Backstage Stories

Resident Spotlight: CAMA

March 19, 2024

Resident Spotlight: CAMA

Resident Spotlight: CAMA

For a century, The Granada Theatre and its resident company, Community Arts Music Association (CAMA), have enriched the Santa Barbara cultural scene.

Founded in 1919, CAMA is Santa Barbara’s oldest arts organization. Its mission is to bring world-renowned classical artists and orchestras to the stage and provide music education programs for the community.


World-Renowned Artists

Since The Granada Theatre reopened in 2008, it’s been home to CAMA’s premiere program, The International Series. Bringing the world’s best orchestras and recitalists to Santa Barbara, the series is the direct descendant of CAMA’s original orchestra programming that dates to the 1920s. CAMA also presents a master series featuring classical solo performers and chamber music at the Lobero Theater.

“The Granada is our flagship venue, and we’re so happy to be there,” said Chairman of CAMA’s Board, Deborah Bertling. “From the backstage amenities and the house management to the acoustics in the theater, it’s a fantastic home.”

Despite financial constraints and fewer traveling orchestras in the world today, CAMA still created a strong 2023/2024 season of four world-class performances. The season kicked off with iconic conductor Zubin Mehta leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

“Even in his 80s, Zubin is still so commanding,” said Bertling.

Another standout performance was the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Nathalie Stutzmann, the second woman in history to become a conductor of major orchestras.

The season also includes performances by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Academy of St Martin in the Fields.


Community Programming

While CAMA brings the world’s best to the Granada stage, it’s also actively involved in fostering a love and appreciation for classical music at the community level.

For 15 years, its Music Matters program has brought docent-led music education to over a dozen elementary schools in the Santa Barbara area. For three years, students in the fourth to sixth grade follow the A Classical Music Journey for Young People curriculum. The program highlights classical, jazz, and folk music.

CAMA also supports adult music education through a program with Santa Barbara City College’s Center for Lifelong Learning. Preview lectures and discounted tickets to the performances are available.

CAMA also has a ticket program for young student musicians that brings a select number of students to each performance. It has a similar arrangement for college students working in collaboration with University of California, Santa Barbara’s Department of Music, and Westmont College to bring students to its International Series concerts at The Granada Theatre.

Bertling has been involved with CAMA since she started working for the organization in the late 1990s, then transitioning to the Board in 2003. This is her first year as chair and while she continues to uphold the mission of CAMA, she is also excited to work in greater collaboration with other resident companies at The Granada Theatre and the Santa Barbara community at large.