To inspire individuals and enrich communities through diverse and inventive musical experiences
Lives changed through music
We value and nurture rich and often unexpected connections among musical genres, art forms, and ideas; between people and places; between the past and the present.
We believe that openness to new experiences and enthusiasm for learning are vital to human experience. At the vanguard of arts organizations, we continually evolve our
ways of presenting to combine an unusual mix of in-depth exploration and accessibility.
DACAMERA has become synonymous with quality; the common denominator of our diverse activities, on stage and in the community, is excellence.
Now in its 34th season, DACAMERA is a vital organization and a national leader in the world of chamber music and jazz. DACAMERA is widely acclaimed for its innovative programming, notably Artistic Director Sarah Rothenberg’s unique concerts connecting music with literature and the visual arts, as well as for its jazz series, featuring a distinctive mix of renowned performers and emerging artists.
DACAMERA takes its name from the Italian phrase musica dacamera, which literally means “music of the room” or “chamber music,” and refers to smaller ensemble music with one musician on a part, usually performed without conductor. Each season, DACAMERA’s artist roster includes over 60 musicians, representing distinguished performers from around the world and outstanding musicians based in Houston, who perform at the Wortham Theater Center, the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts and The Menil Collection in a subscription series of curated programs. Enjoying a 34-year partnership with The Menil Collection, DACAMERA’s concerts at the museum feature special programs created for the exhibits, free family events and community residency activities. As a member of Theater District Houston, DACAMERA is recognized, along with the Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera, as one of the city’s major performing arts organizations.
DACAMERA’s goals include connecting music to other art forms; expanding the awareness of American music through the presentation of jazz and the commissioning of new compositions; and developing partnerships with a wide range of cultural institutions locally, nationally and internationally. DACAMERA has been involved in the commissioning of over 25 new works by some of the nation’s leading composers. Recent commissions include Erik Ulman’s Pan, Tobias Picker’s Piano Quintet “Live Oaks,” Vijay Iyer’s Piano Quintet, and Kaija Saariaho’s Sombre.
DACAMERA was invited to present Marcel Proust’s Paris, the first of its Music and the Literary Imagination programs created by Sarah Rothenberg, at New York’s Great Performers at Lincoln Center series in 1995; the success resulted in a Lincoln Center series for the next four years, as well as the co-commissioning of Moondrunk, a chamber music/dance theater piece which was hailed in New York as “the birth of a new genre.” DACAMERA programs have also traveled to Washington’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, London’s Barbican Centre and to other prestigious concert series and festivals in the U.S., Mexico and Europe. DACAMERA’s most recent production, A Proust Sonata, had its premiere in 2016 at Houston’s Wortham Theater Center and its New York premiere in 2018. In 2014, DACAMERA launched the Jason Moran Homecoming Residency, with the acclaimed Houston-native jazz pianist and composer, which included the world premiere of The Rauschenberg Project: Holed Up.
2015 saw the release of two major recordings: DACAMERA’s unique Music for Rothko Chapel program featuring Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel and works of Satie and John Cage, on the prestigious ECM label; and an all-Kaija Saariaho disc on Ondine featuring the DACAMERA-commissioned Sombre. Previous recordings include Heartsounds: The Chamber Music of George Tsontakis on Koch and chamber works by Charles Wuorinen, including the DACAMERA-commissioned Ashberyana, on Naxos. Another DACAMERA commission, Tobias Picker’s Quintet, performed by Sarah Rothenberg and the Brentano String Quartet, appears on the 2014 CD Invisible Lilacs on Tzadik.
In 2009, DACAMERA launched the Young Artist Program, a professional development program for instrumentalists, singers and composers. Providing career-expanding experiences and training to the next generation of artists, the Young Artist Program encourages them to advocate for music in the community throughout their careers. DACAMERA Young Artists form the core artist-teachers who lead DACAMERA’s innovative Music Encounters in classrooms throughout Houston.
The recipient of numerous awards, DACAMERA was awarded three of the National Endowment for the Arts’ coveted American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius grants. A three-time winner of Chamber Music America/ASCAP’s Adventurous Programming Award, in 2007 DACAMERA was chosen by its peers to receive the CMAcclaim National Award in recognition of the organization’s “significant and lasting contribution to the cultural life of its region.” Critically acclaimed by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Chamber Music, Time Out/New York, Inside Arts and The Washington Post, DACAMERA has been described by the Houston Chronicle as “a Houston gem with a unique niche in the city’s milieu of performing arts.” DACAMERA’s 20/21 virtual programming was described by The New Yorker “an online season that stands apart from the virtual crowd.”