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Camera Lucida Music Series Returns with Support from Local Patron Sam Ersan

San Diego music enthusiast gives additional $53,000 to support chamber music at UC San Diego


  • Kristin Luciani

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  • Kristin Luciani

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Charles Curtis

Cellist Charles Curtis of the UC San Diego Department of Music is the artistic director of Camera Lucida. Photos/Erik Jepsen

San Diego’s original chamber music series Camera Lucida returns for its fourth season, offering concerts ranging from lesser-known masterpieces to familiar landmarks of the chamber music repertoire. The one-of-a-kind series brings together renowned faculty from the University of California, San Diego, exceptional soloists from the San Diego Symphony and special guests from the international chamber music scene. From October 2011 through June 2012, Camera Lucida presents nine concerts in the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall on the UC San Diego campus.

Camera Lucida is made possible by the generosity of UC San Diego music patron Sam Ersan. A lifelong music lover, Ersan attended his first classical concert at age 10. Today, the founder and CEO of Spectrum Detention Services is an enthusiastic patron of classical music in San Diego. Since establishing the Sam B. Ersan Chamber Music Fund in 2008, Ersan has given $840,000 to help support Camera Lucida and other programs offered through UC San Diego’s Department of Music.

“My interest in supporting chamber music at UC San Diego is to create a musical activity that the campus and San Diego community can be proud of,” said Ersan, “as well as to provide additional opportunities for performances by San Diego Symphony musicians.”

One of the features that distinguishes the Camera Lucida series is that it showcases San Diego’s own extraordinary musicians. Audiences experience local talent as they perform fresh interpretations of classical pieces, all in the intimate setting of the acoustically-superb Conrad Prebys Concert Hall.   

“In the San Diego classical music landscape, there is a sense that high-level performances of chamber music are an imported good, and that for great concerts musicians must be brought in from Europe or the East Coast,” said cellist Charles Curtis, artistic director of Camera Lucida and UC San Diego professor of music. “We are a homegrown group, and I’d like to think we’re as good as the imports.”

Che-Yen Chen

Principal violist Che-Yen "Brian" Chen of the San Diego Symphony.

The core performers of Camera Lucida include Curtis, San Diego Symphony concertmaster Jeff Thayer and principal violist Che-Yen Chen. Now in its fourth season, this core group has developed cohesiveness and precision that is complemented by the wide variety of guest instrumentation and the high-quality acoustics of the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall. 

Curtis added, “The local community has been very supportive. KPBS broadcasts each one of our performances and we’ve earned a base of loyal audience members. And of course, we’re very fortunate to have the extraordinary generosity of one man, Sam Ersan, whose passion for chamber music enables us to put on this series each year.”

The fourth season of Camera Lucida features works spanning from the High Baroque period to the middle of the twentieth century. Upcoming performances include a trio of sonatas by Stravinsky and Debussy on Oct. 24 and pieces by Zelenka, Shostakovich and Dohnanyi on Nov. 7. For the complete concert schedule and ticket information visit: Recordings of each concert will be broadcast on KPBS-FM (89.5 or streaming at on the second Saturday following each concert at 8 p.m.

For more information about supporting UC San Diego’s Department of Music, including the New Music Society, where patrons get access to VIP behind the scenes events, call (858) 534-9050 or visit

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