Symphony News

Santa Barbara Symphony Kicks Off 65th Anniversary Season with The Symphony Ball

July 24, 2018

Anne Smith Towbes and Janet Garufis, Santa Barbara, CA— To celebrate its 65th anniversary, the Santa Barbara Symphony will host The Symphony Ball, on Friday, October 19 at the Hilton Beachfront Resort, beginning at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and a silent auction.  

“Let us take you back to the era of “Supper Clubs” with Broadway star and host Lisa Vroman, Maestro Nir Kabaretti and members of the Santa Barbara Symphony as we kick off the 65th Anniversary Season with an evening filled with music, dancing, and culinary experiences,” said Kevin Marvin, executive director. 

Long-time Symphony patrons, new classical music lovers, and all community members are welcome and encouraged to join the anniversary celebration. As guests arrive, the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony will welcome them, followed by dinner and dancing under the stars in the hotel’s Plaza del Sol. Unique items will be included in both the silent and live auctions, including a trip to Israel to attend a Music Festival led by Maestro Nir Kabaretti. 

The Honorary Ball Committee, led by Anne Smith Towbes and Janet Garufis, includes Dan and Meg Burnham, Brooks and Kate Firestone, Patricia Gregory, Joan and Geoff Rutkowski, Gillian Launie, Ed and Sue Birch, Elizabeth Gabler, Susan Worster, and Hiroko Benko. The Symphony Ball is sponsored by Robert C. Dohmen, Dan and Meg Burnham, Brooks and Kate Firestone, Patricia Gregory for the Baker Foundation, Montecito Bank & Trust, Rick and Regina Roney, and Bryant & Sons, Ltd. More sponsors will be announced in mid-August. 

The Santa Barbara Symphony was established in 1953 to bring live classical music performances to the region. Today, under the leadership of Maestro Nir Kabaretti, concerts are performed and produced flawlessly. The Santa Barbara community will continue to see the benefits of the creative Symphony programing, a strong presence in the community and in the schools, and the talents of the musicians.

The 2018-2019 season opens in October with The Symphony Ball on Friday, October 19, and performances of “Rhapsody in Blue” on Saturday and Sunday October 20-21. Subscriptions to the 65th anniversary season are available and provide the best seats at the best price. Purchase tickets to The Symphony Ball and the upcoming season online 24/7 at or by phone at 805.898.9386. 

Pictured:  Honorary Committee Co-Chairs Anne Smith Towbes and Janet Garufis.

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Kate Kurlas to Lead Santa Barbara Symphony Marketing and Sales Team as Vice President of Marketing

July 18, 2018

Santa Barbara, CA— Kate Kurlas, an award-winning executive with more than a decade of marketing, sales and operations experience will join the Santa Barbara Symphony and lead the marketing and sales team and strategic revenue initiatives. 

“Not only is Kate a local Santa Barbaran who knows the community and culture, she is an expert in target marketing and brand positioning which will greatly benefit the Symphony organization and our audiences,” said Kevin Marvin, executive director. “As a leader, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with such a solid group of highly-experienced and creative management team members and to work side-by-side to implement the new strategic vision for the community. In August, Kate joins the Santa Barbara Symphony as a key member of this special team and I look forward to accomplishing great things together.” 

Prior to joining the Symphony, Kate worked at The Granada Theatre in various leadership roles. Most recently, she was director of marketing and sales and previously as director of operations. She is a graduate of UCSB where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communications, and an associate’s degree in commercial arts from Santa Barbara City College. She is in the current class of Emerging Leaders, a leadership program through Leading From Within to empower and elevate the next generation of nonprofit leaders. She dedicates her volunteer time to Santa Barbara Beautiful as the 2nd vice president on the board of directors.

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Blaine Inafuku, formerly of Seattle Symphony, appointed as new Director of Artistic Administration

July 10, 2018

SANTA BARBARA, CA—The Santa Barbara Symphony continues to strengthen the vision and enhance the value of the organization to Santa Barbara residents and visitors. Blaine Inafuku joins the team at the Santa Barbara Symphony as Director of Artistic Administration on July 2, 2018.  Under the leadership of the Symphony’s Artistic and Music Director Nir Kabaretti and the Artistic Advisory Committee, Inafuku will play a key role in the crafting and implementation of the organization’s artistic vision. Inafuku’s primary focus will include curating innovative new artistic programming that meets the needs of the community with critical responsibilities in the planning and administration of the orchestra operations, budget, orchestra personnel, and production management.

Joining the senior management team on July 2, Inafuku comes to the Santa Barbara Symphony with more than 10 years of artistic and operations management experience with some of the industry’s top ensembles, including the Seattle Symphony, the former Chicago Chamber Musicians and the Chicago Symphony. A classically trained percussionist, Inafuku’s extensive knowledge of the classical repertoire will serve Santa Barbara Symphony in bringing creative, meaningful programming to the community. He has a strong background in production planning and internal operations of small and large ensembles and has performed with the Chicago Symphony, Chicago Lyric Opera, Seattle Symphony, among others, and abroad with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Blaine earned a Master of Music degree from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois; a Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois; and holds a Professional Performance Certificate from Lynn Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton, Florida.

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Symphony Celebrates Additional Three-Year Extension with Maestro Kabaretti

May 24, 2018

SANTA BARBARA, CA—Music and Artistic Director Nir Kabaretti has signed a three-year contract extension with the Santa Barbara Symphony, with plans to continue to bring high-quality performances of interest to Santa Barbara audiences. The Board of Directors enthusiastically approved the contract with compliments to Kabaretti and excitement about the current and coming seasons.  

Since 2006, the Santa Barbara community has embraced Nir Kabaretti and has relished his dynamic and innovative style. At the time, more than 300 candidates from around the world expressed interest in the position to lead the Santa Barbara Symphony. Kabaretti was the clear choice due to his vast experience and talent in symphonic and operatic repertoire, and he has most certainly fulfilled the expectations of the Santa Barbara community for the last 12 seasons. 

“We are grateful that our ever-popular and sought-after Maestro will be with us for the next three years. Under his artistic leadership, the orchestra has developed into one of the finest in the region,” said Dr. Don Gilman, President of the Board of Directors.

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[Noozhawk] Santa Barbara Symphony Highlights Beauty in Mahler’s ‘Tragic’ Piece

April 24, 2018

The Santa Barbara Symphony’s Sunday matinee performance of Gustav Mahler’sturn-of-the-20th-century epic Symphony No. 6 in A Minor, “Tragic” captured and expressed the reputed power of the work.

Paradox and conflict, suffering and grace permeate the entire symphony.

Apparently, it engenders the same: Ongoing critical argument about the correct order of the movements influenced the programs. The order of the second and third movements were reversed on Saturday and Sunday.

The first movement allegro was epic by itself. None of the 102 musicians on stage stayed in the background.

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[Independent] S.B. Symphony Takes On Mahler’s 6th

April 18, 2018

Weekend Program Highlights Composer’s Epic Vision

It’s not something that happens often when it comes to the orchestral repertoire, but this weekend, the Santa Barbara Symphony will play a well-known, major piece that it has never played before. After 64 years of programming, the group will finally get around to performing the Symphony No. 6 in A Minor of Gustav Mahler this Saturday-Sunday, and it is no small undertaking — obviously part of the reason we haven’t heard it live here before. With a full roster of 102 musicians onstage and a length of approximately 80 minutes, the so-called tragic symphony will be presented alone and without intermission.

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