Author spotlight: Steven Libowitz

Steven has reported on the arts and entertainment for more than 30 years. He has published his work in daily and weekly newspapers in New Jersey and California, as well as in Santa Barbara Magazine and a nationally syndicated news service. When not at his computer or out on the town, you’ll often find him playing volleyball at East Beach, just a short jog from Montecito’s famous Butterfly Beach.

Alcazar’s Concise Community-centric Comedy
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 9, 2022

Last summer, the community theater company at Carpinteria’s Alcazar Theatre launched Laugh Out Loud, a one-weekend summer series of several short comedic plays, both to keep its actors and the community engaged, and to test the waters of producing live theater during the pandemic.  Audiences responded, filling up more than half of the seats at […]

Directing Fellow Craig Carves Her Career Path
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 9, 2022

The Music Academy created its first-ever directing fellow position this summer, and chose Canadian Sawyer Ann Craig, who has a degree from McGill and credits as both a singer and director all over Canada. Craig had the chance to work alongside the directors of each of the vocal performance events, including Sara Widzer, Peter Kazaras, […]

One805 Live! The Bash is Back
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 9, 2022

One805’s original Kick Ash Bash was a legendary gathering that will forever be etched in the community’s consciousness. This huge star-studded event and concert in early 2018 was held at Bella Vista Ranch and Polo Club in Summerland to celebrate our community’s first responders after the Thomas Fire and Montecito debris flows. But the event’s […]

Santa Barbara Symphony
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 2, 2022

The Santa Barbara Symphony is proud of its upcoming 2022-23 season, which marks the organization’s milestone 70th anniversary. Understandably so, as the season’s nine concerts boast an impressive list of guest artists including pianist Alessio Bax, jazz saxophone legend Ted Nash, Sinatra crooner Tony DeSare, and two different Grammy-nominated violin soloists in Guillermo Figueroa and […]

Finding the Off-beat Flavors of Fiesta
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 2, 2022

Fiesta isn’t only about music, food, dance, and arts and entertainment reflecting Santa Barbara’s Spanish cultural past and present, there’s also a pretty healthy dose of rock and roll, pop, and more in outdoor locations around town. Most notable are the twin Mercados at De La Guerra Plaza and Mackenzie Park, both returning for the […]

Film Threads: ‘Scilla and Savings on SBIFF
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 2, 2022

UCSB Arts & Lectures’ Hot Fun in the Summertime free film screening series presents The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the 1994 Australian road comedy that became a certified cult classic about two drag queens and a transgender woman (Terence Stamp!) journeying across the Australian Outback in an old tour bus. Showtime is […]

Building Context and Style with Jessie Montgomery
By Steven Libowitz   |   August 2, 2022

Composer-violinist Jessie Montgomery is no stranger to Santa Barbara, having performed several times in the intimate Mary Craig Auditorium at the downtown Museum of Art with the Catalyst Quartet, the Grammy Award-winning string foursome from the Sphinx Organization she spearheaded from 2012-20. But that was before George Floyd, and the Black Lives Matter-spurred reckoning with […]

The Zombies in Ojai: Back From the Undead
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 26, 2022

It’s one of those strange quirks in rock ‘n’ roll history that The Zombies had already broken up by the time their second studio album, the Beach Boys/Beatles-influenced psychedelic-chamber pop classic, Odessey and Oracle, became a big bestseller on the back of the hit “Time of the Season” in 1968. They’d scored before with the […]

Sanctuary Centers of Santa Barbara
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 26, 2022

Sanctuary Centers has been around for 46 years, and while the nonprofit’s array of services and team of experienced clinical providers has grown to encompass both inpatient and outpatient care, as well as an integrated approach and supportive housing to form a comprehensive system of care, the organization hasn’t wavered from its mission. Their range […]

Come to the Cabaret… With an Open Mind
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 26, 2022

Don’t walk into the Music Academy’s Cabaret at Hahn Hall next Thursday, July 28, expecting to see a knockoff of the 1966 Kander and Ebb Broadway musical or Bob Fosse’s 50-year-old film adaptation. While both are set in Berlin’s cabaret culture during the Weimar Republic, the Academy event is an originally devised cabaret with a […]

Lodging a Love Story
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 19, 2022

The pandemic might have been a cause for pause for most of us, but Claudia Hoag McGarry took a different path. Not only did the screenwriter-turned-playwright take up watercolor painting – she’s created more than 575 pieces in 27 months, several hundred of which have sold online or, more recently, at Kathryne Designs in Montecito […]

Theater Talk: Launch Pad Already Firing Rockets 
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 19, 2022

The summer reading series from UCSB’s laudable Launch Pad program – which pairs playwrights’ new or underproduced works with professional directors and student performers – is an enviable experiential environment for professionals and students to participate in the creative process as it takes shape. In addition to acting, students get to explore stage management and […]

