The Spaniard is Coming!

CASA Magazine
By Daniel Kepl
September 13, 2013


Camerata Pacifica season begins September 20th


There was happy anticipation in the voice of Spanish clarinetist José Franch-Ballester during a recent interview about the opening concert of the new Camerata Pacifica season on Friday, September 20th in Hahn Hall.

“Adrian Spence has a wonderful mind for programming,” Franch-Ballester shared regarding Camerata’s Artistic Director. “He has a vision of what connects to the audience… I cannot wait for this coming set of concerts.”

Only the Santa Barbara audience (the series repeats in Ventura, Pasadena, and Los Angeles) can choose between a shorter program at 1pm, and the full recital at 7:30pm. Spence has gathered his principal players around a concert of contemporary music that will be visually interesting, musically engaging, and a whole lot of fun.

The September 20th repertoire will include two works by American composer John Harbison, his Four Songs of Solitude for Solo Violin, which will be performed by Camerata newcomer Paul Huang, and Songs America Loves to Sing for Flute (Adrian Spence), Clarinet (Franch-Ballester), Piano (Warren Jones), Violin (Huang), and Cello (Ani Aznavoorian).

“I first performed this piece with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center,” Franch-Ballester remembered. “I was lucky, because I got to work with John Harbison himself, preparing this piece. Harbison really for the essence of traditional American music into this work – it’s beautiful.”

Jazz composer/pianist/percussionist John Serry’s Night Rhapsody for Solo Marimba will be performed by Camerata regular Ji Hye Jung and Chinese composer Huang Ruo’s sensational performance piece, To the Four Corners, promises to be as memorable as it was at its premiere by the Cameratans a couple of seasons back. Written for flute, clarinet, violin, viola (the amazing virtuoso, Richard Yongjae O’Neill), and percussion, the work is “staged” with special lighting and movement.

“This is the second time I’ve played Huang Ruo’s music,” Franch-Ballester remarked. “I love the opening; a minute and a half of solo percussion, very Chinese in a way, with all those bells and drums. Suddenly the clarinet comes in like a Chinese singer. I have to play the piece like I’m singing in a folk traditional voice. Huang Ruo’s pieces are always an experience, not only for the player, but for the audience.”

For Franch-Ballester, the topper will be John Novacek’s Four Rags for Two Jons for Clarinet and Piano, which he will perform with the inimitable Warren Jones. “John (Novacek) is also a pianist, and he specializes in rag music, which he takes to another level. This piece has been one of my companions for many of my recitals around the world for the past couple of seasons. They’re very complicated, very difficult to put together. The most difficult thing to accomplish with these pieces is to play them loose; you have to make them seem easy, and make people laugh. It’s something that has to be inside your blood. Audiences love the piece.”

Like many of the Camerata crew, Franch-Ballester appreciated what the group offers the community and to the participating musicians. “Camerata is more than a chamber music group; it’s like a family. We know each other very well, and I believe that people who listen to our concerts can feel that,” Franch-Ballester commented. “It’s always lovely to go back to Santa Barbara and do a concert with Camerata.

Watch the complete interview with clarinetist José Franch-Ballester at www.bravocalifornia.com.