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Santa Barbara Symphony Opens Season With Spectacular Choral Collaboration in Beethoven 9: An Ode To Joy, Hope & Community

  • Maestro Nir Kabaretti leads more than 250 performers on stage in a spectacular performance celebrating the 200-year anniversary of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9
  • The Santa Barbara Choral Society, Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) Quire of Voyces, Westmont College Choir, and Adelfos Ensemble 
  • Four prestigious vocal soloists: Johanna Will, Soprano; Christina Pezzarossi Ramsey, Mezzo-Soprano; John Matthew Myers, Tenor; and Cedric Berry, Bass-Baritone
  • All Beethoven 9 ticket holders receive exclusive online access to the documentary film Following The Ninth: In The Footsteps of Beethoven’s Final Symphony, from Central Coast native Kerry Candaele, which includes a cameo by Nir Kabaretti

Santa Barbara, CA – The community is invited to experience a monumental tour de force performance of Beethoven 9: An Ode To Joy, Hope & Community – the opening weekend of The Santa Barbara Symphony‘s 2023/24 Season. Music & Artistic Director Nir Kabaretti leads the orchestra in this expansive artistic collaboration that features four local choral groups, a prestigious quartet of soloists, and celebrates the 200-year anniversary of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Performances will be held at The Granada Theatre on Saturday, October 14 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, October 15 at 3:00 p.m., preceded by “Conversations with Kabaretti”– a pre-concert talk at 2:00 p.m.

“This concert is a celebration of one of the most powerful works ever written,” shared Nir Kabaretti, Santa Barbara Symphony Music & Artistic Director. “We invite the community to experience what happens when a community collaborates to bring joy to others – each with distinct voices coming together as one.” 

The Santa Barbara Choral Society, SBCC Quire of Voyces, Westmont College Choir, and the Adelfos Ensemble, along with a quartet of soloists including Johanna Will, Soprano; Christina Pezzarossi Ramsey, Mezzo-Soprano; John Matthew Myers, Tenor; and Cedric Berry, Bass-Baritone, will join forces with the Santa Barbara Symphony to bring Beethoven’s famous Ninth Symphony, and its triumphant choral anthem, “Ode to Joy” to life on stage.

German soprano Johanna Will holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Hochschule für Musik Hamburg, and a Master’s degree and Professional Studies Diploma at the Mannes School of Music NYC, where she studied under Ruth Falcon. In 2020/2021, she was selected for San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program; this year she was a young artist with the Glimmerglass Festival. In 2022 as well as 2023, she opened the Viennese Opera Ball NYC and later debuted as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin in Santa Barbara.

Hailed for her “fleet vocal technique” and “resonant, smoky mezzo”, mezzo-soprano Christina Pezzarossi Ramsey is quickly gaining recognition as a distinguished and versatile young artist in the world of opera. She received her Master’s degree from Rice University and is currently working toward her DMA at the University of California-Santa Barbara. Along with numerous star performances with Opera Santa Barbara as a Chrisman Studio Artist, she has performed with Opera San Jose, Opera NEO, The Pacific Symphony, Boulder Opera, and Emerald City Opera.

Tenor John Matthew Myers has collaborated with companies such as the New York Philharmonic, Verbier Festival, Santa Fe Opera, LA Opera, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he debuted in 2017 as Mao in John Adams’s Nixon in China, conducted by the composer. This season, Myers returns to the Metropolitan Opera in coverage for Peter Grimes and reprises his role of Mao in Nixon in China in his Opera National de Paris debut led by Gustavo Dudamel. This season marks his debut with Arizona Opera, National Symphony Orchestra, and St. Louis Symphony.

Cedric Berry wields “a bass-baritone of considerable power and agility” (The Chicago Tribune). Roles include the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust, Lepporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Collatinus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, and Shaunard in Puccini’s La Boheme. Companies include Los Angeles Opera, The Industry Opera, Long Beach Opera, Savonlinna Opera Festival of Finland, Banlieues Bleues Festival of France, and the Ravinia Music Festival, to name a few. He has appeared with the Pacific Symphony, Arizona Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Pasadena Pops Orchestra, California Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Telemann Chamber Orchestra of Japan.

Audiences will also hear Copland’s stirring composition “The Promise of Living”, capturing the essence of 1930s rural America, as well as Franz Liszt’s Les Préludes, a symphonic poem of sweeping melodies and dramatic mood shifts to round out this season opener.

To enhance the concert experience, all Beethoven 9 ticket holders will receive exclusive online access to watch the documentary film Following the Ninth. A film about the global impact of Beethoven’s final symphony on humanity, the documentary was created by Santa Barbara County’s esteemed writer, director, and producer Kerry Candaele and includes a cameo by Nir Kabaretti.  Despite a life of loneliness, alienation and hearing loss, Beethoven created an anthem of joy with his Symphony No. 9 that is celebrated to this day for its ability to heal, repair, and bring people together across great divides. 

Aaron Copland | “The Promise of Living”, from The Tender Land
Franz Liszt | Les Préludes
Ludwig van Beethoven | Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 “Choral”

Nir Kabaretti, Conductor
Santa Barbara Choral Society
SBCC Quire of Voyces
Westmont College Choir
Adelfos Ensemble

Johanna Will, Soprano
Christina Pezzarossi Ramsey, Mezzo-Soprano
John Matthew Myers, Tenor
Cedric Berry, Bass-Baritone

Principal Concert Sponsor
Sarah and Roger Chrisman

Artist Sponsors
Susan Aberle
Brooks & Kate Firestone
Dr. Bob Weinman

Selection Sponsors
George Konstantinow & Helene Segal
Anne F. Sage & Jesse D. Sgro
Howard Jay Smith & Patricia Bivans Dixon
Vista del Monte Retirement Community

Tickets for Beethoven 9 can be purchased online here. For season subscriptions and additional ticket information visit 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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