Welcome to my first blog on the Camerata website. It’s prompted by the recent (Jan. 16th) review from Joe Woodard in the Santa Barbara News Press. In it Joe — a wonderful colleague and reviewer whose opinion I respect — slams me for my introduction to the Bach. Here’s the best paragraph:

“Actually, the worst part of the evening came first, on extra-musical soil. Camerata boss Adrian Spence has a sometimes unfortunate gift for gab and a lack of a filter for when it is proper to impose that gift on the paying public. His long and insultingly patronizing introduction to the Goldberg Variations, as if this was an obscurity from the dusty corners of the repertoire instead of one of the most popular and best-selling pieces in all of classical music, had an unfortunate sullying effect at the outset of the concert. In essence, he gave a pre-concert lecture, thrust into the sacred space of the actual concert. Please, no talking in the temple.”

To me his use of the terms “temple” and “sacred space” describe an environment which has inexorably eroded interest and participation in our music. I wrote the following letter in response, which the New Press declined to publish.

“This is in response to Joe Woodard’s recent Camerata Pacifica review, in which I was taken to task for my concert introduction. “No talking in the temple,” he said … illuminating.

Camerata Pacifica is not a member of Joe’s temple. We are part of a living, dynamic and contemporary artform. Membership not required.

In Joe’s temple, elders sit in pious silence worshipping knowledgeably at the altar of the gods of tonality. Outside, unable to decipher the byzantine terms and conditions, the curious are denied entry.

A monument of the canon, The Goldberg Variations is a seamless hour of prime Bach counterpoint. Those in the know hear Bach’s division of the work into small, easily digestible sections, but for the newcomer it can be a daunting 60 minute one-bite meal.

So, while the elders scowled and drummed their fingers, I described the structure. Those who lack the charity to welcome their initiates seem unaware of the echoes in their empty temple.

For decades Joe and I have disagreed on this topic, usually with more affability than in this latest critique. Joe’s a great writer, penetrating listener, colleague and friend.

I’m just glad he’s not in charge of the temple’s congregational development!

Adrian Spence
Artistic Director
Camerata Pacifica”

So here I’m taking it to you directly. What do you think? I know opinions vary, but that is a wonderful ingredient of Camerata Pacifica’s success — a difference of opinion is a wonderful thing.

Please post. I’m looking forward to hearing from you, and if this works we’ll here begin a great forum for future discussions.

All the best,



What did you think of this article?

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  • 1/31/2012 2:06 PM Rich wrote:
    I can't tell you how much I'm getting to look forward to the concerts, and they always supply more oomph than I expect. Adrian's short analysis of the Bach piece made it 100 times more interesting and enjoyable than my own form & analysis teacher made it for our class back in the '60's! The performance was incredible, with fingers flying almost invisibly during the fast variations and great heart leaping from the slow ones. Of course, like many other audience members, I'm a giant fan of Ana's, and watching her face during the performance is like hearing her speak the music. Wow, what a connection. And to realize and hear the genius of Bach throughout the work - what more can one ask?

    The Chausson was a perfect compliment to the Goldberg Variations, like pairing a fine wine with a gourmet meal. This piano quartet was a new one to me, but boy, was it ever filled with Chausson's lush romantic French melodies and harmonies that continued to teeter on the brink of impressionism, refusing to take that final step into abandonment. I have to say that the more I hear Adam's playing, the more blown away with his musicality and technique I become. There are very few pianists who can make a piano literally sing and become less of a percussive instrument and more a lyrical stringed one. Adam is one of those few, and it's such a treat to listen to his playing and know how incredibly difficult it is for a pianist to achieve this pinnacle. He is, like Ani, capable of becoming the music rather than just playing it.

    A big added attraction for me is the intimacy factor of getting to know this small but mighty band of musicians and looking forward to their personalities injecting themselves into whatever works they play. In a way it's like coming together with a group of friends for a soirée, rather than going to hear a group of strangers play. In other words, the Camerata is a total win-win proposition!

    Gratefully yours,
    Woodland Hills
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 9:26 AM Adrian Bettridge-Wiese wrote:
    Bravo, Adrian. Attitudes like Joe's drive me crazy and are unfortunately all-too prevalent. I worked in arts administration for a while and it seemed impossible to get any shift in this attitude from our group's board. I'm glad to see that Camerata Pacifica is taking a stand.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 9:38 AM Dick wrote:
    Adrian: Minkie and I enjoy your verbal introductions. Please don't stop. The only improvement we can suggest is that you sing it, instead of talk it. Dick
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 9:52 AM Sherm wrote:
    We were late to the last concert; so, missed your intro then. In general, Marge & I always find them just fine. Sherm
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 9:53 AM Jean Verbeck wrote:
    i personally like the comments before each concert. in fact i am frequently disappointed when the comment do not include all the selections for that concert. this is your area of expertise and i want as much as i can get. that has been why we have stay with the camerata all these years. if we have someone who thinks he is better at this then volunteer to make the comments or start your own camerata and talk all you want. keep up the good work Adrian. thank you for 18 years of great music.

