Yo Yo Ma | Credit: Courtesy

Despite the overcast morning, the clouds parted just in time for UCSB Arts & Lectures’ 2024-2025 season reveal, unveiling a lineup that promises to be nothing less than stellar.

The event, held at the beautiful Montecito Club, is a testament to all the hard work the Arts & Lectures (A&L) team, led by Miller McCune Executive Director Celesta Billeci, puts in every year to bring an incredible assortment of dancers, authors, musicians, and more to Santa Barbara.

Launching the 65th anniversary season on Tuesday, October 1 will be the jazz-funk band Snarky Puppy. Described as “a lot of fun” and having “rabid fans,” this five-time Grammy Award–winning group promises to kick off the season in unique style.

Snarky Puppy | Credit: Ignacio Orrego
Jennifer Doudna | Credit: Christopher Michel

Other highlights in music and dance include the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Oct. 12); the “Queen of Mariachi,” Aida Cuevas (Oct. 20); the Batsheva Dance Company from Israel (Feb. 25); pianists Yuja Wang and Víkingur Ólafsson (Feb. 28); Yo-Yo Ma, performing a very personal program, only performed once before, that details how he became the artist he is today (Apr. 5); the Wynton Marsalis Ensemble, playing live to accompany the silent film Louis (May 17); and sibling dynamos Isata and Sheku Kanneh-Mason on piano and cello, respectively (May 29).

Over on the “Lectures” side, Salman Khan, creator of the Khan Academy, will speak about the power of AI to aid education (Oct. 5); biochemist Dr. Jennifer Doudna on genome engineering technology and the future of health care (Oct. 22); novelist and essayist Anne Lamott, discussing her latest book, Thoughts on Love (Nov. 13); and 2024 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Father Gregory Boyle, speaking on the power of love to bring us together in dividing times (Dec. 3).

The fascinating Speaking with Pico series will feature poet Yung Pueblo on October 29, environmental novelist Richard Powers on February 23, and conceptual artist Marina Abramović on May 6. This series is always an audience favorite, or as Associate Director Meghan Bush reminded us, “Even Oprah loves Speaking with Pico!”

Among the most unique, category-defying events are world-renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi as he discusses his new book, Comfort, and provides a live cooking demonstration (Oct. 14); a film concert for Disney’s Encanto, with attendees of all ages encouraged to dress up and sing along to a live band (Nov. 14); and the acrobats of Cirque Kalabanté, sure to dazzle with their feats of strength and defiance of gravity (Feb. 6).

If October feels awfully far away, A&L is kicking off its series of Free Summer Films at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Friday, July 5, with a screening of Jaws. With this year’s theme of “Sun, Surf, and Cinema,” these events promise to be the perfect evening after a day at the beach!

Even at its 65th season, A&L proves that it only keeps getting better. Or, as Director of Public Lectures Caitlin O’Hara perfectly summed it up: “Arts & Lectures doesn’t miss!” 

Series subscription packages are currently on sale; single tickets will be on sale Friday, August 2. For more information on the upcoming season, visit the Arts & Lectures Ticket office or artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

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