Ahmed Alabaca's "Unbreakable" Featuring Delphi Trio
And Clarice Assad's "A Story of Mermaids"

An exclusive interview By:  Iride Aparicio

Photos courtesy. S.J. Chamber Orchestra/Teresa Tam

SILICON VALLEY, CA-- With Beethoven's Triple Concerto and the world Premiers of "Unbreakable" and "A Story of Mermaids" the first concert of the 30th Anniversary Season of San José Chamber Orchestra, scheduled for Sunday March 20th at St. Francis Episcopal Church located at 1205 Pine Avenue in San José, promises to be unequal. And to make our readership aware of the uniqueness of this event, Cultural World Bilingual interviewed Maestra Barbara Davis Turner, who as the founder of the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, commissioned and selected the works and will be conducting them at the concert. Starting our interview she tells us:

"I can say that I have been a very lucky person, because I have been able to have a career basically of my own making. I have had times that I spent conducting Musical Theatre and conducting operas, and since I founded the San José Chamber Orchestra, working with small orchestral works for thirty years. In all those areas, I also have been able to pursue my passion, music, and also help composers get their new works written and out into the public, and helping people understand that even when all of us enjoy music, being a musician, is a real job."

She pauses before adding, "I tell you this because when I mention I am a musician, people will ask me questions such as "But, What is your real job, Barbara?" Being a musician is "A real job. and I don't mean to say that you feel or appreciate the music less, because you are being paid to play it."

C.W.B. I know what you mean. Music is an Art, but like mathematics, it is difficult and requires many years to learn. What attracted you to music, Barbara?
B.D.T. "I intended to be a doctor, and by the age of seven I have settled on the idea to be a brain surgeon. But, when I was in the sixth grade, my mother sent me to a Summer School and the only class that was still open was a music class, so, I was enrolled in the music class and after listening to music, which I had, because my mother played the violin, I became interested in music and got my parents to rent me a piano. I got piano lessons and continued playing through Hi-School, where I joined a chorus and then a little orchestra. So, When it was time for me to go to college, a friend got me to audition to be a Music Major and since I had five years of music behind me, I audition to USC as a Science/Music double major student, but after a while, I decided that my double Major was not working, so, I chose Music because it was much harder for me, than the science courses. Years later, when I checked where all the theater and the stuff I have done at High School had leaded me. I discovered it had led me to very interesting places.

C.W.B.  Your Bio indicates that you are interested in "Contemporary music." What is your definition of "Contemporary Music?"
B.D.T. " I would say that Contemporary Music" for me, is music written by people who are alive today within the classical construct" because my particular passion and the one of all of my musicians is Chamber Music.



C.W.B.  As the founder and Music director of the San José Chamber Orchestra, Barbara, what is your definition of Chamber music?

B.D.T. "The term "Chamber Music" usually applies to a small group of musicians playing together without a conductor. Like a string quartet or sextet, but a Chamber Orchestra usually applies to an orchestra that it is smaller than a Symphonic orchestra, so it is more intimate. Under this classification, also comes the a-la-carte orchestra which is an orchestra that may play strings only, or strings with percussion and even harp. There is a lot of repertoire written for Strings with percussion and harp. So inside all those categories there is a lot of range, but what we do is commission pieces which fit the Chamber Orchestra and try to create concerts that feel like a story. We are committed to the idea that the way a person experiences a new piece that he/she never heard, particularly in the classical context, the piece must fit what they have heard before, and what they will hear after. So, when we hold rehearsals I end up changing the order of pieces in the program because I do not feel that they are right. I tried to present the music as it is intended so that it can create an emotional experience.

C.W.B. And to end our interview, Barbara, could you tell us something about the two premiers in you coming concert?
B.D.T. "For people sitting on the seats, that the concert will be over an hour long, and that the hall has comfortable chairs. There are three pieces on the program, which is call "UNBREAKABLE" which is also the title of the first piece. The piece was written by a young composer,  Ahmed Alabaca, and it is part of a series of works which we commissioned from composers, that we worked with before. We asked them  to write a seven to eight minutes long piece, to be put into music,(based on ) their reactions to all the "crappy"  stuff that happened during 2020, either the Pandemic or the political situation in the country. To compose whatever they wished, there were no restrictions. Alabaca's piece is about that no matter what we had thrown at us, we, as a people, are essentially unbreakable.  

A separate project was the Dolphi Trio, which was so spectacular that it Initiated a Commissioning project to have a triple concerto written, to go on the same program as the Beethoven's Triple Concerto. So, "The Story of Mermaids" is a new Triple Concerto by Clarisse Assad, an spectacular Brazilian-American composer with her roots in both Jazz and Classical music, was written to be pair together (played in the same concert that Beethoven's Triple Concert) but one after the other. Assad's triple concerto has winds and bass and very interesting percussion, including Ocean drums. I am very excited about it ".

THE SAN JOSÉ CHAMBER ORCHESTRA CONCERT WILL BE HELD AT THE ST. FRANCIS EPISCOPAL CHURCH 1205 Pine Avenue, San José, CA 95125, on Sunday March 20, at 7:00 PM. For tickets you can call 408 295 4416 or order them online at: . Prices are Adult $50, Senior (62 and older ) $45, and Students $15