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Gerald Carpenter: Santa Barbara Symphony to Celebrate 10 Years of Maestro Nir Kabaretti

Maestro Nir Kabaretti will celebrate his 10th season helming the Santa Barbara Symphony with a pair of performances March 12-13, 2016.
Maestro Nir Kabaretti will celebrate his 10th season helming the Santa Barbara Symphony with a pair of performances March 12-13, 2016. (Santa Barbara Symphony photo)

Anniversaries are always important, and 10th anniversaries are 10 times as important and well worth celebrating.

This season marks the 10th year of Nir Kabaretti’s gentle, inspiring hand on the tiller of the Santa Barbara Symphony, and he and his marvelous ensemble will mark the occasion with a brace of concerts this weekend at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 12, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 13, both in The Granada Theater

The celebratory program will consist of the Overture to Richard Wagner’s “comic” opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1867), Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto in E Major (1803) (with Symphony’s first chair trumpeter, Jon Lewis, as soloist) and Johannes Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 (1877).

Maestro Kabaretti explains his choices as follows: 

“Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 was the very first work I conducted in Santa Barbara, as it was one of my audition pieces in 2006 at the Arlington Theatre, and the Die Meistersinger Overture was the piece that launched my tenure as music director of the Santa Barbara Symphony,” said Maestro Kabaretti. “I am especially looking forward to performing the Brahms again, this time with the many musicians who have joined our orchestra over the last 10 years, and in our musical home, The Granada Theatre. For this festive concert I wanted to have a soloist from our orchestra, so I’m very happy that Jon Lewis will play the Hummel Trumpet Concerto.”

The reason I put “comic” in quotes is that I have never seen the slightest evidence, either in his music or in his personal life, that Richard Wagner had a sense of humor. The Overture, and the opera that follows, are among his grandest creations, but they are not the least bit funny. But because nobody dies, it’s a comedy.

The presence of a work by Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) on this program — a buffer, as it were, between the arch-rivals Wagner and Brahms — may invite some introduction, but it certainly needs no justification.

It is all but required of a commentator to mention that Hummel wrote this concerto for the same trumpet virtuoso — Anton Weidinger, inventor of the keyed trumpet — for whom Haydn wrote his very popular concerto for the instrument, but that should not make us think that Haydn and Hummel were anything like contemporaries.

One look at the dates would dispell the notion, since their births are separated by 46 years. And even though Hummel was Haydn’s successor as head of the court orchestra at Esterházy, as a composer he was by no means Josef Haydn, Jr.

In fact, Hummel was a major composer of the early romantic movement in music, whose subtle, graceful works throbbed beneath the surface with the same powerful forces that were bursting out all over Europe. He wasn’t the kind of guy to shake his fist at Heaven, however, so we hear very little of him today.

Tickets for these concerts are $28-$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 by calling 805.899.2222 or visiting

— 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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