Covid and global warming notwithstanding, spring will begin on schedule, March 20. In anticipation of our hemisphere’s joyous annual rebirth, the Santa Barbara Symphony, conducted by their artistic director Nir Kabaretti, will offer Beethoven in Bloom, a concert program at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20, both in their home venue, the Granada Theater.

The concert program, with which the symphony “honors the theme of renewal and rebirth in nature and community, and commemorates the Thomas Fire and Montecito Mudflows,” will consist of three works celebrating natural revival: Jennifer Higdon‘s “Harp Concerto (2018),” Jeff Beal‘s “The Great Circle (2019),” and Ludwig Beethoven‘s “Symphony No. 6 in F-Major, Opus 68, ‘Pastoral’ (1808).”

Michelle Temple has been the Santa Barbara Symphony’s principal harp since 1991.

Michelle Temple has been the Santa Barbara Symphony’s principal harp since 1991. (Courtesy of Santa Barbara Symphony)

Soloist in the Higdon concerto will be the symphony’s harpist Michelle Temple.

Jeff Beal (born 1963) is a versatile, Emmy Award-winning, American composer of film and television scores, many recordings, and music for the concert hall.

After nearly losing his home in the Thomas Fire, he wrote “The Great Circle,” an orchestral composition and visual narrative incorporating images of the devastation, the heroism of first responders, and new photographs of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden fire restoration/foothills conservation effort, made possible by more than 100 volunteer botanists and scientists.

Jennifer Higdon (born 1962), received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her “Violin Concerto,” and three Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition: for her “Percussion Concerto” in 2010, her “Viola Concerto” in 2018, and her “Harp Concerto” in 2020.

A member of the American Philosophical Society, she was a professor of composition at the Curtis Institute of Music, 1994-21. The Higdon compositions I have heard, including the “Harp Concerto,” suggest a strong affinity with the “American” school of symphonic writing that arose in the 1930s and continues down to this day, a school that includes Roy Harris, George Antheil, Samuel Barber, Douglas Moore and others.

Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony” is a kind of musical diary of his occasional escapes from the hurly-burly of Viennese musical and social life into the benign peace of the Austrian countryside. It is yet another musical universe created by the West’s musical “Prometheus.”

Beethoven in Bloom is presented in partnership with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Tickets are $31-$156, and can be purchased in person at the Granada box office, 1214 State St., by phone at 805-899-2222, or at

First responders will be admitted free, and Beal will attend and give remarks on stage with Maestro Kabaretti. Also, there will be a tolling of the bells for the lives lost in the mudslide.

The Granada Theatre has put the following safety protocols in place: Attendees must show proof of being fully vaccinated or supply a negative COVID-19 medical test result (taken within 72 hours prior to each event; including children under 12), along with an official photo ID, before entering the venue. Masks are required indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Doors open one hour before concert start time, to accommodate for the extra time to check in guests. Please give yourself a minimum of 60 minutes extra time.