The Spark of Creativity

Fall Quarter brings a fresh complement of art, music, film and more

When the weather cools, it’s time for more than pumpkin-spiced drinks. A new season of concerts, plays, films and exhibitions await your pleasure at UC Santa Barbara.

Many of these performances and exhibition will highlight the talents of students and faculty. From a world premiere of a commissioned work to an exhibition of Chinese landscapes to a wicked revival of “Vanity Fair,” the campus’s fall arts calendar is chock-full of opportunities to experience the best UCSB has to offer.

Brilliant Sounds

With a new academic quarter just underway, what could be more appropriate than the West Coast premiere of a work by a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer? That’s what the Department of Music will present when professor Steven Gross (horn) performs with American Double, consisting of violinist Philip Ficsor and pianist Constantine Finehouse, Sunday, Oct. 14, at 3 p.m. at Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West. The program will feature Gross’ commissioned work from William Bolcom, “Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano,” and works by Václav Nelhýbel and Jiří Havlík. PLEASE NOTE: this event has been postponed. The Department of Music will announce the new performance date at a later time. Current ticket holders will receive a full refund. Questions? Please contact the Associated Students Ticket Office at (805) 893-2064 or

Back on campus, violinist Chiao-Ling Sun, a UCSB alumna, will present a recital with faculty member and pianist Charles Asche on Friday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m. in Karl Geiringer Hall. They will perform works by Mozart, Debussy, Chen Gang and He Zhan-Hao, Tyzen Hsiao, Johannes Brahm and Sze Kuo-Cheng.

The department will spread its musical wings with its fifth annual showcase, “Montage,” Sunday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Santa Barbara. Curated by professor and artistic director Jill Felber, the unique production will highlight classical, jazz, world and contemporary music, with performances showcasing both students and faculty.

In addition, department’s music ensembles (more than 25 of them) perform regularly throughout the quarter. Among them are the Chamber Choir, the Ensemble for Contemporary Music, Gamelan Ensemble, Gospel Choir, Jazz Ensemble, Middle East Ensemble and the Wind Ensemble. Performances take place in the Music Bowl, Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall and other campus venues.

Information about these and additional musical performances is available at

China, in All its Glory

For a country with a 5,000-year-old culture and more than 1 billion people today, China has long been something of a beautiful enigma to the West. A new exhibition at UCSB’s Art, Design & Architecture Museum, “All Under Heaven: Landscapes of China by Arnold Chang and Michael Cherney,” opens a window on its culture and history. The museum will host an opening reception for the exhibit, Friday, Oct. 5, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Chang, a painter, and Cherney, a photographer, share an appreciation of China’s classical tradition of art and culture, and their works explore classical themes and allusions to create deft presentations of the mind, hand and eye. In addition to their solo work, the exhibition highlights a number of collaborative pieces, in which a photographic image by Cherney becomes the starting point for Chang’s meandering, meditative brush.

Also on exhibit at the AD&AM are “Prints! The Joan and Stuart Levin Collection,” which features the couple’s exceptional collection of contemporary works on paper, and “Hand Made: The Art of the Hand,” items from the museum’s permanent collection, including drawings, prints, photographs and sculpture that looks at the imagery of this ubiquitous appendage.

All three shows continue through Dec. 9. More information, including museum hours, is available at

The Stage Is Set

A new quarter means new opportunities for students and faculty to shine at the Department of Theater and Dance. From bold, original productions of "Hamlet" and “Vanity Fair” to the Fall Dance Concert, the campus teems with talent.

First up is Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” by Naked Shakes, a theater company that specializes in breathing new life into the Bard’s works. In a twist, the role of the Prince of Denmark is performed by a female BFA acting student. Joined by a rich ensemble of talented young actors and directed by Irwin Appel, the production is raw, gritty, lean and mean — a “Hamlet” for our time.

The show, performed in the campus’s Studio Theater, runs weekends through Sunday, Oct. 14.

Speaking of female leads, “Vanity Fair” provides its actors with complex characters in an entertaining tale of two women — one “good,” the other “bad” — trying to navigate a society that punishes them for every misstep. One born to privilege, the other a child of the streets, they discover that morality is malleable. Based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic novel centered in English society during the Napoleonic Wars, the play offers a female anti-heroine of zero scruples. Funny and wickedly relevant, “Vanity Fair” is an (im)morality tale that asks, “Who are we to judge?”

“Vanity Fair” opens Friday, Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. in the Performing Arts Theater and runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 18.

This year’s Fall Dance Concert celebrates the department’s newest faculty members, Monique Meunier and Brandon Whited. Meunier, former principal dancer with New York City Ballet, brings together her eclectic background in classical ballet and contemporary dance in a new work performed by students. Also on the program are dances by Valerie Huston and Nancy Colahan alongside student BFA choreographer Kelly O’Connor. Whited, formerly a dancer with the internationally renowned dance company Shen Wei Dance Arts, will re-stage one of Shen Wei’s iconic works, “RE-III,” to close the concert. 

The Fall Dance Concert opens Thursday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. in the Hatlen Theater.

Ticket information for theater and dance events can be found at

Frankenstein Afterlives

Honoring the 200th anniversary Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s “Frankenstein” the Carsey-Wolf Center’s fall series is devoted to exploring multiple afterlives of the novel on film. Ranging from classical horror to science fiction to avant-garde experimentation, the series begins Thursday, Oct. 11, with a screening of “Mary Shelley” starring Elle Fanning. Julie Carlson, a professor of English at UC Santa Barbara, and Patrice Petro, director of the Carsey-Wolf Center will participate in a post-show discussion.

Other films in the series include “Bride of Frankenstein” (Thursday, Oct. 18), “The Spirit of the Beehive,” (Thursday, Nov. 8), “Young Frankenstein” (Tuesday, Nov. 13) and Andy Warhol’s “Flesh for Frankenstein” (Thursday, Dec. 6). All screenings begin at 7 p.m. and are followed by discussions with film and media scholars.

Complete information about the screenings can be found at


Share this article