Less-than-temperate climates may have something to do with the lull many associate with the post-holiday season. Lucky for us SoCal-ers, though, such frigid temps and social hibernations simply don’t exist. This winter, S.B. comes alive — and plays host to a bevy of celebs — for the 27th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. But the fun doesn’t stop there. For 2012, resident theater companies, galleries, and programmers are packing our venues with some seriously adventurous stuff — from avant-garde light installations and buzz-worthy rock bands to adventurous reworkings of theater classics and world-renowned classical symphonies. In the following pages, you’ll find our rundown of critics’ picks for the winter arts season. For a full listing of events, visit independent.com/events.
Camerata Pacifica at the Music Academy’s Hahn Hall
In a region rich in chamber music options, Camerata Pacifica offers the most consistently rewarding combination of outstanding musicianship and provocative, intelligent programming. This January, principal string players Catherine Leonard (violin), Ani Aznavoorian (cello), and Richard Yongjae O’Neill (viola) will play Dmitry Sitkovetsky’s arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, for String Trio, BWV 988. Often mentioned in discussions of the greatest musical compositions in history, the Goldberg Variations are more commonly heard as a solo piano performance. This arrangement, which is dedicated to the legendary pianist Glenn Gould, brings out Bach’s genius for balancing three voices, and, in the hands of these dazzling performers, is sure to thrill. Friday, January 13, at 1 and 7:30 p.m. Call 884-8410 or visit cameratapacifica.org.
Royal Philharmonic at the Granada Theatre
CAMA continues its “season of the century” with a rare Santa Barbara appearance by the Royal Philharmonic, conducted by Artistic Director Charles Dutoit and featuring the pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. This is yet another fabulous get on the part of CAMA, as the Royal Phil ranks as one of the world’s premiere symphony associations, and Thibaudet is as in-demand as any pianist in the world. Thibaudet will play the Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major of Franz Liszt, and it will undoubtedly be a spectacular performance, as the pianist is commonly considered the greatest living exponent of Liszt’s supremely difficult music. The program also includes the Symphony No. 1 in C Minor of Johannes Brahms. Thursday, January 26, at 8 p.m. Call 899-2222 or visit granadasb.org.
Sérgio and Odair Assad Guitar Duo at the Lobero Theatre
There’s no more romantic Valentine’s Day destination than this duo concert, presented by the CAMA Masterseries and featuring the Brazilian brothers Sérgio and Odair Assad. They will explore two centuries of Brazilian music for guitar, ranging from the classic works of Heitor Villa-Lobos to contemporary compositions by Egberto Gismonti and Mauricio Carrilho. The brothers Assad have two Latin Grammys to their credit, including a 2008 win for Best Contemporary Composition, and a 2002 award for Best Tango Album. The list of their collaborators reads like a who’s-who of classical and jazz and includes such outstanding artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, and Paquito D’Rivera. Tuesday, February 14, at 8 p.m. Call 963-0761 or visit lobero.com.
Santa Barbara Symphony with Anne Akiko Meyers, violin. At the Granada Theatre. Saturday-Sunday, January 21-22.
Turtle Island Quartet. At the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Sunday, January 22.
UCSB Percussion Ensemble. At UCSB’s Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall. Thursday, January 26.
Santa Barbara Symphony with guest conductor Terrence Wilson. At the Granada Theatre. Saturday-Sunday, February 11-12.
Szymanowski Quartet. At the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Thursday, February 16.
Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra with Tong Il Han, piano. At the Lobero Theatre. Tuesday, February 21.
Julia Fischer, violin, with Milana Chernyavska, piano. At UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Thursday, February 23.
Santa Barbara Symphony with Carlos Miguel Prieto, violin. At the Granada Theatre. Saturday-Sunday, March 17-18.
Nebula Dance Lab’s Clair-Obscur at Center Stage Theater
Santa Barbara’s newest professional modern dance collaborative premieres this winter with Clair-Obscur, an evening-length program of works by emerging choreographers. Under the direction of Devyn Duex, a cast of seven dancers will present Emily Wheeler’s movement-driven contemporary work “Take the Bull by the Horns” and Erin Martinez’s “The Singing Bones,” a dark adaptation of a 16th-century murder ballad. Audiences can look forward to original video work, innovative lighting design, and some top-notch dancing from area talent. It’s not every day a pro-level modern dance company sprouts up in S.B. — Nebula is one to keep an eye on. Friday-Sunday, January 27-29, at various times. Call 963-8198 or visit centerstagetheater.org.
