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Santa Barbara Symphony presents Beethoven in Bloom, a Celebration of Music and Nature, and Commemorates Thomas Fire & Montecito Mudslide

(January 26, 2022) Santa Barbara, CA – The Santa Barbara Symphony presents “Beethoven in Bloom” on Saturday, February 19 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, February 20 at 3:00 pm at the Granada Theatre. This first-of-its-kind concert is presented in partnership with Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and will spotlight a piece by EMMYⓇ Award-winning composer Jeff Beal, written in response to the Thomas Fire and Montecito mudslides. The Santa Barbara Symphony’s principal harpist Michelle Temple will shine on stage playing renowned composer Jennifer Higdon’s Grammy-award winning Harp Concerto, while Beethoven’s “Pastorale” rounds out this nature-themed performance. Tickets for “Beethoven in Bloom” are on sale now and can be purchased online here. The Symphony has also partnered with One805 to invite local first responders to attend the concert free of charge.

“It is an honor to present such a dynamic program featuring two amazingly talented American contemporary composers,” shared Nir Kabaretti, Music and Artistic Director of the Santa Barbara Symphony. “We are also excited about our artistic partnership with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, whose restoration work on the land on which Jeff Beal’s piece depicts, is extraordinary, and adds such dimension and emotion to the presentation. This provides such a unique way for audiences to further connect with not only the music but with nature and the Santa Barbara community as a whole.”

Beethoven in Bloom will feature The Great Circle, EMMYⓇ Award-winning composer Jeff Beal’s visual and musical depiction of the landscape’s rebirth after the devastation of the Thomas Fire. When Beal nearly lost his home in the Thomas Fire and experienced the devastation felt by neighbors and communities from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, he created the symphonic work, The Great Circle, that paints nature’s primal elements and enduring power to survive, and includes a visual component incorporating photographs of the devastation, the heroism of first responders, and new photographs of the foothill rebirth from Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s photographic research collection. The Great Circle is a powerful orchestra work cast in five movements, entitled: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and (Re)birth. The title comes from a poem by Wendell Berry, “Our Children, Coming of Age.”

“The Great Circle is a musical narrative written in response to the Thomas Fire, and the Montecito mudslides of 2017-18,” shared Beal. “It is a piece about the complexity of our dance with our natural environment, i.e. the power of nature to both destroy and also regenerate itself. It is a meditation on the suffering, and compassion the community experienced during these times; an invitation to reflect on the past, the forces and elements, which also allow life to return in our future.”

Partnership with Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Program
“We are excited to partner with The Symphony to showcase the regenerative power of native plants and their impact on our lives here in Santa Barbara – and beyond. Through Mr. Beal’s music and the Garden’s imagery, we hope to bring a love of the natural world to a whole new audience,” said Steve Windhager, Executive Director of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.“We’re also thrilled to promote an appreciation of the Symphony to our members and guests right here in the Garden in the season ahead.”

After fire, erosion and invasive species may prevent landscapes from recovering. Knowing where these problems occur can help land managers pin-point the most effective restoration interventions. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has been surveying post-fire conditions in the Thomas and Whittier Fire Scars with the help of over 100 volunteer community scientists. In 2020 and 2021, volunteers and staff watched the landscape as it recovered while hiking over 280 net miles of roads and trails. Using their smartphones, surveyors collected data about erosion, invasive species, and rare plants they encountered while hiking in the fire scars. These data will be used to identify where in the fire scars restoration will be most beneficial and to plan future work, and provide a glimpse into the way our local habitats recover naturally following fire.

Symphony Harpist Featured in Higdon’s Harp Concerto
Beethoven in Bloom will also spotlight the Symphony’s Principal Harpist, Michelle Temple, performing Jennifer Higdon’s Harp Concerto, which originally premiered in 2018, by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra with harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, and won the 2020 Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Temple has played Principal Harp with the Santa Barbara Symphony since 1991, and has also served as Principal Harp for Opera Santa Barbara for more than 15 years. She has been a member of Pacific Symphony, the third largest orchestra in California, since 1994.

Nature Inspired Pastorale Also on Program
Continuing the thematic element of nature, the orchestra will take audiences on a musical stroll through nature with one of Beethoven’s most thematic works, “Pastorale” from his Sixth Symphony, which was inspired by the composer’s long walks in the Austrian countryside and vineyards around Vienna. Audiences will feel surrounded by nature with the orchestra’s expressive sounds of birds fluttering and storms thundering.
This concert is generously sponsored by Principal Concert Sponsor, Dick & Ann Zylstra, and Selection Sponsors Howard Jay Smith & Patricia Bivans Dixon, and John Trotti & Karen Drown.
Tickets are on sale now to Beethoven in Bloom on Saturday, February 19 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, February 20 at 3:00 pm at the Granada Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online here. For full details about the Santa Barbara Symphony’s 2021/22 season and to purchase season subscriptions or single tickets, please click here.

About Jeff Beal
Jeff Beal is an American composer of music for film, media, and the concert hall. With musical beginnings as a jazz trumpeter and recording artist, his works are infused with an understanding of rhythm and spontaneity. Steven Schneider for the New York Times wrote of “the richness of Beal’s musical thinking…his compositions often capture the liveliness and unpredictability of the best improvisation.” His eclectic music has been singled out with critical acclaim and recognition, and his score and theme for Netflix drama, House of Cards, has received five prime-time Emmy Award nominations & two statues. Other scores of note include his dramatic music for HBO’s acclaimed series Carnivale and Rome, as well as his comedic score and theme for the detective series, Monk. Beal composes, orchestrates, conducts, records, and mixes his own scores, which gives his music a very personal, distinctive touch.

About Jennifer Higdon
Jennifer Higdon is one of America’s most acclaimed and most frequently performed living composers. She is a major figure in contemporary Classical music, receiving the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, a 2010 Grammy for her Percussion Concerto and a 2018 Grammy for her Viola Concerto, and a 2020 Grammy for her Harp Concerto. Most recently, Higdon received the Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University, given to contemporary classical composers of exceptional achievement who have significantly influenced the field of composition. Higdon enjoys several hundred performances a year of her works, and blue cathedral is today’s most performed contemporary orchestral works, with more than 650 performances worldwide. Her works have been recorded on more than sixty CDs, and her Percussion Concerto recording was recently inducted into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry. Higdon’s first opera, Cold Mountain, won the prestigious International Opera Award for Best World Premiere. Dr. Higdon holds the Rock Chair in Composition at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

About Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
As the first botanic garden in the nation to focus exclusively on native plants, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has dedicated nearly a century of work to better understand the relationship between plants and people. Growing from 13 acres in 1926 to today’s 78 acres, the grounds now include more than 5 miles of walking trails, an herbarium, seed bank, research labs, library, and a public native plant nursery. Amid the serene beauty of the Garden, teams of scientists, educators, and horticulturists remain committed to the original spirit of the organization’s founders – conserve California native plants and habitats to ensure they continue to support life on the planet and can be enjoyed for generations to come. Visit

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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