The Santa Barbara Symphony will present Beethoven in Bloom at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20, at the Granada Theatre.
The first-of-its-kind concert is a celebration of music and nature, and commemorates the Thomas fire and Montecito mudflow.
The concert is presented in partnership with the 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 the nature-themed performance.
Tickets for Beethoven in Bloom are on sale now and can be purchased online. 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,” said 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 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 titled: "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,” Beal said. “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 the 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 pinpoint 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.