The UC Santa Barbara Department of Music will present the fifth annual UCSB Summer Music Festival Aug. 22-23 as a virtual event.
The Nesta Steel Drum Band performs at 1:15 p.m. Aug. 23. (Courtesy photo)
Sponsored by the UCSB Office of Summer Sessions, the festival will feature performances by the Los Angeles-based music piano duo HOCKET; multi-percussionist and vocalist Miguelito León; UC Santa Barbara Composition alumnus and pianist Marc Evanstein; the Nesta Steel Drum Band; university carillonist Wesley Arai; and Gamelan Sinar Surya, under the direction of UCSB faculty member Richard North.
The festival will also feature a children’s concert led by Miguelito León and a demonstration of a variety of Medieval and Renaissance instruments by UCSB graduate composition student Matthew Owensby. All events will be presented free of charge via the UCSB epartment of Music’s YouTube channel.
Founded in 2016 by UCSB Composition alumnus Federico Llach (’17), the UCSB Summer Music Festival continues to thrive as a student-curated and managed event. This year’s event has been coordinated by UCSB graduate composition student Raphael Radna, who is serving as artistic director.
“I am consistently impressed by the variety and quality of music at UCSB and in the Santa Barbara region,” said Radna. “Throughout its short history, the UCSB Summer Music Festival has been foremost a celebration of local artists, and an opportunity for our community to come together to appreciate live music in many forms.
“Online for the first time, this year’s program is as eclectic as ever, representing styles spanning several musical traditions and centuries of development. It has been an undeniably difficult year for the world and for music, but it is my hope that the 2020 UCSB Summer Music Festival will bring some light to the height of a summer when so much feels uncertain.”
As with previous years’ programs, the 2020 UCSB Summer Music Festival boasts a diverse collection of artists from Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, offering audience members the opportunity to experience music of various genres, cultures, and time periods in one weekend.
Saturday’s lineup will open with multi-percussionist and vocalist Miguel “Miguelito” León, who is also known for his work as a producer and educator, including his role as director of Cuba cultural exchange CALI2CUBA. Born and raised in Santa Barbara, León grew up playing a diverse range of world music such as Latin, Afro-Cuban, West-African, Brazilian “MPB,” Balkan, Flamenco, and Jazz.
León has performed and recorded with world-renowned artists such as Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Band, Michael McDonald, Ozomatli, and Los Hermanos Herrera, and has also recorded for FOX Network’s “Glee.”
León’s Summer Music Festival program will feature a special live-looping solo performance, and he will host a Children’s Concert on Sunday morning, with performances alongside an introduction to the instruments and rhythms he uses in his music.
Evanstein will present a program of original compositions for solo piano and electronics, titled The Computer as Wild Collaborator. Evanstein, who graduated from UCSB in 2019 with a Ph.D in composition, will perform a range of compositions featuring the computer as a creative partner.
From acoustic music composed with the aid of custom computer programs, to interactive piano pieces in which the computer responds live to the actions of the performer, Evanstein’s program will feature a variety of pieces in which the computer, and computer programming, play a central role in the compositional process.
He will also offer a brief introduction to his new Python-based computer-assisted composition framework, SCAMP, and some of the new music that has been composed using it.
Violinist Owensby will present a program called Rediscovering Medieval/Renaissance Instruments, during which he will offer a sample from a variety of Medieval and Renaissance instruments with a brief description and performance of each.
After discovering the instruments in UCSB’s collection laast fall, Owensby was inspired to spend eight months of self-instruction on these and other instruments and historical repertoire in an effort to revive community interest in this unique set of instruments. Owensby’s UCSB Summer Music Festival demonstration will include recorders, viols, crumhorns, cornetti, cornamuse, kortholt, dulcian, rebec, harp, and hurdy-gurdy.
Saturday’s program will close with a performance by Los Angeles-based new music piano duo HOCKET, featuring UCSB Santa Barbara faculty member Sarah Gibson and fellow composer/pianist Thomas Kotcheff.
“HOCKET is thrilled to be a part of this festival and to share our new project, #What2020SoundsLike,” said Gibson. “We look forward to performing 50-plus composers’ varying and moving musical responses to the year 2020.”
Noted as “brilliant” by Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times and as an “adventurous young ensemble” by The New Yorker, HOCKET has performed at festivals across the country including The Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, and the L.A. Philharmonic’s “oon to Midnight.
The duo’s UCSB Summer Music Festival program will feature performances of works written by Vicki Ray, Veronika Krausas, Ted Moore, Ian Dicke, Linda Dallimore, Derek Tywoniuk, Richard An, Noah Meites, and UCSB Composition alumnus Nick Norton.
Following Miguelito León’s Children’s Concert on Sunday morning, university carillonist Arai will perform arrangements of well-known classical music by Johann Sebastian Bach and Dmitri Shostakovich, as well as arrangements of popular songs from Beauty and the Beast and Scott Joplin’s Sunflower Slow Drag.
The program will also feature works composed specifically for the carillon by 18th century composer Matthias van den Gheyn and contemporary composer Roy Hamlin Johnson. Arai’s program will feature two pieces by Aaron David Miller and UCSB Professor Emeritus Emma Lou Diemer, both written in celebration of the Storke Tower carillon’s 50th anniversary, which was observed in 2019.
The Los Angeles-based Nesta Steel Drum Band, made up of husband and wife team Abby and Dan Savell, will present a concert featuring the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago, steelpan (or steel drums, as they are known in the U.S.).
In their performance, the Savells will explore the history and cultural significance of this family of instruments, as well as various Caribbean music styles, improvisation, and the basic principles and nuances of playing the instruments.
The fifth annual UCSB Summer Music Festival will close with a performance of traditional Indonesian music and dance by Santa Barbara-based Gamelan Sinar Surya, led by UCSB faculty member North, who has also directed the UCSB Gamelan Ensemble since 2015.
Founded in 2002, Gamelan Sinar Surya is dedicated to the preservation, teaching and performance of traditional Indonesian music and dance, specializing in rare music from the ancient kingdom of Cirebon, West Java. Members typically perform in a traditional gamelan orchestra setup, which includes gongs, xylophones, drums, and bamboo flutes from Indonesia.
The weekend schedule is as follows:
Saturday, Aug. 22
1:15 p.m. — Miguelito León
2:30 p.m. — Marc Evanstein
3:45 p.m. — Matthew Owensby
5 p.m. — HOCKET
Sunday, Aug. 23
10:45 a.m. — Children’s Concert featuring Miguelito León
Noon — Wesley Arai
1:15 p.m. — Nesta Steel Drum Band
2:30 p.m. — Gamelan Sinar Surya
Links to watch each performance will be available the week of the UCSB Summer Music Festival at . All events can also be viewed on the UCSB Department of Music’s YouTube Channel, .