Bells Will Be Ringing

Performance by university carillonist Wesley Arai celebrates the 50th anniversary of Storke Tower

By Leslie Dinaberg

Tuesday, August 20, 2019 – 12:00, Santa Barbara, CA

University Carillonist Wesley Arai, courtesy photo.

University Carillonist Wesley Arai, courtesy photo.

From a small space atop Storke Tower, the music Wesley Arai creates on a 61-bell carillon rings out across the UC Santa Barbara campus.

Audiences will be treated to a special program Sunday, Aug. 25, when Arai, the university carillonist, gives a recital as part of series celebrating the 50th anniversary of Storke Tower. Free and open to the public, the concert begins at 2 p.m. Listeners are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs to sit on the grass beneath the tower.

“I realize that most people aren’t familiar with the carillon, so I try to make my recitals accessible and varied,” said Arai, who also oversees the maintenance of the instrument and organizes guest carillon recitals as part of his duties. The summer concert will include well-known classical music, popular songs and some music written specifically for the carillon. As a tribute to the 50th anniversary, Arai said, “I’ve been trying to also include music that is significant to the university and its carillon. Going with that theme, the concert will likely include some music written for the campus carillon, music written by past university carillonists and school songs.”

Arai, also a lecturer in the Department of Music, has performed extensively across the United States and abroad. He has recently performed in Australia, at the Eighth Berkeley Carillon Festival, at the Springfield International Carillon Festival and at the Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, which this year took place in Lake Wales, Florida. In addition, he gave the dedicatory recital for the carillon at the University of Washington. Arai also performs annually at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, Washington.

In addition to the carillon, Arai has studied piano, trombone and voice, and has performed in a variety of concert bands, marching bands, jazz bands, orchestras and choral groups. He also enjoys arranging music and occasionally performs some of his own arrangements on the carillon.

An alumnus of UC Berkeley, where he received bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and in statistics, Arai discovered the carillon as an undergraduate student. “I would hear the bells all the time while walking to class,” he said, “and I heard there was a class to learn how to play — so I signed up and have been playing ever since.”

Enthusiastic to share his passion and skill, Arai invites UC Santa Barbara students interested in learning to play the Storke Tower carillon to email him at waraiwarai@gmail.com to schedule a piano audition. Enrollment is limited to three students per quarter.

Storke Tower and its carillon were a gift from Thomas More Storke, former publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press. The instrument consists of 61 bells cast by Petit & Fritsen of the Netherlands, with the bells weighing from 18 pounds to 2.5 tons and spanning five octaves. The carillon at UC Santa Barbara is a much larger modern copy of historical instruments that were invented approximately 500 years ago in the Low Countries of Europe. Then, tower bells were used to signal time, much like a clock chime, and as a means of additional notifications (e.g. an enemy is approaching) and directives, such as to close the city gates or go to church.

Eventually, the number of bells was increased and they were connected to a keyboard to facilitate the performance of music. A melody was often played to attract the attention of the townspeople before the hour bell tolled the time throughout the day. A carillon is played with the fists and feet, and the action is completely mechanical. To vary the dynamics of the music, the performer must strike the key harder or use a lighter touch, much like a piano.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on August 20, 2019.

New York Polyphony

New York Polyphony, photo by Chris Owyoung.

New York Polyphony, photo by Chris Owyoung.

The New Yorker calls them, “Singers of superb musicianship and vocal allure.” National Public Radio praises New York Polyphony for a “rich, natural sound that’s larger and more complex than the sum of its parts.”

Hear them for yourself when UCSB Arts & Lectures presents the two-time Grammy Award-nominated vocal chamber ensemble New York Polyphony in its Santa Barbara debut on Wednesday, February 20 at 7 p.m. at Music Academy of the West’s Hahn Hall (1070 Fairway Rd., Santa Barbara).

