Elias String Quartet is one of the many offerings Da Camera will bring this season.EXPAND
Elias String Quartet is one of the many offerings Da Camera will bring this season.
Photo courtesy of the Elias String Quartet.

Something Old, Something New With Da Camera's 2018/19 Season [UPDATED]

Updated 4:11 a.m. / Thursday, Oct. 4: Da Camera announced that its Jazz Series will open with a performance by DeJohnette*Coltrane*Garrison—a trio led by Jack DeJohnette, NEA Jazz Master and Grammy Award-winning drummer—at the Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center, on Saturday, November 3, 2018, at 8 p.m. Dr. Lonnie Smith, who was originally scheduled to perform on this date, was forced to withdraw due to illness."

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Variety is the spice of life, and that sentiment rings ever so true with the upcoming season for Da Camera. Entering the 2018-2019 arts season, Da Camera is marking the year with a little something old, a little something new, and a 25th anniversary of Artistic Director Sarah Rothenberg.

"I think it's remarkable for this day and age for anyone to have that kind of commitment and relationship with one organization. She has put Da Camera on the map," said Toni Capra, executive director. "Through her vision and ability to market, it's brought in the best jazz and chamber musicians. It doesn't get much better than that in terms of style of music. Her having a 25-year tenure is a wonderful celebration."

Fittingly so, the group is kicking off the season featuring Rothenberg as a guest performer. Take note: This. Does. Not. Normally. Happen. Artistic directors typically remain behind the curtain - yet when you're good, you're good, and there's no need to hide that talent under a bush. Speaking of "good," Rothenberg will tickle the ivory keys alongside Richard Goode, who is mentioned by the Washington Post as one of the finest pianists in the world. And that's just the beginning. It's a bold start to a season that just keeps getting stronger.

This season marks the triumphant return of the organization to the Wortham Center, which remained closed for the last year in the aftermath of Harvey. The season crescendos from there.

"We're very much looking forward to being back in our home in the Wortham Center. We're reopening the Cullen Theater — it will be the first performance since Harvey. It's a homecoming, and we're opening the season on such a strong note. We're celebrating Da Camera and our colleagues who perform there," Capra said.

Among the highlights are a new production of Vienna 1900: In the Garden of Dreams, which will take the audience inside an imagined Viennese music room where a sole pianist playing Brahms' last works gradually transforms into fellow composer Schoenberg's The Book of the Hanging Gardens.

"This is one of Sarah’s dream projects. It’s something that debuted years ago, and this will be a reconceived production of it. It’s immersive. There’s visuals, vocal music, dialogue, the artwork of Gustav Klimt," Capra said. "I think its one of those things where you have to see it to better explain it, but it’s going to stimulate all of the senses in one night."

Capra mentions a few other performances to keep an eye on.

"The Russian Renaissance won the M-Prize competition [which is the largest prize for chamber music in the world]. We’re so excited to present them. They’re super unique and like nothing else anyone in the city will be presenting this year. Aaron Diehl has had a great career as a classical pianist, and he’ll be doing a blues performance for us. He has the ability to engage with the audience unlike anyone. Sarah’s performance of In the Garden of Dreams is a must-see. This is also the Houston debut of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet. It will be beautiful and special," she said.

In terms of overall planning, Da Camera offers a little bit of something for everyone's musical palate.

"If you are a lifelong music lover, there’s something for you, or if you’re new to Houston or the arts, there’s enough to whet your appetite and pique your interest," Capra said.

Russian Renaissance is one of the highlights of Da Camera's 2018/19 season.EXPAND
Russian Renaissance is one of the highlights of Da Camera's 2018/19 season.
Photo courtesy of Russian Renaissance.

Here's the rundown of the whopping 17 different presentations Da Camera will showcase this season:

  • Opening Night, Richard Goode, Piano
    8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29
    Cullen Theater, Wortham Center
  • Blues and the Spanish Tinge: Aaron Diehl, Piano
    7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12
    Zilkha Hall, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
  • Russian Renaissance
    7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23
    Stude Concert Hall, Shepherd School of Music, Rice University
  • Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio
    8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3
    Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center
  • Danish String Quartet
    7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 13
    The Menil Collection
  • Pedrito Martinez Group
    8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1
    Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center
  • Jazzmeia Horn Septet
    8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 19
    Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center
  • Vienna 1900: In the Garden of Dreams
    7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb.1 and Saturday, Feb. 2
    Zilkha Hall, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
  • Chucho Valdés - Jazz Batá
    8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8
    Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center
  • Tous les Matins du Monde, Jordi Savait and Le Concert des Nations (co-presentation with Houston Early Music)
    8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8
    Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center
  • Elias String Quartet
    7:30 p.m., Monday, March 18 and Tuesday, March 19
    The Menil Collection
  • Mark Guillana Jazz Quartet
    8 p.m., Saturday, March 23
    Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center
  • New York Philharmonic String Quartet
    7:30 p.m., Friday, March 29
    Zilkha Hall, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
  • The Veil of Orpheus: Cy Twombly and Music
    7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 2
    The Menil Collection
  • Dave Douglass: Dizzy Atmosphere, Dizzy Gillespie at Zero Gravity
    8 p.m. Friday, April 12
    Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center
  • Ashberyana: A Musical Celebration of Poet John Ashbery
    7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 30
    The Menil Collection
  • Weinberg and Mendelssohn, Daedalus Quartet, Brentano Quartet and Sarah Rothenberg
    8 p.m. Friday, May 10
    Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center
Aaron Diehl will explore the early evolution of American piano and the essential ingredients in the creation of jazz.EXPAND
Aaron Diehl will explore the early evolution of American piano and the essential ingredients in the creation of jazz.
Photo by John Abbott.

In case the purse strings are drawn a little tight, Da Camera does their part to make art accessible - all at an unbeatable price. The group is reviving A Little Day Music, a series of free concerts presented at noon on the first Wednesday of the month in the Grand Foyer of the Wortham Center. It features a variety of chamber music and jazz, presented in an accessible one-hour concert format. Audiences are invited to enjoy their lunch while listening to the music.

Come April, they will perform multiple times at Discovery Green as part of Jazz Appreciation Month.

Season subscriptions range from $198 to $630. For information or to buy tickets, visit dacamera.com.

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