La La La Human Steps’ New Work at the Granada Theatre
Back in 2008, Canada’s contemporary dance company La La La Human Steps stunned Santa Barbara audiences with Artistic Director Édouard Lock’s austere and cinematic Amjad. This year, UCSB’s Arts & Lectures brings them back to perform Lock’s acclaimed New Work, a deconstruction of two tragic love stories: Dido and Aeneas and Orpheus and Eurydice. The Gavin Bryars–composed score for piano, cello, violin, and saxophone takes inspiration from the Purcell and Gluck operas, and will be performed live at the Granada this January. In terms of the dancing, expect complex, fast-paced, technically refined movement from some serious virtuosos. It’s ballet, really, but not as you know it. Saturday, January 28, at 8 p.m. Call 893-3535 or visit artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu.
Wayne McGregor/Random Dance’s Entity at the Granada Theatre
Every season, Arts & Lectures seems to lure another hot-ticket dance company to town for the first time. This winter, it’s Random Dance, the London-based contemporary dance company directed by Wayne McGregor, who’s known for blending live dance with cutting-edge music, film, architecture, and design, with breathtaking results. To top it off, he’s working with some of the most accomplished modern dancers in the world. Having toured across Australia, Canada, and Europe in the past year, Random Dance comes to Santa Barbara with Entity, a work inspired by McGregor’s fascination with neuroscience and set to a soundscape created by Coldplay and Massive Attack collaborator Jon Hopkins. Wednesday, February 15, at 8 p.m. Call 893-3535 or visit artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu.
Hairspray, presented by Santa Barbara Dance Arts and Big Stage Productions. At the Lobero Theatre. Saturday-Sunday, January 14-15.
Kinesis, presented by Santa Barbara Dance Alliance. At Center Stage Theater. Friday-Saturday, February 3-4.
Affinity, presented by SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre. At Center Stage Theater. Tuesday, February 7.
Dance Teachers Gone Wild, presented by Santa Barbara Dance Arts and the Arts Mentorship Program. At Center Stage Theater. Friday-Saturday, February 10-11.
The Secret Garden, presented by State Street Ballet. At the Granada Theatre. Saturday-Sunday, February 25-26.
UCSB Freshman Dance Company Concert. At UCSB’s HSSB Ballet Studio Theater. Thursday-Friday, March 1-2.
Configuration, presented by Santa Barbara Dance Arts and the Arts Mentorship Program. At Center Stage Theater. Saturday, March 3 - Saturday, March 10.
UCSB Dance Company Concert. At UCSB’s HSSB Ballet Studio Theater. Thursday-Friday, March 8-9.
Where Do We Go Now? at the Arlington Theatre
This French-language drama closes out this year’s 27th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival and promises to be one of the fest’s biggest highlights. Directed and cowritten by Nadine (Caramel) Labaki, Where Do We Go Now? follows a group of Lebanese women who attempt to mend the religious strife between the Christians and the Muslims in their village. On the award circuit, the film is already gaining plenty of accolades (the Toronto Film Fest recently named it a People’s Choice winner), and it’s been announced as Lebanon’s official submission for the 2012 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Better still, audiences are calling it a must-see. Sunday, February 5, at 8 p.m. Call 963-0023 or visit sbiff.org.
Melancholia at Isla Vista Theater
Magic Lantern hosts the Santa Barbara premiere of Lars von Trier’s (Dancer in the Dark) twisted sci-fi drama. Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg star as estranged sisters trying to find happiness in the wake of impending world destruction. (“Melancholia” refers to the mystical planet threatening to collide with Earth here.) Like much of Von Trier’s filmography, Melancholia is equal parts visual theatrics and complex themes. Of extra-special note, the cinematography is being heralded as “mesmerizing” by critics and fans alike. Friday, January 20, at 7:30 and 10 p.m. and Monday, January 23, at 7:30 p.m. Visit islavista-arts.org.
Against the Grain: An Artist’s Survival Guide to Peru at UCSB’s MultiCultural Center
The MCC’s weekly Cup of Culture film series is brimming with thought-provoking and conversation-starting cinema this quarter. Of special note, Against the Grain takes an inside look at artists struggling to express themselves within a government that persecutes those who speak out in opposition. The jumping-off point comes by way of Peruvian painter Alfredo Márquez, who was sent to prison for 20 years after using an image of General Mao in one of his works. Following the screening, director Ann A. Kaneko will lead a Q&A discussion. Wednesday, February 1, at 6 p.m. Call 893-8411 or visit mcc.sa.ucsb.edu.