Also in Art
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 19, 2022

The Power of Objects, a solo show from mixed media assemblage artist Ron Robertson, opens at The Arts Fund’s Gallery space at La Cumbre Plaza on Friday, July 15. A force in the local Santa Barbara art scene whose work has been treasured around the country, Robertson was also a long-time supporter and popular mentor […]

Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’ at the Granada
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 19, 2022

With all due respect to Opera Santa Barbara, the opera event of the year may well take place this weekend when the Music Academy (MA) mounts an original and fully-staged production of Tchaikovsky’s popular and beloved opera Eugene Onegin at the Granada on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Especially if Peter Kazaras’ direction comes close […]

Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 12, 2022

Anyone who has ever watched a police drama on television in the last 50 years is familiar with the fact that everyone who has been accused of a crime has a right to free legal counsel if they can’t afford their own attorney. But that bright line ends when it turns to civil matters, even […]

An Adventure Made Up in Real Time
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 12, 2022

In recent years, Santa Barbara Improv (SBI) has added long-form format opportunities, in both workshops and performance, to its longstanding tradition of hosting weekly short-form classes and a monthly performance of the format most folks might be more familiar with via Whose Line Is It Anyway?  Now, SBI is trying something brand new for the […]

Focus on Film
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 12, 2022

Hot Fun in the Summertime, UCSB Arts & Lectures’ return to its weekly series of classic movies projected onto a huge inflatable screen at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden, returns for the first time in three years. Monster hits and cult favorites are among the summer-inspired buddy and adventure films that range from […]

Sō Percussion Progression
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 12, 2022

Sō Percussion’s mission, which is both straightforward and very ambitious, is to serve as a “percussion-based music organization that creates and presents new collaborative works to adventurous and curious audiences and educational initiatives to engaged students… in order to exemplify the power of music to unite people and forge deep social bonds.  Pretty much all […]

The Fund for Santa Barbara
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 5, 2022

The Supreme Court ruling that reversed the half-century old landmark Roe v. Wade decision had been handed down only hours before, but The Fund for Santa Barbara was already scrambling to respond in the wake of the decision.  “It’s a national issue, but there’s actually so much that could be done at the local level […]

A Crescendo of Dance
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 5, 2022

Arianna Hartanov, who moved to Santa Barbara to join State Street Ballet (SSB) in 2016, has danced lead roles in the company’s productions of Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, among others. But ballet isn’t her only bailiwick.  As a choreographer for SSB’s Evenings and Modern Masters events, she indulged her contemporary side back in 2019 […]

A Rotten Spectacular
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 5, 2022

If campy and clever is your path to pleasure – at least in the theater – you can do no better than the mirth-making musical Something Rotten. The show, which earned 10 Tony nominations on Broadway just five years ago, takes place in the 1590s when the theatrically-minded Nick Bottom, whose lot is a lot […]

Titan Lintu
By Steven Libowitz   |   July 5, 2022

The Music Academy (MA) represents a bit of a beachhead for Hannu Lintu, the Finnish conductor who has extensive experience leading orchestras and opera performances in his homeland and across Europe and the Eastern U.S. but has rarely ventured to the Western states. Helming the Academy Festival Orchestra for this weekend’s concert at the Granada […]

The Elephant Project
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 28, 2022

Estimates say that there are nearly 2,000 nonprofits in Santa Barbara County, each with a mission of supporting the local or at-large community in some way. But as far as we know, only one organization – The Elephant Project – has exactly one full-time employee.  But don’t underestimate the impact of Kristina McKean, the founder […]

A Shapeshifting Solstice Performance
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 28, 2022

Shapeshifting, in mythology and folklore, is the ability to physically transform oneself through an inherently superhuman ability, divine intervention, or sorcery, Wikipedia says. Metaphorically, at least, and leaving out the part about demonic manipulation, that pretty much sums up Santa Barbara’s The ShapeShifters, the new supergroup/house band hosts created by Randy Tico.  “It’s about changing […]

The Sound of Cipullo
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 28, 2022

For Tom Cipullo, MAW’s 2022 composer-in-residence, collaborating with two other faculty members in putting together an evening of his vocal works sung by the Academy’s fellows has been both a challenge and a joy. “There are 14 singers in all vocal ranges, and we have to give everybody an experience that fits them and also […]

The Riviera Ridge School
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 21, 2022

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” Shakespeare employed that now famous line in his play Romeo and Juliet to imply that the naming of things is irrelevant. The Riviera Ridge School might beg to differ.  The highly-esteemed independent educational institution that serves […]

Music Academy Celebrates 75th in Community Concert
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 21, 2022

Conductor Donato Cabrera and Music Academy of the West (MAW) vocal pianist John Churchwell met in 2003, the first of two summers Donato spent at MAW as assistant conductor for the annual opera. The two, who live near each other in the Bay Area, became fast friends and visit each other frequently. In fact, Cabrera […]

