Santa Barbara Symphony Continues Commitment to Music Education

“Our education team remained committed, despite the challenges this past year, to continue to bring music education to local school children. We are grateful to our donors who are helping us provide even more ways for students to thrive through music, which in turn creates a pipeline to lifelong musical opportunities.” - Nir Kabaretti, Music & Artistic Director
  • Symphony produced virtual programs for Music Van & Concerts for Young People and will be available to schools as well as the public, free of charge
  • New Digital content will serve as valuable resource long after distance learning is over
  • The Symphony offers the only music education program in the region tied to both a college and a professional symphony orchestra. 

(May 26, 2021) Santa Barbara, CA – Music Education plays a key role in the Santa Barbara Symphony’s mission to inspire a passion for symphonic music in the next generation, and so despite the pandemic, the organization committed to continuing ALL music education programs, which in the case of the popular Music Van program and Concerts for Young People, meant producing virtual programs this year. The Symphony is proud to share these valuable digital programs with Santa Barbara County schools and the general public.

“The Santa Barbara Symphony offers the only music education programs in the region tied to both a college and professional symphony orchestra,” said Nir Kabaretti, Music & Artistic Director of the Santa Barbara Symphony.  “Our education team remained committed, despite the challenges this past year, to continue to bring music education to local school children. We are grateful to our donors who are helping us provide  even more ways for students to thrive through music, which in turn creates a pipeline to lifelong musical opportunities.”

In typical seasons, the Music Van has delighted local elementary students by providing a “petting-zoo” experience, allowing children to get up-close and personal with instruments generously provided by Nick Rail Music. Due to Covid, the Music Education team had to think outside the box and developed a virtual experience for students to enjoy. Guided by docents and volunteers, a video spotlighting the Music Van was recorded at the Lobero Theatre and will be broadcast free of charge via the Symphony’s website.

16 Music Van volunteer docents, 15 Santa Barbara Youth Symphony musicians and alumni, and Marisa McLeod, Conductor of the Camerata and Philharmonia Orchestras all came together to record the program, offering musical demonstrations on 16 musical instruments, which were all generously provided by Nick Rail Music. The Music Van video program is generously sponsored by Mary Jane Cooper and Marilynn Sullivan, both longtime Music Van supporters and docents.

“I am so proud of our Music Education community and supporters,” shared Kristine Pacheco-Bernt, Director of Music Education for the Symphony. “The Music Van video project is a testament to our fierce belief in how important music education is for everyone. It was an honor to work with so many talented and passionate people to make this video a reality.”

“The video not only gave us an opportunity to bring the Music Van to the third graders who missed it in 2020, but it also gave our team the chance to reunite and have some fun keeping our program together for future audiences,” shared Mary Jane Cooper. “Our script was very complicated as it involved docents, performers, and children, trying to duplicate what we do in the classroom. The drone experience was new to me! I had to drive past Stearns Wharf, the mission, and the Lobero, and do it with no other cars around. Most of us were nervous, but the crew was very professional and helped us sound as natural as possible, using the teleprompter. It was all a challenge! Hopefully, we will be back with our kids again soon, sharing the orchestra with them and letting them “play” all the instruments in person.”

Concerts for Young People is an annual concert featuring Maestro Nir Kabaretti and the Santa Barbara Symphony. Typically it is a live concert field trip to the Granada Theatre serving 5,500 students throughout Santa Barbara County, however this year a video presentation will be produced, which will be available to all 4th-6th grade classrooms throughout the county via the Symphony’s website. 

This year’s concert is all about showcasing the versatility of the violin, featuring world-renowned violin soloist, Gilles Apap, who took the stage with the Santa Barbara Symphony this past season to present a variety of genres like jazz, bluegrass, and classical. Through advanced camerawork, students will get to see “up-close and personal” how an orchestra, soloist, and conductor work together. A post-concert study guide will accompany the video aimed at helping students reflect on the musicality and genres they observed.

“We felt it was so important to create this special digital content for students in lieu of an in-person concert,” continued Pacheco-Bernt. “Teachers and students look forward to the special event every year, so we are proud to be able to share this video with them. This presentation will remain a valuable resource in the future, long after distance learning.”

In response to the pandemic last spring, all programming for the Symphony’s Music Education Programs was adapted to an online environment. Despite being virtual, the momentum is greater than ever. Thanks to partnerships with school districts, community organizations, a new strategic partnership with Westmont College, and support from generous donors and funders, the Symphony can continue these critical Music Education Programs to serve all students. 

The community can support making these programs possible through tax-deductible donations to the Symphony, for more information and to donate, visit

About the Santa Barbara Symphony’s Music Education Programs

Each year, the Santa Barbara Symphony provides over 10,000 children in Santa Barbara County with high quality, equal-access music education through its Music Education Programs: a continuum of connected programs designed to support and engage students every step along their musical journey; fostering collaboration, confidence and community empowering students to be at their best through music.

The Symphony’s range of Music Education programs include the Music Van mobile music classroom, Concerts for Young People student matinee musical experience, the BRAVO! after-school band and music instruction classes, and three Youth Ensembles from beginner to expert: Camerata Ensemble, Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony. During this pandemic school year every Symphony Music Education program continued, maintaining its commitment to students, schools, and teaching artists.

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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