[Scene Magazine] Grand, Choral-Fortified Finale
Santa Barbara Symphony performs Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony, accompanied by the Santa Barbara Choral Society and Quire of Voyces
Over the course of the last several months, the Symphony’s season has featured such highlights as a version of Stravinsky’s “Firebird” with the State Street Ballet, a commissioned world premiere by American composer Jonathan Leshnoff, and an onstage live painting event to the tune of Glazunov’s “The Seasons.” Another round of top-notch soloists have passed through at The Granada, in the line of symphonic duty this season.
This weekend, season No. 60 rounds the corner to its finale, this time another grand and much beloved masterwork, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection,” the 80-minute spread of which constitutes the entire program. But they couldn’t do it alone, and the requisite epic choral forces necessary to realize Mahler’s vision is being supplied by a regular collaborator of the Symphony, the Santa Barbara Choral Society, and also another favorite choral group in the community, the Quire of Voyces, whose concerts in the St. Anthony’s chapel–such as one earlier this month–combine early music and new musical energies.
Further amping up the vocal component of this weekend’s grand finale, the soloists involved in the Mahler are young and ascendant stars soprano Jennifer Black and mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford. For her part, Ms. Mumford has been recently associated with another Southern California symphonic body, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, having toured the U.S. and Europe with the orchestra, under Gustavo Dudamel’s baton, in performances of John Adams’ “The Other May.” She also worked in the realm of Mahler recently, in his “Das Lied von der Erde,” with the Lincoln Center’s “White Lights Festival.”
In connection with the wrapping of the 60th season, we recently checked in with Mr. Kabaretti, about this weekend, the last several seasons of his tenure at the podium and more.
News-Press: This has been a great–and diverse–60th season for the Santa Barbara Symphony. Is there a sense within the symphony organization of having orchestral life and logistics can be vulnerable and threatened by economic forces?
Nir Kabaretti: I believe we have achieved a strong identity of an exciting and passionate orchestra which is an indispensable part of the community.
Diversity is our DNA, and in our program puzzle, one can find music from almost 300 years of music history, in many different styles, from different countries, and up to the contemporary, including commissioned pieces written especially for us.
NP: Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony is such a grand work and a fairly serious way to end the season. Is this one of those large masterpieces which is both challenging and rewarding, for musicians and listeners alike?
NK: Absolutely. This monumental and complicated piece is indeed very challenging for every orchestra, and the musicians love this challenge. Mahler’s music has also a very powerful impact on the listener. I believe one can’t remain indifferent to the sounds of Mahler, especially in this symphony. But beyond the music, Mahler is touching with his art the mysterious and unanswered question of life, the meaning of a life, and what is beyond it.
NP: Joining forces with the symphony are the Choral Society, which has collaborated with the symphony on many occasions, and also the Quire of Voyces. You also worked with the State Street Ballet again this season, on Stravinsky’s “Firebird.” Is the process of interacting with other arts organizations in Santa Barbara something which expands the symphony’s agenda, on different levels?
NK: Yes, I strongly believe that we should collaborate with other organizations, and offer our audience multimedia experiences, vocal music, ballet, etc. Beyond the artistic idea, it allows the Symphony to open its door to new audience, which is so important especially in these difficult financial environment.
NP: I was at the luncheon for Jazz at Lincoln Center at The Granada in April, and there you were speaking about the importance of a culture-centering venue such as The Granada. Your time with the Symphony has coincided with the orchestra’s move to and settling into The Granada, after many years at the Arlington. Do you have a sense of The Granada being a kind of nurturing space, for the orchestra as well as other arts in town?
NK: I was thrilled with the move to The Granada, because it is a wonderful venue, on many levels. Not many places around world cna an orchestra switch from the stage into the pit in just a few minutes, which allows us to combine a ballet with a normal concert. I know other organizations in town also enjoy the presence of such a great performing center, and indeed, it becomes the nurturing place.
NP: Programming-wise, you have managed to work a good balancing act between standard repertoire and coming up with creative fresh ideas. What are the highlights of the next Santa Barbara Symphony season?
NK: We continue to combine the master pieces next to discovering less known music. Next season we will play Holst’s “The Planets,” Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2, to name a few, combined with living composers like Dirk Brosse, Christopher Rouse and Noam Sheriff.
We will dedicate one concert to Verdi’s 200th Anniversary, featuring highlights from his operas, and another program will include all Mozart music, led by Maestro Mattias Bamert.
I am also very excited to share the stage with other fantastic guest artists, like pianist Helene Grimaud, and many more.
NP: You have been at the helm of the Santa Barbara Symphony for several years now, and guided the orchestra through growth and refinement. How do you reflect back on your time here thus far?
NK: It has been a very exciting time for all of us at the symphony. As you mentioned, the move to a new theatre, and the large number of new musicians who joined us after massive auditions–this all brought such a fresh and wonderful energy. Also as an ensemble, we musically grew together, and continue to reach for new heights.
NP: More generally in your artistic life, what other projects are you involved in these days, and are there particular things on the horizon you’re especially excited about?
NK: Beside the concerts in Santa Barbara, I am very excited about my next projects, including Verdi’s “Nabucco,” in an open-air Roman amphitheater in Switzerland, concerts with the Royal Orchestra of Seville (Spain), and a concert performance of Beethoven’s “Fidelio” with the Rochester Philharmonic.