Antonio Artese

Antonio Artese

Italian pianist Antonio Artese and his trio will perform a one-night only live performance of jazz favorites, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22 at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre. He’ll also premiere a couple of new jazz tunes based on opera melodies with a twist: Carmen’s “Habeñera” meets Besame Mucho.”

The innovative pianist has been praised for his ability to lead audiences on a joyful, extemporaneous musical journey. Artese, a first-prize winner of the Rachmaninov International Competition, blends his passion for jazz with serious classical chops, a gift for improvisation, and an Italian flair.

Presenter Joan Rutkowski (a longtime friend of Artese) carefully chose the performance date of 2-22-22 to invite an extra touch of musical alchemy, saying: “This evening will be magical. Antonio plays with such elegance and spontaneity; his wit and musical sensitivity are exceptional.”

The program will include jazz versions of “Un bel dì” from “Madama Butterfly” and the “Habeñera” from Carmen, playfully combined with “Besame Mucho.”

Artese, who lives in Siena, Italy, is a sought-after pianist in Europe and the U.S. He studied at the Conservatorio Santa Cecilia” in Rome and at UCSB, where as a student of Peter Yazbeck and Paul Berkowitz, he received his doctor of musical arts degree.

In addition to his diplomas in music, Artese studied theoretical philosophy and musicology. He is the founder of several music festivals in Italy, and in 2017 he was appointed dean of the Global Academic Programs at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena.

Artese has recorded several albums, including the piano solo album “Live in Santa Barbara.”

“Santa Barbara is like a second home to me,” Artese said. “I have so many dear friends and wonderful memories built around this beautiful town. Santa Barbara has provided so much inspiration over the years; I look forward to sharing my music with friends old and new.”

Tickets are $46 (students, $22), and can be reserved through the Lobero Box Office by visiting or calling 805-963-0761. The Lobero is at 33 E. Canon Perdido St.

Artese serves as co-founder and artistic director of the Florentia Consort, an international ensemble of emerging young musicians based in Florence, Italy. In 2017, Antonio Artese was appointed Dean of the Global Academic Programs at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena.

He has recorded several albums and led various musical projects, including the piano solo albums “Italian Sketches” (1996), “Live in Santa Barbara” (2008), “The Change” (2006), and “Voyage” (2019).

For more about Artese, visit

Performing with Artese will be double bass player Jim Connolly, who writes music and lives in Santa Barbara. Connolly also plays the saw, shakuhachi, kaval, banjo, theremin, piano — and he sings.

A Massachusetts native, Connolly grew up playing in both rock bands and orchestras. He has worked with UCSB Theater, the National Theater of Macedonia, Naked Shakes Theater, Proboscis Theater, the Gove County Philharmonic, and Gove County String Quartet.

His current projects include Lit Moon Theatre and Toy Shop Ghost. The band has performed around the world. Toy Shop Ghost has recorded three albums of original tunes (“Broadcasting Live,” “Art Plunk,” “Sparks Spread Wildfire”) and a fourth (“Thrift Store”) of songs from the 1920s and ’30s re-imagined with string quartet.

Connolly has received nine Independent Theater awards, and has been named one of the 25 most intriguing people by Santa Barbara Magazine. For more, visit

On percussion will be Luis Muñoz, a composer, producer, arranger and percussionist from Costa Rica. He has performed in top jazz festivals and theaters in the U.S. and abroad, including the Litchfield Jazz Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival; and at the National Opera House in Costa Rica, Moss Theater in Santa Monica, and the Lobero.

Muñoz has released 10 CDs of award-winning original compositions. His 2015 CD “VOZ” was called “a perfect album – Five Stars” by Latin Jazz Network; and was included in the Best CDs of the Year by Downbeat Magazine,

“VOZ” won two ACAM Awards in Latin America including Jazz CD of the Year. His 2017 recording, “The Dead Man” was named Best Record of the Year by Jazziz Magazine. Muñoz was chosen among the 12 Best Artists of the Year by NPR’s AltLatino. For more, visit