Maestro Nir Kabaretti | Credit: Zach Mendez

The Santa Barbara Symphony (SBS) season — which has admirably covered many diverse subjects — comes home to Beethoven April 15-16 at The Granada Theatre. The master German composer retains power as an anchor of western classical enterprise, always worth a return visit, even after the 250th birthday in 2020 brought on a friendly global storm of Beethoven programming. (Though much of that Beethoven season was postponed by the COVID clampdown.)

With Beethoven Dreams, maestro Nir Kabaretti will lead a concert by — and about — Beethoven. From the symphonic canon comes a refreshingly less-performed model, the Symphony No. 4, to close a concert also including the Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, with Ukrainian-born American pianist Inna Faliks as soloist.

But the odd work out comes in the West Coast premiere of the opening piece, The Eternal Stranger, by Israeli composer Ella Milch-Sheriff, written for Beethoven’s 250th birthday. The composer’s poem-based monodrama for actor and orchestra takes as its centerpiece a letter Beethoven wrote to his publisher, recounting a vivid dream that took him on an odyssey winding up in Jerusalem.

Enter Santa Barbara’s Ensemble Theatre Company, whose director Jonathan Fox has created a dramatic setting for the piece for the fifth Symphony-ETC collaboration.

Of The Eternal Stranger, at the SBS season preview last fall, Fox noted, “I’m a first-generation American — my mother and grandparents were refugees. I was working in Germany when the Syrian refugee crisis hit Europe. And of course we are dealing with the crisis at our borders. That would be the first approach to looking at this particular poem about a man who is in a strange land.” He added, “Beethoven, who was going deaf … was a stranger in his own land. I think a lot of us sometimes feel like that, too. The poem started to make more sense to me, when I thought of it in terms of that way of being a stranger.”



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