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The Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre Orchestra is formed for each production of The Nutcracker, with the assistance of the Orchestra Manager, Norman Peck. Norman is a local musician who has been with this production since Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre moved The Nutcracker to the Civic Auditorium in 2002. And he states that even after all these years, playing The Nutcracker music is still something he looks forward to.
Music Director Pamela Martin conducts the orchestra. Her first year on the podium at the Civic Auditorium was 2012. Her professionalism and positive manner are enjoyed by dancers and musicians alike. Maestro Martin's mastery as a conductor brings the beautiful Tchaikovsky score to vibrant life, transforming the production into a holiday celebration enjoyed by all.
Founding conductor of the orchestra John Larry Granger conducted the production for nine years. Maestro Granger was instrumental in making live music possible for Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre. His support of the company and of the production will forever influence The Nutcracker.
Co-Artistic Director Diane Cypher says that adding live music to the production has changed everything about the performance for the dancers. “They are so fortunate to have the experience of waiting for the conductor's downbeat before they start to dance and making eye contact with her on certain phrases for tempo. It is a thrilling experience for them and contributes to the electricity of live performance, as well as continues their preparation for a professional company if they have those aspirations.” Diane also notes that, “A great dance conductor creates nuances which impact each dancer's performance.” Co-Artistic Director Robert Kelley agrees and adds that there is no doubt that the orchestra brings the story to life in a way that a recording cannot. The fact that the audience can both listen to and watch the musicians along with the dancers makes the Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre production even more compelling, especially for children.
In addition to its orchestra, Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre collaborates with local musicians and composers as often as possible. Most new works are commissioned for collaboration with choreographer Robert Kelley. Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre has collaborated with composers Christopher Pratorius, Nancy LeVan and Bill Walker, Jerome Begin and Ikuyo Conant. Performances have featured Watsonville Taiko, Jerome Begin, Christopher Pratorius, Nancy LeVan and Bill Walker, as well as two different ensembles of Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band.
Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre also collaborates with Sand Cruz Symphony annually on their Family and Children's Concerts. Begun by Larry Granger, these concerts introduce the orchestra to thousands of Santa Cruz County schoolchildren and their families. Now conducted by SC Symphony Music Director Daniel Stewart, the concerts continue a long tradition of arts education in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre strives to be a vital part of the artistic community in Santa Cruz through collaborations with other artists, musicians and composers.
Music Director Pamela Martin
Click here to read more about Maestro Martin
John Larry Granger, Founding Conductor