Progress Edition

Camerata Musica: Supportive community, generosity of donors carries us into an exciting future

Camerata Musica has been bringing the Mid-Columbia quality chamber music - like the Aristeia Trio - for over 50 years.
Camerata Musica has been bringing the Mid-Columbia quality chamber music - like the Aristeia Trio - for over 50 years. Courtesy photo

Anniversaries are typically times to look back and to extol previous successes, but as Camerata Musica celebrates its 50th anniversary this season, our focus has been on looking ahead, working to ensure that the future will be as rewarding as the past.

About a year ago, we learned that, after presenting our concerts in Battelle’s auditorium for decades, changing business needs at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory would make it impossible for outside groups like Camerata to continue to use the facility. Suddenly we found ourselves asking questions we hoped we wouldn’t have to face this soon. Where could we go? Chamber music concerts are best presented in smaller, more intimate locales rather than the large spaces provided by school auditoriums. Would we even be able to continue?

Fortunately, the Tri-Cities is an outstandingly supportive community. Within a few months of making our needs known to the public, Columbia Basin College and Kennewick First Presbyterian Church each offered to house some of our programs. Battelle demonstrated its continuing support for Camerata by donating the Steinway piano we had used for years to us.

Because CBC already had a fine Steinway, ours has been placed at the church. Knowing that we have access to an excellent instrument in each location gives us a great deal of flexibility in planning future concerts.

While both locations are the right size for our concerts and have good acoustics and —very importantly — ample parking, the transition to the new locations is not without challenges. In particular, moving the concert venue doesn’t necessarily mean that the all of the audience moves as well. Many long-time Camerata supporters had become accustomed to driving, even on winter evenings, the relatively short distances to the Battelle auditorium, but some have expressed concerns about traveling much farther at night.

We hope that the continuing quality of the concerts will persuade them that the trip is worth the extra effort. With luck, music lovers in Pasco and Kennewick who hadn’t wanted to drive to north Richland will discover how good our programs are. We are particularly pleased to have the opportunity to introduce more students to our series. What better way to attract a younger audience than to go to a college campus?

What won’t change is Camerata’s commitment to presenting the public with the best chamber music concerts we can afford. For 50 years, Camerata’s concerts have been primarily supported by donations, supplemented by occasional grants from government arts agencies and local foundations. No tickets are sold, but patrons (i.e. those donating at least $100 a year) receive priority seating before 7:15 p.m. In practice, this translates into about half the seats being filled by patrons arriving early, the remainder going to supporters and non-supporters alike who are admitted on a first-come, first-seated basis.

Looking at the remainder of this season, The Aristeia Trio (clarinet, piano and cello) performed in March at CBC, while the April concert will feature two outstanding luteninsts, Paul Odette and Ronn McFarlane, at Kennewick First Presbyterian Church. As always, the May concert will focus on outstanding local student performers, also at the Kennewick venue.

Our selection committee has already lined up an outstanding slate of concerts for next season, and thanks to the generous support of Columbia Basin College and Kennewick First Presbyterian Church, we know that we have places to present them.