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History

MAKING MAGNIFICENT MUSIC SINCE 1948

1948 –  SBCS was formed at Oak Creek park following a performance of “Elijah!” with Jeffrey Harris as conductor.  The group included 32 sopranos, 19 altos, 7 tenors, 2 baritone/4 basses.  The first season included Bach “Mass in B Minor” and the “Messiah.”  Until 1961, the Principal underwriter for the Choral Society was the Santa Barbara County Adult Education Program.

1951 – Dr. Harold Einecke takes the baton as conductor.  He initiates collaborative programs with the Santa Barbara Back Festival and the Pacific Coast Festival, including a concert with Leopold Stokowski conducting.  The SBCS also began to work with the Santa Barbara Symphony under Erno David, with works such as “Psalmes Hungaricus” by Kodaly, and “Magnificat” by Alan Hovaness.

1961-66 – Dr. Stanley Krebs, UCSB faculty member, composer and expert on contemporary Russian music, becomes Music Director of SBCS.  He initiates engagements with Westmont College and Santa Maria Symphony.  The Society takes on “Boris Godunov” in Russian, prompting a number of altos to leave because they objected to “communist music.”

1966-67 – Dr. Roger Chapman, also of UCSB, is at the helm having inherited a huge challenge as the number of chorus members sinks to its lowest ebb with only 31 singers.

1967-68 – William Hatcher, music director of SB High School and chorus master for opera productions at Music Academy of the West (MAW), takes over and there is a “growth spurt” for the chorus, now at 80 singers.  SBCS is named one of 59 choral groups in the nation to win funding from the National Endowment of the Arts.  The group sings Gilbert and Sullivan, Mozart and Shubert, as the Society’s solvency and enthusiasm bounce back.   Collaboration begins with  MAW singing the Mozart “Requiem” as well as Ernest Bloch’s “Sacred Service.” (Block was working at MAW).

1969-71 – Under the direction of UCSB’s Michael Livingstone and later, Albert Campbell (1971-81) SBCS entered a period of stability and maturity, allowing ambitious programming like the West Coast Premiere of a jazz oratorio, “The Light in the Wilderness” by SB resident, Dave Brubeck.

1973 Marked the 25th Anniversary of SBCS and a performance of “Carmina Burana” inspired SB composer John Biggs to write “Canticle of Life” scored for chorus, soloists, orchestra and dancers. To raise money for the production a pop concert was presented at the Earl Warren Showground complete with Bach, the Beatles, a barbershop quartet, and a belly dancer.  The group performed Handel’s “Israel in Egypt” in Ventura in June, 1981, concluding Al Campbell’s tenure.

1981-93 The attraction to the unconventional that marked the time of Livingstone and Campbell was coupled with a new culture of musical excellence with the choice of Steven Craig Townsend as Music Director of the SBCS.  in addition to its own concerts, SBCS participated in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with the Japanese Philharmonic, with the SB Symphony and the UCSB  Collegiate Chorale and with MAW in productions of Manon, La Boheme and Henry Purcell’s “King Arthur” to great acclaim at the Ojai Music Festival.  Broadway “classics” were also a favorite Townshend program.

1993- present – SBCS hires its first female Music Director, JoAnne Wasserman.  She brings new professionalism to the organization by instituting a policy of paid section leaders and member auditions.  In 1998 to mark the 50th Anniversary, SBCS joined with the SB Symphony to sing “Carmina Burana.”   Milestones during this period include: three international concert tours; participation in the worldwide 2002 9/11 Rolling Requiem and spearheading a nationwide rolling Mozart’s Requiem of Remembrance on the 10th anniversary of 9/11; growth of a student scholarship program; participation in Opera Santa Barbara Gala Opera Festivals; annual performances of major choral masterworks with the SB Symphony; a move to the Granada Theater as a resident company including collaboration in a world premiere of a new ballet production of “Carmina Burana” with the State Street Ballet (2008) and in 2009 another collaboration “Love, Love, Love” with the ballet and original music by Beatles’ producer, Sir George Martin.  Performances the following season included “Messiah“, Verdi’s “Requiem“, and Vaughan-Williams’ “A Sea Symphony“.

Seeking a more renaissance acoustic for certain repertoire, Ms. Wasserman took the chorus to San Roque Catholic Church for performances of Bach’s “B minor Mass” and American Composer Rollo Dilworth’s “The Rain Sequence“.

To explore complete listing of our performance catalog from 1993 to 2015, please click here.