Q&A with Maestro Nir Kabaretti
Q. This being your 10th anniversary season with the Santa Barbara Symphony, can you share some of your favorite moments of the past decade here?
A. I am extremely excited about this season, which in many ways reflects the Symphony’s last decade of great music-making. Among other things, this means collaborations with other art organizations, staples of the symphonic repertoire alongside lesser-known works, American composers, and fantastic soloists, including from our own orchestra. Stellar musical moments of the last 10 years have included sharing the stage with Lang Lang, Hélène Grimaud, Lynn Harrell, and Anne Akiko Meyers; fully staged productions of Stravinsky’s Firebird and Copland’s Appalachian Spring with State Street Ballet; performances of Beethoven’s Ninth and Mahler’s “Resurrection” symphonies with the Santa Barbara Choral Society and Quire of Voyces – there are just too many to mention!
Q. The Symphony is coming off a spectacularly successful production of Carmina Burana, also involving State Street Ballet, the Santa Barbara Choral Society, and the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts. Can you speak to some of the difficulties inherent in such a large undertaking?
A. To begin with, the piece is so large in terms of orchestra size there was insufficient space in the pit for all our musicians, so we had to position a few on stage, reducing the space for dancing ever so slightly. We also needed to be clear on the musical version, including the pronunciation of the Latin (we opted for German Latin owing to the Bavarian origin of the poems). And with the orchestra in the pit, the chorus at the back of the stage, and the dancers between them, it was a bit difficult to synchronize the ensembles given the distances involved.
Q. The Symphony will next collaborate with Ensemble Theatre Company for “Shakespeare Set to Music.” How important are these collaborations?
A. It is very important that we be viewed as an essential component of the community’s artistic profile, and this includes collaborating with other arts organizations. Santa Barbara is blessed to have such a wealth of first-rate artists and musicians. These collaborations are simply part of our musical DNA.
Q. The program in March will include a pair of pieces from your Santa Barbara Symphony debut, Wagner’s Die Meistersinger Overture and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, in addition to Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto featuring the Symphony’s own Jon Lewis. How has your approach to such classic works changed over the intervening years?
A. Many things have changed since we performed those pieces almost 10 years ago, the move to the Granada Theater and the auditions that brought many new players to the orchestra being among the most notable. The time we’ve since spent working together on a wide array of repertoire has led us, I believe, to look at the same pieces in a new light. It’s like seeing a film again, or re-reading a book. You certainly know the story, but find new details and meanings.
Q. The season’s concluding concerts will include the Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra by the late Elmer Bernstein, who resided in the area. There’s a certain synergy in this, no?
A. Playing the music of Elmer Bernstein comes naturally to the Santa Barbara Symphony. He was a wonderful composer, and we are very proud of the relationship he had with our orchestra. He’s in effect part of our family, and I am very excited at the prospect of playing his guitar concerto.