“American Pastoral Past Times” | Credit: Thomas Stoeckinger


UCSB Arts & Lectures announced its 2021-2022 season on Tuesday, August 31, in an event at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, and it’s a dual initiative that combines two distinct themes. In fact, ever since the mad scramble that was 2020-2021, A&L has been operating on two distinct yet overlapping tracks. 

The main one, Creating Hope, distills all of what they wish to share in the way of culture that encourages people to move forward together in the face of ongoing uncertainty about our health, our climate, and our world. Creating Hope began last spring, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama participated in a conversation with Pico Iyer on this theme, and went on to include talks and performances by Yo-Yo Ma, Anne Lamott, and chef José Andrés. The series continues this fall, beginning with a concert by the Wood Brothers on Tuesday, October 12, at The Granada Theatre; and a recital on Thursday, October 14, at the Rockwood featuring the Danish String Quartet. 

The other track, which ran throughout last season as the Race to Justice, returns this year under the label Justice for All. This series kicks off with a talk by Julian Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and a candidate for POTUS in the 2020 Democratic primaries. Castro will speak at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Sunday, October 10. The provocative title of his address is “Waking Up from My American Dream.” Later in the season, look for bestselling author Roxane Gay to light things up with her take on “Bad Feminism.”

To read the Indy’s UCSB Arts & Lectures season preview, click here. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit their site


This week’s issue features work by Ryan P. Cruz and Nicholas Liu, two new additions to the Independent’s writing team. Check out Cruz’s story about the SBIFF Film Camp in our cover package this Thursday, and read Liu’s review of Unending, the UCSB MFA class of 2020 exhibition here


Credit: Courtesy

Men dancing in pointe shoes is definitely a thing, and if you want to know more about how that works, you can read my review of Best of Ballet22 here. Below, see some extra pictures from the performance. 

This edition of ON Culture was originally emailed to subscribers on April 26, 2024. To receive Leslie Dinaberg’s arts newsletter in your inbox on Fridays, sign up at independent.com/newsletters.


Credit: Erick Madrid

SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling has written an impressive new book called Cinema in Flux, and you can read all about it in this week’s cover story on Thursday. For even more on the book, check out this week’s The Indy podcast when it goes live later this week.


It’s rare indeed for an important classical composer to emerge from near-total obscurity and take the music world by storm, but that’s exactly what is happening now with the work of African-American composer Julius Eastman. A prodigious singer and pianist, Eastman burst onto the scene for the first time in 1969 as the vocalist on the initial recording of Peter Maxwell Davies’s “Eight Songs for a Mad King.” It’s a tour de force of extended vocal technique that clearly influenced such emerging avant-gardists as Phil Minton and Dagmar Krause. 

Following that auspicious debut, Eastman achieved further fame and eventual notoriety as a minimalist composer and an outspoken advocate for gay rights. Sliding into addiction in the early 1980s, Eastman lost his East Village apartment and became unhoused for most of the next decade until his early demise at the age of 49 in May 1990. Although much of his music was lost in the chaotic period following his eviction, scholars and musicians in recent years have managed to salvage and record a significant portion of his output. 

In 2021, Eastman’s music is finally getting the attention it deserves. Over Labor Day weekend, a group of musicians organized by American Modern Opera Company and featuring the Music Academy of the West faculty member Conor Hanick will present Eastman, a multidimensional performance piece about him and featuring his music at the Amph on Little Island in Manhattan. Listeners at home have two recent releases through which to acquaint themselves with Eastman’s work: Wild Up’s 2021 recording of his chamber work Femenine on the New Amsterdam label and the 2021 recording of Three Extended Pieces for Four Pianos on Sub Rosa. Anyone with even the slightest interest in American music, minimalism, and/or contemporary composition owes it to themselves to give these amazing works a listen. Fair warning, though — Eastman’s music is as beautifully listenable as his titles are offensive, and most of it is loooong! 

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