Through a remarkable team effort involving the orchestra, its leaders, the Granada Theatre, and digital patrons all over the world, the Santa Barbara Symphony has continued to record live on-stage and stream brilliant programming despite the constraints imposed by COVID. This month’s installment highlights the talented members of the orchestra’s brass section with one of the most popular and transcendent compositions in the history of American music, Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.” This brass-laden masterwork has earned its reputation as the country’s alternative instrumental national anthem, and, in a spirit of 21st-century openness, maestro Nir Kabaretti has constructed a program around it that reflects the diversity of America as it is today and as it aspires to be in the future.
The Symphony will be joined by the award-winning African-American bass-baritone Cedric Berry, a young singer whose career has taken off since his graduation from the USC Thornton School of Music with multiple appearances with the Los Angeles and Long Beach operas. As Yusef Salaam, one of the main characters in Anthony Davis’s opera The Central Park Five, Berry shared in the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Music, and on Saturday, April 17, Santa Barbara Symphony’s online audience will get to hear him sing another groundbreaking new work, this one a setting of poetry by Harlem Renaissance figure Claude McKay that was composed by George N. Gianopoulos. Joan Tower, long a favorite of the S.B. Symphony, will be represented by her answer to Copland, “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1.” A wind quintet by Samuel Barber, some “Old American Songs” as arranged by Copland, and pieces for strings by George Walker and Robin Frost lend balance to the evening, while “The Unanswered Question” by Charles Ives fittingly gives the program’s last musical word to the solo trumpet, which asks, against a cosmic musical background, nothing less than the eternal question of existence. To tune in to the Symphony’s “Fanfare” celebration at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 17, go to thesymphony.org.