    jean verbeck
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 9:57 AM Jim Conley wrote:
    I have always looked forward to Adrian's comments. They have been informative,amusing and knowledgeable. I hope they continue.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 9:58 AM Teresa Tucker-Davies wrote:
    I have admired Joe Woodard's work for many years, but found this recent comment stuffy, not to mention insulting, in reference to the very nature of Camerata, most exciting classical musical group in our area. The remarks of Adrian Spence have served to bring me into a new world of experience in which I delight, and always illuminate aa area of music I knew little about before discovering Camerata. I enjoy myself and the music much more than I would without his knowledge being shared in such an intimate manner. Yes, Adrian is often irreverent, but I find him a lively and loving personality, his impishness a welcome trait in an atmosphere which might otherwise feel stiff and unappealing - to me. His players offer the same sense of infectious fun and passion, for which I adore them, and I sure hope this tone fills our gorgeous temple forever! If grumpy Joe needs no introductory remarks, which I understand given his level of sophistication, perhaps he should simply slip into his seat a little later... and let the rest of us enjoy ourselves!
    Reply to this
    1. 2/2/2012 10:07 AM Adrian Spence wrote:
      Hi Teresa, Yes, I admire Joe's writing too. He and I have always disagreed on the introductions, but this time he's given us a great platform for discussion. That aside, Joe writes some of the clearest, most thoughtful reviews in town and I look forward to the next time he writes about the Camerata.
      Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:02 AM Deanna wrote:
    Adrian, I agree with you (and you know that isn't always true!) but question your (Joe's) use of the word, "elders." Not all close-minded people are old, nor are all elderly folk close-minded. Please continue to bring us outstanding programming and entertaining, educational introductions. With few exceptions, Camerata audiences members-- old and young alike-- appreciate having our minds expanded. D
    Reply to this
    1. 2/2/2012 11:18 AM Dave Whittaker wrote:
      This is clearly the usage of "elders" as in the Elders of a church congregation, who aren't necessarily always all that old, but simply steeped in the theology and traditions of said church, and hence at least somewhat qualified to oversee the church's operation and congregants.
      Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:09 AM Steve wrote:
    I have always wished you would shut up, finally I have an expert who agrees!
    Praise the lord!!!
    Love and kisses,
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:20 AM Peggy wrote:
    Your remarks truly enhanced the last concert for my guest and for me -- we needed the structural overlay, which we might have otherwise missed. My guest was most attententive and whispered "this is the last variation -- there's no cello." So Adrien, we pay attention and appreciate your words. BTW my guest was a nine-year-old. Thanks for all the exceptional concerts, always a delight.
    Reply to this
    1. 2/2/2012 10:26 AM Adrian Spence wrote:
      This is an "I rest my case" comment for me! Adrian
      Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:21 AM Luci wrote:
    Amen, brother. Count me in the "new" temple.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:22 AM Caroline Bordinaro wrote:
    As a longtime fan and supporter of Camerata Pacifica and Adrian's vision, I heartily disagree with Joe's comments. Specifically:

    "His long and insultingly patronizing introduction to the Goldberg Variations,..."
    I found Adrian's comments to be inspired, informative and enlightening. I appreciated the structured walk through the piece and it helped me listen in a more informed manner.

    "...as if this was an obscurity from the dusty corners of the repertoire instead of one of the most popular and best-selling pieces in all of classical music,..."
    As a professional musician, and as someone who has heard the Goldberg both on piano and in the string trio arrangement many times before, I'm embarrassed to say I never delved into the intricacies of the piece. I loved it before because I loved Bach, but Adrian's comments gave me the tools to understand and listen to the piece on a much more informed level.

    "...had an unfortunate sullying effect at the outset of the concert. In essence, he gave a pre-concert lecture, thrust into the sacred space of the actual concert."
    Fine, call it a pre-concert lecture. I happen to enjoy pre-concert lectures for the reasons enumerated above. I also really enjoy Adrian's delivery, because it brings a warmth and humanity to the concert experience. Not only was the concert not sullied, the talk added to the concert experience.

