Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Choral Institute 2012

Of the many projects and jobs that I work on during the year, few come close to the amazement of the Summer Choral Institute at Kansas State University, where I am the Administrative Director.  This program was nominated for a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award this year, and it is likely one of the greatest leadership training programs in the country for High School singers.  High School Sophomore and Junior students from 12 states applied to participate.  We accepted only 40 students and required that they proficiently learn their music before they arrive.  We actually have a screening process on the opening day to make sure they have learned their music - if not, they are sent home!  Thankfully, this year was the first year that everyone passed the screening!

Their week culminates in a large choir concert, but in between they participate in lessons with some of the nation's most accomplished musicians, accompanist instruction, recitals in the most amazing venues, a high ropes challenge course, masterclasses, a night at the old football stadium under the lights, bowling, a trip to the art museum, visits from professional musicians and instrumentalists, a class on the history of rock and roll, a trip to a water park, talent show, dance party, and hours of leadership training in rehearsals.  We encourage the students to be bold, share their greatest fears and insecurities, and discover that all of these great young musicians are so similar.  

In many ways, I hate to describe SCI because I cannot - the students are absolutely incredible people.  Many times, their generosity towards the other campers cause the staff to bawl (happily) and the love shared between these people who have just met for the first time is incredible!!!  This year especially had some of the most amazing leaders;  I observe a lot of things during the week, but the general love and caring towards each other completely astounds me.  To think these young musicians will sacrifice their own selves to encourage another time and time again, completely impresses and encourages me to keep teaching and performing music.  

Here are some of their facebook comments from the week:

"I want to thank every single individual who attended this year for making this one of the best weeks of my life...But I, for one am excited to go back to a 'normal' life with a different perspective, attitude, changed morals, as well as a better understanding of music."

"It makes me realize how lucky I am to be able to appreciate the life changing effects of music. I Hope that I can share what I have learned with others, because I believe that we can change the world with music."

"I have to say this past week goes down as one of the BEST weeks in my life and I want to thank y'all for letting experience it with you:)"

"Guys, I have to say that this past week was the greatest week of my life...I'm pretty sure we all know that we became better people throughout the course of the week, so imagine what we could do in our schools over the course of a year! :D I just want to let you all know that I love you all and I WILL be keeping in touch:)"

"I think the most important part of this camp was how much it kept you out of your comfort zone and pushed you. Whether you're singing a different voice part, climbing of a 40 foot pole, or allowing your insecurities to be shared. It showed us no matter where we come from or how developed our choral programs are, we are all so similar... SCI took great musicians and made them great made us great people. For that I am forever grateful."

"...And not only were you guys some of the best musicians I've encountered, but you were also some of the best people I have ever met."

"Summer Choral Institute 2012 - it has changed my life. This has to be one of the most incredible things I've ever done and one of the most incredible weeks of my life. I learned so much about being a better musician and a better person. All of you that I met this past week have inspired me beyond anything I could have imagined."

"Never met such AMAZING, TALENTED people in my life. I've never been so impacted by so many people in my life either."


This week I will be off to Pennsylvania working on an opera.  Much more info to come...

Yesterday, I saw the Broadway production of Next to Normal at the Kauffman Center.  It was spectacular, and the story was the most exciting part.  If you get a chance to see it - SEE IT!!!

Next week, I will have some commentary on this year's Tony Awards!!

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