The perennial question that recurs at the conclusion of every Arts & Lectures season — “Can this season be topped?” — is again upon us. Arts & Lectures’ answer, which was delivered at the organization’s annual season announcement party on Monday, June 13, at the Four Seasons Biltmore, is a resounding “Yes, we can.”
Let’s take that good news and break it down some. Can we have a season that includes all of the biggest stars that we have come to know and love through Arts & Lectures in the past? Yes, we can have Ken Burns, Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, David Sedaris, and Wynton Marsalis all in the same year. Can those of us who love to explore new things have a string of outrageously interesting Santa Barbara debuts to look forward to? Of course we can. How about Iron & Wine, Canada’s Ballet BC, Ping Chong, and Kamasi Washington — and that’s only to name a very few. What if I’m on a budget but still want to revel in all the great shows that are coming — can A&L help me? Yes, they can, and that’s the big message of the new brochure, which is available all over town and online at artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu. There are a dozen series ranging from Dance to Talking Heads, and from Chamber Arts to National Parks. Sign up for any of those and you will cut your per-show ticket costs dramatically at the same time that you set these great nights into your calendar.
There are too many highlights to list them all, but here are a few tantalizing suggestions:
Do at least one thing during the program’s super-impressive opening two weeks, from Saturday, September 24-Saturday, October 8. If you are the kind of person who spent part of the summer sleeping under the stars, you need to catch the marathon free community screening of the great documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. That’s at the Granada Theatre Saturday-Sunday, September 24-25. That way you will be fully prepared for Ken Burns, who made the film, when he arrives at noon the following Sunday, October 2, to talk about the parks and take your questions.
Maybe at the end of September you will he more hyped to hear about the historic presidential election, in which case you will need to hear Fareed Zakaria (Tue., Sept. 27) offer views of election 2016 from at home and abroad. If you’ve had enough politics at that point, gas up the pickup, put on your best boots and jeans, and head to The Time Jumpers on Thursday, September 29, for a night of classic country music with Vince Gill and a group of Nashville veterans.
No matter where your head is at when the season begins, you owe it to yourself to catch at least one of the two classic performances that wind up this opening flurry of activity. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will be at the Granada on Tuesday, October 4, and Alonzo King Lines Ballet will take the stage there on Saturday, October 8.
And that’s just the opening two weeks! Later on, expect stunning virtuosity from the triple Genius Award–winning trio of Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, who will play an all-Bach program on Tuesday, May 2. For those who want to rock, check out the fabulous Neko Case, who hits Campbell Hall on Friday, November 18. For those who yearn to jook, or at least learn what jookin’ is, there’s Lil Buck, the dance world phenomenon who comes through on Tuesday, October 25, with an interestingly eclectic band featuring musicians from the Silk Road Project. Without a doubt, this is a season that has something to keep audiences on the edges of their seats — or jumping out of them to dance and cheer.