Long Beach Camerata Singers
Long Beach Camerata Singers was founded in 1966 by Frank Allen as the Vocal Arts Ensemble and served as the resident chorus for the Long Beach Bach Festival, which he founded in 1975. In 1983, Dr. David Wilson, a professor of choral music at USC, succeeded Frank Allen and led the choir for over twenty years, expanding the Camerata Singers’ repertoire and choosing its name. Under his baton, the chorus toured Europe in 1999 and 2005. CSULB choral director Dr. Jonathan Talberg was appointed artistic director in 2005. He added a core of professional singers to the ranks and led a second European tour in 2006. From 2009 to 2017 Dr. Robert Istad, director of choral studies at CSU Fullerton, led the choir as its artistic director, expanding the auditioned ensemble to 90 voices and raising the group to the professional-quality level for which it is known today. Dr. James K. Bass joined the organization in 2017, bringing new partnerships with his position as director of choral studies at UCLA and associate conductor of the Miami-based professional chamber choir, Seraphic Fire.
In 2015 the choir established an artistic partnership with the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra to serve as its official chorus. Long Beach Camerata Singers also performs regularly with other arts organizations, including Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony, Long Beach Opera, Long Beach Youth Chorus, and the South Bay Children’s Chorale.
Currently in its 57th season, the Long Beach Camerata Singers offers the Peace Project in the fall, performances of Handel’s Messiah in December, a masterwork concert in the spring for ChoralFest Long Beach, closing the season with June’s Evening of Song showcase event. In the current season LBCS will perform twice with the Long Beach Symphony, both for Holiday Pops concert and a March performance of Carmina Burana.
In November, 2022, Camerata’s new all-professional group, The Catalyst Chamber Ensemble, will present its inaugural concert with a performance of Considering Matthew Shepard. Catalyst will present a spring recital featuring an a cappella concert entitled “From Spain to the New World.”
LBCS offers three education programs. The Camerata Children’s Music Academy provides fundamental music education for 2 to 5 year old children at Young Horizons Child Development Centers, a state sponsored child care facility for economically-challenged children with 5 locations. Peace4Youth brings the Peace Project to LBUSD middle schools, where the choral students perform for their peers along with Camerata singers. The Choral Scholars initiative offers paid internships to promising choral students enrolled at local colleges to sing with the chorus as members of the professional core.
During the Covid Pandemic, LBCS presented quartets in free, outdoor, socially-distanced concerts at private homes throughout Long Beach, allowing patrons an opportunity to enjoy live music at a critical time of need. These initial, casual concerts turned into a 30-concert series called the Front Porch Concerts in the 2020-2021 hiatus season. The popularity of the program resulted in a new summer program that is presented annually in June and July.