On the first-annual Marylhurst summer choir camp: a reflection

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by Justin Smith

Over in the Music Department, we often worry about the future of our craft. School music programs seem to be endlessly dwindling, young people bombarded with messages that the performing arts don’t really matter, that they are but a frothy side endeavor, to be pursued as a hobby only.

And yet what we saw for three days in late July on the Marylhurst campus thoroughly disproved this notion. Twenty-five of the most impressive high school singers I’ve ever met, from as nearby as Oregon City and as far away as Santa Fe, NM, descended upon Marylhurst for our first (of many, we hope) Summer Choir Camp.

To a person, these students were beyond impressive. Quite simply, they worked their musical tails off for three twelve-hour days. In that short span of time, they learned, polished and performed three pieces in the Full Choir, several pieces in their elective choirs (either Show Choir, World Music Choir or Jazz Choir), AND took two elective courses (with options ranging from Choral Conducting to Composing for Film to Vocal Jazz Techniques). At the end of the camp, they performed in these various groups to an admiring crowd.

To be in the company of these amazing young singers was rejuvenating. To watch them amply meet the significant challenges I and our distinguished faculty set before them was inspiring — and made me excited about the future!

Dr. Justin Smith conducts several choirs and teaches courses in history, aural skills and vocal technique for the Department of Music at Marylhurst University.