The provocative program Faith and Reason includes Thomas Tallis’ Mass for Four Voices and Gregory Brown’s Missa Charles Darwin—the inspiration behind his brother Dan Brown’s latest Da Vinci Code novel—which honors the conventions of its musical antecedents but replaces sacred texts with excerpts from Darwin’s writings. Of special note, this performance marks the return of Music Academy of the West alumnus Christopher Dylan Herbert, the group’s baritone, to his alma mater.

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or purchase online at ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 19, 2019.

Danish String Quartet

Danish String Quartet, photo by Caroline Bittencourt.

Danish String Quartet, photo by Caroline Bittencourt.

The Danish String Quartet returns to Santa Barbara this week for two beautiful nights of music presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures.

First up, a salon-style program of Nordic folk on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at Rockwood. Then on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. they will perform a classical program of Haydn, Abrahamsen and Nielsen at UCSB Campbell Hall.

Nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award, the Danish String Quartet—Frederik Øland (Violin); Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen (Violin); Asbjørn Nørgaard (Viola); Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin (Cello)—is an internationally acclaimed chamber music group. As the Boston Globe reports, “Do not lose track of this group. Even by today’s high standards, it offers something very special.” 

Danish String Quartet, photo by Caroline Bittencourt.

Danish String Quartet, photo by Caroline Bittencourt.

“The quartet’s crystalline sound conjures a magical atmosphere and nods to the strident tone of Nordic fiddle playing,” writes The Strad (U.K.).  

These four Nordic lads have played together since childhood and possess “warmth, wit, a beautiful tone and technical prowess second to none” (NPR).

Violinists Frederik Øland and Rune Tonsgaard Sørenson and Viola player Asbjorn Norgaard met as children at a music summer camp where they played soccer and made music together. As teenagers, they began the study of classical chamber music and were mentored by Tim Frederiksen of Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Academy of Music. In 2008, the three Danes were joined by Norwegian cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin.

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or purchase online at ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 11, 2019.

Cocktail Corner: Constellation Pop-Up at Hotel Californian

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Looking for something fun to do to chase those winter blues away. Why not check out the first-ever foodie, wine, mixology & indie music weekend at Hotel Californian (36 State St., Santa Barbara) from January 25-27.

“This is the first of a new quarterly weekend series that will bring inspiring culinary, musical and cultural experiences to Santa Barbara’s hip Funk Zone neighborhood,” says Niki Jenson, who represents Hotel Californian.  

Featuring chefs, indie musicians, vibey DJ beats and community vintners, this sounds like something that shouldn’t be missed. Highlights include Friday night’s “meet the makers” opening night reception with a vibey beats from Boom Forest, along with Bittercube Cocktails, Potek Wine and light bites.

There will be a Bittercube mixology class—the Seven Pillars of Classic Cocktails—on Saturday in Hotel Californian’s sexy new Djinn lobby bar. Bittercube is a Wisconsin-based line of densely flavored cocktail bitters that are created by hand with real botanicals, taking as long as 25 days to complete the process. 

As part of Hotel Californian's Constellation Pop Up Weekend, Bittercube co-founder Ira Koplowitz will host a mixology class, complete with cocktail tasting and curated snacks. Courtesy photo.

As part of Hotel Californian’s Constellation Pop Up Weekend, Bittercube co-founder Ira Koplowitz will host a mixology class, complete with cocktail tasting and curated snacks. Courtesy photo.

Saturday evening features a chef & winemaker reception and six-course dinner from Guest Chefs Justin Carlisle & Chris Mangless, featuring wines by Russel From of Herman Story (Paso Robles), Vailia Esh of Desparada (Paso Robles), and Dave Potter (who we just featured in the winter issue of Santa Barbara Seasons) of Municipal Winemakers (22 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara).

 

Later that night (Jan. 26) is an indie pop-up concert with Langhorne Slim, Stelth Ulvang of The Lumineers and Chris Porterfield of Field Report.

