Every year at this time, UCSB publishes a beautifully illustrated catalog of the world’s most interesting contemporary performances and lectures. This splendid document would be worthy of interest in its own right even if it were not also the brochure for the upcoming season of Arts & Lectures, which will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2018-19. That’s right — why merely read about the best in dance, music, theater, and more when you can do something about it? With approximately 65 events scheduled, there are more things to look forward to in the Arts & Lectures calendar for next year than there are years since the founding of the organization.
A sense of optimism about what’s next endures, particularly among those artists we have come to think of as members of the Arts & Lectures family. Many of them will return to participate in the anniversary celebration. Yo-Yo Ma and Pico Iyer, Wynton Marsalis and David Sedaris, plus the Joffrey Ballet for two nights — the presence of all these and more promises that loyal Arts & Lectures supporters will connect anew with the deep sources of wisdom and fun they have known and loved in some cases for decades. At the same time, surprises abound, including debut performances by Alan Cumming and Jeff Goldblum. Two new series, Mind & Body and Hear & Now, will feature authors and musicians at the leading edge of current research and artistic innovation.
The opening night event on Saturday, September 29, with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) is a great example of the way this season looks set to deliver unprecedented experiences. Marsalis has written an evening-length, 10-part suite called Spaces that was inspired by the movements of animals. The performance will feature two dancers, Charles “Lil Buck” Riley and tap specialist Jared Grimes. One can only imagine the heights to which these two young virtuosos will be pushed by the always-electrifying JLCO.
The lectures series begins equally auspiciously with a talk on Ethics and the Law by former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara. While it’s impossible to predict exactly what will be in the news when Bharara arrives on Tuesday, October 9, you can be certain we will not be short of high-profile situations requiring ethical reflection. Fortunately the next speaker, Harvard professor Stephen Pinker (Thu., Oct. 18) holds a hopeful view of society’s historical progress toward justice that’s simultaneously uplifting and based on hard data. And at the other end of the calendar, on Saturday, April 27, 2019, the audience at the Granada will hear from Yo-Yo Ma in his role as a thinker and speaker in a talk on Culture, Understanding, and Survival. No one brings it all together like Yo-Yo Ma. The night before he speaks, the Silkroad Ensemble will play a concert called Heroes Take Their Stands that features works co-commissioned by Arts & Lectures.
There’s so much more that you will have to pick up the brochure to appreciate it all. The Dance Series alone includes seven events stretching from October until May. For those who grooved to the Old Crow Medicine Show’s amazing 50th anniversary tribute to Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde at the Granada in May 2017, check out the tribute to a half century of The Band that the Hot Club of Cowtown has on tap for Tuesday, April 2. The new Hear & Now series takes the incredible synergy that’s happening across the world of contemporary classical music and puts it all in one package, with the Kronos and Danish String quartets, Sō Percussion, and the triumphant return of violinist Jennifer Koh to St. Anthony’s Chapel for part two of her Shared Madness project. At 60, UCSB Arts & Lectures stands stronger than ever.