an embarrassment of riches

Once again the combined efforts of the various wonderful organizations programming classical music in Santa Barbara have come through with a dazzling array of world‑class talent for the spring season. Rejoice in the majesty of Beethoven’s Ninth with Gisèle and the Santa Barbara Symphony, or prepare to be spellbound by such modern virtuosos as the redoubtable André Watts or the soon‑to‑be‑huge prodigy Yundi Li.

Songs, Duets, and Broadway Favorites CAMA is bringing bass Samuel Ramey and the wondrous mezzo soprano Frederica von Stade — with Martin Katz, piano — to the Arlington stage for a performance of classic, if not always “classical,” songs by Pauline Viardot, Jacques Ibert, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, Stephen Sondheim, and Irving Berlin. Sat., Apr. 1, 8pm; Arlington Theatre. For season tickets, call CAMA at 966 4324; for single tickets, call the Arlington at 963 4408.

S.B. Master Chorale Multitalented Phillip McLendon conducts his Santa Barbara Master Chorale in a performance of Mikis Theodorakis’s rousing and emotionally shattering “Canto General” (A Song of the People), with the words of Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda. This is a special work — an exciting blend of Latin American inspired rhythms and melodies with the stunning poetry of Neruda. The orchestra is a small ensemble of pianos, guitars, flutes, and percussion. Sat., Apr. 1, 8pm; Sun., Apr. 2, 3pm; First Presbyterian Church (State and Constance); 967 8287.

Current Sounds This first Current Sounds concert of 2006 features the Ojai String Quartet (Yue Deng and Amy Hagen, violins; Kirsten Monke, viola; Virginia Kron, cello) playing Mario Lavista’s “Reflejos de la Noche” (1984), William Grant Still’s “Danzas de Panama” (1953), plus selections from Osvaldo Golijov’s “Yiddishbbuk: Inscriptions for String Quartet” (1992). Soprano Agatha Carubia and pianist Seungah Seo return with Elaine Fine’s 2002 work, “Cante Jondo, Six Poems by Federico Garcia Lorca.” Pianists Robert Else and Yue Deng perform two works by Claus Ogermann. Finally, pianist Leslie Hogan and cellist Virginia Kron will perform works of Chen Yi and Leslie Hogan. Mon., Apr. 3, 8pm; First United Methodist Church, 305 E. Anapamu St.; $10 general, $5 for 17 and under, available at the door only; 964 0308.

Camerata Pacifica Camerata Pacifica invites back one of its founding members, the dazzling pianist Joanne Pearce Martin, who, along with violinist Benny Kim, violist Donald McInnes, and cellist Eric Kim, plays a sparkling program of brilliant works by Alfred Schnittke, William Bolcom, and Dmitri Shostakovich. Fri., Apr. 7, 8pm; Victoria Hall Theater; 884 8410.

S.B. Symphony: Gisèlebration #2 Maestra Gisèle Ben Dor conducts the symphony in the second installment of the three part Gisèlebration that will mark her farewell to the S.B. Symphony’s directorship. This program contains Peter Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade,” Gustav Holst’s “St. Paul Suite,” Ottorino Respighi’s “Ancient Dances and Airs,” and Astor Piazzolla’s “Bandoneón Concerto,” with Raul Jaurena, bandoneón. Sat., Apr. 8, 8pm; Sun., Apr. 9, 3pm. For season tickets, call the symphony at 898 9386; for single tickets, call the Arlington at 963 4408.

Yundi Li, piano Supremely gifted young pianist Yundi Li will bring his Chopin Competition winning chops to Campbell Hall in April. His program will include Mozart’s Sonata No. 10 in C Major, K. 330; Schumann’s Carnaval, Op. 9; Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante, Op. 22; and Liszt’s Rhapsodie espagnole, S. 254. Tue., Apr. 11, 8pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

Primavera Festival UCSB’s annual Primavera Festival is jam packed with four days of events. The concerts begin with the Ensemble for Contemporary Music in a program titled New Music: The Gospel According To. Then there is a day of dance from the UCSB Dance Company, followed by a day devoted to the works of modern music composer Martino Traversa. The festival concludes with the California EAR Unit in an exciting program of new works featuring electronic and acoustic instruments, video, and text. Wed., Apr. 19 Sat., Apr. 22; Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall; 893 7001 or

Opera in Blue Jeans Following its Puccini festival, Opera S.B. stages extended highlights from Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West. Sat., Apr. 22; Crossroads Barn, Firestone Vineyards, Los Olivos; 966-2707.

S.B. Symphony: Gisèlebration #3 Ben Dor conducts her last concert as Music Director of the S.B. Symphony in the final installment of the three part Gisèlebration. Ben Dor and her orchestra will team up once again with Joann Wasserman and the S.B. Choral Society for a spectacular two part program consisting of Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Opus 125, “Choral.” Sat., May 6, 8pm; Sun., May 7, 3pm. For season tickets, call the symphony at 898 9386; for single tickets, call the Arlington at 963 4408.

André Watts, piano UCSB’s Arts & Lectures presents a special concert by the towering pianist André Watts in a program that includes Mozart’s Rondo in D, K. 485 and Rondo in A Minor, K. 511, Beethoven’s Sonata in D, Opus 10, No. 3, Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke, D. 946, as well as works by Chopin, Ravel, and Debussy. Thu., May 18, 8pm; 893 3535.

Quire of Voyces Maestro Nathan Kreitzer and his superb a cappella chorus, the Quire of Voyces, will go native for their final concert of the season, with their annual program of American Choral Music, a musical history of American voices. Sat., May 20, 7pm; Sun., May 21, 3pm; St. Anthony’s Seminary Chapel, 2300 Garden St.; 965 5935.

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