Camerata Philadelphia is an ensemble I had heard very little about in my years living in Pennsylvania. I had mostly assumed that it was a part of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia or, at least, played similar repertoire. In fact, it is a much smaller organization with a more of a focus on string orchestra repertoire than chamber symphonies. Camerata Philadelphia is conducted and assembled by Stephen Framil, a well-traveled cellist who performs classical music as well as jazz and more eclectic genres, and this Camerata’s mission is to make the experience of great music accessible to all.
After a bit of gig shuffling, I was happy to be able to accept a call to play with this ensemble for their concert last Saturday. On the program were Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No. 5 in Bb, Dvořák’s Serendade for Strings, and a work by contemporary composer Stanley Grill called Meditations for String Orchestra. Our concertmaster, Luigi Mazzocchi also joined the maestro in a performance of Duo for Violin & Cello, Op. 7 by Zoltán Kodály.
Not much explanation was given for the eclectic programming, but it seemed like much about this concert was put together quickly. Though both the Mendelssohn and Dvořák were familiar works for me, the first — and only — rehearsal was unnecessarily stressful since we received seating upon arrival and had to wrestle with unmarked parts. Luigi did his best to jot in bowings when he could, but I felt uncomfortable being so unprepared as a principal 2nd violinist having to defer to an evolving 1st violin part. The majority of music was marked by the end of that rehearsal, but since it ended late on Friday night, there wasn’t much time to let it “sink in” before the sound check on Saturday morning. Things were cleaner by Saturday night, our second performance in the McInnis Auditorium at Eastern University, but most of us left even that one feeling defeated.
I’m not very proud of the product here, but it still might be worth viewing if you want to get an idea of what can be accomplished — if even a small amount — in a short time frame: