Camarada chamber ensemble connects with concertgoers with small-scale performances
By Dave Fidlin | SDUN Reporter
While chamber music is oftentimes synonymous with ancient times, a group of local musicians have been working to bring the classical form into a modern era.
For nearly 20 years, the ensemble known as Camarada has been performing at disparate venues throughout San Diego. The group’s goal is simple: bring joy and inspiration to the concertgoers who attend performances.
Beth Ross-Buckley has been with Camarada since the beginning. In 1994, the winds player helped form the group and shape its mission statement. Over time, the ensemble has evolved and added more pieces into its repertoire.
“I noticed that there weren’t that many chamber music ensembles in town,” Ross-Buckley said. “That’s where the idea came from.”
As time has gone on, members of Camarada have been sharing their joy of music in a wide variety of styles. Regardless of the series – the ensemble produces three different show sets – members of the ensemble aim to have a genuine interaction with the people in their midst.
“We’re trying to recapture the original mission of chamber music,” said pianist Dana Burnett, who is starting her fourth season with Camarada. “The idea is that you can sit and interact with the various players. We love our audiences, and I’m very excited for the upcoming season.”
Burnett, a San Diego native, has performed chamber music in cities across the country, including New York, Philadelphia, Nashville, Tenn. and Washington, D.C.
“I’ve had a great devotion to chamber music all my life,” Burnett said. “I’ve really enjoyed performing in the town I grew up in.”
Regardless of the venue or style of chamber music performed, Ross-Buckley said she puts out a challenge to each attendee.
“Come in, and leave everything else at the door,” she said. “This is an opportunity to be relaxed and fulfilled. Music has the ability to bring joy to people, and that’s exactly what we’re setting out to do.”
For six years, the group has performed regularly in Uptown with its Candlelight Concert series at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Bankers Hill. By far the group’s largest venue, St. Paul’s seats between 150 and 200 attendees.
They have also intentionally branched off in other areas of the city as well, with different-themed performances. Additionally, Camarada holds a Cabernet Concert series for up to 50 people in private homes throughout the city. In addition to performances, concerts in the Cabernet series are generally complimented with wine tastings and servings of gourmet bistro dinners.
The ensemble also has made its presence known in Little Italy, with their Gallery Concert series at the Meyer Fine Art Gallery. A maximum of 90 tickets are made available for each performance in the series.
As Camarada kicks off its 19th season, Ross-Buckley said a trio of themed concerts are planned through April for the Candlelight Concerts in Uptown.
The series kicks off Sept. 28 with French music in the aptly titled, “Rendezvous à Paris.” The next concert in the series, “Latin Postcards,” is slated for Feb. 1, 2013 and the series wraps April 26, 2013 with an evening of enchantment titled, “Night Music.”
Burnett said the ensemble puts a fair amount of time and effort into each song selection. The process includes researching the background of each piece and determining how it will assimilate into a particular program. Lining up the right musicians also is part of the intensive process.
Ross-Buckley, who hails from San Francisco, said the ensemble’s partnership with St. Paul’s has been fruitful.
“It’s just gorgeous in there,” Ross-Buckley said. “It’s the kind of place that makes our music more accessible and more intimate. It’s exactly what we’re setting out to do.”
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: Camarada’s Candlelight Concert Series: “Rendezvous à Paris”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Sept. 28; additional concerts Feb. 1 and April 26
WHERE: St. Paul’s Cathedral, 2728 Sixth Ave.
TICKETS: $25 general admission, $20 for seniors, students and military, season tickets also available
INFORMAION: 858-692-7662 or camarada.org