Orchestra Camp Returns to Lineup of Summer Activities

An orchestra camp has returned to the list of the many summer activities available at DMPS.

An orchestra camp has returned to the list of the many summer activities available at DMPS.

Basketballs could be heard thumping out a rhythm in the gym. The office was staffed and humming. Scattered elsewhere in the building were summer school students, learning. But most of the music at North High School on Tuesday morning was being made in the backstage bowels of the auditorium where a resurrection has been happening. After a 10-year hiatus the district’s summer orchestra camp intermission is over!

Cindy Prior, who covers a lot of ground as the orchestra maestro for the North and East feeder patterns during the school year, is glad to be directing the camp.

“I’m not sure why it stopped,” she said during a break this morning. “I think we just ran into problems with staff availability one summer, but this year we were determined that it was time to bring it back.”

The camp is running simultaneously with the longstanding summer band camp, now in its 24th consecutive year, which is being held at Roosevelt High School. The band camp annually draws between 150-200 students, partly because it gets returnees back for encores. According to Prior, this year’s restart of the orchestra camp includes 60+ campers who have been at it every morning since June 13 working toward their culminating concert on Thursday evening in the North auditorium.

“That’s pretty good for the first year back in action,” she said. “Next summer there will be more.”

Prior was attached to the 5th and 6th grade strings while other camp staff worked with the 7th and 8th graders Tuesday morning. Her bow brigade was polishing a suite consisting of Salsa Fest, Rustic Dance and Bohemian Stomp for Thursday night’s show.

“We will not get every note, but will we ever give up?”


And away they went.

In the back was Kaleb, a stout kid with rumpled hair, a Superman t-shirt and flip-flops. He was working a big bass but was not overmatched. Alternately he sawed with his bow and plucked with his fingers, a technique that he explained is called pizzicato. Not to be confused with the pizza that was coming for lunch.

When the morning rehearsal was complete Kaleb and company filed into the auditorium and became an audience for the day’s sneak preview of what might be in store for those who stick with it. Guest artists have been coming in to offer glimpses of what’s possible and Tuesday’s was Joe Wandro, a former all-state orchestral student at Roosevelt who’s now a music performance major at Butler University and happens to be a bassist.

He played a couple of classical pieces (“Here’s a little bit of Schubert,” he said, as though serving up a scoop of sherbet) before taking some questions from the novices who are just getting started at about the same age he did. Wandro talked about how much he practices (2-4 hours a day), calloused fingers and why he chose to play the bass.

“My big sisters played the cello and the viola,” he said, “so I wanted to choose something bigger.”

“You mean you chose that instrument just to make your sisters jealous?” a girl asked.

It doesn’t matter what your reason is for making music. So long as you have one and you make some.

Welcome back, orchestra camp!

Photos from the DMPS Summer Orchestra Camp

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