    I will continue to support Camerata Pacifica for exactly the reasons that Joe took issue with. Thank you, Adrian, for your vision and the wonderful music!
    Reply to this
    1. 2/2/2012 11:15 AM Dave Whittaker wrote:
      Everything Caroline said!
      Reply to this
      1. 2/2/2012 3:50 PM Caroline Bordinaro wrote:
        Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:27 AM Andrey wrote:
    I was not present at that particular performance referenced in the article so my comment is general to Andrian's introductions. I love them. Period. Its informative, educational, insightful, funny, entertaining, it adds a human touch, though personal subjective interpretation, to often mysterious-to-me field of music. Adrian is a professional and his short, sweet, to-the-point comments are absolutely essential. May be Joe was on drugz that evening!!! :-) Joking
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:32 AM sw wrote:
    I am afraid I don't get what this hullabaloo is about. I love listening to your commentary. Is that what his complaining is about?
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:34 AM Linda Beuret wrote:
    I find the intros a little long and rambling.Sometimes attempts at comedy fail. I wonder if they are completely thought thru before walking out.
    I thought the stuff about the financial crisis silly,
    how about just the facts, introduce the pieces
    mention the possibility of a subscription and
    be don with it.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:40 AM Michael wrote:
    Camille and I both loved the introduction.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:43 AM FSW wrote:
    I used to go to your concerts based on the music you selected to play. Since then your "talking" has put me off enough so that I don't come, no matter what you play.
    Reply to this
    1. 2/2/2012 10:51 AM Adrian Spence wrote:
      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I realize there is a variety of opinion around this, and I'm glad you added your voice here.
      Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:54 AM Luke wrote:
    In a world in which "disintermediation" is an actual word, anyone who essays to "explain" things to his or her brethren - either in the temple or outside the temple - must take pause. That caution goes out to both Mr Woodard and Mr Spence. As regards the totally delicious Bach/Chausson concert, it was world-class in every respect: the musicians, the hall, the introductory, the faithful audience. I have yet to attend a temple that is not subject to internal strife while the reason for gathering somehow manages to survive, even thrive. Let all who stand up to speak or sit down to scribble consider well and then give their listeners their very best. Our beloved Camerata Pacifica never fails to give their very best and we love them for it.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:59 AM Roberta wrote:
    Adrian, I completely agree with you! Your intros provide knowledge, insight, humor and an ambience of intimacy that generates audience loyalty. Your voice is a big part of what makes CamPac so special!
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 11:03 AM Nancy wrote:
    Keep the introductions. Few of us are so erudite that we can't learn something that will make musical works more meaningful. Good heavens! I actually find myself enjoying Contemporary Music when I have some idea of what to listen for!
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 11:32 AM Mike Crawford wrote:
    As a Ventura subscriber I did not hear the exact same intro, but the intro I heard was interesting and informative. Adrian's introductions usually enhance my understanding of the music; whne he uses notes his talk is more to the point.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 11:50 AM Caroline Bordinaro wrote:
    I sometimes wish someone would capture Adrian's talks and put them up as a podcast. They are great!
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 11:53 AM Jane wrote:
    You do have the gift of gab, Adrian, but your explanations of the music are what make the Camerata experience so special and so enhance mindful listening. So just keep the comments to the point and keep them coming. We love and need them.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 11:58 AM Mary Hintz wrote:
    As a fairly new subscriber to Camerata Pacifica I can say the part of the reason I became a member was precisely because of the informative & educational aspect of each concert. I have been attending classical music concerts since my teenage years, but have never had the opportunity to learn about the pieces, composers, etc. So for me, Camerata Pacifica and Adrian are an answer to my prayers. Thank you!
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 12:20 PM Bess wrote:
    Mr. Woodard's commentary made me furious! During my five years in Santa Barbara I seem to detect a subtle negative bias in many of his Camerata Pacifica reviews. The obvious effort to engage and educate the audience is commendable. Keep it up! Adrian, your introductions always enhance the enjoyment of the concert for me. Unfortunately, I often have difficulty hearing, could you please use a microphone and project toward the audience?
    Reply to this
    1. 2/2/2012 2:39 PM Adrian Spence wrote:
      Don't be furious Bess! Joe Woodard is a major asset to our musical community and is one of the best listeners and writers in Southern California. His writing is always clear, thoughtful and penetrating. He and I have always disagreed over this topic, only this time he turned his ship broadside and fired. I responded in kind — but it's fun! Joe's position is as valid as mine — of course as this is a Camerata website most of the comments will be positive, but not all of them. That's the MOST important thing. The Camerata audience is a dynamic community, always ready to voice an opinion and I welcome that. I'm not going to pretend I get it right all of the time, but we can look around and see the results of the work that has taken place over two decades, and no matter what I say, it's always backed up by prime musical performances. In this forum however, let's have at it. If it gets a little heated, even better — rude or disrespectful comments won't be posted — everything else will, and dissent is encouraged!
      Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 1:30 PM Robert Schwartz AIA wrote:

    I was once told a helpful musical-history parable that I will try now to share with you. I hope I remember this correctly; maybe you already know it.

    The young and unknown Edvard Grieg left Norway to spend some years studying composition & piano in Europe with Franz Liszt, and they became very close as mentor and student. Grieg eventually returned to Norway to work & compose in a new 'nationalist' modality.

    Some years later the first major concert of Grieg's new composition work was met with very negative reviews by the established critics in Oslo (his stuff didn't sound much like the preferred Beethoven or Bach). Facing such severe criticism by the local "classical music" establishment, Grieg became very despondent. Indeed, his first cousin Christina, a renowned soprano, would not leave him alone for fear of Grieg taking his own life.

