Santa Maria Sun / Music
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 27
World class on the coast: The Community Arts Music Association exemplifies why Santa Barbara is a classical music destination
BY JOE PAYNE
He’s coming. One of the greatest musicians of our time will be performing just a hop, skip, and jump away in Santa Barbara, thanks to the Community Arts Music Association (CAMA) of Santa Barbara.
Itzhak Perlman is the world-renowned violinist known for his performances and interpretations of beloved classical music. He’s performed just about everywhere, from Carnegie Hall to Obama’s inauguration, and now he’ll be in Santa Barbara for a violin recital, accompanied only by a pianist in the beautiful Granada Theatre on State Street in Santa Barbara.
How in the world did a beach town—an affluent one, sure—become a destination for the world’s greatest classical music artists? CAMA is the answer, and its almost century-long legacy of providing the best classical possible, explained concert and publicity manager Justin Rizzo-Weaver.
“CAMA is Santa Barbara’s premiere presenter of classical music,” he said. “We have had and continue to have a close relationship with the L.A. Philharmonic.”
CAMA began as a couple of organizations that eventually merged, Rizzo-Weaver explained. The music officially began in 1920, around the same time the L.A. Philharmonic began, which was beneficial, because the L.A. Philharmonic would often perform in Santa Barbara, sometimes for several shows in a season.
“We only have one in the season these days,” Rizzo-Weaver said, “and it’s always one of the most popular concerts in the season.”
CAMA arranges its season with two parts: the orchestral concerts, and the smaller soloist or chamber concerts. The “International Series” features mostly orchestras at the Granada in Santa Barbara, which always brings a packed house.
“In the course of our 95 seasons, we have featured virtually every top orchestra, soloist, and conductor in classical music,” Rizzo-Weaver said. “It’s very expensive to tour an orchestra—it’s a privilege, not just something they can do for fun.”
This season being CAMA’s self-titled “Season of the Violin,” no other artist could fill the “International Series” spot with a solo recital other than the best known living violinist, Perlman.
“Perlman probably is the most recognized name in violin,” Rizzo-Weaver said. “CAMA likes to focus on the top one percent as far as talent, name recognition, and established artistry.”
The dedication CAMA has to the quality of performers is more than evident when the organization releases its season lineup every year. The L.A. Philharmonic, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Lang Lang, Andre Watts, and Joshua Bell make the eyes of all classical music fans widen, and their ears burn in anticipation of musical masters of such caliber.
“There is a lot of classical music activity in Santa Barbara, more than you would expect from a metropolitan area of Santa Barbara’s size,” Rizzo-Weaver said. “Santa Barbara is on the very short list of cities in the United States that are approached regularly for major orchestra tours.”
Certainly the proximity to Los Angeles must be taken into account for this unique situation, but also the passion and generosity of Santa Barbarans who support organizations like CAMA, which is a nonprofit. Though they pack literally every house they book, the organization barely makes 50 percent of its cost with each concert; the slack is picked up by the community.
“It’s been a tradition, particularly in Santa Barbara since the 1920s, families with means have made supporting the arts a very prominent part of their agenda,” Rizzo-Weaver said. “Many people of means have a deep connection to the arts and also have a feeling of responsibility, to give back and enrich the community culturally.”
These individuals and couples, along with some business sponsorships as well, keep CAMA running and the orchestras performing in Santa Barbara. Despite the size of the city, Santa Barbara can still book artists you would find in L.A., New York, or San Francisco.
“Classical music has a very universal quality,” Rizzo-Weaver said, “and although it emerged in a particular culture and particular time, there tends to be a tradition of reaching beyond the narrow confines of one’s culture and time and reaching for a more universal or timeless feeling.”
Chasing that timeless feeling is what leads scores of musicians to spend a lifetime perfecting an art form, ensembles to spend hours rehearsing, volunteers to ensure every detail of a quality performance, and donors to put up the money to see those artists.
“Those two hours of music are just the tip of a very large iceberg,” Rizzo-Weaver said, “but I think it reflects, for those that support, a much bigger picture.”
Live in the park
Concerts in the Park is a free concert series presented by the City of Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department, PLAY Inc., and Santa Maria Rotary Clubs featuring The Bomb performing on Sept. 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Santa Maria Town Center West. More info: 925-0951, Ext. 260.
The Radisson Hotel presents live music on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 to 10 p.m. including Juan Marquez performing on Sept. 13 and 14 at 3455 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria. More info: 928-8000.
Live at the Chumash
The Chumash Casino Resort presents Boz Scaggs performing Sept. 12. Blues guitarist Robert Cray performs live Sept. 19. Shows are at 8 p.m. at the Chumash Casino Resort, 3400 E. Highway 246, Santa Ynez. More info: 585-3737 or chumashcasino.com.
Join the fun
Lucia’s Wine Co. offers an open mic featuring wine, poetry, and live music on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at the tasting room, 126 E. Clark Ave., Orcutt. More info: 332-3080.
The perfect pairing
The Addamo Tasting Room and Bistro presents “Wine Down Wednesdays” featuring live music on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 400 E. Clark Ave., Old Orcutt. Free. More info: 937-6400 or Bethany@addamovineyards.com.
The Maverick Saloon offers live entertainment, with country by Sean Wiggins and Lone Goat on Sept. 13 at 8:45 p.m., followed by “Late Night with guest DJs” at 11:30 p.m. “Concert on the Deck” featuring Sean and friends is Sept. 14 at 3 p.m. Sean Wiggins and Lone Goat performs on Sept. 14 at 8:45 p.m., followed by “Late Night with guest DJs” at 11:30 p.m. “Tales from the Tavern” presents Devon Sproule and AJ Croce in concert Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. at the saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez. More info: 686-4785 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Arts Editor Joe Payne at email@example.com.