More than two decades later, Camarada still aiming high

Beth Ross-Buckley still remembers when she had the idea to start off her chamber music group Camarada, which is currently gearing up for its 23rd landmark season.

“I used to live in the San Francisco Bay Area and played in probably 10 chamber groups,” says Ross-Buckley. “When I moved down to San Diego, there wasn’t very much chamber music happening.”

Not until a chance trip to Vienna, Austria, did Ross-Buckley become inspired to start one of her own.

“We visited the cemetery there,” she recalls. “We were looking at Beethoven’s grave and ran into someone from L.A. We talked and he said his grandfather, Arnold Schoenberg (the Austrian composer and painter) was buried there.”

Ross-Buckley struck up a conversation with Schoenberg’s grandson, who later extended an invitation to an opening featuring Schoenberg’s works.

“Seeing his music with his art and what a rich experience that was inspired me to start up my own chamber group when I came back to San Diego.”


Fall arts: Camarada’s Beth Ross-Buckley on how ‘the craft of music chose me’

For Ross-Buckley, who serves as Camarada’s executive and co-artistic director as well as the group’s flutist, chamber music is a passion. Because this season features a trumpet, Ross-Buckley dubbed the 23rd season “Fanfare.”

“I would say every year is refined, and we pay attention to how things went the past year and how we could do better,” says Ross-Buckley of concocting “Fanfare,” preparation for which kicked off in its early stages in February.

“Of course, it has to be great music, but it also has to be presented in an order and in a space that enhances it the most.”

As such, this Camarada season, which begins of Sunday, Oct. 1, takes place at Balboa Park’s Mingei International Museum. Ross-Buckley calls this year’s programming “some of our best ever.”

Aside from Ross-Buckley on the flute, Camarada also features Dana Burnett on the piano and Micah Wilkinson on trumpet. In addition, Ross-Buckley’s husband, David Buckley, is featured on violin.

“David’s performed with me for 38 years,” says Ross-Buckley. “I love playing with him because when you have that many years between each other, you don’t have to talk about a lot. You really know each other. People always notice how we just blend into each other. He puts everything he has into performing.”

For Ross-Buckley, all of the work that goes into Camarada is worth it in the end and continues to be a testament to that chance encounter in Vienna with Schoenberg’s grandson.

“Schoenberg’s music is challenging and is the ultimate experience as a composer and an artist,” she says of her initial inspiration. But most importantly: “It’s all just really fun.”

Camarada’s Mingle Series: “Fanfare,” featuring trumpeter Micah Wilkinson

When: 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1

Where: Mingei International Museum, 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park

Tickets: $15 to $50

Phone: (619) 231-3702


LeDonne is a freelance writer.