Santa Barbara Symphony News
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.”
Saturday, April 13, 8:00PM Sunday, April 14, 3:00 PM
Gregory Vajda, Guest Conductor – Nigel Armstrong, Violin
Vivaldi, The Four Seasons, Glazunov, The Seasons Op. 67
Ticketholders are also invited to “Behind the Music,” the popular Pre-Concert Talk offering a fresh and fascinating insight into the musical program. These lively, interactive, informal talks, which last for approximately 30 minutes, are open to all ticket holders and are held one hour before the Symphony concert begins.
ACCLAIMED GUEST CONDUCTOR: Gregory Vajda
Gregory Vajda is in his seventh and final season as resident conductor of the Oregon Symphony, a post he assumed in 2005. Since 2009 he has served as artistic and music director of California’s Music in the Mountains, and this year he took up new responsibilities as music director of the Huntsville Symphony in Alabama.
Vajda has performed with the Seattle and Edmonton Symphonies, the Toledo Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa) and the Baltimore, Calgary, Louisville, Milwaukee, Omaha, San Antonio, Toronto and Winnipeg symphonies.
As an opera conductor, Vajda has led performances for Atlanta Opera, Montreal Opera, Hungarian State Opera and the Salzburg Festival.
Vajda is also a gifted clarinetist and composer. Born in Budapest, he studied composition at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music under Professor Ervin Lukács and was a conducting pupil of composer and conductor, Péter Eötvös.
GUEST VIOLINIST: Nigel Armstrong
Violinist Nigel Armstrong recently came to international attention as a finalist in the 14th Tchaikovsky International Competition, where he was the highest-ranked American prizewinner (Fourth Prize) as well as winner of the award for the commissioned work by renowned composer John Corigliano. Since then he has made debuts in Chicago, on the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW series with a performance of Corigliano’s Stomp, and Los Angeles, performing Mozart’s Violin Concerto #3 with the LA Chamber Orchestra.
During the 2012-13 season, Armstrong appears as soloist with the Pacific Symphony (Mozart Concerto #5), the Santa Barbara Symphony (Vivaldi’s Four Seasons), the Stamford (Connecticut) Symphony (Tchaikovsky Concerto) and he returns to the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra on their Baroque Conversations series leading a solo performance/lecture on the solo violin works of Bach.
Born in Sonoma, California, Armstrong made his solo debut at the age of 12 with the Baroque Sinfonia in Santa Rosa and has since performed concertos and showpieces with, among others, the Boston Pops and Norwegian Radio Orchestras; the St. Petersburg, Ft. Wayne, and Reno Philharmonic Orchestras; the Berkeley and Glacier Symphony Orchestras; the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Asociación de Profesores de la Orquesta Estable del Teatro Colón and the American Philharmonic – Sonoma County, with which he performed for two seasons. In 2011 Armstrong performed the Korngold Violin Concerto with Sir Neville Marriner conducting the Colburn Orchestra.
Armstrong has received numerous awards and prizes including silver-medal wins in the 2010 Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition, held in Oslo, Norway, and the First International Violin Competition in Buenos Aires, also held in 2010. In both competitions, he received additional prizes, including the Premio Tango in Buenos Aires and the Ole Bull and Nordheim awards in Oslo. In 2008, Armstrong received multiple prizes in the Corpus Christi International Competition, including the Howard Beebe String Award for Solo Bach Performance and the Jean Ten Have Award for Violin Performance.
A graduate of The Colburn School Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Robert Lipsett, Armstrong is currently in the Diploma program at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studies with Arnold Steinhardt and Shmuel Ashkenasi. Past teachers include Zaven Melikian, Li Lin, and Donald Weilerstein.
ARTIST: Jett Green
Jett Green has created rich, luminescent, and endlessly detailed matte paintings for film since 1984 when she began her career at Industrial, Light and Magic. There she learned how to paint on glass alongside the film industry’s greatest special effects masters.
Green has enjoyed a long, notable career as a matte painter for both special effects and animation. Green’s early credits include The Never Ending Story, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Star Trek 3. As a traditional matte painter she spent most of her time in the company of physical paint brushes and real life paint she applied directly on glass or masonite.