    Exhausted by her vigil and still in alarm, and knowing how highly Grieg thought of Liszt's wisdom, she wrote to him seeking his advice. The postal services being what they were in Central Europe in the mid-19th Century; Christina's letter chased Liszt from city to city while he was on a performing tour, but eventually caught up with him some weeks later.

    Liszt promptly sent back an express envelope which contained both an "outside" letter and another enclosed sealed envelope. The outside letter directed Grieg to promptly go to the center of Oslo's public square and to slowly turn around 360 degrees, and only then to open up the enclosed sealed envelope in order to read the second 'inside' letter.

    The still-despondent Grieg and Christina traveled from Bergen to Oslo by train and reached the main public square. As instructed, Grieg turned slowly around and then opened Liszt's inside sealed envelope. The message inside said:

    "Edvard: You have all of the makings of a Great Composer. Look around you and note how many statues have been raised to honor the critics!".

    And so, the great burden upon Grieg's heart was immediately lifted, and thus enlightened he returned home to continue his original compositions his way. The rest is history.

    So, Adrian, I humbly suggest that you just keep doing what you do, your own way, and leave the negative critics to stew.

    Warmest regards,

    - Rob Schwartz AIA
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 1:33 PM Boyd Lemon wrote:
    Woodard's position is outdated and outrageous. When I attend a Camerata Pacifica concert, I look forward to Adrian's remarks and am disappointed when he doesn't say something about the music. Most of the audience does not consist of music scholars who don't need an introduction to the music. I lived in Boston for three years. Before the Friday concert of the Boston Symphony Orchestra someone (usually a professor from the New England Conservatory or someone with similar credentials) gives a short lecture about the music and its history. Woodard can....Well, never mind.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 2:08 PM Ann Hoagland wrote:
    Keep talking, Adrian! I need and enjoy your commentary.
    Unlike most Camerata supporters, I have no background in classical music (hey, I'm an old blues-rocker from the '60s), but I do know quality when I hear it and Camerata defines the word "quality."
    One of the things I like most about Camerata in Ventura is the informality of the setting. Your introductions of the music and the back-and-forth comments between you and us audience members reinforce that feeling for me.
    Camerata's music is wonderful, but it is more than the music, it's an experience, and that includes your commentary.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 2:19 PM Renee wrote:
    Keep talking & laughing in the temple...I think God applauds you & laughs at all of us !!Love, Renee
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 2:21 PM Rick wrote:
    I don't blame you for being pissed, Adrian. But---Chill!
    Nobody takes this guy (all that) seriously and, if they should, they are probably unreliable attendees (or nonattendees) at your concerts. You should ignore him after this. By answering him in a voluble manner, you only give him a channel/sounding board to amplify his message. Cheers! Rick
    Reply to this
    1. 2/2/2012 2:28 PM Adrian Spence wrote:
      Oh Rick, I'm not upset at all. As I've said in response to earlier posts, I admire Joe greatly and acknowledge the viability of his position in regard to this topic. I just don't agree with it, not in the slightest. But we've been presented with the opportunity for a dialogue and that's a good thing — look at how many opinions have been offered here .
      Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 2:21 PM Gray Felstiner wrote:
    All thanks to Adrian for his work with
    and for Camerata Pacifica, but for many,
    many years now, I -- and many, many of my friends -- I have hated his very lengthy jovial talks, postponing the
    music. They seem interminable, every time. We are indeed a captive audience.

