Santa Barbara Youth Symphony to Perform 'Brundibár'

Santa Barbara Youth Symphony to Perform 'Brundibár'Members of the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony will take part in a fully staged production of Brundibár, Jewish Czech composer Hans Krása's uniquely affecting children's opera, at the Libbey Bowl in Ojai on Saturday, May 13, and at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara on Saturday, May 20. Performances will take place at 7:30 pm on May 13, and at 2:30 and 5 pm on May 20.

A collaborative effort involving the Youth Symphony, Ojai Youth Opera, and the Santa Barbara Youth Opera, the production will be conducted by Opera Santa Barbara Artistic Director Kostis Protopapas. The Santa Barbara Youth Opera is an educational program offered by Opera Santa Barbara.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for those members of the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony selected to participate," said Amy Williams, director of education and community engagement for the Santa Barbara Symphony. "The production will serve as an introduction to opera for some, and all the musicians are certain to learn a great deal from Maestro Protopapas. From an institutional perspective, we are grateful to be collaborating with Opera Santa Barbara and Ojai Youth Opera."

Consisting of some 80 musicians ages 12 to 18 from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony is the capstone program of the Santa Barbara Symphony's award-winning Music Education Center, which offers a series of highly regarded outreach programs for area children of all ages.

"I'm very excited to be working with the kids of Santa Barbara Youth Opera, Ojai Youth Opera, and the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony," said Mr. Protopapas. "Brundibár's message is one of strength, hope, and courage. There is no one better to convey it than our young singers and orchestra musicians, and I know that its impact will be felt deeply by all who have the honor of participating or attending."

Brundibár's undeniable power stems in part from its tragic history. Composed in 1938 as an entry for a government competition, it received its official premiere at a Jewish orphanage in German-occupied Prague in 1942, following a secret debut the previous year. By 1943 Krása and the residents of the orphanage had been transported to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where, working from a smuggled score, the composer re-orchestrated the work for the 13 adult instrumentalists on hand. Brundibár went on to be performed more than 50 times at the camp and came to figure prominently in Nazi propaganda efforts. In 1944 a special performance was staged for International Red Cross inspectors, and later that year the opera was featured in the film Hitler Gives the Jews a City. Immediately after filming, all participating children and adults were sent to Auschwitz, where most perished in the gas chambers.

The opera's protagonists are an intrepid brother and sister who, with the help of other children and a trio of animal friends, manage to vanquish a bullying organ grinder - widely assumed to symbolize Hitler.

Featuring lyrics by Adolf Hoffmeister, Brundibár includes just one adult part, and is about 40 minutes long. The performances on May 13 and 20 will include two movements from the song cycle I Never Saw Another Butterfly, composed by Charles Davidson and inspired by poems from the children of Theresienstadt. (The title of Krása's work comes from a Czech colloquialism for bumblebee.)

Tickets, which start at just $7 for children 12 and under, can be purchased online at (Ojai) and

For additional information, call 805-898-3890.

The Santa Barbara Symphony was founded in 1953 on the belief that a special city deserves a special orchestra. Consistently lauded for its unique ability to present brilliant concerts, engage the community, and deliver dynamic music education programs, the organization prizes both innovation and artistic excellence, and is widely recognized as one of the region's premier cultural institutions. Its award-winning Music Education Center serves more than 8,000 students throughout Santa Barbara County each year. Charismatic Israeli conductor Nir Kabaretti was appointed music director of the Santa Barbara Symphony in 2006. For additional information, visit

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