New York International Children’s Film Festival’s Kid Flix Mix. At UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Saturday, January 21.
Urbanized. At UCSB’s Pollock Theater. Sunday, January 22.
Santa Barbara International Film Festival. At various locations. Thursday, January 26 - Sunday, February 5.
The Hedgehog. At the Ojai Playhouse. Sunday, January 29.
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975. At Isla Vista Theater. Monday, January 30.
Martha Marcy May Marlene. At the Ojai Playhouse. Sunday, February 12.
Toast. At the Ojai Playhouse. Sunday, February 19.
Another Side of Peace. At the MultiCultural Center Theater. Wednesday, February 29.
Eames: The Architect & the Painter. At UCSB’s Pollock Theater. Sunday, March 4.
Pop, Rock & Jazz
Wilco at the Arlington Theatre
The S.B. Bowl may be closed for winter, but that certainly isn’t stopping Nederlander from busting out the big guns. The concert-booking heavyweights bring Wilco to the Arlington this February in what will be the band’s first Santa Barbara gig since they headlined the Bowl in 2007. The Chicago alt-rock masterminds have been riding high of late, touting their Best-Of-list–topping eighth studio album, The Whole Love, and keeping busy with a handful of side projects. (Guitarist Nels Cline recently showed up shredding for the Plastic Ono Band, while frontman Jeff Tweedy has been writing with and producing Mavis Staples.) In short, expect the kind of genre-spanning, mind-bending live show Wilco has become known for. That is, if you can snag a seat. Friday, February 10, at 8 p.m. Call or visit thearlingtontheatre.com.
!!! at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club
If you believe the adage that a band is best judged by its live show, be sure to jot this one down. This February, Sacramento dance rock experimentalists !!! (Chk Chk Chk to the phonetically inclined) venture south for what is sure to be the groovefest of the season. Since forming in 2001, this left-of-center collective has been winning fans over with their infectious mix of house beats, psychedelic guitar work, hip-hop–inspired samples, and sharp-witted lyricism. (Think Massive Attack meets LCD Soundsystem.) Better still, !!!’s expansive roster of players (and arsenal of horns, percussion instruments, and electronic doodads) makes for one of the most high-energy stage shows out there. Dance floor, here we come. Tuesday, February 28, at 8 p.m. Call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com.
Cults at Velvet Jones
The last time we caught sight of N.Y.C. buzz band Cults, they were pulling opening duty for Chicago experimentalists Maps & Atlases. One year — and one much-lauded debut record later — the duo-turned-five-piece is a bona fide indie-rock sensation. The brainchild of New School alums Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, Cults creates the kind of buoyant, ear-wormy, sunshiney pop that begs to be compared to its mid-century predecessors. (Follin’s recognizable alto also goes a long way in upholding the ’60s girl-group similarities.) But buried beneath the tried-and-true synth tricks and sock-hop guitars is a whole lot of heartbreakingly believable deliveries. And that makes any silly teenage sentiment resonate, no matter how old you are. Saturday, March 24, at 8 p.m. Call or visit clubmercy.com.
More Pop, Rock & Jazz
Steve Aoki. At the Earl Warren Showgrounds. Friday, January 20.
Joy Kills Sorrow. At the Lobero Theatre. Saturday, January 21.
Zodiac Death Valley. At Muddy Waters Café. Saturday, January 21.
Angels and Airwaves. At Velvet Jones. Wednesday, January 25.
The White Buffalo. At SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. Friday, January 20.
Larkin Grimm. At the Biko Co-Op Garage. Friday, January 27.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band. At UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Wednesday, February 1.
Animal Liberation Orchestra. At SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. Wednesday, February 8.
Los Lonely Boys. At La Cumbre Junior High. Sunday, February 12.
The Chieftains. At the Granada Theatre. Friday, February 17.
Surfer Blood. At Velvet Jones. Thursday, February 23.
Regina Carter. At the Lobero Theatre. Friday, February 24.
Fidlar. At Muddy Waters Café. Saturday, February 25.
Blitzen Trapper. At SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. Friday, March 9.
