Cody Westheimer

Cody Westheimer (Courtesy photo)

The program for the Santa Barbara Symphony’s November concerts, conducted by Maestro Nir Kabaretti, will pay “symphonic and visual homage to our region’s centuries old Chumash heritage,” with the World Premiere of a work by composer Cody Westheimer, a Santa Barbara resident with a nationwide reputation.

The symphony will perform Westheimer’s “Wisdom of the Water, Earth, Sky;” Robert Schumann’s “Piano Concerto in a-minor, Opus 54” (1845), with popular pianist Alessio Bax, as soloist; Jean Sibelius’ tone poem “Valse Triste, Opus 44” 1903); and Wolfgang Mozart’s “Symphony No. 40 in g-minor, K550 “(1788).

“Wisdom of the Water, Earth, Sky,” based on a number of Chumash parables, is a one movement tone poem in sections: “Introduction; Water, Dolphin;” “Earth, Deer and Squirrel;” “Sky, Red Tail Hawk;” and “Epilogue.” Each parable will be read in English and in Chumash by descendants, Marianne Parra and Ernestine Ygnacio-DeSoto.

“The music is sculpted by my perception of [the four animals’] personalities,” said Westheimer, “These Chumash people’s stories have served as creative inspiration for my music and have tremendous relevance today. The first people on this land got it right, we must learn from and honor their legacy.”

Schumann’s only piano concerto, a gift to his virtuoso wife and soul mate, Clara, is one of the composer’s brightest, least troubled compositions.

Sibelius hangs in there. “Valse Triste/Sad Waltz” is a lovely interlude, not so grand as some of the symphonies, but a lot shorter.

Bruno Walter wouldn’t undertake to conduct Mozart’s g-minor symphony (K550) until he had lived 50 years. (Fortunately for us, that left him 35 to lead us through this enchanted garden, this haunted wood. I can’t think of a living conductor I would rather hear conduct it than our own Nir Kabaretti.

The concert Wisdom of the Water, Earth, Sky, will be presented twice: at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20; both in the Granada Theater. Tickets are $35, $55, $80, $115 and $175; they can be purchased in person at the Granada box office, 1330 State St., by phone at 805-898-9386 or 805-899-2222, or online at

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