Stelth Ulvang – Clocktower (live at Scandinavia) from The Sights Of Sounds on Vimeo.

And if that’s not enough excitement, Sunday features a winemaker brunch featuring wines from Dave Potter of Municipal Winemakers.

Tickets are still available, click here to access them (choose among individual event tickets or two VIP Packages). This should be a really fun weekend. I hope to see some of you there.

Cheers! Click here for more Cocktail Corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie believes variety is the spice of life. Send your suggestions to Leslie@sbseasons.com.

 

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 21, 2019.

 

 

Jon Batiste

Jon Batiste, photo by Ambo Elliot.

Jon Batiste, photo by Ambo Elliot.

Jazz musician Jon Batiste, bandleader on The Late Show with Steven Colbert, makes his Santa Barbara debut on Friday, January 11 at 8 p.m. at UCSB Campbell Hall, in a UCSB Arts & Lectures presentation.

Wynton Marsalis describes him as “an elegant and electric performer with an unbelievably rich palette of techniques and styles rooted in New Orleans soul.”

Batiste is seen by millions on television five nights a week on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “The energy and the excitement, the love of the audience, the humanism that he brings to his music is everything that I want,” says Colbert.

With his soulful brand of high-energy pop mixed with New Orleans funk and American jazz standards, his 2013 album Social Music with his band Stay Human topped the charts as the No. 1 jazz album in the world. His new album was recorded in a church in native city of New Orleans and produced by T Bone Burnett. Batiste’s major label debut, Hollywood Africans, is a stunning showcase of the brilliant pianist and vocalist. Primarily just Batiste and his piano, it includes standards, unexpected covers and original songs. This release displays Batiste’s dynamic talents and highlights his musicality and virtuosity on his instrument.

The Forbes 30 under 30 honoree balances a demanding performance schedule—which often includes his signature, impromptu ‘love riot’ street parades—with his role as bandleader on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Artistic Director At Large of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, public speaking engagements, master classes and occasional acting gigs. He played himself on the HBO series Treme and most recently appeared in director Spike Lee‘s Red Hook Summer.

Batiste is also a coveted artist brand ambassador– currently featured in ad campaigns for Chase Bank, the Apple Watch, Lincoln Continental and numerous fashion brands including Polo Ralph Lauren Black Label, Frye, Kate Spade, Jack Spade Barneys, Nordstrom and H&M.

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or purchase online at www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on January 9, 2019.

Kids Helping Kids Benefit Concerts

San Marcos High School Kids Helping Kids program has to be one of the most interesting and unique. During the course of 16 years, students have raised more than 3.1 million dollars for charitable purposes—to improve the lives of disadvantaged children both globally and locally. This year’s student-run gala benefit concerts feature Ben Rector on Friday, Jan. 11, and JOHNNYSWIM on Saturday, Jan. 12.

Singer and songwriter, Ben Rector is most notably recognized for his smash hits such as “Drive” and “Brand New,” and he just released his sixth album, titled Magic, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Americana/Folk Charts and No. 44 on the Billboard 200 chart. The Oklahoma born and Nashville based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist uncovers that feeling of “magic” within 13 anthems equally rooted in whimsical nostalgia and excitement for the future. His ceaseless touring and prolific output paid off in a big way on the 2015 breakout Brand New. Clocking 41 million-plus streams on Spotify, the single organically landed over 40 film and television placements, including a trailer for The Edge of Seventeen, a TV spot for Disney’s Moana, and MLB World Series and Olympics primetime spots.

Kids Helping Kids is thrilled to bring back JOHNNYSWIM as the headliner for this year’s Saturday show on Jan. 12. Previously an opener for KHK, JOHNNYSWIM became a KHK fan favorite when they won over the crowd with hits like “Home” and “Diamonds.” Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano Ramirez make up JOHNNYSWIM. The pair met in Nashville in 2005. They clicked together musically and personally, beginning a romantic relationship along with their creative connection. JOHNNYSWIM can be easily recognized by their popular songs “Diamonds,” “Take the World,” and “Home.”

