By Ted AYALA
Among the bumper crop of world-class chamber music within a stone’s throw anywhere you step these days in Southern California, Camerata Pacifica manages to carve out its own unique niche in this crowd. How do they do it? Combine one part wildly eclectic and even provocative programs, one part high-energy atmosphere, and one part world-class musicianship, then stir well. Add a dash of unbuttoned, unpretentious atmosphere and you have a chamber music series that would be the envy of any global metropolis.
The new season – number 24 – starts off this week with concerts in Santa Barbara and Ventura, followed by two more concerts next week in Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles.
The music of John Harbison heads off the first program of the season, with a far-ranging selection of the music of today.
Harbison’s Four Songs of Solitude and Songs America Loves to Sing make up part of a triad of American composers featured on the program. Works by two more Johns – Novacek and Serry – rub shoulders with the Harbison pieces.
Returning to Camerata Pacifica will be “To the Four Corners” by the Chinese-born composer Huang Ruo. It wouldn’t be the first time Ruo’s music helps kick off a new Camerata Pacifica season. His “In Other Words: Concerto for Viola and Chamber Ensemble” left an indelible impression at Camerata’s opening concert of last season. Ruo’s startling and sometimes enigmatic idiom – a synthesis of Western high-modernism and evocations of Chinese folk music, sometimes calling upon the art of the theatre and the visual – is not easily forgotten. This also isn’t the first time “To the Four Corners” appears on a Camerata program. The work was performed by Camerata Pacifica in 2009.
But even with a stellar line-up of composers, Camerata Pacifica wouldn’t be anything without its own roster of stellar musicians. The combined artistry of Adrian Spence (flutist and the organization’s artistic director), José Franch-Ballester (clarinet), Paul Huang (violin), Richard Yongjae O’Neill (viola), Ani Aznavoorian (cello), Ji hye Jung (percussion), and Warren Jones (piano) will ensure that the program, to say nothing of the rest of the season, will be another one to remember.
Concerts next week will take place Tuesday, Sept. 24 at the Gold Hall of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and Thursday, Sept. 26 at the Colburn School of Music’s Zipper Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Both concerts are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45; season subscriptions are $364. To order tickets, or to obtain more information, go online to www.cameratapacifica.org or call (805) 884-8410. You can also email Camerata Pacifica at email@example.com.