Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 9:21 pm | Fair 63º


Santa Barbara Symphony’s Guitar Festival Strikes Diverse Chord

There really is something for everyone at the weeklong tribute to true guitar heroes

A permanent legacy — one hopes — of its first Latin American music director, Gisele Ben Dor, the Santa Barbara Symphony’s 2nd International Guitar Festival is under way, with eight richly packed days of fun, excitement and great music, culminating in a pair of concerts by the symphony itself.

The festival started Saturday with an electrifying performance at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club by the Los Angeles Electric 8, an electric guitar chamber octet of eight classically trained guitarists.

The Santa Barbara Youth Symphony gets into the act at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Lobero Theatre. Under the baton of music director Andrew Radford, the youth symphony will perform a program that includes 16-year-old Los Angeles guitarist Tim Callobre playing the solo role in Joaquin Rodrigo’s beloved “Concierto de Aranjuez” and the youth symphony’s own 13-year-old violinist Sofiya Prykhitko as soloist in a violin concerto. Also on the program will be Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s charming and tuneful “Capriccio espagnol.” Tickets are $12 for adults, $8.50 for students and seniors, and are available from the Lobero Box Office at 805.963.0761. Children under 5 are admitted free.

At 8 p.m. Sunday, the brilliant and charismatic Colombian guitarist Ricardo Cobo will be featured in a “Candlelit Recital” at the historic Presidio Chapel, 123 E. Canon Perdido.

Nor is the festival confined to the “classical” guitar. At 7:30 p.m. Monday at SOhO, Laurence Juber, the former lead guitarist of Paul McCartney’s Wings, will prove he is a master of acoustic finger style before an audience of diners and music lovers. Tickets are $12 with dinner reservation, $15 for the show only.

The towering comic talent John Cleese will perform a world premiere with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.
The towering comic talent John Cleese will perform a world premiere with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.

Indeed, for the less classically oriented, Tuesday may well prove to be the high water of the festival, for at 8 p.m. on that day, the incomparable Leo Kottke will take the stage at The Marjorie Luke Theatre, 721 E. Cota St. Kottke can play Bach to make you weep, but he can also play blues and bluegrass, folk and fado, and has been known to do so all at once. Tickets to the Kottke performance are $29 and $50 in advance; $35 and $55 at the door.

And on Wednesday, on the Lobero stage, for those who would rather laugh than weep, there will be the tallest Python John Cleese performing the world premiere of “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote: Words and Music from the Time of Cervantes” with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, with the original score by LAGQ’s Bill Kanengiser. The LAGQ will fill out the evening with familiar and new musical favorites from its extensive repertoire. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40, $65 and $100 — the $100 ticket includes entrance to the VIP post-concert reception with Cleese and LAGQ. Call 805.963.0761.

Jazz aficionados may rest assured that they have not been forgotten; jazz guitarist Russell Malone will team up with the Ron Carter Trio for an eclectic evening at the Lobero at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $35, $45 and $100; call 805.963.0761.

If you are wondering what happened to the Latin American element in the festival, take heart. At 8 p.m. Friday, the Brasil Guitar Duo (João Luiz and Douglas Lora) will play a lively recital in Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West featuring a program ranging from Bach, Debussy and Piazzolla, to waltzes and other Brazilian dances. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door and $15 for students.

At noon Saturday, the Brasil Guitar Duo moves over to The Granada for a Guitar Family Concert, with an entertaining and educational program designed for children of all ages. Tickets are $15 for adults 18+, $10 for children 12+, and free for children under 12.

The West Coast premiere of a new work by Sérgio Assad will cap the Santa Barbara Symphony’s Guitar Festival.
The West Coast premiere of a new work by Sérgio Assad will cap the Santa Barbara Symphony’s Guitar Festival.

The festival will also present free lunchtime guitar recitals, Tuesday through Friday on the steps of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State St. The featured musicians will be Flamenco guitarist Chris Fossek on Tuesday, violinist Thomas Yee and guitarist Jose Rodriguez on Wednesday, blues guitarist Kenny Sultan on Thursday, and the AlmaNova Duo (flautist Jessica Pierce and guitarist Almer Imamovic) on Friday.

The concerts by the Santa Barbara Symphony that will provide the festival with a very “Grande Finale” indeed will feature guest conductor Rossen Milanov and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, Matt Greif and John Dearman). The program is called the “Return of the Guitars!” and the band will play it at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. March 29 in The Granada (805.899.2222). There are four works scheduled: Georges Bizet’s charming “L’Arlesienne Suite No. 1,” the West Coast premiere of Sérgio Assad’s concerto “Interchange for Guitar Quartet and Orchestra,” Maurice Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite,” and Alberto Ginastera’s dashing and popular “Variaciones Concertantes.”

Meanwhile, as the symphony nourishes the soul with its music, it aims to help feed hungry stomachs with a food drive on behalf of Unity Shoppe. From now through March 30, at local branches of Montecito Bank & Trust and Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, as well as at all Guitar Festival concerts, the symphony is asking the community to participate in the Feeding America National Food Drive by bringing donations of nonperishable items to specified locations. All donations will be distributed through Unity Shoppe, 1219 State St.

Click here for tickets to March 28-29 Guitar Festival events or call 805.899.2222. For all other festival tickets, call the Lobero Box Office at 805.963.0761.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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