My Fair Lady at the Granada Theatre
Eliza Doolittle, meet Henry Higgins. He will be your tutor in the art of being posh. The classic Lerner and Loewe musical has it all: George Bernard Shaw’s wit and intellect, the energy of London’s street scene, and hordes of upper-class twits, all acting the fool. The song titles read like a list of Broadway’s greatest hits: “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” “With a Little Bit of Luck,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “On the Street Where You Live,” the rousing “Get Me to the Church on Time,” and the haunting “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” Tuesday-Wednesday, January 24-25, at 8 p.m. Call 899-2222 or visit granadasb.org.
The 39 Steps at Alhecama Theatre
This four-person stage version of the classic 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film has taken the theater world by storm since its UK premiere in 2005. Playwright Patrick Barlow has condensed the sprawling cinematic thriller into a zippy comedy in which one actor plays the protagonist, Richard Hannay, an actress plays the three women with whom he flirts, and two more male actors play every other role, with the total number of characters running to well beyond one hundred. Expect dozens of manic costume changes and effervescent farce of the highest order. Thursday, February 2 - Sunday, February 19, at various times. Call 965-5400 or visit ensembletheatre.com.
Animal Farm (the musical) at Westmont College’s Porter Theatre
Sir Peter Hall’s adaptation of the famous George Orwell novel seems a natural for gifted Westmont faculty member Mitchell Thomas, who will direct, and his enthusiastic cast and crew of undergraduates. When the animals take over the farm, the pigs run the show, and it is no better, or indeed a bit worse, than it was before. Orwell’s allegory of Soviet Communism retains its bite, and in this version, the cows, horses, donkeys, chickens, and geese all sing and dance. Thursday, February 23 - Saturday, March 3, at various times. Visit westmont.edu.
Collaborators, presented by National Theater Live. At the Lobero Theatre. Tuesday, January 17.
The Enchanted Island, presented by Metropolitan Opera Live. At the Music Academy of the West’s Hahn Hall. Saturday-Sunday, January 21-22.
Ted Neeley and the Little Big Band. At Rubicon Theatre. Saturday, January 21 - Sunday, January 29.
Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass. At UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Saturday, January 21.
An Evening with Kevin Nealon. At the Lobero Theatre. Wednesday, January 25.
Little Women, the Broadway Musical. At PCPA’s Marian Theatre. Thursday, February 16 - Sunday, March 11.
Tartuffe. At UCSB’s Performing Arts Theater. Friday, February 17 - Saturday, February 25.
Nazi Hunter: Simon Wiesenthal. At Rubicon Theatre. Saturday, February 18 - Sunday, March 11.
One Flew Over the Jaguar’s Nest. At Center Stage Theater. Sunday, February 19.
Young Frankenstein. At the Granada Theatre. Tuesday-Wednesday, February 28-29.
Entangled. At UCSB’s Hatlen Theater. Saturday, March 3 - Saturday, March 10.
The Drawings of Leon Dabo at Sullivan Goss, An American Gallery
The latest estate acquired by Sullivan Goss, An American Gallery, is a powerful mix of tonalist landscape paintings and quirky, enigmatic drawings of both landscapes and still lifes by Leon Dabo, a French-born American artist associated with the so-called “aesthetic movement.” In this fine exhibit of a selection of Dabo’s drawings, viewers witness the pivotal transition between impressionism and modernism from the perspective of an artist trained in the late-19th-century mural tradition but with an intuitive grasp of the next wave of painting. Look for the artist’s characteristically attenuated verticals and their concomitant ghostly shadows. Shows through Saturday, March 31. Call 730-1460 or visit sullivangoss.com.
Continua in Light at the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art
What better way to get to know the new art museum at Westmont College than through this exciting video installation by Bay Area artists Thekla Hammond and Cheryl Calleri. The school’s spectacular new space for visual art will become an immersive mobile hall of flashing images as twin video projectors send streams of light onto hanging translucent scrims. Hammond, who has an MFA from UCSB’s arts program, is primarily a painter, while Calleri, who specializes in both video and painting, brings a scientific bent to the collaboration. On Thursday, January 12, from 4-6 p.m., Westmont professor Erlyne Whiteman will add an interactive dance performance to the mix in what promises to be a beautiful event to help inaugurate the new facility. Thursday, January 12 - Saturday, February 18. Visit westmont.edu.