Both shows take place at The Granada Theatre (1214 State St., Santa Barbara). For more information, visit kidshelpingkidssb.org.

 

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 17, 2018.

Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra

Jeff Goldblum, photo by Universal Music Paridukovic, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Jeff Goldblum, photo by Universal Music Paridukovic, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Jeff Goldblum is a man of many talents. The Academy Award-nominated actor reveals his jazz piano skills with his longtime jazz quintet The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures  on Sat., Nov. 3,  at 8 p.m. at UCSB Campbell Hall.

“The bass, sax and drums complement Goldblum’s piano prowess and electric personality for a high-energy traditional jazz music performance that brings the audience to its feet, while Goldblum’s quirky, intelligent and suave humor makes for a hilarious and captivating evening. Goldblum’s fans will delight in his banter, games and selfies as he works the room,” according to A&L.

“You haven’t truly heard your name until you’ve heard Jeff Goldblum say it,” Los Angeles Magazine says. “The 65-year-old actor loves savoring–and sometimes butchering–names when he works the room at Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz. Goldblum’s signature, oft-imitated speaking style has a bebop quality: a swingin’ rhythm and distinct musicality, punctuated with those jazzy ‘uh’s and ‘um’s.”

While Goldblum and his jazz band have been making weekly appearances at Rockwell for years, only recently has he decided share this insiders’ club experience with those of us a bit father afoot. On his first-ever formal tour with The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, Jeff Goldblum will bring that intimate jazz club experience to Santa Barbara. The music is first-rate jazz, but if part of the appeal is to get some of that Jeff Goldblum charm, we suggest that you don’t stray too far during intermission.

For Tickets/Info call 805/893-3535,  or visit ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 1, 2018.

Pianos Jazz Up State Street

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

State Street’s got some rhythm in its soul this month with the annual Pianos on State interactive musical exhibit on display throughout October.

In its 9th year, the exhibition will extend from October 2-24,  and feature pianos painted by Santa Barbara-based artists—all of which are available for community exploration, impromptu play and group performances.

This year’s panel received a record number of submissions, according to organizers from Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture. The selected artists include Aviel Hyman, Mahina Martinson, Ariana Meyers, Jack Mohr, Amanda Phillips, Melody Rose, Sheryl Schroeder, Lanny Sherwin and Richard Stokes. Additional community partners working with local students and artists to design pianos include Art From Scrap, the Santa Barbara Public Library Central Branch, The Arts Fund and Youth Interactive.

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

Pianos on State, photo by Art Fisher.

Helmed by the Santa Barbara Bowl, this program represents a unique collaboration that aims to provide arts exposure for residents and visitors of all ages. “The pianos are a beloved tradition that enhances the cultural vibrancy of Santa Barbara and the downtown corridor. It is a way to engage the community by inviting participants of all ages and backgrounds to experience performing arts in a public space,” says Kai Tepper, Santa Barbara Bowl Education Outreach Program Manager. Additional producing partners include the City of Santa Barbara, Office of Arts and Culture, The Arts Fund, Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, Downtown Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation and New Noise SB. Many local sponsors and businesses also help sponsor and underwrite costs.

Isaac Hernandez. Untitled. Acrylic paint on piano. Exhibited outside the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. November 7, 2010. ©2010 Isaac Hernandez/IsaacArt.com.

Isaac Hernandez. Untitled. Acrylic paint on piano. Exhibited outside the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. November 7, 2010. ©2010 Isaac Hernandez/IsaacArt.com.

An opening celebration takes place on 1st Thursday, October 4, from 5-8 p.m. as artists traverse the pianos and the Piano Boys perform at the Library’s piano at the intersection of State and Anapamu Streets.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 3, 2018.

