Santa Barbara Symphony Plays Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

Laquita Mitchell
Laquita Mitchell

Few works by American composers have enjoyed the life of George and Ira Gershwin’s symphony Porgy and Bess, according to the Santa Barbara Independent. 

Controversial from the moment it premiered in 1935, the symphony based on African-American themes and is set on Catfish Row, a poor district of Charleston, South Carolina.

The action swings back and forth across the water as the characters come and go from Catfish Row to Kittiwah, a fictional island off the coast of Charleston.

The Santa Barbara Symphony will play in the Granada Theatre Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17, for its season finale.

The Santa Barbara Choral Society and vocal soloists Laquita Mitchell and Michael Sumuel will join them for the Gershwin symphony.

“Expect to hear the greatest of all seasonal theme songs, the magnificent ‘Summertime,’ rendered with the taste, beauty, and sheer sonic heft that a full orchestra with a chorus can provide,” writes the Santa Barbara Independent.

In addition to Gershwin, there will be two other pieces by American composers: Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 “Romantic” and a world premiere, Arioso for Strings, Oboe, and Percussion by Dan Redfield.

Redfield’s Arioso was composed in response to waiting to board a flight from New York to Los Angeles on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Redfield’s flight was cancelled and he made his way from the airport through a stricken and confused Manhattan in the back seat of a taxi.

The concerts are Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.