The Santa Barbara Chamber Players will host its inaugural concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church, on the corner of Garden and Anapamu streets in Santa Barbara. Tickets are $16.
The group was founded in 2022 by Sherylle Mills Englander, Nancy Mathison and Simon Knight during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Englander said the orchestra was created in a COVID-19 pod, and the first rehearsal was in a member’s garage.
“The original working title was the garage orchestra,” Englander said.
The group aimed to fill several gaps in the local music community. According to Englander, there are not many local music organizations that utilize local talent. The group wanted to make performances as accessible as possible, so that those who maybe wouldn’t see classical music performed live would be encouraged to attend a concert.
“So, one of our missions is making the tickets as affordable as possible by making sure that we keep a very shoestring budget,” Englander said.
The Music Academy donated rehearsal space, and the Santa Barbara Bowl and the Towbes Fund for the Performing Arts provided grant money. After the initial funding was secured, the only funds the orchestra needed were to pay for music licenses, and rent the performance venue and instruments.
The 54 musicians performing in the orchestra are donating their time. For the two hours of performance, each musician likely committed to 100 hours of practice individually, for the show, in addition to five more rehearsals where the orchestra practices together, according to Englander.
“No matter how much you try to reduce costs, there’s a certain amount you can’t get rid of,” Englander said.
Englander said that for the first show, the orchestra is partnering with the Pacific Pride Foundation, providing the foundation with a block of seats at the first concert that the foundation can save for donors.
The three pieces to be showcased during the concert were chosen because they all included different styles and are all cohesive.
“It’s just like a meal,” Englander said. “You’re looking for a little bit of that balance, right? Different textures, different styles, but they all kind of work together.”
Englander said Dvorak’s “7th Symphony” is “a little angsty,” Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” is a classic American style featuring a tune that many in the audience will recognize, and Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite” features a series of relatively short movements with “wonderful themes.”
“This program has some of the top classical works out there that musicians adore, and the audience is going to have a lot of fun exploring,” Englander said.