Symphony News

[Noozhawk] Santa Barbara Symphony to Showcase ‘American Masterpieces’

March 16, 2013

By Gerald Carpenter, Noozhawk Contributing Writer

The upcoming brace of concerts by the Santa Barbara Symphony — at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Granada Theatre — has been dubbed “American Masterpieces” by conductor Nir Kabaretti, and he has enlisted the artistry of exquisite pianist Xiayin Wang to serve as guest soloist for the occasion.

As you must have guessed, the program is confined to works by American composers — three of them — including the world premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff’s Concerto Grosso (commissioned by the Santa Barbara Symphony and featuring several first-chair solos); Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story”; and George Gershwin’s Concerto in F-Major for Piano and Orchestra (with Wang).

Leshnoff’s music is romantic, that much can be said without controversy. His romanticism is not of the heart-on-sleeve variety, however, but feels tentative and introspective. He is a genius of moods and atmosphere. I’ll stop there, not wanting to place any restrictions on what you may imagine his Concerto Grosso will sound like — I have no more idea than you do, since none of us has heard it yet.

In a few short years, one notes, Leshnoff’s music has compiled an enviable amount of good press — all of it deserved, I must say.


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KDB 93.7FM interview with composer Jonathan Leshnoff

March 15, 2013


[Scene Magazine] All-American, with Chinese Roots

March 15, 2013

Rising start pianist Xiayin Wang makes her Santa Barbara debut with the Santa Barbara Symphony this weekend

By Josef Woodard, News-Press Correspondent

For this weekend’s Santa Barbara Symphony concert agenda, the programming focus turns to us Americans. The Symphony has periodically broached the all-American plan in concert, as with last year’s concert featuring music of Dave and Chris Brubeck, Gershwin and the greatest American composer, Charles Ives. It’s a fine and commendable tradition, giving an occasional American accent into the inherently Euro-centric business of western classical music, orchestra division.

This time out, maestro Nir Kabaretti will lead the orchestra in something old, Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, something brand new–a world premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff’s Cocnerto Grosso–and something older, a return to the world of Gershwin. Last year’s Gershwin model was Rhapsody in Blue, and this season turns to another jazz-colored piece, the Piano Concerto in F, with fine Chinese-born, New York-based Xiayin Wang in the solo spotlight.

Ms. Wang is a technically bold, sensitive and ascending pianist, who holds degrees from the Shanghai Conservatory and the Manhattan School of Music. She has been making rounds of orchestral work, and has played Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall as soloist, in which role she has also released two fascinating contemporary music CDs, showcasing music of Richard Danielpour and the late Earl Wild. Among other corners of the music world, American music comes naturally to her.


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[Montecito Journal] Leshnoff’s Concerto Grosso for SB Symphony

March 14, 2013

By Steve Libowitz, Montecito Journal

Jonathan Leshnoff had never even heard of Nir Kabaretti when the Santa Barbara Symphony’s music director contacted him back in 2011 to ascertain if the composer would be interested in a commission to create a new work in celebration of the symphony’s 60th anniversary.

As Leshnoff recalls, they had a mutual friend who had recommended him to the conductor.

“Nir just contacted me out of the blue,” Leshnoff, who lives in Baltimore said over the phone earlier this week. “But the minute I first talked to him, I liked him right away. We just hit it off. We’ve had good discussions and lots of laughs over the phone and Skype ever since.”

No word on whether Kabaretti’s ebullience made its way into Leshnoff’s Concerto Grosso in the Baroque Style, a 15-to-20-minute work that will open this weekend’s pair of symphony concerts at the Granada. But the idea of honoring he orchestra’s principal players was the organizing theme for the new work.


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[Newspress] Return of dance

February 13, 2013

By Josef Woodard, News-Press Correspondent

Interestingly, one of the much-anticipated highlights of the Santa Barbara Symphony’s current 60th anniversary season, over the weekend, was a program in which the orchestra itself was sent to the “basement,” but for art’s sake. Of course, we’re talking about last weekend’s encore encounter with the State Street Ballet, with the theme of a newly-choreographed take on Stravinsky’s career-launching classic “The Firebird,” during which the orchestra itself descended into the orchestra pit, surrendering the stage to the dance element.

This was the second collaboration between the two local organizations, after a version of Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” in 2011, and the combined forces and respective audience draws filled The Granada, even on the normally less-populated Sunday afternoon performance.

While “The Firebird” ruled the concert’s second half, the first half belonged to the orchestra that Nir Kabaretti has led and nicely honed. The program opened, beauteously, with Debussy’s “Danse sacree et Danse profane (Sacred and Profane Dances),” heard just a few months ago in the Camerata Pacifica season, with harpist Bridget Kibbey as soloist. In this grander orchestral version, the Santa Barbara Symphony’s own principal harpist Michelle Temple seized the solo spot, and through her performance achieved this delicious harp showcase’s sense of lucid dreaming.


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[Independent] The Symphony Plays Stravinsky for State Street Ballet Dancers

February 12, 2013

By Charles Donelan, Independent

The Santa Barbara Symphony extended an exceptionally interesting season of programming last weekend with what has now become a very welcome annual event — their collaboration with State Street Ballet. This year, the two organizations took advantage of the very considerable talents of choreographer William Soleau, whose work has, over the past several years, contributed to the distinction that State Street has achieved as one of the country’s most productive and original contemporary ballet companies. Soleau created a new setting of Igor Stravinsky’s Suite from “The Firebird” in its 1945 version, and the results, both onstage and in the orchestra pit, were splendid.


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