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Santa Barbara Symphony Season Finale Weekend At The Granada Theatre On May 18 And May 19: Rhapsody In Blue @ 100: Jazz Comes To The Symphony

Concert Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue puts Jazz in the spotlight

Collaborative Artist Residency Creates Opportunities for the Community to see Marcus Roberts Trio

The Santa Barbara Symphony concludes its captivating 2023/24 Season with Rhapsody in Blue @ 100: Jazz Comes to The Symphony on Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m. at The Granada Theatre. This centennial celebration of George Gershwin’s defining contribution to the Jazz Age features returning fan favorite The Marcus Roberts Trio and is part of an artist residency collaboration with the Lobero Theatre. 

Marcus Roberts will also perform his Gershwin-inspired composition for piano and orchestra Rhapsody in D. And Nir Kabaretti will conduct Charles Ives’ joyous Symphony No. 2, melding America’s folk tunes, hymns, and patriotic marches into its raucous, uproarious finale. 

“Audiences will be humming, clapping and in awe as the Marcus Roberts Trio & The Symphony join forces for the final concerts of the 2023/2024 Season,” said Kathryn R Martin, President & CEO of The Santa Barbara Symphony. “Collaborations on and off the stage continue to be a hallmark of The Symphony and we thank the community for supporting these initiatives through donations.”

The Marcus Roberts Trio is a musical partnership between pianist Marcus Roberts, the phenomenal drummer Jason Marsalis, and gifted bassist Rodney Jordan. The Marcus Roberts Trio is known for its virtuosic style and 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 by changing its tempo, mood, texture, or form at any time.

“Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue became an iconic and familiar masterpiece but was billed as an ‘Experiment in Modern Music’ when it was premiered back in 1924,” noted Symphony Music & Artistic Director Nir Kabaretti. “Today Marcus Roberts continues this experiment, playing his own version of the Rhapsody in Blue with additional Jazz Combo and improvisations in different jazz styles. I am also thrilled to perform Marcus Roberts’ exciting Rhapsody in D, written by him as a homage to Gershwin’s work,” he added.

Marcus Roberts created his unique Rhapsody composition at the request of the late Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa, who premiered it with Marcus Roberts and his trio in Matsumoto, Japan, at the annual festival Ozawa founded in 1992.  It is Roberts’ second piano concerto, following Spirit of the Blues (2013), which also incorporated a jazz trio. The composer included the following dedication in the score: “Through music, we share in the beliefs and achievements of all cultures by the simple act of listening and allowing the music to influence and change us into our better selves. To Seiji, with deepest gratitude.” 

The Artist Residency with the Marcus Roberts Trio, created in partnership with The Lobero Theatre, includes Rhythm in Blue, a Jazz at the Lobero series performance on Thursday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m., and a Masterclass for local high school students with the Trio.

Tickets for this 2023/24 season finale performance on May 18 and 19, 2024, are on sale now and can be purchased in-person, online, or by calling the Granada Theatre box office at (805) 899-2222 or visiting TheSymphony.orgImportant Note: Subscriptions are now available for the 2024/25 Season and if purchased on or before May 18, 2024, patrons will receive a pair of FREE tickets for Rhapsody in Blue @ 100: Jazz Comes to The Symphony.

Online: Here
In Person: 1330 State Street, Ste. 102, SB, CA 93103
By Phone: Santa Barbara Symphony– 805.898.9836

George Gershwin | Rhapsody in Blue 
Marcus Roberts | Rhapsody in D
Charles Ives | Symphony No. 2


Nir Kabaretti, Conductor – Internationally acclaimed conductor Nir Kabaretti’s artistic reach continues to expand worldwide, thrilling audiences with his dynamic conducting style and vast knowledge of all facets of musical performing arts. Nir Kabaretti has worked with some of the world’s most sought-after musicians. Some of his most well-known collaborators include Lang Lang, Placido Domingo, Joyce Di Donato, Angel Joy Blue, Vadim Repin, Gilles Apap, Hélène Grimaud, and André Watts.

Marcus Roberts, Piano – Pianist Marcus Roberts is known worldwide for his many contributions to jazz music and his commitment to integrating jazz and classical idioms to create a wholly new and authentic art form. Roberts is credited with developing a new approach to the jazz trio, and he is often hailed as “the genius of the modern piano”. Roberts has won numerous awards, including the Helen Keller Award for Personal Achievement. His critically acclaimed legacy of recorded music reflects his tremendous artistic versatility and unique approach to jazz performance. 

Roland Guerin, Bass – Roland Guerin’s style is influenced by many musical genres, including jazz, blues, American folk, and zydeco. He plays a strong country groove with a relaxed feeling of swing. Guerin’s extensive recorded legacy spans his works and collaborations with various artists, such as Marcus Roberts’ Grammy-nominated Portraits in Blue and the Blind Boys of Alabama’s Grammy-winning Down in New Orleans.

Jason Marsalis, Drums – Jason Marsalis is the youngest son of the renowned Ellis Marsalis. He has held the drum chair in the Marcus Roberts Trio for more than 25 years and is a founding member of Roberts’ Modern Jazz Generation band. Marsalis is widely regarded as one of the greatest drummers of his generation. His masterful musical intellect and technical skill combined with a brilliant thematic, groove-based drum style has been a critical part of the sound and philosophy of Marcus Roberts’ bands for many years.

It is due to the generosity of Santa Barbara Symphony supporters that concerts and Artist Residencies are possible.  Thank you to the following sponsors of the Rhapsody in Blue concerts:
May Concert Sponsors

  • Principal Concert Sponsors: Dan & Meg Burnham
  • Artist Sponsor: Marilyn & Richard Mazess
  • Selection Sponsors: Mark & Shelley Bookspan; Omega Financial Group; Wallin Studios

Season Sponsors

  • Sarah & Roger Chrisman, 2023/24 Season Sponsor
  • Montecito Bank & Trust, 2023/24 Corporate Sponsor
  • The Granada Theatre, Grand Venue Sponsor

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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