Following her employment at ILM, Matte World Digital, and The Orphanage, Green’s most recent home is with Dreamworks Animation. After years and years of perfecting realism, animation allows her a variety of styles that are colorful and visually rich. Green acknowledges that animation invites “imaginative experiments” and a freedom not as available with special effects.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), The Four Seasons, Op. 8, Nos. 1-4, Composed around 1720, Strings and continuo, Approximately 40 minutes
The Four Seasons quickly became one of Vivaldi’s most popular works. A pirated edition appeared in Paris within weeks of the Amsterdam publication, and by 1728, the concertos had become regular items on the programs of the Concert Spirituel in Paris. The Spring Concerto was adapted in 1755 as an unaccompanied flute solo by Jean Jacques Rousseau, the philosopher and dilettante composer who was attracted by the work’s musical portrayal of Nature, and as a motet by Michel Corrette to the text Laudate Dominum de coelis in 1765. Today, The Four Seasons remains Vivaldi’s best-known work, and one of the most beloved compositions in the orchestral repertory.
Though specifically programmatic (Lawrence Gilman went so far as to call The Four Seasons “symphonic poems” and harbingers of Romanticism), the fast, outer movements of these works use the ritornello form usually found in Baroque concertos. The orchestra’s opening ritornello theme (Italian for “return”), depicting the general emotional mood of each fast movement, recurs to separate its various descriptive episodes, so that the music fulfills both the demands of creating a logical, abstract form and evoking vivid images from Nature. The slow, middle movements are lyrical, almost aria-like, in style. Though Vivaldi occasionally utilized in these pieces the standard concertino, or solo group, of two violins and cello found in the 18th Century concerto grosso, The Four Seasons is truly a work for solo violin and orchestra, and much of the music’s charm comes from the contrasting and interweaving of the soloist, concertino and accompanying orchestra.
Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936), The Seasons, Op. 67, Composed in 1899.Woodwinds in pairs plus piccolo and English horn, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, celesta, harp and strings. Approximately 36 minutes
Alexander Glazunov was gifted with an exceptional ear and musical memory, and early demonstrated his gifts in his native St. Petersburg. Glazunov’s three ballets — Raymonda, Les Ruses d’Amour and The Seasons — were all produced between 1898 and 1900. The Seasons was premiered in St. Petersburg on February 7, 1900 with libretto and choreography by Marius Petipa, who had collaborated with Tchaikovsky on The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. The ballet has no distinctive plot, but is arranged as a series of four divertissements. In the First Tableaux, the Spirit of Winter enters with his attendants, Frost, Ice, Hail and Snow; each has a solo variation. Two gnomes suddenly appear, and set fire to some kindling. Unable to resist the warmth, Winter and his band approach the fire and disappear. In Tableaux Two, Spring dances joyfully with Zephyr amid a sunny field of flowers. Tableaux Three (Summer) begins with the appearance of the Spirit of Corn. The spring flowers wilt and their petals droop. Several Naiads enter, symbolizing refreshing streams. The flowers revive and dance with the Naiads. Suddenly, satyrs invade the grove, attempting, without success, to carry off the Spirit of Corn. Autumn (Tableaux Four) celebrates the grape harvest with a stirring bacchanale, with solo variations for Winter, Spring and Zephyr. The dance grows wilder until a deluge of autumn leaves ends the revels. The starlit sky is revealed as a reminder of the constancy of the universe that serves as the backdrop for the changes of the earthly seasons.
The Principal Concert Sponsor for the Santa Barbara Symphony’s April 2013 concert is The Mosher Foundation.
Concert Schedules and Ticketing
All Saturday concerts begin at 8 p.m. and all Sunday concerts begin at 3 p.m. with a dynamic pre-concert lecture, “Behind the Music” starting one hour before the concert. Single ticket prices range from $39 to $100, with special rates for seniors, students and groups. To purchase subscriptions to the Santa Barbara Symphony, call the Symphony office at (805) 898-9386 or order online at symphony.seeingishosting.com.
All Symphony concerts are held in The Granada Theatre at 1214 State Street in downtown Santa Barbara.
About The Santa Barbara Symphony
Celebrating 60 years of great music, the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra Association was founded on the belief that a special city deserves a special orchestra. The Symphony has been celebrated for its unique ability to deliver brilliant orchestral concerts while maintaining a strong commitment to education and community engagement. With audiences almost twice the size of any orchestra in the Santa Barbara area, the Santa Barbara Symphony is, according to Mayor Helene Schneider, “A jewel in Santa Barbara’s crown.” For more information, please go to symphony.seeingishosting.com.