CAMA’s mission is to enrich Santa Barbara’s cultural life by bringing live performances by world-renowned classical artists and orchestras of the highest artistic excellence to our community and by providing creative, focused music education programs for individuals of all ages.
CAMA’s presentation of live classical music performances featuring world renowned artists and orchestras over the past 100 years is testament, not only to its founders and successors who have upheld their commitment to enrich Santa Barbara’s cultural life, but also to the citizens of our community who have supported our legacy. Through war, drought, fire and change, CAMA has continued to grow and to expand its community education programs. Today, CAMA continues to enrich the lives of the Santa Barbara region and its visitors, so that we can all experience and enjoy classical music through live performances and educational outreach of the highest caliber for future generations.
CAMA, Santa Barbara’s oldest arts organization, brings the finest classical musicians from around the globe to Santa Barbara, California. CAMA presents an exciting mix of internationally acclaimed orchestras and soloists in two concert series.
The history of CAMA begins in the fall of 1919 when a group of community-minded Santa Barbarans came together in the optimistic years following World War I to create the Civic Music Committee. Their intention was to present the finest in musical performances, including the new Los Angeles Philharmonic, founded by philanthropist William Andrews Clark, Jr. that same year. The group’s work was taken over by the Community Arts Association’s Music Branch in 1926, which in time evolved into today’s Community Arts Music Association (CAMA).
Since the 1920s, CAMA has presented such legendary artists as Pablo Casals, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Vladimir Horowitz, Jascha Heifetz, Igor Stravinsky, Artur Schnabel, Isaac Stern and Marian Anderson, with yearly performances from the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Since the 1950s the orchestra series has expanded and the concert annals now include virtually every great orchestra of the world, from the New York Philharmonic to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Today, CAMA’s INTERNATIONAL SERIES at The Granada Theatre presents the world’s finest classical orchestras and recitalists. The International Series is the direct descendant of CAMA’s original orchestra series, which has regularly presented internationally renowned orchestras and soloists to Santa Barbara audiences since the 1920s. The International Series is supported by an endowment from SAGE Publications.
CAMA’s MASTERSERIES at the Lobero is dedicated to presenting the world’s finest classical recitals and chamber music. Masterseries was originally founded by Stephen Cloud and classical pianist Michael Isador in November 1982. Under CAMA’s aegis, Masterseries continues the work of Esperia Foundation through an endowment gift that underwrites complimentary tickets for selected community members.
For 99 seasons, CAMA has presented the world’s great classical orchestras and soloists to Santa Barbara audiences. Former CAMA Board Member Roger Phillips writes: “Simply stated, we believe there is no similarly sized city in the entire country (and maybe the world) which has offered to its citizens the variety, quality, reputation and substance of classical music performance over such a long time period.” Former CAMA President Arthur Gaudi (1969-1974) states: “In America you cannot do better than [CAMA]. Even major cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles would be elated to have these orchestras. It is a testimony to the quality of the people involved in [CAMA] that distinguished artists, conductors and symphonies make their sojourn to our city year after year.”
“Community Arts Music Association is the classical music world’s gift to Santa Barbara, and vice versa, with its chamber music Masterseries at the Lobero and touring international orchestra series at The Granada making our town an immensely richer musical place than it would otherwise be.” (Josef Woodard, Santa Barbara Independent)