Camerata Pacifica Receives Largest-Ever Gift, Windfall from Music Sale

Camerata Pacifica Receives Largest-Ever Gift, Windfall from Music Sale
Camerata Pacifica

Camerata Pacifica chamber orchestra has announced a $1.25 million bequest from Santa Barbara resident Bernard Gondos, a pathologist, amateur violinist and longtime Camerata supporter who died in January.

The bequest represents Camerata’s largest gift of any kind to date, said Camerata Artistic Director and principal flute player Adrian Spence. The orchestra received its first payment from the gift last week.

Based in Santa Barbara, Camerata Pacifica, now in its 28th season, performs regularly at downtown Colburn School’s Zipper Hall, the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, and locations in the cities of Ventura and Santa Barbara.

The gift follows other good news from the sale of a donator’s present: An autographed, complete work of Béla Bartók’s Second Rhapsody for Violin, written for Hungarian violinist Zoltán Székely, as well as more than 40 letters between the composer and the violinist, sold for more than $400,000 as part of Sotheby’s Nov. 28 music manuscript sale in London, bringing the total in new funding to nearly $1.7 million.

Both the manuscript and the letters were gifted to the orchestra from a relative of Székely’s who lives in Oxnard and has been a patron of Camerata for more than 20 years. The gift came with the instructions to sell both, with proceeds to benefit the ensemble.

Spence said the bequest and the sale will go a long way toward stabilizing orchestra finances. The organization’s $1.45 million annual operating budget was cut to $775,000 during the 2008 recession, and grew to $1 million in 2016. The new funds will allow for a $1.2 million budget in 2018, as well as the ability to add two staff positions.

“When it rains, it pours,” Spence said.

Media and entertainment reporter Diane Haithman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @dhaithman.

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