Members of chamber ensemble holding several events in February
Dave Fidlin | Downtown News
February will be a monumental month for two groups dedicated to enhancing San Diego’s music and cultural offerings.
Camarada, an ensemble specializing in chamber music with an added focus on Latin and Spanish music, is entering a new chapter in its nearly 20 years of existence. The group is teaming up with the Mingei International Museum for a collaborative music and art series.
Through the foreseeable future, members of the ensemble will be serving through an “artist in residency” arrangement at the museum.
The arrangement is a first for both groups. Camarada has never gone through the intensity of such an initiative, and the museum has not hosted artists in such a capacity since its founding in 1978.
The decision to join forces and share from one another’s wellspring of talent occurred just recently.
Beth Ross-Buckley, who helped form Camarada in 1994, said the desire to work through an artist in residency arrangement was partially instigated by an effort to go back to the group’s roots, where performances at art galleries throughout the city were common in its early days.
“I’ve wanted to get back into doing that again,” Ross-Buckley said. “Working as an artist in residence is also something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and this just seemed to be a good fit. I love the space [at the museum]. We’ll be playing in the rotunda, and it will have a very open feel.”
Martha Ehringer, who serves as events manager at the Balboa Park-based museum, said she is looking forward to the collaboration at the venue, which is dedicated to promoting the art of people from cultures across the globe.
“We’re so delighted to have them,” Ehringer said. “One always wants to expand the breadth of the audience. This is an opportunity for people to walk into the museum and view our collection in a relaxing, informative and enjoyable setting.”
The fruits of Camarada’s artist in residency period will not be ripened until fall, with four concerts slated from Sept. 29 to April 27, 2014.
However, the ensemble is kicking off its new arrangement with a special prelude concert on Sunday, Feb. 17. Fittingly, the name of the series is, “Mingle.”
Tango Nuevo will serve as guest musicians along with Camarada at the kick-off concert. The museum will open at 5 p.m., and the concert will follow an hour later. Ensemble members participating are Beth Ross-Buckley (flute), David Buckley (violin), Dana Burnett (piano), Fred Benedetti (guitar), Lou Fanucchi (accordion) and Jeff Pekarek (double bass).
Ross-Buckley said she was inspired to adopt the “Mingle” moniker for the artist in residence series after touring a museum in Minneapolis that had a poster with the phrase clearly displayed.
“It just jumped out at me,” she said. “I thought, ‘what a great word,’ and I saw a new vision for this series.”
Ehringer said the museum has a history of working with a variety of artists, though the extent of collaborations thus far have only gone to the exhibitionist phase.
“Working as an exhibitionist is really quite different from an artist in residence,” Ehringer said.
As the museum enters a new chapter, Ehringer said she and other people overseeing the organization will see how the collaboration goes and remain open to future artist in residence efforts.
“I see this as being a real sensory feast,” she said. “I’m eager to see what comes of the work with Camarada.”
The collaboration with the Mingei Museum and its kick-off is just one of two large-scale events Camarada has planned this month.
The group also will be performing in a concert, Latin Postcards, with guest musician Juan R. Ramirez-Hernandez, on Friday, Feb. 1.
Latin Postcards is part of Camarada’s Candlelight Concert Series in Uptown San Diego.
Ramirez-Hernandez, a native of Mexico, currently resides in Atlanta. He has long been active in the classical music scene and is a violinist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to the violin, Ramirez-Hernandez plays the guitar, mandolin and marimba. He also has composed a number of musical pieces and has been commissioned by the Hispanic Festival of the Arts in Atlanta.
Ross-Buckley said the collaboration with Ramirez-Hernandez was borne out of a series of email exchanges. She said she is eagerly anticipating the upcoming collaborative concert.
“We work with some very talented, dedicated musicians,” Ross-Buckley said.
Quite simply, melding such talents together creates beautiful music.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: “Latin Postcards,” part of Camarada’s Uptown Concert Series
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: St. Paul’s Cathedral, 2728 Sixth Ave. in Bankers Hill
TICKETS: Range from $20 to $25 and are available at brownpapertickets.com/event/255725
CONTACT: 619-231-3702 or camarada.org
WHAT: “Mingle,” a kick-off for Camarada’s artist-in-residence program
WHEN: 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17
WHERE: Mingei International Museum, 1439 El Prado in Balboa Park
TICKETS: Range from $25 to $30 and are available at brownpapertickets.com/event/315470
CONTACT: 619-231-3702 or camarada.org