Sept. 14 2016 01:57 PM

Veteran music org Camarada recontextualizes an otherwise stuffy music genre

Camarada Chamber Ensemble
Photo by Julie Licari

The idea of remixing chamber music isn’t necessarily a new one. Search the archives of Soundcloud and you’ll find a pretty deep catalog of EDM DJs putting their wait-for-the-drop spin on string-laden classics. But that’s not what Camarada’s REMIXX series is all about. Named for its blend of visual art and music—wherein the San Diego chamber group takes different styles and genres and reinterprets them into a new context—REMIXX takes the group out of the chamber and into a more interactive urban setting.

The REMIXX series, which begins on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Bread & Salt, is in its third year, and follows a residency at the La Jolla Athenaeum, where it was initially called MIXX. The name change comes about in part because of the change in venue, though the partnership is likely to be a long-term one for Camarada. Bread & Salt houses a grand piano that was recently gifted to the chamber group (and is large enough to necessitate a permanent, open space). But the modern feel of the art space is one that artistic director Beth Ross-Buckley says works well for the kind of outside-the-box concerts they put on.

“[Bread and Salt is] always showing interesting and edgy art exhibits,” she says. “It’s a little bit gritty, and people love being there. We kind of just go with the flow.”

The first of the fall REMIXX concerts is called “Meet The Americans,” and juxtaposes pieces by Gershwin and jazz musician Chick Corea against a contemporary composition by San Francisco musician and composer Stefan Cwik, who will be joining the group for the performance. Past installments have included interpretations of Irish folk music and Bossa Nova, among other themes, and while the planning phase can take a couple of months, “the most fun part is finding these pieces of music,” Ross- Buckley says. Or, put a different way, she adds, “They find us.”

“The first thing that comes to mind is I have to really love the music, finding music that really moves me,” she says, adding that the planning is a collaboration between her and co-artistic director Dana Burnett. “Each piece complements each other. They all flow and bring the listener to a new place. It’s a combination of this passion and love for music, and how we’re playing it.”

The next two concerts to follow “Meet the Americans” are “Tango Obsession” on Tuesday, Feb. 14, and “Cantos de Amor,” on Sunday, May 6. And though there might be familiar names in the composers of each night’s music (Piazzolla for “Tango,” Schubert and Brahms for “Amor”), Ross-Buckley says they go out of their way to introduce audiences to something new.

“We always try to perform something that people haven’t heard, so it’s current,” she says. “If we’re passionate about it, we hope people feel the same way.”

Author and Punisher


Farewell performance: San Diego Civic Organist Dr. Carol Williams has been a beloved fixture in San Diego music for 15 years, having performed free concerts at Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion since 2001. More recently, she’s performed a variety of fun and unconventional concerts, including two David Bowie tributes and a set accompanying the recently reunited Drive Like Jehu. However, Williams will be leaving San Diego to move to Virginia with her husband. Before she leaves, she’s giving one last performance on Sept. 25, at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The concert is open to all ages. Free.

Book ‘em: The Stay Strange concert series, curated by Sam Lopez, always highlights the weirder and more avant garde happenings in the San Diego underground. Just in time for Halloween, however, Stay Strange will be taking up residence at the Downtown Central Library for Checked Out 2016, on Saturday, Oct. 29. The show will feature performances from Author & Punisher, Planet B (featuring members of The Locust) and Skrapez, as well as a performance using the building itself from Scott Nielsen and Steve Flato. It’s open to all ages, and since it is almost Halloween, it’ll also include a build-your-own-monster component. Free.

Muy buena: Cuban singer and dancer Omara Portuondo has been performing since she was a teenager in her native country, but American audiences most likely recognize her for her performances with Buena her 85th birthday, where she’ll be treating listeners to Vista Social Club. She’s embarking on a solo tour for a repertoire of Bolero and Cuban jazz classics, which will bring her to The Balboa Theatre on Friday, Oct. 7 at the Balboa Theatre. $24.50 to $73.

Machine music: Opera is an old enough art form that most of us have an idea in our minds of what it entails. However, a new collaboration between UC San Diego and Stanford composers aims to change per- ceptions with a program of unconventional takes on opera, including an absurdist narrative featuring Ronald Reagan interactive component that op- and Judy Garland, and an erates like a video game. The UC San Diego Department of Music Experimental Voice Machine’s premiere is on Friday, Oct. 7, at the Conrad Prebys Music Center Experimental Theatre, with an encore performance on Saturday, Oct. 8. Free.


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