Camerata Pacifica
Musicians of Camerata Pacifica | Credit: David Bazemore

With attendance still lagging as the pandemic winds down, many arts organizations are struggling to find ways to lure people back. In contrast, Camerata Pacifica has a steadfast strategy: Stay the course.

“We can’t coax people back to the halls. They’ll come when they’re ready,” said Artistic Director Adrian Spence. “Undoubtedly, attendance will be off this season, but we’re going to keep presenting outstanding performances of interesting programming. A maxim by which we work is ‘treat intelligent people intelligently.’”

True to Spence’s word, the chamber-music ensemble has programmed a typically adventurous and eclectic season, which opens Sept. 25–30 at four venues scattered across Southern California (Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Marino, and downtown Los Angeles). As usual, the seven-concert schedule is full of contemporary works, lesser-heard pieces by great composers, and the occasional piece from the standard repertoire.

Nicholas Daniel
Oboist Nicholas Daniel | Credit: David Bazemore

The season kicks off with a newish work that reconfigures a classic: Lera Auerbach’s 2015 reworking of Sergei Prokofiev’s Flute Sonata for oboe, cello, and piano. That opening program also features Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, the dreamy Postludium by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, and Dmitri Shostakovich’s fierce Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 67. The second set of concerts, Oct. 21–26, will feature violist Yura Lee in her own transcription of Zoltán Kodály’s Sonata for Solo Cello.

The April concerts will feature the world premiere of a horn trio by veteran American composer Libby Larsen. A Camerata commission, “this will be an expansive, lyrical work, the horn the male singing voice,” Spence said. “I’m not aware of a major work for this grouping [horn, cello, and piano].” British horn player Benjamin Goldscheider will lead the trio. The program will also feature Russian flutist Sofia Viland, who will perform the music of Ukrainian, Polish, and Georgian composers.

Besides its familiar array of international artists, including oboist Nicholas Daniel, violinist Paul Huang, clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester, cellist Ani Aznavoorian, and pianist Gilles Vonsattel, Camerata will introduce its audiences to two performers who are experts in Baroque music: flutist Emi Ferguson, who will join with the period-instrument band Ruckus for an all-Bach program Feb. 28 – March 5, 2023, and male soprano Samuel Mariño, who will perform music of Bach and Giovanni Pergolesi May 12–18, 2023. The May concerts will also include John Adams’s Shaker Loops.

The only proven crowd-pleaser of the season will be Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet, which will cap off the February concerts. In general, Camerata avoids the tried and true in favor of works that are “profoundly moving, thought-provoking, sometimes weird, occasionally challenging, but always rewarding,” Spence said. “If that’s your cup of tea, give us a call.”

Five- and seven-concert subscriptions are now on sale. For more information, go to Camerata Pacifica’s website or call (805) 884-8410.