Nir Kabaretti | Credit: David Bazemore Photo

When maestro Nir Kabaretti takes the podium at The Granada Theatre on Saturday, May 11, for the first of two Santa Barbara Symphony season finale concerts there, it will be with the knowledge that his future on that illustrious perch is secure until at least 2023. The symphony’s board of directors reports that it was delighted to renew Kabaretti’s appointment for another term, with board president Dr. Don Gilman praising Kabaretti for his “magnificent musicianship, his extraordinary generosity of spirit, and his deeply felt connection to our community.”

For his part, Kabaretti told me that he considers Santa Barbara “a home in many senses.” When he moved here 12 years ago, he was about to be married. Today, he and his wife, Gaja, are raising their two children here. 

Kabaretti’s dedication to finding the exactly right blend of material for the orchestra that reflects Santa Barbara’s rich musical heritage has been constantly in evidence throughout his tenure, and this weekend’s program is no exception. In a concert featuring world-famous works by Tchaikovsky and Dvořák, the orchestra will also be performing a composition by Elmer Bernstein called “Songs of Love and Loathing” that was premiered by the Santa Barbara Symphony in 1989.

In describing his pleasure at discovering this work, Maestro Kabaretti recalled attending a performance by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Kurt Masur in Vienna. On that program was the famous “New World” symphony of Dvořák, which the N.Y. Phil had premiered. It was their musical calling card, and a piece of their history, just as this work by Elmer Bernstein is a piece of ours. 


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