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Gerald Carpenter: Symphony to Present One Composer, Two Concerts

Season-opening performance Sunday at The Granada will feature works by Beethoven

The inaugural concert of the Santa Barbara Symphony’s 2010-11 season will present only two works, both by the same composer.

The principal artists will include Nir Kabaretti, music director and conductor; Susanna Phillips, soprano; Elise Quagliata, mezzo-soprano; Bryan Griffin, tenor; and Jason Grant, bass-baritone; with the Santa Barbara Choral Society (JoAnne Wasserman, director; full chorus conductor), the Westmont College Choir (Dr. Michael Shasberger, director) and Quire of Voyces (Nathan Kreitzer, director).

The concerts will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17, in The Granada.

The single composer is Ludwig van Beethoven. The works are the Overture to the Consecration of the House Opus 124 (or Die Weihe des Hauses) and the Symphony No. 9 in D-Minor, Opus 125, “Choral.”

“Mankind made plausible.” That is what a Beethoven symphony sounded like to Edna St. Vincent Millay: “Sweet sounds, oh, beautiful music, do not cease!/ Reject me not into the world again./ With you alone is excellence and peace.” Appropriate echoes of Shelley aside, Millay is on to something real about Beethoven, the way he creates a new world around the listener, in which the listener is temporarily transformed into a better person.

“No one who truly understands my music can ever again know unhappiness,” Beethoven said. When I’m listening to the Ninth, I believe it. The sorrows of history, dissolved in joy.

The Consecration of the House overture is occasional music, with a complicated history that will not usefully inform your hearing of the piece. Beethoven was able to turn a commission into an opportunity to realize a project to treat some themes in the manner of composers of preceding generations. The overture is Beethoven in costume, dressed as Joseph Haydn and George Handel. He carries it off with great aplomb. It is a neo-baroque bibelot, disguised in gravitas like a Venetian noble at a masked ball. And, of course, it is absolutely thrilling.

For the first time ever, radio station KDB 93.7 FM will broadcast Saturday’s season-opener live from The Granada beginning at 7:50 p.m.

Tickets to the concerts are available from The Granada box office at 1214 State St. or 805.899.2222. Click here to order online.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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