Winter break is always, always too short. Happily, UCSB Arts & Lectures offers us plenty of events to be excited about for the coming quarter. Here are just a few to help you come down from that fleeting holiday bliss.
A&L kicks off the New Year this Sunday at 3 p.m. at Campbell Hall with another National Geographic Live presentation. Joel Sartore will share his stories and images from his time spent photographing endangered species and spectacular landscapes. NGL’s event with photographer Annie Griffiths was a hit last year and Sartore’s talk is sure to be just as powerful and entertaining.
Those of you tightening your wallets after a little too much holiday gift expenditure: Have no fear. Free A&L events are here! Next Monday at 8 p.m. at the New Victoria Theatre, Pulitzer Prize finalist Richard Rodriguez (in interview with Pico Iyer) will bring his unique perspective as a homosexual Christian to what promises to be a stimulating conversation. On Thursday, Jan. 16 (also at 8 p.m. at the New Vic), treat yourself to an evening of virtuosic poetry from the masterful Phillip Levine, a man who emerged from a gritty, Detroit upbringing to become the 18th U.S. Poet Laureate. Film buffs and comedy lovers can enjoy the Granada Theatre’s Sun., Jan. 19 screening of “Safety Last!” (1923), the famous silent film starring Harold Lloyd. This screening will feature live accompaniment by pianist Michael Mortilla.
One of the most powerful events of the A&L season occurs on Sat. Jan. 25 starting at 1 p.m. and is also FREE for students. The Arlington Theatre will screen the groundbreaking Qatsi trilogy, produced by Godfrey Reggio and featuring a mesmerizing soundtrack by Philip Glass. Each film in the series delves into the sounds and landscapes of an increasingly transglobal era. Viewers have the unique opportunity to watch one, two or all three of these stunning and thought-provoking films in succession. Finally, Reggio’s 2013 film “Visitors” (created with Glass and Jon Kane) screens at 8 p.m., after the trilogy. Don’t miss this.
Celebrated humorist Dave Barry will perform at the Granada on Wed., Jan. 22, in another ticketed A&L event (but student tickets — with current I.D. — are still pretty affordable). Music lovers are urged to attend Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue the following evening at Campbell Hall. The trombone prodigy got his name as a kid when he started playing an instrument twice as big as he was. [And for more of a taste of what he and his band are about, check out Assistant Artsweek Editor Audrey Bachelder’s glowing review of their Outside Lands performance in “OLS 2013: Listening Outside of the Comfort Zone” (Sept. 26, 2013)].
One of my favorite aspects of A&L’s lineups each year is the abundance of world-renowned dance performance. This winter, the Granada stage will be graced by Wayne McGregor’s “Random Dance” (Tue., Jan. 28), the Royal New Zealand Ballet (Wed., Feb. 5) and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (Tue., Jan. 11). Also look out for a quirky performance that delves into theater, dance and other circus arts: Cirque Éloize presents Cirkopolis. The multifaceted show comes to the Granada on Mon., Feb. 3 at 8 p.m.
Chicago’s famous Second City improv troupe visits Campbell Hall on Feb. 19. It has been a few years since the City has made an appearance at UCSB and their return has been highly anticipated. If this show is anything like the last one, you’ll want to get your tickets sooner rather than later: An evening with the group that launched the careers of comedy geniuses like Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert is a guaranteed good time.
The Banff Mountain Film Festival will return to A&L from Feb. 25 to Feb. 26 at the Arlington Theatre with a unique lineup of awe-inspiring films each night. If you cannot make it to either of these screenings, check out “The Summit” at Campbell Hall on Jan. 29. This documentary about climbing to the peak of K2 won awards at both Banff and Sundance.
I have gotten to see this next performer a few times but each has been equally rewarding and hilarious, so I can’t wait to see him again: David Sedaris returns to Santa Barbara for his yearly visit to the Arlington on Fri., Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. This show sells out, too, so if you want a chance to see this wizard of words reading new material for his upcoming books as well as entries from his personal diaries, get your tickets now.
A&L’s winter lineup ends with a bang: Yo-Yo Ma brings his cello to Santa Barbara on Mar. 13, accompanied by pianist Kathryn Stott, for what can only be a mind-blowing night of music. The Granada Theatre serves as the beautiful backdrop for the event.
Read more about all the events A&L has to offer this quarter online at www.artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu, and plan your winter entertainment early. We’re sure you’ll find something to fuel your spirit for the next 10 weeks, you know, as if living in Santa Barbara didn’t already have enough perks.
A version of this story appeared on page 12 of Thursday, January 9, 2014′s print edition of the Daily Nexus.