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Experience the Power of “Transformation” Through Music with the Santa Barbara Symphony This February

Experience the power of musical Transformation with the Santa Barbara Symphony on February 18 at 7:30 p.m. and February 19 at 3:00 p.m. preceded by “Conversations with Kabaretti” – a pre-concert talk with special guest Ted Nash at 2:00 p.m.

Inspired by life’s many examples of transformation, Santa Barbara Symphony Music & Artistic Director Nir Kabaretti has designed a program that will lead audiences through a transcendental experience of symphonic sound. From Maurice Ravel’s compelling Boléro, to Richard Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration about human transitions, to jazz saxophone legend Ted Nash’s personal journey as depicted in his newest composition Transformation for Symphony Orchestra and Narrator, this program exemplifies the brilliant potential of musical metamorphosis.

“It is a tremendous honor to make music with such a high-caliber musician like Ted – a close collaborator of Wynton Marsalis and a leading player in the world-class Jazz at Lincoln Center Big Band,” shared Kabaretti. “When Ted told me about his Transformation project and I had a chance to listen to the show, I asked him if he would transform this project for the classical concert hall. He graciously agreed – and we are thrilled to be the ones to share this world premiere with you!”

The program opens with Variations on a Nursery Song for Piano, and Orchestra, Op. 25 by Hungarian composer Ernst von Dohnányi, and closes with Maurice Ravel’s famed Boléro, with Ted Nash on saxophone. These two pieces represent both physical and mechanical metamorphoses with simple tunes that evolve into complex and imaginative orchestral masterpieces.

“It’s not often that we bring together such a big orchestra, but that’s exactly what both Strauss and Ravel envisioned,” said Kabaretti. “Boléro is the definition of perfect orchestration and musical development. A full orchestra playing together can demonstrate all the dramatic sounds, and truly transform audiences through music, which is what makes the symphony orchestra such a treasure for humanity.”

Patrons will also enjoy a fresh rethinking of Ted Nash’s 2021 collaboration with actress, activist, and jazz lover Glenn Close, Transformation: Personal Stories of Change, Acceptance, and Evolution. In its new incarnation called simply, Transformation, together with the tone poem Death and Transfiguration, Op. 24 (1888-1889) by German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949). These two works speak through different musical prisms and centuries of mysteries psychological and spiritual about human transition and re-birth. Strauss meditates on the unconscious, mystical transformation, while Nash’s Dear Dad, one of four sections in his Transformation suite, is about the conscious, purposeful transition. Together, the four works on this program offer minds and ears thought-provoking examples of physical and metaphysical change.

A progeny of a well-known family of jazz and studio musicians in Los Angeles, Ted Nash has become one of the most significant jazz composers of the 21st century. He is co-founder of the New York-based nonprofit Composers Collective and is a long-standing member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

Nash composed the music for Transformation: Personal Stories of Change, Acceptance, and Evolution, while Close found pertinent texts and stories about transformative experiences she could narrate to “inspire, and basically comfort our audience.” The Jazz at Lincoln Center live show was canceled because of COVID, but a CD was released in 2021. Nash, on solo saxophone, joined by the Los Angeles-based Josh Nelson Trio, will perform his new version of Transformation with the Symphony, including two new pieces, and the world premiere of Nash’s extensive orchestrations.

​​The Symphony’s very own Natasha Kislenko, Principal Piano, and a local musical virtuoso and faculty member at UCSB and the Music Academy of the West, will also demonstrate the power of transformation through a piece on the piano, playing variations on a theme that everyone in the audience knows and loves – Twinkle, Twinkle.

The Symphony continues its partnerships with local organizations and by creating artist residencies, is providing an enriching learning experience to local student musicians. In collaboration with the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and inspired by the “Transformation” theme, Nash is leading an educational program taking place across January and February 2023. Members of the Santa Barbara Symphony’s own Youth Ensembles will be among the local student musicians benefitting from this exploratory musical experience. “This workshop is much more than a music lesson,” shared Kabaretti. “With his unique style, Ted shares the concept of transformation with students, allowing them to connect music to their own real-life experiences. Through this connection grows a belief in one’s musical skills and growth as a human being.”


Ernst Von Dohnanyi | Variations on a Nursery Song, Op. 25
Ted Nash | Transformation – World Premiere
Richard Strauss | Death and Transfiguration
Maurice Ravel | Bolero

Transformation is generously supported by Principal Concert Sponsor, Zegar Family Foundation; Artist Sponsor, Marilyn & Richard Mazess; and Selection Sponsors, Mark & Shelley Bookspan, Karen Drown & John Trotti, and Vista del Monte Retirement Community.

Experience Transformation with the Santa Barbara Symphony! Tickets can be purchased online here. For full details about the Santa Barbara Symphony’s 2022/23 season, please click here or call 805-898-9386.

About The Santa Barbara Symphony

Now in its 71st year, The Santa Barbara Symphony delivers artistic excellence, outstanding music education stewardship and programming, and community collaboration – all through symphonic music. Under the artistic leadership of Maestro Nir Kabaretti as Music & Artistic Director since 2006, The Symphony is one of the region’s premier cultural institutions. Through his charismatic leadership, this globally admired conductor and Santa Barbara resident invigorates audiences and musicians alike through his passion, creativity, and vast experience. As the only music education program tied to a professional symphony orchestra in the region, The Symphony serves more than 4,000 students annually throughout Santa Barbara County. While The Symphony continues to evolve, bringing joy, engagement, and connection remain steadfast pillars of its mission and were evident in the organization’s ability to thrive during the pandemic including the historic announcement that board chair Janet Garufis and President & CEO Kathryn R Martin join Nir Kabaretti in making a five-year commitment to serve in their roles. For more information, visit

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