Première Rhapsodie for Clarinet and Piano
Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
Piano Quartet No. 3, Op. 3
Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 1847)
String Quartet in F major, Op.18, No. 1
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)
Camera Lucida is a chamber music collaboration between four musicians with diverse backgrounds. Created by a generous gift from the Sam B. Ersan Chamber Music Fund, Camera Lucida is a unique project matching masterpieces of the chamber music repertoire with a group of world-class instrumentalists who happen to call San Diego home.
Under the artistic directorship of UC San Diego professor and cellist Charles Curtis and anchored by regular featured performances by San Diego Symphony Concertmaster Jeff Thayer, Formosa Quartet violist and USC professor Che-Yen Chen, concert pianist Reiko Uchida, UC San Diego performance faculty and occasional guests, Camera Lucida has established a tradition of challenging, musically ambitious programs performed with the assurance of an established ensemble, with the added flexibility of changing instrumentation and guests from the international chamber music world.
Called by ArtForum "one of the great cellists" Charles Curtis has woven a unique career through the worlds of classical performance and musical experimentation. A student of Harvey Shapiro and Leonard Rose at Juilliard and the recipient of the Piatigorsky Prize, upon graduation Curtis was appointed to the faculty of Princeton University. Subsequently he was Principal Cellist of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, where he appeared as soloist with conductors such as Herbert Blomstedt, André Previn, Günter Wand, John Eliot Gardiner and Christoph Eschenbach. Curtis has been guest soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, National Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Janacek Philharmonic, Orquestra de la Maggio Musicale Florence, and orchestras in Brazil and Chile, among many others.
Curtis has enjoyed a distinguished and extensive chamber music career. At the age of nineteen he performed the Tchaikovsky Trio with Oscar Shumsky and Earl Wild at Carnegie Hall, the live recording of which is now available on the Ivory Classics label. As cellist of the Ridge String Quartet he toured Europe, Japan and North America, including numerous concerts with Rudolf Firkusny as guest pianist. A guest at many prominent festivals including Marlboro, Ravinia, Wolf Trap, La Jolla and Schleswig Holstein, Curtis was featured as continuo soloist on Kathleen Battle's album "Grace" for Sony Classical, and toured with Miss Battle and Anthony Newman performing Purcell, Dowland, Handel and Bach. The cultivation of the art of chamber music as an intellectual history of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is at the heart of the project Camera Lucida, an ensemble and concert series of which Curtis is Artistic Director.
Taiwanese-American violist Che-Yen Chen has established himself as an active performer and is a founding member of the Formosa Quartet, recipient of the First-Prize and the Amadeus Prize winner of the 10th London International String Quartet Competition. Since winning First-Prize in the 2003 Primrose International Viola Competition and the "President Prize" of the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, Chen has been described by the Strad Magazine as a musician whose “tonal distinction and essential musicality produced an auspicious impression” and by San Diego Union Tribune as an artist whose "most impressive aspect of his playing was his ability to find not just the subtle emotion, but the humanity hidden in the music."
Having served as principal violist of the San Diego Symphony for eight seasons, Chen is principal violist of the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and has appeared as guest principal with Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra. A former member of Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society Two and participant of the Marlboro Music Festival, he is also a member of Camera Lucida and The Myriad Trio. Chamber music festival appearances include the Kingston Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music International, La Jolla Summerfest, Seattle Chamber Music Society, Taiwan Connection, and National Youth Orchestra of Canada where the Formosa Quartet serves as faculty quartet-in-residence. In August 2013, the Quartet inaugurated its annual Formosa Chamber Music Festival (FCMF) in Hualien, Taiwan. Modeled after American summer festivals such as Ravinia, Taos, Marlboro, and Kneisel Hall, FCMF is the product of a long-held aspiration and represents one of the quartet's more important missions: to bring high-level chamber music training to talented young musicians; to champion Taiwanese and Chinese music; and to bring first-rate chamber music to Taiwanese audiences.
Currently teaching at University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, Chen has previously served on the faculties of Indiana University South Bend, UC San Diego, San Diego State University, California State University-Fullerton, and McGill University. He has participated in educational programs such as National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra Camp, Interlochen, and Mimir Festival, and has given master-classes across USA and Asia, including schools such as Taipei National University of the Arts, National Taiwan University of Arts, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and The Juilliard School. As a laureate, Chen was invited to serve on the jury of the 2011 Primrose International Viola Competition.
A native of Taipei, Chen began his viola study with Ben Lin and went on to be a four-time winner of the National Viola Competition in Taiwan. He came to the U.S. in his teens to matriculate at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School, studying with such luminaries as Michael Tree, Joseph de Pasquale, Karen Tuttle and Paul Neubauer.
Violinist Jeff Thayer holds the Deborah Pate and John Forrest Concertmaster Chair of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Thayer is also a founding member of the Camera Lucida chamber music ensemble, in residence at UCSD’s Conrad Prebys Music Center. Previous positions include assistant concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, associate concertmaster of the North Carolina Symphony and concertmaster of the Canton (OH) Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Thayer was also formerly on the violin faculty of the Music Academy of the West where he also served as concertmaster for 13 years. He is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division. His teachers include William Preucil, Donald Weilerstein, Zvi Zeitlin and Dorothy DeLay.
