Music director/violist Heiichiro Ohyama | Credit: Courtesy

For four decades, the words “chamber” and “Lobero Theatre” were tightly linked, often with “Tuesday” in the equation. The tradition of Tuesday nights spent with the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra (SBCO), in the ambient embrace of the Lobero, became a staple of classical music lovers’ calendars in town. SBCO long enjoyed a lofty place in the ranks of important local classical music institutions but sadly succumbed to budgetary setbacks a few years ago.

Out of the ashes of the SBCO enterprise, enter the Lobero Theatre Chamber Project, curated by longstanding SBCO conductor (and violist) Heiichiro Ohyama alongside worldly violinist Benjamin Beilman. The new project made its maiden voyage last October and returns this weekend for an ambitious three-concert program.

This time around, the Lobero is the location for Friday and Saturday, with the show moving over for a Sunday afternoon concert at the fine, and underused, Fleischmann Auditorium of the Museum of Natural History. (The space was also formerly used for special SBCO concerts.) On the weekend’s menu, changing from concert to concert, are chamber works of Dvořák, Bruckner, Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Mozart, and Mendelssohn.

Pianist Lucille Chung | Credit: Courtesy

Ohyama, once principal violist and then assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a musician with networking connections with top musicians from around the world, stated that “Once again, I am honored to bring colleagues and friends from around the world to share their musical mastery with Santa Barbara.”

That list includes pianist Lucille Chung; violinists Beilman, Erin Keefe, and Mayuko Ishigami; cellists Robert deMaine and Christine J. Lee; and Masumi Per Rostad joining the violist ranks with Ohyama.

Lobero Executive Director David Asbell has been directly involved with the project, as well as many years of the SBCO’s tenure. As he said, regarding October’s launch of the new project, “The audience reaction was exhilarating, and post-concert reviews were immensely gratifying.” The new project, with its historical resonances attached, lines up nicely with the theater’s own current celebration of its own history, now officially dating back 150 years, making it the oldest continuous theater in California.

Among other claims to fame, it has been a continuous accommodating space for chamber music, orchestrally and beyond. The tradition continues.

Violinist Benjamin Beilman  | Credit: Sophie Zhang


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