    Another way to get his words and jokes
    across would be to enclose them on a
    separate sheet inside each programme
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 2:22 PM Suzanne wrote:
    We haven't been coming to the Camerata much since the traffic to SB is horrible in the afternoon; it is too dark at night. We loved it when the Camerata played in TO (and there are other venues here, not just the Kavli auditorium). The reason the attendance suffered is that often you held your concert in the Forum at the same time the New West Symphony played upstairs at the Kavli. Back to that awful article; who is this guy? Adrian is just fine and whatever he does is just fine by me. I only wish you all were closer to us. Suzanne
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 2:54 PM Anne French wrote:
    Being a native of Buffalo, NY, I attended BPO concerts years ago where both Lucas Foss and his successor, Michael Tilson Thomas, gave sometimes lengthy talks during a concert. This is not a new idea, and I think it is often helpful for an audience. I do not think we should assume that everyone at a Camerata concert has dusty copies of the "Goldberg" on their record shelf. If it hadn't been for Glenn Gould, I probably would have never heard this glorious work! Wish I had heard Adrian's talk.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 3:04 PM Fred wrote:
    A very enjoyable concert, with surprising good refreshments at intermission.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 3:24 PM James Ryan Jillson wrote:
    I had the great privilege of working for Camerata Pacifica for two years, from 2007 to 2009, and I have to say, this aspect of the performances - that is, Adrian's remarks - really made me reconsider how and why concerts are structured the way that they are. His comments were jarring at first, perhaps because I wasn't used to people speaking to this extent at performances, but Camerata is an organization that values community just as much as an exceptionally high standard of performance. Joe's comments are certainly valid, as I know there are many that value a more traditional experience at the concert hall, but Adrian's efforts to create a more comprehensive atmosphere are to be commended. I think your response was both fair and warranted, and speaking from someone living and working 1500 miles away now, I hope you all realize how rare this type of performer-audience engagement really is.
    Reply to this
    1. 2/2/2012 4:19 PM Adrian Spence wrote:
      James, thank you for these words.
      Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 3:27 PM France Meindl wrote:
    I think that what sets Camarata Pacifica apart from all the other groups is that you do take time to enlighten the audience. I am curious to see if our audience response will be the same as mine. All of the friends that I have introduce to CP feel the same. However, I have just joined the Met. Assocs. and one of the officers does not like the banter before the concert. So you see there is room for everyone including our dear Sherm. I am always happy to be informed.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 3:45 PM Robert wrote:
    Adrian - keep talking. I have loved classical music since i was a youngster. I always loved the story behind the music. Why was it written? what are the myths and truths about it? What was the composer was trying to say to me? i may not know or understand his context. Please illuminate it for me.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 4:15 PM donna fickel wrote:
    Adrian's talks are always informative, charming and most welcome...
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 4:28 PM Joan Hotop wrote:
    I like Adrian's comments, but I wish he would use a hand mike. I miss about half of what he is saying. Of course, his Irish accent doesn't help, plus he drops the ends of his words. But, a microphone would help a lot. I loved the last program-the Goldberg and the Chausson. Such a nice contrast between the twol
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 4:32 PM Jerry Cohen wrote:
    I have always felt that Adrian's pre-concert remarks are one of the biggest reasons why Camerata Pacifica has become so popular with its audience. Not only do we learn something that enhances our appreciation of the music. We also are made to feel part of a community with the performers, breaking down the invisible curtain between us. Keep it up, Adrian!
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 4:38 PM Elaine Kendall wrote:
    To please everyone, why not announce in Email to subscribers that there will be a talk about the program before the concert? That way people who rush to make a 7:30 curtain will be able to come 15 minutes later or promptly if they want to learn about the music.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 6:45 PM James Griffith wrote:
    I always a value brief, concise, informative statement from an artist, performer,or presenter when viewing any art. There is always more to learn that can enrich the experience. This is especially true when listening to music from another time or culture.
    Reply to this
    1. 2/2/2012 8:07 PM Adrian Spence wrote:
      I'll say it before someone else does ... brief and concise are terms not so often applied to me!
      Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 7:30 PM Robert Tager wrote:
    Adrian, keep it up. Your introductions are excellent and add much to the musical experience. The non-talk thing is archaic and disrespectful of an audience that wants to learn more about the music. Even if a piece is a familiar one, I very much appreciate your take on it, and it very much enhances my enjoyment. Thank you.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 8:01 PM Sheila Lodge wrote:
    Most of the time I enjoy your comments, Adrian. However, when you went on and on at the last concert, and when I realized that you seemed to be reading the program notes -- which I had just read! -- the talk got annoying. I realize many do not read the notes, but I do think you could keep the comments briefer and still get your points across. And please do use a mike! I, too, have trouble hearing you especially when you turn your head away from the audience and when you drop the words at the end of the sentences.
    Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 8:11 PM patriciagossen wrote:
    We are always really glad to hear you speak. We have learned much from you. Please continue. You will never win all the wars against the Philistines.
    Reply to this
    1. 2/2/2012 8:13 PM Adrian Spence wrote:
      Just in case, I'll again stick up for my colleague Joe who is far from a philistine . We here have a solid difference of opinion, but it's generated this great exchange.
      Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 10:07 PM Joseph Miller wrote:
    What's next: applauding between movements? Catcalling cadenzas? Joe is perhaps afraid of opening the door to these further 'sins'? For all his toying with the burlesque in this present controversy, I don't think even Adrien would welcome such extremes. Let's face it, Hahn Hall IS a temple, and the finest one I know of in this town. And these wonderful master-jewels of repertoire deserve the setting of silence the hall always provides. At the end of the Goldberg journey - there was a PROLONGED silence before anyone dared to applaud. Tell me that was not sacred. Adrien's warmth, humor, information do not profane the experience at all for me. The silences are still there when I need them. His voice does not reverberate all that long, really. Except in newsprint, apparently.
    Reply to this
    1. 2/3/2012 9:15 PM Jan wrote:
      Actually, I do believe there is historical precedent for applause at the end of movements and even multiple replays of particularly well-liked movements. I'm not so sure that, in the "good old days" of the origins of whatever (perhaps especially "chamber" music) things were quite as formal and regimented as we have come to think of them. I, as a fairly recent ad-on to the very appreciative Camarata audience, enjoy Adrian's intros and the greater understanding of the music it gives me. I would say "Keep it up!"
      Reply to this
  • 2/2/2012 11:36 PM Steve Unwin wrote:
    Keep doing the introductions, Adrian!