A native of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Mr. Thayer began violin lessons with his mother at the age of three. At 14 he studied for a year at the Conservatorio Superior in Cordoba, Spain. He has appeared as soloist with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Jupiter Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Canton Symphony Orchestra, the Pierre Monteux School Festival Orchestra, the Spartanburg Philharmonic, the Cleveland Institute of Music Symphony Orchestra, The Music Academy of the West Festival Orchestra, the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, the Nittany Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Conservatory Orchestra of Cordoba, among others. He attended Keshet Eilon (Israel), Ernen Musikdorf (Switzerland), Music Academy of the West, Aspen, New York String Orchestra Seminar, the Quartet Program, and as the 1992 Pennsylvania Governor Scholar, Interlochen Arts Camp. Other festivals include the Grand Teton Music Festival, Astoria Music Festival, Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla SummerFest, Mainly Mozart Festival (San Diego), Festival der Zukunft and the Tibor Varga Festival (Switzerland).
Mr. Thayer’s awards include the Stephen Hahn/Lillybelle Foundation Award in Violin from the Music Academy of the West, the Starling Foundation Award, the George Eastman Scholarship and the Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. Mr. Thayer was a laureate of the Wieniawski Violin Competition (2001) as well as winner of various competitions, including the Tuesday Musical Club Scholarship Auditions in Akron, OH (2000), the Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition (1999), the Fort Collins Symphony Young Artist Competition (1999), the American String Teacher’s Association Competition in Pennsylvania and Delaware (1997), the Gladys Comstock Summer Scholarship Competition (1993), the Ithaca College Solo Competition and the Phyllis Triolo Competition (1992).
Through a generous loan from Joan and Irwin Jacobs and the Jacobs' Family Trust, Jeff Thayer performs on the 1708 "Sir Bagshawe" Stradivarius.
Pianist Reiko Uchida is recognized as one of the finest, most versatile pianists on the scene today. First prize winner of the Joanna Hodges Piano Competition, Ms. Uchida has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Curtis Institute, and the Santa Fe Symphony, among others. Ms. Uchida made her New York solo debut in 2001 at Carnegie's Weill Hall under the auspices of the Abby Whiteside Foundation. She has performed solo and chamber music concerts throughout the world, including the United States, Japan, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Finland, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic, in venues including Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd Street Y, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kennedy Center, the White House, and Suntory Hall in Tokyo. Her festival appearances include Spoleto, Tanglewood, Santa Fe, Marlboro, and the Laurel Festival of the Arts.
As a chamber musician, she was one of the first pianists selected for Chamber Music Society Two, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's program for outstanding emerging artists. She has been a recital partner for Jennifer Koh, David Shifrin, Jaime Laredo, and Sharon Robinson, with whom she performed the complete works of Beethoven for cello and piano. She has also collaborated with the Borromeo and Tokyo String Quartets. She is a member of the Laurel Trio, and the Moebius Ensemble, a group specializing in 20th century music in residence at Columbia University.
Ms. Uchida holds a Bachelor's degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Claude Frank and Leon Fleisher, a Master's degree from the Mannes College of Music, and an Artist Diploma from the Juilliard School. She currently resides in New York City where she is an associate faculty member at Columbia University.
Clarinetist Anthony McGill is one of classical music’s most recognizable and brilliantly multifaceted figures. He serves as the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic — that orchestra’s first African-American principal player — and maintains a dynamic international solo and chamber music career. Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (The New York Times), as well as for his “exquisite combination of technical refinement and expressive radiance” (The Baltimore Sun), McGill also serves as an ardent advocate for helping music education reach underserved communities and for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music. McGill was honored to take part in the inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams and performing alongside violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and pianist Gabriela Montero.
McGill’s 2018-19 season includes performances of concertos by Bolcom, Copland, Mozart, and Strauss with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Tallahassee Symphony, Vermont Symphony, and Austin Symphonic Band. He will also collaborate together with soprano Miah Persson in a performance of Schubert’s “The Shepherd on the Rock” together with Iván Fischer and the New York Philharmonic. Additional performances include a collaboration with the Dover Quartet for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and a recital with soprano Julia Bullock for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, along with collaborations with the Brentano Quartet for Princeton University and a tour of Asia with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
McGill appears regularly as a soloist with top orchestras around North America including the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Baltimore Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and Kansas City Symphony. As a chamber musician, McGill is a favorite collaborator of the Brentano, Daedalus, Guarneri, JACK, Miró, Pacifica, Shanghai, Takacs, and Tokyo Quartets, as well as Emanuel Ax, Inon Barnatan, Gloria Chien, Yefim Bronfman, Gil Shaham, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida, and Lang Lang. He has led tours with Musicians from Marlboro and regularly performs for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Festival appearances include Tanglewood, Marlboro, Mainly Mozart, Music@Menlo, and the Santa Fe, Seattle, and Skaneateles Chamber Music Festivals.
In January 2015, McGill recorded the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto together with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, which was released on DaCapo Records. He also recorded an album together with his brother Demarre McGill, principal flute of the Seattle Symphony, and pianist Michael McHale; and one featuring the Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintet with the Pacifica Quartet that were both released by Cedille Records.
A dedicated champion of new music, in 2014, McGill premiered a new piece written for him by Richard Danielpour entitled “From the Mountaintop” that was commissioned by the New Jersey Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, and Orchestra 2001. McGill served as the 2015-16 Artist-in-Residence for WQXR and has appeared on Performance Today, MPR’s St. Paul Sunday Morning, and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. In 2013, McGill appeared on the NBC Nightly News and on MSNBC, in stories highlighting the McGill brothers’ inspirational story.
A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, McGill previously served as the principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera and associate principal clarinet of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In-demand as a teacher, he serves on the faculty of the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, and Bard College’s Conservatory of Music. He also serves as the Artistic Advisor for the Music Advancement Program at the Juilliard School, on the Board of Directors for both the League of American Orchestra and the Harmony Program, and the advisory council for the InterSchool Orchestras of New York.