Plastic Pollution Coalition
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 14, 2022

In one of the funnier moments in the famous 1967 film The Graduate, a friend of Ben’s parents takes him aside to deliver some advice about his future: “I just have one word for you: Plastics.” Back then, of course, plastics was becoming a burgeoning field, as the material seemed to be an incredible scientific […]

Sum’MAW of 75
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 14, 2022

The Music Academy of the West’s return to its normal extremely event-packed eight-week summer music festival in 2022 happily coincides with a major milestone for the institute headquartered right here in Montecito. If previous partnerships with the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra haven’t already done so, MAW’s 75th anniversary season truly places […]

Sleuth: Theater’s Biggest Brain-twister is Back
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 14, 2022

The New Vic sounds like a theater in England, but the downtown venue is actually an old, converted church, although Ensemble Theatre Company’s lavish remodeling left few of those attributes visible inside. But there’s no way ETC’s old digs at the antiquated Alhecama Theater could have supported the sets and stagecraft required for its next […]

The Grand Return of Opera SB
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 7, 2022

Grand opera is returning to the Granada Theatre. After Opera Santa Barbara’s (OSB) two-plus years filled with ways to creatively cope with the COVID pandemic that ranged from virtual performances, to two Concerts in Your Car outdoor staged adaptations (that included, appropriately, a version of Carmen) and a season of smaller, shorter one-acts, reworkings, and […]

Clay Studio
By Steven Libowitz   |   June 2, 2022

Clay Studio Founder and Executive Director Patrick Hall credits working with clay for a dramatic shift in his life from an ADHD-addled kid who couldn’t focus, to one who runs a studio that serves as an artistic home and more to many members of our community.  “I couldn’t concentrate to even read a paragraph or […]

Santa Barbara RiteCare
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 31, 2022

When we connected last week, Santa Barbara RiteCare center director and speech-language pathologist Julie DeAngelis was particularly excited to talk about Camp Chit Chat, the nonprofit’s fun and socially interactive camp for preschool-age children with mild-moderate speech and language delays. The program helps children keep up with essential communication skills during the summer when regular […]

Quire’s ‘Sacred Love’ of Singing
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 31, 2022

With public performances back in vogue now that the pandemic has eased its stranglehold, at least for the time being, Quire of Voyce’s director Nathan Kreitzer is thrilled to be programming performances at St. Anthony’s Seminary again. Following a special Christmas recital, the a cappella choir is returning to the acoustically stunning hall at the […]

Mission Possible: I Madonnari Returns
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 31, 2022

Art intended to be much more ephemeral makes its heralded return this Memorial Day weekend as the I Madonnari Festival Street Painting event resumes its annual three-day takeover of the plaza in front of the Santa Barbara Mission after two years as a virtual event. It’s also the first festival since the retirement of Kathy […]

A Dip into Joy: Chidlaw’s ‘Pool Show’ at Sullivan Goss
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 31, 2022

Veteran Santa Barbara painter Patricia Chidlaw’s upcoming exhibition at Sullivan Goss isn’t her first solo show at the gallery during the pandemic. Elsewhere, Paradise was on display at the downtown space in mid-summer 2020, most of the pieces containing her usually sparsely populated scenes that favor urban and suburban landscapes, architectural spaces with a history […]

Freedom 4 Youth
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 24, 2022

Freedom 4 Youth Development Director Dylan Griffith likes to toss out a quote his mentor once told him that sticks in his head: “Change occurs at the speed of relationships.” It’s a motto that defines and drives the barely 11-year-old nonprofit that empowers youth within and beyond the juvenile justice system to change their lives […]

A Galaxy of Music with Orion Weiss
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 24, 2022

Lots of locals who have lived here long enough fondly remember the single summer pianist Orion Weiss spent in Montecito as a fellow at Music Academy of the West in 2000. Not only because the then-20-year-old pianist captured the prestigious Concerto Competition back when there was no contest just for the pianists. Weiss also won […]

Comedy Cleeses: All in the family 
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 24, 2022

What’s the point of growing up as the daughter of a world-famous, pioneering legend of comedy if you can’t make fun of him in public? That’s part of the premise behind the stage appearances featuring Monty Python co-creator John Cleese and his half-his-age daughter Camilla, the latest of which happens at the Granada Theatre on […]

Aqua: Turning on the Waterworks at UCSB
By Steven Libowitz   |   May 24, 2022

Back in 2019, veteran UCSB dance professor Valerie Huston and Arizona State University’s dance faculty member Carley Conder teamed up to create Avian for UCSB’s dance students. This casual piece was inspired by Huston overhearing two students talking about a class they were taking called The Mathematics of Origami and featured nine-foot origami birds above […]