    You read the audience very well - it is really hard to find a level which on the one hand doesn't lose the occasional concert goer, or on the other, bore those, like me, who might consider themselves fairly sophisticated'. I always learn something new.

    What comes though is your complete sincerity, and an absolute joy in the music. That's almost worth more than the words, as it helps the listener to get drawn into the musical world.

    Keep doing the intros. And keep picking programs of those gems that aren't the chamber music top 40.
    Reply to this
  • 2/3/2012 6:31 AM Mary Free wrote:
    I always enjoy hearing what you have to say about the musicians, the process of selection for the program and the music. I notice that the lunchtime audience continues to grow. Carry on.
    Reply to this
  • 2/3/2012 7:17 AM Julie Steckel wrote:
    J always enjoy hearing Adrian's take on each concert. Julie Steckel
    Reply to this
  • 2/3/2012 7:18 AM Dianne wrote:
    I have come an inch away from writing to you on this subject for some time. Now may be the time.

    I LOVE Camerata Pacifica both for the diversity of music presented and the excellence of the performers. Clearly you are largely responsible for the existence and persistence of this wonderful organization and deserve much credit.

    That said, you shoot the group in the foot a great deal by your rambling and lengthy commentaries. Several years ago I was convinced on at least one occasion you had had far too much to drink. I know many people in the community who have gone once, or gone for a year and have said never again, I can't stand listening to him. You could probably increase your audience by a third if you restrained yourself.

    I see no problem in your introducing works, or having the musicians do so with a few well-chosen words. I think most people enjoy that kind of informality and information and many groups now do this. You carry it too far with lengthy, sometime even inappropriate comments that frankly are boring. I tell my friends who will not come because of you that the music is so excellent it is worth listening to you. But most of them will not do it.

    Now this is a very strong statement, and you will probably discount it, having been supported by a loyal claque. But Camerata is struggling to exist and expand in the form you would like, and I am telling you the truth. You have both created a wonderful organization, and are preventing it from growing in the way you would like. I can't tell you how many people have said to me when I praise the group(which I do frequently)yes, but I can't stand Adrian., I won't go.
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  • 2/3/2012 8:51 AM Judy Spence wrote:
    Joe Woodard's comments put him in the camp of those who say that the personal has no place in criticism or commentary of any kind: musical, aesthetic, philosophical, psychoanalytic, etc. I do not belong to this camp; for me, the personal (or autobiographical) is the only way to locate myself inside experience. And when I can locate myself inside experience, I know I am (still) alive. Your introductions, Adrian, make the concerts personal; they bring them to (my) life. I in turn feel "brought in", invited inside the music and performances. It is a lovely place to be. And then I am able to carry it with me afterwards, reverberating, and part of me. Thank you profoundly.
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  • 2/3/2012 11:01 AM Flori Turchin wrote:
    I love the addition of a preconcert talk. I believe it adds rather than detracts from the evening, and it makes CP a more personalized experience. The concert goers feel as though they are part of a special group, and that they are.
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  • 2/3/2012 11:22 AM Nancy Even & Joel Ohlgren wrote:
    We like to think of Camerata Pacifica as our chamber music group and we appreciate the commentary on artists and Music presented. It is more like our expanded living room than a high temple. Music to be enjoyed and a bit of a personal connection to it. Keep up the delightful commentary.
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  • 2/3/2012 12:15 PM Sylvia Drake wrote:
    Mr. Woodward is certainly entitled to his opinion. However, we Camerata Pacifica lovers are a pretty dedicated group and I think mostly we like what we like, but naturally there's always room for improvement.

    Having spent more than a half-century as a musician and working for symphony orchestras, I can honestly say that the music-making by this superbly talented group gives me wings every time I hear them! That's what has kept me coming back for every concert for many years. Obviously, I'm not a novice listener, but I am always eager to learn more. Given the often challenging repertoire C.P plays, I think Adrian's remarks are, if sometimes lengthy, are knowledgable and usually informative.

    That being said, if there is to be a "pre-concert lecture", given the comfortable familiarity we audience members feel with the players, I personally would like to hear a few words from the musicians themselves about the music; their intimacy with and perspective of the music is often more interesting to me than Adrian's.

    A combination of these two approaches might provide the variety some audience members are wanting.
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  • 2/3/2012 12:30 PM Stuart wrote:
    Keep talking, Adrian!
    The excitement - and impeccable quality - of Camerata Concerts are only enhanced by the enthusiasm of your introductions. I've been enjoying good music all over the world (I first heard Tureck play the Goldbergs almost sixty years ago) and your concert series with their special introductions stands with the best of them; the exuberance of performance gives hope that we can re-engage the younger audience. Don't let Beckmesser win!
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  • 2/3/2012 1:28 PM M.L. La Barge wrote:
    I've been listening to classical music my entire adult life; I'm 72 now. I almost always welcome these informational talks, and learn from them. The reviewer ought to come down to earth; many of us don't dwell in such lofty spheres or feel the need to indulge in such self-serving malice.
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  • 2/3/2012 1:48 PM Eunice wrote:
    Since my hearing is good and I have striven to decipher your Irish brogue, I find your introduction pure joy, even tho
    lengthy at times. However, some of my elderly peers have a damned hard time understanding a word of it! You
    might try brevity, a slower pace and a clearer enunciation to satisfy a greater number of patrons.


