grew up in Sydney, Australia, and attended the University of Melbourne, previously served as senior event manager of the G’Day USA Festival, where he created and managed a series of arts, cultural and music events in several U.S. cities. He also held a senior management position with Australia’s largest orchestra, the Sydney Symphony, and he managed several fundraising events for the Sydney Opera House. He served for seven years as the Australian Film Commissioner in Los Angeles, promoting Australia’s film and TV production sector.
“I feel very fortunate to be in Santa Barbara,” he said. “It is an extraordinary community in that it supports such a wide array of incredible cultural offerings and that’s exciting. Part of what we plan to do is to understand exactly what this community wants, and then provide it in a way that people know they don’t have to leave town to get world-class entertainment.”
Antioch in Conversation with Nir Kabaretti
March 18, 2015
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Community Hall at Antioch University (602 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara)
Maestro Nir Kabaretti, Music and Artistic Director for the Santa Barbara Symphony, will speak at Antioch University Santa Barbara as the next featured guest in the “Antioch In Conversation” series on Wednesday, April 8, 2015, from 4:30 to 6pm.
Kabaretti will discuss a variety of subjects – including topics related to conductors, musicians, symphonies, and opera companies. Newly appointed Symphony Executive Director David Pratt will introduce Kabaretti and also explain issues facing regional symphonies such as Santa Barbara’s. The audience will be able to mingle with Kabaretti and Pratt at a pre-program reception, with light refreshments beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the AUSB Community Hall. Both will participate in an audience Q&A session at the end of the evening.
Born in Israel, Kabaretti has built an impressive résumé in both symphonic and operatic styles across the globe. He showed musical talent at an early age, studying first at the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University and then at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.
After graduating, Kabaretti was appointed chorus master at the Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival. In 2002, he was named Principal Conductor of Israel’s Raanana Symphonette Orchestra before joining the Santa Barbara Symphony. Kabaretti also has served as the Music Director for the Southwest Florida Symphony since 2012.
The maestro has worked with some of the biggest names in music, including Lang Lang, Placido Domingo, Itzhak Perlman, and Hélène Grimaud. Kabaretti also has been selected to serve as guest conductor for orchestras around the world: Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Orchestra del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Orquesta Filarmonica de Buenos Aires, just to name a few.
[David Pratt] Kabaretti also has an operatic background that has featured his work on productions with the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro Real in Madrid, Opéra de Lausanne, The New National Theatre in Tokyo, Opera Santa Barbara, and more.
Australian native David Pratt recently joined the Santa Barbara Symphony as Executive Director after serving in the same position for the Savannah Philharmonic. Pratt also has held senior positions for the G’Day USA Festival connecting the U.S. and Australia, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Festival of Chamber of Music, and the Melbourne Film Office for the State of Victoria.
The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and available on a first-come basis.
[Noozhawk] Santa Barbara Symphony Program Explores the Romantic Soul
February 13, 2015
The Santa Barbara Symphony, under guest conductor Steven Sloane, will send us a deluxe Valentine's Day greeting for this month's concerts, at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Granada Theatre.
Manfred Lord Byron’s Manfred inspired many artists, including German painter Caspar David Friedrich. The concerts, called "Valentine’s Love Letters," will also feature the talents of pianist Natasha Kislenko, actor Peter Strauss and director Jonathan Fox (of the Ensemble Theatre Co.).
The concerts are organized around the possibility that there was a "famous love triangle" involving the composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856), his wife, the pianist and composer, Clara Josephine Wieck Schumann (1819-1896), and Schumann's young protégé, the composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). Between performances of their works, Peter Strauss will read selections from their letters to each other.
Students Take Musical Journey Through Santa Barbara Symphony’s Concerts for Young People
January 21, 2015
Last Thursday, nearly 2,600 elementary school students from all over Santa Barbara County took a musical journey with the Santa Barbara Symphony as a part of its Concerts for Young People.
Guest conductor Dirk Brossé and guest trumpet soloist Jon Lewis explored the influential role of the trumpet on many genres of music, including jazz, mariachi, liturgical and symphonic.
Students traveled through the history of music in a live performance conducted by Brossé. The two one-hour concerts were provided free by prior arrangement and were performed at the Granada Theatre.
For over 50 years the Santa Barbara Symphony has been introducing fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders to the wonders of the orchestra through Concerts for Young People. This program is child-friendly and allows for interaction between students and the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra. Concerts for Young People are free to both students and teachers.
For more information or to help support the Santa Barbara Symphony’s Music Education programs, click here or call Amy Williams at 805.898.8785.
Santa Barbara Symphony Names New Concertmaster
January 09, 2015
The Santa Barbara Symphony is pleased to announce the appointment of American violinist Jessica Guideri as its new concertmaster.
She will make her debut at the “Chaplin: ‘City Lights’” concerts, co-presented with UCSB Arts & Lectures, at the Granada Theatre at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18.
“After a thorough search, the Santa Barbara Symphony is thrilled to welcome violinist Jessica Guideri as our new concertmaster,” Music Director Nir Kabaretti said. “We are excited to work with such an accomplished musician who will assist in leading the orchestra.”
Santa Barbara Symphony Appoints New Executive Director
December 18, 2014
For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Kelly Kapaun/Juliana Minsky, 805/687-3322
Santa Barbara, CA, December 18, 2014 – After an extensive nationwide search, the Santa Barbara Symphony is pleased to announce the appointment of David Pratt as its new Executive Director. Pratt will assume his duties on March 2, 2015. David Pratt, a native of Australia, has over 15 years of successful management experience in leadership roles across the performing arts, film, and entertainment sectors in the United States and Australia. Prior to joining the Santa Barbara Symphony, Pratt acted as Executive Director for the Savannah Philharmonic, where he delivered substantial increases in audience numbers, donations, and corporate support, producing annual surpluses above targets and introducing new and engaging programs and events.
“After a thorough strategic planning and search process, the Santa Barbara Symphony is thrilled to welcome David Pratt as our new Executive Director,” said Arthur Swalley, Santa Barbara Symphony Board President. “We are proud to bring in a great new leader to build on our current artistic and operational excellence. Even more importantly, Mr. Pratt is uniquely qualified to lead the Symphony in our next stages of growth. We look forward to welcoming Mr. Pratt to the Symphony family.”