A Sea Change

by Gerald Carpenter

CHILDREN’S PLAY: As the theme of his fourth annual Santa Barbara Chamber Music Festival (June 16-18 at the First Congregational Church), founder and music director Daniel Kepl has rather shrewdly chosen the title Immigrant Nation, and is featuring composers who are the “children and children’s children of immigrants to this country from all over the world.” They include Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Robert Muczynski, Pierre Jalbert, Norman Dello Joio, Gabriella Frank, Joan Tower, Richard Pearson Thomas, Richard Lavenda, Samuel Barber, Arthur Foote, Ingolf Dahl, and Santa Barbara composer Leslie Hogan.

The stellar musicians who will play these works are mostly familiar to Santa Barbara audiences, either from the three previous festivals, or from their work with other local ensembles. They are David Peck, principal clarinetist of the Houston Symphony; his wife and artistic colleague, Edith Orloff, founding pianist of the Pacific Trio; and Los Angeles-based flautist Ann Erwin, principal flautist of San Diego’s Classics Philharmonic. These three participants have been an integral part of the festival since its founding. Playing in the festival for the first time this year are violinist Kathleen Lenski, who as a member of the Angeles String Quartet won a Grammy Award in 2001 for best chamber music recording (the complete Haydn string quartets), and a gentleman who needs no introduction to South Coast audiences, cellist John Walz, principal cellist of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra and star of many a Camerata Pacifica concert.

For purely logistical reasons, the festival will go forward without the Rainier String Quartet this year — I shall miss their fine music-making and gossiping with them about many mutual friends in Rain City.

The festival consists of three concerts in three days, all starting at 8:30 p.m. We are invited to come early for refreshments.

On Friday, June 16, the festival will open with Kathleen Lenski and Edith Orloff performing Aaron Copland’s arrangement for violin and piano, “Waltz and Celebration,” from his ballet Billy the Kid, and “Hoe Down,” from Rodeo. Then Ann Irwin and Orloff will play Robert Muczynski’s Sonata for flute and piano, followed by Irwin, David Peck, and Orloff doing Gabriella Frank’s Canto de Harawi for flute, clarinet, and piano. The evening concludes with Richard Pearson Thomas’s Meditation for violin and piano (Lenski/Peck) and Ingolf Dahl’s Sonata da Camera for clarinet and piano (Peck/Orloff).

On Saturday, the second concert begins with Pierre Jalbert’s virtuosic Toccata for solo piano (Orloff), followed by Norman Dello Joio’s Trio for flute, cello, and piano (Irwin, Walz, Orloff). Then the husband-and-wife team, David Peck and Edith Orloff, are slated to play Richard Lavenda’s Shadowplay for clarinet and piano, after which Erwin and Peck treat us to Robert Muczynski’s Duos for flute and clarinet. The finale will be Jascha Heifetz’s gorgeous arrangement for violin and piano of a suite of music from George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess (Lenski, Orloff).

The festival’s concluding concert on Sunday opens with Joan Tower’s homage to Igor Stravinsky: Petroushskates for violin, cello, flute, clarinet, and piano. Samuel Barber’s incomparably beautiful Sonata for violoncello and piano will be performed by John Walz and Orloff. Whenever this Barber sonata is played, whatever else is on the program, it is a guaranteed treasure to take away with you. Walz will then play Matisse for solo violoncello, by a truly fine Santa Barbara composer, Leslie Hogan. Bringing this concert, and the festival, to a close, flautist Ann Erwin and pianist Orloff will play Three Pieces for flute and piano by a personal favorite of mine, Arthur Foote, before Ingolf Dahl’s Concerto a Tre for clarinet, violin, and piano (Peck, Lenski, Orloff) leads us kindly out into the Santa Barbara night.

Tickets are available at the door or by calling Dan Kepl at 964-5460. Visit for more information and ticket sales.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by: