Adrian Spence founded Camerata Pacifica when he was 25 years old, as The Bach Camerata. Originally a chamber orchestra, its inaugural performance was Bach’s 6 Brandenburg Concertos on December 3rd, 1990 in Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre. In 1994 the name changed to Camerata Pacifica and the ensemble launched into a dedicated exploration of the world of chamber music. Over the course of 34 seasons, Camerata Pacifica has developed a loyal following, now presenting resident series in Santa Barbara, Thousand Oaks, San Marino and Los Angeles.
As an administrator, Spence created a business model to permit the presentation of world-class artists in intimate venues, emphasizing the essence of chamber music. Camerata Pacifica’s artists, drawn from around the world, are selected by Spence not just because they are exceptional musicians, but because their individual characters combine in an eclectic and compelling mix, that is the ensemble’s distinct personality.
The musicians’ personalities are matched by that of the audience. Over 3 decades, the maxim “treat intelligent people intelligently” has informed an uncompromising approach to programming, enthusiastically embraced by an audience whose intellectual curiosity is evident at every performance. Heritage works are presented in context with less familiar music and newly commissioned works, in a manner welcoming, provocative and, occasionally, challenging — always illuminating the limitless reward provided by the chamber music repertoire. The production of new music is critical to Spence’s mission, with a commissioning portfolio of works by composers who include: John Harbison, Jake Heggie, Huang Ruo, Lera Auerbach, Bright Sheng, Ian Wilson, David Bruce, Libby Larsen and John Luther Adams. A work by Clarice Assad will premiere this season and commissions are in process from Emma-Ruth Richards, David Bruce and Niloufar Nourbakhsh.
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 delivered to patient bedsides, offering interest and solace when it can be particularly meaningful. The program launched in 2021 as a collaboration with UCLA Health and is now being shared with hospitals across the country.
Spence comes from Newtownards in County Down, Northern Ireland. He has three children, Erin, Keiran and Kaeli, and is a master-rated skydiver having logged over 2,000 skydives.