Women on the March

sign of life for the Santa Barbara Symphony, still stinging from an ugly
divorce from beloved former conductor Gisele
, another significant American musical woman will
be toasted at this weekend’s concerts. Joan Tower (pictured), whose new orchestral
piece “Made in America” gets its Southern California premiere at
the Arlington, must grow weary wearing the mantle as America’s
best-known female composer, but the fact remains that the composer
world (at least the part that tends to be granted public
performances) is still largely testosterone-driven. At 68, Tower
has been in the game and having work heard for long enough to be a
fixture, and her music manages to be both intellectual and


New Symphony maestro Nir Kabaretti will briefly
pass his baton to Tower, to conduct her work. In an ambitious and
democratic gesture, the “Made in America” project involves having
the new piece performed in all 50 states, by 65 different
orchestras — that’s even better than hearing the national anthem in
orchestral clothes.

Last month, Kabaretti did a smashing job and cut a tall, calmly
commanding figure in his official debut. More good stuff awaits us
this season, including music by another noted New Yorker,
Aaron Kernis, and even a visit to the wild,
wonderful world of great Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas next February. We’re reminded, of
course, of Ben-Dor’s fascinating Revueltas Festival in town several
years ago. But these are still the good old days, in a new

WEILL-ING AWAY: Kurt Weill may
have made his name in the exotic void of the Weimar Republic, but he also created a body of music
that continues to haunt and enrich. One recent reminder of the
Weill touch — suave, angular, romantic without the cloying
aftertaste — comes from our backyard: Ojai-based singer Anne Kerry
’s scrumptious record Weill (Illyria), fortified by the WDR
Big Band, gives a fresh spin to the Weill songbook, with a new
balance of jazz and theater musical values. Saturday night in
Ojai’s Zalk Theatre, hear Ford-doing-Weill in a sparer setting,
with pianist John Boswell. The show benefits perhaps the coolest
small-scale theater around, Theater 150.


SLICES OF LIFE DEPT.: You may find yourself,
strolling down a city street by night in America — take Shattuck in
Berkeley — and a startling sound makes you feel alive again. Could
it be? Yes, Wayne Shorter’s immortal, spidery
classic “Pinocchio,” is being played in public by a lone tenor
saxophonist. You feel compelled to pay compliments and drop
American dollars into the hat.

He tells his tale of street musician’s elation and woe: “I could
make more money playing the usual lame standards, but I like to
play Wayne Shorter and Coltrane tunes, to practice my chops.” For a
reality check, he adds “I just had a guy try to vomit into my horn.
I gave him a good whack with it.” But at least he’s helping
enlighten the public passerby, even subtly, yes? “A few people
notice,” he shrugs. “A few people hate it. Most people don’t give a
shit.” We beg to differ. Putting smart art into the public space is
a positive addition to a cosmos desperately in need of positive

TO-DOINGS: For a too-rare dose of
digital/experimental music, head to Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall at
UCSB tonight (November 9) for the CREATE (Center for Research in Electronic Art
Technology) concert, featuring composer-in-residence Natasha
, just in from Oslo….Pink Martini,
Portland’s campy but secretly deeply musical and proudly retro
micro-orchestra, makes its Santa Barbara debut, Monday at Campbell

Morning Jacket” James
, talking about playing Oregon Trail as a kid, opening for John
at the Arlington: “When you won Oregon Trail, you
got to some bizarre theater in Santa Barbara and that was the end
of the game.” (got e? fringebeat@aol.com).



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