FROM CLASSIC TO EDGY | Camerata Pacifica’s far-out program spans 300 years of compositions
by Leslie Westbrook
Ventura County Reporter
November 16, 2016
For those who love Bach (and who doesn’t?) you may want to mark your calendar for Camerata Pacifica’s Sunday afternoon concert on Nov. 20 at Temple Beth Torah in Ventura. But don’t stop reading now. Those who like more adventurous works should also be in for a treat. If not, I suggest you attend with an open mind.
Thanks to Artistic Director/musician Adrian Spence, the acclaimed chamber music ensemble is known for championing as well as commissioning (close to 20 pieces) living composers, while also splendidly performing the works of earlier composers — finding a correlation between the works. The garrulous, enthusiastic Spence chooses programs for their “emotional expressivity,” Spence said on a cell-phone chat en route to L.A.
“Over the past 300 years, our emotions have evolved very little. We have the same hopes, fears, loves and neuroses today that Bach and his audience had. What we are trying to express as human beings is exactly the same; it’s just, the musical language has changed. I program from that point of view. I’m interested, when I put pieces together, in their emotional intent.”
There is no doubt that Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), who died at the age of 65, was a musical genius. Harpsichordist Paolo Bordignon will perform two “extremes” of Bach’s work: the familiar F Major Two-Part Invention and the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue: “One of Bach’s most virtuosic demanding pieces, you can’t be able to play at any age!” laughed Spence. Counterpoint and color will be further explored in Bach’s Trio Sonata in G major, BWV 1038.
It will be interesting to hear how the works of French composer Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013) and American composer and Pulitzer Prize-winner Elliott Carter (1908-2012) stack up. Carter published more than 40 works between the ages of 90 and 100, and 20 more after he turned 100. His Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello, and Harpsichord (1952) will be on the program.
The second part of the concert features the marimba, with the flute in the recent Japanese work Naoko Hishinuma’s On a Full Moon Night, and in two recent works for percussion and cello: Andy Akiho’s Bach-inspired 21 and Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw’s Boris Kerner. “Having a broad range of repertoire is absolutely critical, including living composers. You can’t really appreciate Beethoven or Haydn or Mozart if you’re not able to listen to music you have not heard before, whether it’s brand-new, or new to you,” Spence said.
Classical music is not dead, but alive these days, and the more who adventure there, the merrier, Spence believes.
“I think an audience should be able to listen across the panoply of music and styles and recognize the expressivity and commonality of each one,” says a charged-up Spence, “It’s such an exciting time to be alive in the classical music world. The golden age is ahead! Camerata Pacifica is emblematic of what’s going on around the world. We are well into the beginning of a second renaissance that is being powered by chamber music groups playing a broad range of excellently performed music.”
That “excellently performed music” requires a talented group of artists, and Camerata Pacifica’s roster is always top-notch. American oboist James Austin Smith makes his Camerata debut, joined by Camerata regulars Adrian Spence (flute), Ani Aznavoorian (cello), Timothy Eckert (double bass) and Ji Hye Jung (percussion).
This concert should be anything but boring, especially when you consider that flowerpots will be one of the instruments to be played! And if Adrian Spence has anything to say about it, you will feel the joy.