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 32 seasons, Camerata Pacifica has developed a loyal following and now presents resident series in Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Marino and 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 Pacifica’s commissioning began prominently with Winter Roses, a song cycle by Jake Heggie and premiered with Frederica von Stade. Today the portfolio consists of 16 works by composers who include John Harbison, Huang Ruo, Lera Auerbach, David Bruce & John Luther Adams. In December 2020, another 3 commissions were announced, by Emma-Ruth Richards, Clarice Assad & Libby Larsen.
In 2020 Spence developed a landmark resource for hospitals entitled The Nightingale Channel. The initiative draws upon Camerata Pacifica’s extensive video library to create curated programming to be delivered to patient bedsides, offering interest and solace when it can be particularly meaningful. The program will launch in 2021 in a collaboration with UCLA Health.
Spence comes from Newtownards in County Down, Northern Ireland. He has three children, Erin, Keiran and Kaeli, is a master-rated skydiver with over 1,600 skydives, and recently obtained his Advanced Scuba Certification.