When it comes to classical music, Santa Barbara enjoys blessings comparable in their extravagance to the advantages of having the world’s best microclimate. The excitement of the various regular seasons climaxes at this time of year, and then in a few weeks yields to the vibrant modernism of the Ojai Music Festival and the youthful exuberance of the world’s most elite band camp, otherwise known as the Music Academy of the West. The popular and elegant granddaddy of the Santa Barbara classical scene is CAMA, which ended its magnificent 2009-2010 run on April 29 at the Granada with a sold-out recital by violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman. And three equally appealing classical season finales are set to take place this weekend, capping an impressive year for Camerata Pacifica, the Santa Barbara Symphony, and UCSB’s Arts & Lectures. Below you’ll find a breakdown of these three can’t-miss swan songs.
1] Camerata Pacifica at the Music Academy’s Hahn Hall: On Friday, May 14 (at 1 and 7:30 p.m.) CamPac goes out with a celebration of the extraordinary strength of its core ensemble. It’s been several years now since artistic director Adrian Spence put together his chamber music dream team, and the process of concertizing together over the course of several seasons has brought about an impressive cohesion among these stellar players. Pianist Warren Jones will be on hand, as will violinist Catherine Leonard, cellist Ani Aznavoorian, and violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill. Spence, a master flautist, will also participate in a program that includes works by François Devienne, Carl Reinecke, York Bowen, and Robert Schumann. The Schumann Quartet for Piano and Strings in E-flat major, Op. 47 is a substantial work that concludes, appropriately enough, with a very memorable finale.
2] Chanticleer at UCSB’s Campbell Hall: On Friday, May 14 at 8 p.m. this 12-member male chorus of the highest international reputation caps off Arts & Lectures classical offerings this season. They will sing a very broad range of material, from Renaissance to gospel, jazz, and contemporary classical, all united by their flawless technique and vibrant performance style.
3] The Santa Barbara Symphony at the Granada: On Saturday, May 15 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 16 at 3 p.m., Maestro Nir Kabaretti, who’s devoted two seasons to polishing the Santa Barbara Symphony into a world-class orchestra, will lay it all on the line with this, the year’s highest-stakes classical concert, devoted entirely to Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 5. If you already know the work of Mahler, you will be aware of the sublime experience that awaits. And if you do not, then this is the perfect opportunity to hear what many consider to be the apex of Western musical culture.