    Eunice Koch
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  • 2/3/2012 1:49 PM Joan wrote:
    Haven't read the complete article from the News-Press but shall.

    "Talking in the Temple" has always been one of the best parts of C.P.'s performances-very infomative AND amusing!!

    It is only his(Woodard's) take.How do others feel about this?
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  • 2/3/2012 7:32 PM Kathleen Nielsen wrote:
    I'm from the big city of Los Angeles where our LA Phil, LA Chamber, LA Opera, New West Orchestra, Chamber Music in Historic Sites, etc, all offer pre-concert and pre-opera lectures, and they are heavily attended. We expect these lectures because they are given by experts and are illuminating to even the most knowledgeable.

    And I'm pleased to say that Camerata Pacifica has taken its rightful place with the above groups and is highly esteemed in this world-class city.
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  • 2/3/2012 8:32 PM Leslie Hogan wrote:
    I agree that the rituals and the traditions of the concert hall need to be challenged, in order for the art form to survive and to be relevant. I'm not at all opposed to talking before a concert, to give a context for the work, and I generally enjoy your remarks a lot. That said, I think that lengthy analyses, if and when warranted, belong in program notes and that introductory remarks need to be more focused. In the context of the Goldberg Variations, beyond a brief synopsis, a keystone for a listener unfamiliar with the work would have been the bit about the missing cello in the last variation. The work needs no apologies.

    There's a larger issue buried in this, that of whether an excellent piece of music, excellently played, should need much explanation. Should it, in fact, be necessary to "know about" or "understand" music in order to enjoy it or have an opinion about it? On the whole, I'd say not. It is the composers' job to make a convincing musical argument; the performers' to bring it to fruition.

    In the end, what matters to me is this: in your programming, you have introduced me to works unfamiliar, and led me to new insights in works I've known and loved for years. I find the choice of music to be consistently interesting, something I can't say for very many other performing organizations.
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  • 2/3/2012 8:44 PM doug crowley wrote:
    Indirectly, I think Mr. Woodard is arguing for listener freedom of choice. At most concerts, comments about the music are made in a separate talk before the scheduled starting time for the performance. Any concert goer who does not care to listen to the commentary or doesn't care for the speaker can simply forgo the talk.

    Adrian, on the other hand, makes his comments after everyone is seated for the performance. Anyone who doesn’t wish to listen would have to get up and leave the hall and then return very shortly for the music, which is totally impractical. I think Mr. Woodard resents being a captive listener.

    My reading of Mr. Woodard’s views undercuts to a large degree the endorsements Adrian has received on this blog. If Adrian’s commentary occurred pre-concert, his fans would still be able to hear it without discomforting Mr. Woodard and any other people who find it intrusive, redundant or overly long. Everybody would be happy.

