Local News

7/9/2013

Youth attend music camp

By SARAH LUNDGREN The Brunswick News

Clutching her violin in one hand and bow in the other, Stephenie Powell stared intently at her conductor, Maestro Luis Haza. As the rising senior and her violin joined with 53 other orchestra students, a melody carried across the College of Coastal Georgia gymnasium.

Stephenie is one of 54 students, in grades eight through 12, at the Coastal Youth Symphony summer music camp, hoping to again join the symphony this year. Even as a symphony member since eighth grade, Stephenie, along with the other young musicians, must re-audition following the week-long camp.

"I see Maestro Haza every Monday with our lessons (during the school year), but it's different to see the students he has worked with who are now teachers," she said of the staff that helps during the camp.

"You learn to be more of a sponge, instead of set in your ways; you'll take one thing from one teacher and something from another."

Many of the graduates of the youth symphony return from college to help, joined by professional musicians.

As the students continued to play Monday afternoon, youth symphony president Barbara Sullivan sat behind them, beaming with pride. While she was impressed with the caliber of staff Haza has continued to attract, she was just as impressed with the students.

The members of the symphony pay $60 to participate in the camp, and the rest is paid for by donors. "It's an amazing gift these kids have, and paying for something like this is an investment," Sullivan said.

In the student activities center at the college, the primary strings camp for future hopefuls for the Coastal Youth Symphony was practicing. Led by director Crystal Murphy, the 22 children, in grades four through eight, will work through the week on building skills.

Jo Anne Davis, a youth symphony board member, was on hand for the primary groups lessons. Davis is thankful for the program, which gives many students a chance to delve deeper into beginning lessons that are being removed from many schools in the United States.

"The other great thing is that these kids, between the primary strings and the Coastal Youth Symphony, many of them live in the same neighborhoods, go to the same churches ... when an activity isn't widespread in a community, it helps as children see their peers doing it and continuing to do it," Davis said.

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at slundgren@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.