Thursday, June 21 , 2018, 1:48 pm | Mostly Cloudy 68º


Gerald Carpenter: Santa Barbara Strings Plays Brahms, Mozart, Webern

Mary Beth Woodruff Click to view larger
Mary Beth Woodruff

The annual Santa Barbara Strings Artistry of Strings benefit concert will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 10, in Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West, 1070 Fairway Road.

The benefit will provide support to nurture young string musicians and sustain their teaching artists.

The Artistry of Strings weekend also includes a masterclass for Santa Barbara Strings chamber ensembles and an orchestra rehearsal led by guest conductor Basil Vendryes, assisted by Jane Chung and Andrew Smith.

Mary Beth Woodruff, violin, founder and director of Santa Barbara Strings, describes the evening:

"The program will begin with a movement of the Haydn 'Quinten' String Quartet, performed by our elite student Honors Quartet to showcase the exceptional talent and hard work that is going on within our Santa Barbara Strings family of young musicians.

"Then, my professional colleagues from across the country will join me in string quartet masterworks from the classical and romantic eras, topped by a provocative 20th century piece by Austrian composer Anton Webern.

"The players are among the best chamber musicians in the country, in addition to being sought-after pedagogues. It is with great joy and gratitude that we welcome them each year for this concert and week of masterclasses for our students."
This year's players are the same Woodruff, violin, with Jane Chung, violin; Basil Vendryes, viola; and Andrew Smith, cello.

After the Haydn, they will play Johannes Brahms' "String Quartet No. 1 in c-minor, Opus 51, No. 1 (1873);" Wolfgang Mozart’s "String Quartet No. 17 in B-Major, "The Hunt", K. 458 (1785);" and Webern’s "Five Movements for String Quartet, Opus 5 (1909)."
The Brahms and the Mozart are always welcome, of course, but any public performance of Webern west of the Hudson is still an event.

This would be different if programming were up to musicologists, for all the musical intellectuals I know much prefer Webern to his father Schoenberg, or his brother Berg.

My own taste runs in the opposite order, but I concede the intellectual force of Webern. He always knows what he's doing, and we always know it, too.

I don't mean to say that he is boring or offensive, because he is neither. His music is, in fact, fascinating, sometimes mesmerizing, and always worth hearing.

But if we believe, with Wallace Stevens, that "Music is feeling, then, not sound," then it is unlikely we will seek out Webern for some thrilling, beautiful music.

Tickets for the Artistry of Strings are $40 for adults, $10 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the hall before the event, or on line at

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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