    BTW, I'm not sure whether Mr. Woodard objects to Adrian’s mentioning upcoming concerts, special offers and other promotional talk. I can certainly tolerate it because ticket sales help keep the organization going.
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  • 2/3/2012 9:30 PM Edward Henderson wrote:
    Camerata performances are always interesting, enjoyable, and frequently enlightening. I cannot imagine why anyone would not welcome words of explanation and preparation for listening to the programs. The atmosphere is quite like what I imagine the salon concerts of past eras were. Although unlike then Adrian forbids ANY extraneous sounds [other than his own] Perhaps he envisions his own style of temple!
    But, whatever, keep it up; the Camerata is a high point of my current musical life.
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  • 2/4/2012 8:36 AM Jill wrote:
    Jim who? And who cares?
    Yes Adriain talks too much, but it's his show; if we don't like it we can vote with our feet.
    Besides, it a good chance to check email - for those of us who have lives and don''t obsess about minutia or have time to read blogs about same.
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  • 2/4/2012 8:59 AM Diane Boss wrote:
    I love the comments about the music by Adrian and the other musicians. Adam's long introduction to his wonderful playing of the Liszt Transcendental Etudes enhanced my appreciation of that evening greatly. I'm sure Josef Woodward knows a great deal more about music than I do so for him the introductions are not necessary, but I count on them to deepen my enjoyment. It is one of the reasons that I have been such a loyal supporter of the Camerata for many years. I feel brought in both to the music and to the "club" of the Camerata Pacifica audience. After living for twenty-five years in New York City and London and attending concerts in those cities, I have found the atmosphere of the Camerata combined with the excellence of its presentations (particularly for a town of the size of Santa Barbara) to be one of the delights of living here. The talking makes it all more alive and inclusive and fun. Then the musicians take their moment to focus, as does the audience, the music begins, and we go into the world of that piece, and maybe farther in for being given some guideposts.
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  • 2/4/2012 11:47 AM Peter wrote:
    Adrian, his personality, and his voice are an important part of the Camerata Pacifica's special character. And the Camerata's audience is special too and more involved than most. It takes three to make a good performance: composer, performer, and audience. Adrian works to bring them together. Yes, shorter would be better sometimes, but keep it up.
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  • 2/4/2012 1:29 PM Linda wrote:
    I always look forward to hearing some words about the music or composer. I think it makes the experience so much richer. My friend Lyn who attends with me would agree totally.
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  • 2/5/2012 2:27 PM Jean wrote:
    I might be interested in what is said but I have trouble with the brogue and Adrian is speaking to his right and I am on his left and I cannot understand most of what he says. And the last one on Bach was too long.
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  • 2/5/2012 6:02 PM Roger Davidson wrote:
    Roger Davidson wrote: Woodward picked a very minor nit in reviewing a revelatory program. Camerata's programs are unique in this town because of their eclecticism; so it's useful to hear comments on how and why the programs are put together. So don't hesitate to talk, Adrian; although those who suggested using a microphone should probably be heeded. And keep the messages brief.
    At the same time Adrian should be praised for not dousing all the Hahn Hall lights-unlike so many presenters at the Granada and the Lobero. Leaving audiences in darkness creates a "sacred space" not for the music but for the musical "priests" (Toscanini and von Karajan come to mind)) who seem to bring their treasures to the unworthy masses. Audiences deserve more respect. European-style lighting is essential for any works with texts, and useful even in complex instrumental pieces in order to check to see which section is being played.
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  • 2/6/2012 9:37 AM Marc wrote:
    I was not at the concert, and the comments by Joe Woodward are probably a bit overblown--but I must agree with him that pre-concert lectures should be optional, and NOT mandatory for listeners. I have also had the experience of otherwise magnificent classical evenings lessened by long and unnecessary introductions by conductors, making it impossible for me to have a direct encounter with the music. Like all art, music must be allowed the opportunity to speak for itself, and listeners must be given the chance to listen to it, yes, without any gloss, even a brilliant gloss by a recognized expert. I love pre-concert talks, but please, just schedule them 30 min beforehand, and let the audience chose whether to attend--why not?
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  • 2/7/2012 8:44 AM Gray wrote:
    Adrian (let me speak to you directly),

    I could have written every word of the above. I, too, have the very deepest possible respect for all you've done for Southern California with the music of Camerata Pacifica.

    I think the situation here is that you are conflating the stuffy "silence in the temple" with "absolutely no introduction and information from the stage."

    It's not so much what you're doing, as the way you're doing it. Those who stay away rather than sit through your protracted, disconnected,jokey,"impish" monologues would not,I think, object to a less (forgive the word) self-indulgent presentation.

    We have here a polarization:

    Almost all responders to your call for opinions are heartily enjoying your monologues just as they are.

    The whole conversation is lost on the audience you've lost over the years. (It's a sad thing that so many no longer go to your wonderful concerts only because of the monologues.)

    But I wonder if the road might be open to a middle way. Perhaps you could plan and organize your introductions and come out and present them succinctly, with less rambling and jokiness, and then just turn the stage over to the wonderful artists you've brilliantly assembled.

    I think the word would quickly get out, and you'd see many more filled seats in your concert halls.

    I do wish the best for Camerata Pacifica. It owes it owes its glory to you.

    And I'm still hanging in there.

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  • 3/12/2012 10:49 PM AL MELKONIAN wrote:
    Adrian: I have enjoyed the style and substance of everything I have heard you say at the concerts.

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  • 3/14/2012 8:18 AM Stuart Spence wrote:
    (March Concert)
    The first part was very interesting, but the Shostakovich String Quintet was absolutely spectacular: precision and passion are seldom so effectively combined!
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  • 3/14/2012 9:51 AM Dan wrote:
    I wanted to take a moment to thank you for letting us take advantage of the wonderful offer to hear Camerata Pacifica last Friday night. It was an incredible concert. I have never attended a concert of such exquisite artistic quality and emotional beauty. My companion and I sat enraptured by the music throughout the entire concert. "Bravo!!!"
    We both commented as we left, that at that moment, both of our souls had needed the spiritual and emotional uplifting that the concert provided. What a delightful way to end the work-week.
    In addition, your kindness, grace and warm hospitality was felt by us and really appreciated.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    We are fans, and we can't wait to see the next concert!

    Daniel Monarres
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  • 4/20/2012 9:40 PM Barbara wrote:
    I'm glad Joe Woodard is back. This town is lucky to have a music reviewer as intelligent, thoughtful and as good a writer as he is, and he takes risks, obviously, which I also welcome.
    Reply to this
    1. 4/20/2012 9:42 PM Adrian Spence wrote:
      I agree! 
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