Symphony News

[Noozhawk] Santa Barbara Symphony Offers the Pick of the ‘Seasons’

April 12, 2013

By Gerald Carpenter, Noozhawk Contributing Writer

The Santa Barbara Symphony’s next concerts — at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, both in the Granada Theatre — promise to be as exciting to the eye as they always are to the ear.

Along with a sure-fire hit of a program, guest conductor Gregory Vajda has enlisted the services of Jett Green, a painter and/or visual artist, to provide projected images that illustrate or visually echo the second work on the program.

There are two works on the program, two works with virtually the same name. First, the set of four violin concertos by Antonio Vivaldi that the composer himself gave the title, The Four Seasons (with the dynamic young violin virtuoso Nigel Armstrong as soloist); and, after the intermission, the sumptuous ballet by Alexander Glazunov called The Seasons, Opus 67 (with Green’s colorful ad hoc images).

What art historian Sir Kenneth Clark called “The Worship of Nature” established itself in the hearts of civilized Europeans during the 18th century. The depiction of natural scenes, and natural cycles, became a major theme of European art. Before 1789, nature was presented as a benign mistress, an enlightened despot.

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Welcoming Spring with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Dynamic Guest Artists and Multimedia Experience

April 03, 2013

Concerts feature acclaimed international guest conductor Gregory Vajda virtuoso violinist Nigel Armstrong, and a live, onstage painting by Hollywood scenic artist Jett Green

"...conductor Vajda soars." –The Oregonian

On Saturday and Sunday, April 13th and April 14th, the Santa Barbara Symphony 60th Anniversary Season continues with acclaimed Guest Conductor Gregory Vajda leading the orchestra in Vivaldi’s best known work. The Four Seasons, a set of four concertos, ingeniously molds together depictions of delightfully characteristic weather reports. In tune with the season’s theme is Glazunov’s colorful ballet The Seasons, performed as acclaimed Hollywood scenic artist Jett Green paints live onstage, with her creations projected on a screen. The “Four Seasons” concerts will be held in The Granada Theatre on Saturday, April 13th at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 14th at 3 p.m.

“We welcome the changing seasons and this powerful showing of the ‘next generation’ of classical talent with dynamic Gregory Vajda, who has fast become a sought-after conductor on the international scene, and prodigy Nigel Armstrong,” said David Grossman, Santa Barbara Symphony Executive Director. “This is the perfect opportunity for first-timers and our most sophisticated patrons to appreciate one of the most beloved symphonic works of all time, and to experience the excitement of special effects master and painter Jett Green interpreting Glazunov’s The Seasons live, onstage.”

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[News-Press] American pride, with asides

March 24, 2013

By Josef Woodward, News-Press Correspondent

It comes as no surprise or deviation from the central theme of last weekend’s all-American Santa Barbara Symphony program at The Granada that the conductor, our beloved Nir Kabaretti, is an Israeli who lives much of the time in Italy, or that the piano soloist, the commanding Xiayin Wang, is a New Yorker by way of a rigorous musical upbringing in her native China. America is nothing if not the proverbial melting pot landscape, and multi-cultural energies and input impact its classical musical life as much as any other facet of society, if not moreso.

Cultural symbiosis and historical cross-stitching, in fact, were also embedded in the musical element itself. The work affording Ms. Wang her tour de force spotlight on the concert, George Gershwin’s fabulous and clearly jazz-flavored Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra, was a follow-up to his cherished “Rhapsody in Blue,” and like the earlier model, tilts toward European vocabulary while proudly showcasing American musical airs. Likewise, the energetic bravado and lyrical gusts of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from ‘West Side Story’ ” taps into jazz, Broadway, and Euro-centricities of scoring.

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[Casa Magazine] American Masterpieces

March 22, 2013

By Daniel Kepl

Nir Kabaretti is in his 7th season as Music and Artistic Director of the Santa Barbara Symphony. this year is the orchestra’s 60th anniversary as well, and in honor of the occasion American composer Jonathan Leshnoff was commissioned to compose a new work, Concerto Grosso in the Baroque Style, featuring several principal members of the ensemble.

The Santa Barbara Symphony is Kabaretti’s first American gig, and the creative collaboration has been more than a one-way artistic conversation. While the orchestra has grown by several leagues as a result of Israeli born, Italy-based (Florence/Rome) maestro’s leadership, our musicians, many of whom work in the fast lane of Hollywood films, have contributed not a little to Kabaretti’s American aesthetic.

The program opened with the wonderfully accessible, leggy world premiere. In four didactic movements, the piece jousts multiple soloists against the larger orchestra windmill. The first movement pitted Guest Concertmaster Tereza Stanislav and Principal Second Violin Elizabeth Hedman against the orchestra. In the second movement, a quartet of soloists including cellist Trevor Handy, horn James Thacher, John Lewis trumpet and Andrew Malloy, trombone exchange light banter, while ignoring the clamorous orchestral fussing.

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[Independent] Featuring the Gershwin Piano Concerto and a New Commission

March 19, 2013

By Charles Donelan, Independent

In the mid-1920s, just when the emerging popular music of natural born geniuses like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington began to capture America’s imagination, a gifted young pianist named George Gershwin met his promotional match in the powerful conductor Walter Damrosch, then the music director at the National Broadcasting Company and a pioneer in bringing classical music to the radio. Damrosch, who caught the famous 1924 concert at which Gershwin had premiered his revolutionary Rhapsody in Blue, wasted no time. The next day, he commissioned Gershwin to write a full piano concerto. His goal was clear — he wanted to prove classical could be popular, too.

For the Santa Barbara Symphony’s recent performance of Gershwin’s Concerto in F, Xiayin Wang, an excellent young pianist with a particular gift for interpreting Russian music, joined the orchestra as soloist. She was a fine choice for this piece, as in it, Gershwin relied greatly on both his own extraordinary skills as a pianist and his intimate knowledge of the Russian tradition. What really set this music apart was Gershwin’s deeply intuitive blending of Western musical chromaticism with jazz and blues-derived syncopation, and it was in the service of this tendency that Wang and the orchestra were united. As in the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story of Leonard Bernstein that preceded it on the program, the mood was at once festive, invigorating, and darkly exotic.

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[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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