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Gerald Carpenter: Symphony to Showcase Cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio in Season Finale

The Santa Barbara Symphony, conducted by Maestro Nir Kabaretti, will close its 2013-14 season with a pair of concerts at 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Granada Theatre.

Sara Sant’Ambrogio
Cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio

Lighting up the auditorium will be the guest artist, cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio, the Grammy-winning co-founder of the Eroica Trio.

The program includes a work by Kabaretti's mentor, Noam Sheriff, Akeda (The Sacrifice of Isaac); Antonín Dvořák's justly celebrated Concerto in B-Minor for Cello and Orchestra, Opus 104 (1895), with Sant’Ambrogio; and Dmitri Shostakovich's epic Symphony No. 5 in D-Minor, Opus 47 (1937).

Sheriff (born in 1935) is the musical scion of several great traditions, having learned composition from Paul Ben-Haim and Boris Blacher and conducting from Igor Markevitch. He majored in philosophy at the Hebrew University, in Jerusalem. The texts of his works, either implied or sung, tend to the historical and biblical.

In 1992, his Sephardic Passion, a searing tour de force, was premiered in Toledo, Spain, by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, under Zubin Mehta with Plácido Domingo, at an observance of the 500th anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella.

Sheriff is very much a public composer, a composer for significant occasions. Yet his music works very powerfully on a personal level, too. He doesn't preach or exhort; he tells stories — such as Abraham and Isaac, a primal narrative that scared Kierkegaard so profoundly he wrote Fear and Trembling to sort out his feelings about it. (Spoiler alert: It didn't work.) Testing the limits of obedience, of faith.

The Dvořák and the Shostakovich need no introduction. Both come in first in their field, and frequently take home Best of Show.

Tickets to this concert are $29 to $133, with special rates for seniors, students and groups. Discounted student tickets are available for $10 with valid student ID. Single tickets can be purchased from the Granada box office at 805.899.2222 or online by clicking here.

— 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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