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Book Club Profiles: Literary Discussion Group examines great authors, richness of life

The Literary Discussion Group (the title is still in flux) grew out of an offshoot of one of the first American book clubs, the Great Books Foundation. “We finished the list of books they gave us,” says Gene Waller, one of its main members, “and we wondered what to read next.”

Fortunately, discovering what to read next has kept this book club going for nearly 20 years. Currently, the discussion group, which generally numbers 8 to 12 members per meeting, bases its readings around essays and short stories.

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Sign of the Four: The Fab Four find imitation is the most successful form of flattery

Since the premiere of Beatlemania in 1977, the Beatles tribute band has not just become an accepted part of popular entertainment, but something approaching an art, with its own unspoken laws and aesthetics. Audiences accepted the Beatlemania cover band because it came in the guise of a Broadway show, a multimedia experience, and were forgiving for any inauthentic moment. But just as there are forgeries of Rembrandts so good that even the experts are fooled, the stakes in the Beatles tribute band world are very high indeed.

For several years now, the Fab Four, an Orange County-based tribute band, has earned a reputation as the toppermost of the poppermost. With Ron McNeil as John Lennon, Ardy Sarraf as Paul McCartney, Michael George Amador as George Harrison, and Rolo Sandoval as Ringo Starr, the Fab Four have made thousands of jaws drop with their uncanny performances. They won’t win any look-alike competitions (though Sarraf gets pretty close), but their voices sound dead on, and the music, all live, comes as close as most people will get to either reliving their first Beatles concert or seeing them at all. Santa Barbara audiences will have that chance when they play a benefit concert for the Marjorie Luke Theater, on Sunday, November 23.

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This man can move: Savion Glover at Lobero


Tap-dancing wonder Savion Glover brings out his dancing art from somewhere deep within his thin frame. Like a Rasta shaman, he conjures multilayered syncopation, pushing and pulling the beat, compressing and exploding over and over into showers of rapid-fire foot movements. At nearly 90 minutes of dancing with only a short break, Mr. Glover thrilled the Lobero audience on Sunday night in a personal, packed show.

He has been amazing theatergoers since he was 12, and his tour brings a four-piece jazz ensemble along with a young protégé called Cartier for a deep examination of tap-dancing. Whereas traditional tap-dancers coast along on top of the music, with gaps left by the band for the dancer to fill, Mr. Glover is the fifth instrument.

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Sacred Revolutions: St. Petersburg Choir Brings Rachmaninoff’s Vespers to America

It’s taken conductor Vladislav Chernushenko 25 years to get to the United States to tour. Originally, the group he heads-the St. Petersburg State Academic Capella Choir-was scheduled to make their first American tour back in 1978. “The contract was signed,” he says, “And then it didn’t happen for political reasons.”

The history of the St. Petersburg choir can be charted out along centuries of political reasons, events, and decisions, yet their music has kept its close ties to the spiritual. One of the world’s oldest choirs, the group formed in Moscow in 1479 for the express purpose of accompanying Tsar Ivan III wherever he went, celebrating mass or entertaining. Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great both sang in choir at certain points. In 1703, the choir sang at the inauguration of St. Petersburg a major event in the choir’s history, and there they remained. In 1837, the great Russian composer Mikhail Glinka became Kapellmeister, and wrote many operatic works expressly for the choir. During the Communist Revolution the choir’s sacred music fell out of favor, but the group continued, under the name the Popular Academic Chorus, and performed works by Shostakovich, Kabalevsky, and Prokofiev. As rules became lax, the sacred crept back in, until the coming of perestroika unleashed the history of sacred Russian composers and work back into the repertoire.

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Sandoval’s Slight Return: Second Symphony concert features a reconfigured menu

Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval was supposed to make a welcome return to the Santa Barbara Symphony Saturday night, opening with a pleasant Haydn concerto and closing with a Glière concerto. Somewhere along the way, those plans got the mice-and-men treatment, and the Glière was dropped. Haydn became the finale, and a very brief Glière piece was added to the opening, allowing the beaming Sandoval to show his face and remind the audience that he was around and would be returning for the second half.

So in fact the first half of the evening became centered around Sibelius and his First Symphony in E Minor, Opus 39.

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