Symphony News

“Instrument Art” - Silent Auction

April 25, 2016

Santa Barbara Youth Symphony is excited to host the 1st Annual Hands On Music Festival on the steps of the Lobero Theatre on Sunday, May 22nd from 12 to 4pm. During this free event, the community is invited to “test drive” the instruments from the Music Van and enjoy several fun, music-related activities. Members of the Junior Orchestra will perform a few pieces, and visitors may sign-up to sit onstage and get an inside look at an orchestra rehearsal. At 4pm following the festival, we invite you inside the theatre to enjoy a free concert by the Youth Symphony.

As a special addition to this day, Youth Symphony members decorated, redesigned and gave new life to old instruments! Their work was nothing short of amazing, and these fantastic pieces of art will be available in a silent auction benefiting the Santa Barbara Symphony Music Education Center. The silent auction will start May 3rd at 9am and end on May 22nd at 4pm at the Hands On Music Festival. If you have any questions regarding the event or silent auction, please contact Amy Williams at 805-898-8785 or We look forward to seeing you and thank you for your support of the Symphony’s Music Education Center.

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In Memory of Maestro Ronald Ondrejka (1932-2016)

April 21, 2016

Former conductor of the Santa Barbara Symphony, died suddenly early in the morning of April 7, 2016 at his home in Carpinteria where he lived with his wife, Elise Unruh.

Ondrejka was born into a musical family in 1932 in Manhattan. His Italian-American mother was a pianist and piano teacher; his Czechoslovakian father was a concert violinist. After completing his undergraduate and graduate studies at the Eastman School of Music in 1954, Ondrejka went on to pursue a conducting career that put him on the podium of major symphony orchestras and brought him into close contact with the finest musicians in the world.

After military service touring Europe with the Seventh Army Symphony as violist and conductor, winning much praise for the ensemble wherever it traveled, he was on the conducting staff of Radio City Music Hall for three years. In 1961, he was a prize winner in the Royal Liverpool International Conducting Competition. With the recommendation and sponsorship of the American Symphony Orchestra League, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded Ondrejka a grant for advanced conducting study.

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Santa Barbara Symphony to Close out Season with Spanish Guitar Great Pablo Sáinz Villegas

April 20, 2016

May 14 and 15 performances will feature concerto by prolific film composer – and one-time local resident – Elmer Bernstein, as well as works by Weber, Bruckner

Santa Barbara, CA — The Santa Barbara Symphony, under the baton of Maestro Nir Kabaretti, will conclude its 2015-16 season with a pair of exhilarating concerts featuring classical guitar virtuoso Pablo Sáinz Villegas at the historic Granada Theatre on May 14 and 15. Mr. Villegas will showcase his charismatic stage presence and formidable technique on Elmer Bernstein’s “superbly crafted and often inspired” (Gramophone) Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra. Also including Weber’s rousing Der Freischütz Overture and Bruckner’s popular “Romantic” Symphony No. 4, the concerts will take place at 8 pm on Saturday, May 14, and at 3 pm on Sunday, May 15. Tickets are now available.

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Araïza Headlines Santa Barbara Symphony Fundraiser at the Lobero Theatre on May 9

April 15, 2016

Santa Barbara, CA — Pianist and longtime Santa Barbara Symphony lecturer Saïd Ramón Araïza will perform and discuss works by Chopin, Schubert, Liszt, and others at the historic Lobero Theatre on Monday, May 9. Whimsically titled “The Muses, the Mud, the Music, and Your Mother,” the lively, hour-long presentation will begin at 5:30 pm, followed by a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception outside the Lobero’s main entrance. Tickets cost $75, with proceeds benefiting the Santa Barbara Symphony and its award-winning Music Education Center.

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[Noozhawk] Symphony to Sail the Ocean Blue With Selections From Torke, Debussy

April 07, 2016

Santa Barbara’s contiguity with an arm of the Pacific Ocean will be celebrated during the Santa Barbara Symphony’s next program, “Sounds of the Ocean,” conducted by Maestro Nir Kabaretti.

The concerts, which feature three sea-oriented works with a lush and creamy Russian concerto in the center, will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 9, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 10, both at The Granada Theatre.

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Just Released: Ginastera - The Vocal Album with the Santa Barbara Symphony

April 05, 2016

"...a triumph... the most effective and affecting music is the final scene..." --John Rockwell, The San Francisco Examiner (Plácido Domingo in Don Rodrigo)

Ginastera - The Vocal Album marks the centenary of Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983). In 1966, at the New York City Opera, the US premiere of his opera Don Rodrigo gave the young Plácido Domingo his major breakthrough. Domingo performs excerpts from Don Rodrigo, while two sopranos – Ana-Maria Martínez and Virginia Tola – sing Ginastera’s Cinco canciones populares argentinas and cantata Milena respectively. Recorded in 2002 with the Santa Barbara Symphony and conducted by Gisèle Ben-Dor, a notable champion of Latin American music.

Available for download on iTunes and Amazon