Wild Up at SBMA: GRADIENT

The modern music collective wild Upan adventurous chamber orchestra committed to creating visceral, thought-provoking happenings—comes to Santa Barbara Museum of Art on September 27 with a program inspired by Nam June Paik’s TV Clock. Featuring  Violinist Andrew McIntosh, the performance is  about space, light, and the passing of time.

Nam June Paik, TV Clock, 1963/1989. Twenty-four fixed-image color television monitors mounted on 24 pedestals. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Grace Jones Richardson Trust, Lillian and Jon B. Lovelace, Leatrice and Eli Luria and the Luria Foundation, Zora and Les Charles and the Cheeryble Foundation, Wendy and Elliot Friedman, and Lord and Lady Ridley-Tree.

Nam June Paik, TV Clock, 1963/1989. Twenty-four fixed-image color television monitors mounted on 24 pedestals. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Grace Jones Richardson Trust, Lillian and Jon B. Lovelace, Leatrice and Eli Luria and the Luria Foundation, Zora and Les Charles and the Cheeryble Foundation, Wendy and Elliot Friedman, and Lord and Lady Ridley-Tree.

Situated in front of Paik’s work, four wild Up violinists perform elegant and visceral works by Anahita Abbasi, John Cage, Tashi Wada, and Steve Reich. The event is free, but reservations are required as seating is limited.

wild Up has been called “Best in Classical Music 2015” and “…a raucous, grungy, irresistibly exuberant…fun-loving, exceptionally virtuosic family” by Zachary Woolfe of The New York Times, “Searing. Penetrating. And thrilling” by Fred Child of Performance Today and “Magnificent” by Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times. Over the last eight years, wild Up has collaborated with orchestras, rock bands and cultural institutions around the world.

The performance takes place on Thursday, September 27, from 6 – 7 p.m. at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State St., Santa Barbara. It is free but please reserve tickets at the Museum Visitor Services desk, or online at tickets.sbma.net.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on September 25, 2018.

Summer Supper Concert in Los Olivos Continues

The next Summer Supper Concert in Los Olivos at St. Mark’s will be Thursday, August 9 at 5 p.m., featuring Tri-tip BBQ and the Just Dave Band with country tunes. Photo by Frank Panaro Photography.

The next Summer Supper Concert in Los Olivos at St. Mark’s will be Thursday, August 9 at 5 p.m., featuring Tri-tip BBQ and the Just Dave Band with country tunes. Photo by Frank Panaro Photography.

Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip BBQ and all the fixings will be accompanied by the Just Dave Band  at Thursday’s Summer Supper Concert Series in Los Olivos

People of all ages are invited to enjoy the band—featuring lead singer, acoustic guitarist and harmonica player Dave Bernal and known for its high-energy legit country tunes as well as some fun originals—on August 9 from 5-8 p.m. in the shady, garden courtyard at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley church located at (2901 Nojoqui Ave., just one block from the flagpole in downtown Los Olivos).  

Guests gathered in the shady courtyard at St. Mark’s in Los Olivos during the second Summer Supper Concert on Thursday, July 12. Courtesy photo.

Guests gathered in the shady courtyard at St. Mark’s in Los Olivos during the second Summer Supper Concert on Thursday, July 12. Courtesy photo.

Directly benefitting the St. Mark’s Preschool Scholarship program, each Summer Supper Concert begins with a themed food & beverage supper served at 5 p.m. The live music begins at 5:30 p.m. The suggested donation per ticket including supper, concert and a beverage is $25 for adults and $10 for children ages 12 years and under (there is a capped cost of $30 for a family with three or more children). Additional beverages are available for purchase, but no outside food or drinks are allowed. 

Complimentary childcare for ages 2-10 is available onsite. Tickets are sold at the door as well as online in advance https://www.smitv.org/syv-summer-supper-concerts.html.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published on August 7, 2018 in Santa Barbara Seasons.