Persistence at SBCC’s Atkinson Gallery
Atkinson curator Dane Goodman brings together yet another outstanding show of art created in the Santa Barbara area. The theme of this exhibit is the persistence of abstraction in the work of 10 area artists: Philip Argent, Jerrold Burchman, Jane Callister, Dan Connally, Julia Ford, Rollin Fortier, Mary Heebner, Hugh Margerum, Harry Reese, and Joan Tanner. It would be hard to list a more distinguished crop of Santa Barbara artists regardless of approach, but with this intelligent and provocative concept as the point of departure, great expectations are in order. The city has long fostered innovation and high achievement in the field of abstract art, and the Atkinson’s Persistence show promises to consolidate that reputation at the same time that it illuminates our city’s recent art history. Monday, January 23 - Thursday, February 16. Call 965-0581 x3484 or visit gallery.sbcc.edu.
More Visual Art
Publicly Private: Enrico Natali and Doug Rickard. At the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Saturday, January 14 - Sunday, April 22.
Start with Art: A Group Show. At Artamo Gallery. Shows through Sunday, January 29.
Scenery, Story, Spirit: American Painting and Sculpture. At the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Opens Saturday, February 4.
I Am in Love. At MichaelKate Interiors and Art Gallery. Monday, February 6 - Sunday, April 1.
Pasadena to Santa Barbara: A Selected History of Art in Southern California, 1951-1969. At the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Saturday, February 11 - Sunday, May 6.
Alhecama Theatre 914 Santa Barbara St. Call 965-5400 or visit ensembletheatre.com.
Arlington Theatre 1317 State St. Call 963-4408 or visit thearlingtontheatre.com.
Artamo Gallery 11 W. Anapamu St. Call 568-1400 or visit artamo.com/artamogallery.
Biko Co-Op Garage 6612 Sueno Rd., Isla Vista. Visit sbdiy.org.
Center Stage Theater 751 State St., Paseo Nuevo. Call 963-0408 or visit centerstagetheater.org.
Earl Warren Showgrounds 3400 Calle Real. Call 687-0766 or visit earlwarren.com.
The Granada Theatre 1214 State St. Call 899-2222 or visit granadasb.com.
Isla Vista Theater 960 Embarcadero del Norte. Call 893-3536 or visit myspace.com/magiclantern.
Lobero Theatre 33 E. Canon Perdido St. Call 963-0761 or visit lobero.com.
Michaelkate Interiors and Art Gallery132 Santa Barbara St. Call 963-1411.
Muddy Waters Café 508 E. Haley St. Call 966-9328 or visit myspace.com/muddycafesb.
Music Academy of the West’s Hahn Hall 1070 Fairway Rd. Call 969-4726 or visit musicacademy.org.
Ojai Playhouse 145 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai. Call 646-8946 or visit ojaifilmsociety.org.
PCPA’s Marian Theatre 800 S. College Dr., Santa Maria. Call 922-8313 or visit pcpa.org.
Rubicon Theatre 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. Call 667-2900 or visit rubicontheatre.org.
SBCC’s Atkinson Gallery 721 Cliff Dr. Call 965-0581 x3484 or visit gallery.sbcc.edu.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art 1130 State St. Call 963-4364 or visit sbmuseart.org.
SOhO Restaurant & Music Club 1221 State St. Call 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com.
Sullivan Goss, An American Gallery 7 E. Anapamu St. Call 730-1460 or visit sullivangoss.com.
UCSB’s Campbell Hall Call 893-3535 or visit artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu.
UCSB’s Hatlen Theater Call 893-3022 or visit www.theaterdance.ucsb.edu.
UCSB’s HSSB Ballet Studio Theater Call 893-3241 or visit www.theaterdance.ucsb.edu.
UCSB’s Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall Call 893-3230 or visit www.music.ucsb.edu.
UCSB’s MultiCultural Center Theater Call 893-8411 or visit mcc.sa.ucsb.edu.
UCSB’s Performing Arts Theatre Call 893-3241 or visit www.theaterdance.ucsb.edu.
UCSB’s Pollock Theater Call 893-3535 or visit carseywolf.ucsb.edu/pollock.
Velvet Jones 423 State St. Call 965-8676 or visit velvet-jones.com.
Westmont’s Porter Theatre 955 La Paz Rd. Call 565-7040 or visit westmont.edu.
Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art 955 La Paz Rd. Call 565-6162 or visit westmont.edu.