Friday, July 10, 2009
My Blue (Lake) Heaven
Greetings from Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan, where converse are the shoe of choice and 30 kids make up the tuba department alone!
This place is wonderful. I walk around with a giant smile on my face, that I could be up with the trees, talking harp most of the day, hanging out with interesting people, hearing some great music, seeing great art, watching great dance & theater... this is becoming the highlight of my summers.
There are about 100 faculty members and 1300 campers for each session. The faculty tend to whine about the coffee, the occasional mouse in the cabin, our paycheck, the mosquitos, and the 8 AM classes. In all honesty, though, we love it here. We would actually pay to be here because we love it so much.
I have a fantastic group of 7 high school-aged harpists. We spend about 6 hours a day together playing, playing, playing, playing. They spoiled me from the first day because of their ease in working together. We've been able to do a lot of exciting things because of how motivated and easy-going each of them are. My personal favorite was watching them perform "Chanson dans la Nuit" by Carlos Salzedo for the camp talent show, arranged completely by themselves for 14 hands instead of two.
I think the talent show night has actually been the highlight of camp for me (not counting the 4th of July campfire on the lake). Next time I get down or blue, I'm going to remember seeing that entire crowd of young people cheering for each other, some of them getting up on stage out of sheer bravery and zest for simply being able to breathe, and all of them having one care-free heck of a time. Favorite act: glow sticks guy.
This past week marks the first time that I have actually enjoyed conducting. The harp ensemble made it a pleasure to wave my hands around, especially for Stephanie Curcio's "Flume Gorge." Great piece.
Another thought from this week: my teacher in France would always kinda sink into her chair, kiss the cross around her necklace, and say a prayer before one of her students performed in public (it didn't seem to matter which one). I would watch her and think it was strange that she would be so nervous for them, but am starting to experience the same thing when I have to sit in an audience while my students perform. What's up with that? I'm more nervous for them than for myself.
Can't not mention this: I would like to send a special shout-out to Chris Smith who brought the house down with his fiddle playing during the faculty recital. We did "The Devil Went Down to Blue Lake" for harp and fiddle, and it turned out to be a memory that I will gladly keep for a long time. I've never played with a mic in my face before! Very strange. I've been wanting to perform that tune for a long time now. Thank you, Chris!
I'm going to miss this place.