Under the leadership of Adrian Spence, Camerata Pacifica has become one of the most notable chamber music organizations in the country, distinctive not only for its exceptional artistic quality, but also for its dynamic sense of community. Spence carefully selected the group’s exceptional international artists over the course of many seasons, giving them the rehearsal and performance environment necessary to form an ensemble unique in style and sensibility. The bond between the artists is clear, as is theirs with the audience. The Los Angeles Times recently highlighted the emphasis of Spence’s work: “What was out of the ordinary was the wildly enthusiastic response that each work received. Whatever it’s doing, Camerata Pacifica seems to be cultivating a passionate audience – and that’s good news.”
Spence’s conviction of this music’s viability and of the intellectual curiosity of the Camerata Pacifica audience is evident at every performance, where a broad range of programming is presented in a manner both welcoming and provocative. Over the course of 25 seasons Camerata Pacifica has developed a loyal following and now presents resident series in Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Marino & Los Angeles. As an administrator, Spence created a business model that permits the presentation of world class artists in small, intimate venues, thereby preserving the essence of ‘chamber music.’
Spence views classical music as an inviolable record of human emotional history, with distinctions such as period and style less critical to a vital performance than the communication of the expressive intent of the composer. The entire canon is part of that record and the creation of music of our time is essential. Camerata’s commissioning began prominently with “Winter Roses,” a song cycle by Jake Heggie and premiered with Frederica von Stade. In 2006 Spence announced a major commissioning initiative, commissioning seven works from three composers: Ian Wilson, Huang Ruo and Lera Auerbach. The first commission, Wilson’s “Messenger Concerto for Violin and Chamber Ensemble,” received its premiere with 5 Southern California performances in May 2007 and a subsequent tour to The Library of Congress in Washington DC, New York’s Morgan Library & Museum, Dublin’s National Concert Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall and venues in Northern Ireland. The Irish Times referred to the Camerata as, “a miracle of modern artistic organisation” and London’s Daily Telegraph referred to the ensemble as, “a very serious group of fine artists, both innovative and intrepid.” The current season features premieres by Ian Wilson and David Bruce.
Spence comes from Newtownards in County Down, Northern Ireland. He has three children, Erin, Keiran and Kaeli, is a master-rated skydiver with over 1000 skydives, and most recently obtained his Advanced Scuba Certification.
* Photo by David Bazemore