Santa Barbara Symphony Ends 2021/22 Season on a High Note with Jazz Royalty, the Marcus Roberts Trio

  • Jazz and symphony fans will adore Marcus Roberts Trio’s “riff” on Gershwin with the orchestra
  • Concert showcases a new artistic partnership with Jazz at the Lobero
  • World-renowned Music & Artistic Director, Nir Kabaretti to conduct the rarely heard, and critically-acclaimed Symphony No. 1 by Florence Price, the first African American woman recognized as a symphonic composer

(May 10, 2022) Santa Barbara, CA – The Santa Barbara Symphony ends its season on a high note with “Riffing on Gershwin” on Saturday, May 21 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, May 22 at 3:00 pm at the Granada Theatre. This concert showcases a new artistic partnership with Jazz at the Lobero.

Jazz and symphony fans alike will be awestruck by the Marcus Roberts Trio, bringing pure alchemy to Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F (arranged by Marcus Roberts for jazz trio and orchestra). Audiences will also get in tune with early 20th-century composer Florence Price, recognized as the first woman African American symphonic composer, who is experiencing a well-deserved resurgence of popularity. The orchestra will perform her critically acclaimed Symphony No. 1, originally premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933, was inspired by Dvorak’s New World Symphony, similarly incorporating folk tunes and hymn-like melodies that evoke a range of American flavors. 

“We are proud to continue our commitment to American music with this concert featuring George Gershwin and Florence Price. Both highlight American themes and genres, and mark important milestones in American music history,” shared Nir Kabaretti, Music & Artistic Director of the Santa Barbara Symphony. “Gershwin was an innovator, bringing jazz into the concert hall from the clubs, and Marcus Roberts carries on that innovation by expanding Gershwin’s piano solo part into a jazz combo, while honoring the composer’s original structure and orchestration. I bet Gershwin would have done the same had he lived longer.”

The Marcus Roberts Trio, a long-term musical partnership between pianist Marcus Roberts, drummer Jason Marsalis, and bassist Rodney Jordan, is known for its virtuosic style and an entirely new approach to jazz trio performance. While most jazz trios have the piano front and center, all members of the Marcus Roberts Trio share equally in shaping the direction of the music. The trio is known for having almost telepathic communication on the stage. The Marcus Roberts Trio believes in ‘letting the music take over’ and the result is a powerfully rhythmic and melodic sound that is filled with rhythmic, harmonic, and dynamic contrast. The musical cues combine with musical inspiration from all over the world, which guarantees that audiences never know where this trio is heading; influences from Africa, Europe, and South America are combined with American traditions to give this group an infinite palate of styles, timbres, and colors to draw from.

“The Symphony believes that when nonprofits collaborate, the community benefits. We bring guest artists to town for more than a performance – we invest in ways to leverage their time with us, and make it possible for other organizations to benefit as well,” shared Kathryn R Martin, President, and CEO of the Santa Barbara Symphony. “Our new artistic partnership with our friends at The Lobero is making it possible for the community to hear the trio in a straight-up Jazz Recital on Wednesday, and then come see them with The Symphony on Saturday and Sunday. The trio will also participate in a masterclass with local high school students, deepening the impact of the Symphony’s Music Education programming.”

“Riffing on Gershwin” is generously sponsored by Principal Concert Sponsor, Samuel M. & Alene S. Hedgepeth; Artist Sponsor, Pat Gregory for the Baker Foundation, and Daniel & Mandy Hochman; Selection Sponsors Omega Financial Group, Dingman Family Foundation, Anne F. Sage & Jesse D. Sgro, Village Properties, Inc., and Wallin Studios.

Tickets for “Riffing on Gershwin” on May 21 & 22 at the Granada Theatre are on sale now and can be purchased online here. The community can also enjoy the Marcus Roberts Trio earlier that week on May 18 at the Lobero Theatre, as part of their Artist Residency. For more information click here.


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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