Camp Opera delights capacity crowd Monday By David Lias
Plain Talk A capacity audience gave a long, standing ovation the cast and musicians who performed Mozart's The Magic Flute June 29 in the United Congregational Church in Vermillion. Monday's performance, a product of Camp Opera activities that have taken place in the community throughout the month of June, included not only a performance of Mozart's work, but also a Camp Opera showcase that gave children a chance to demonstrate what they had learned in the past four weeks. The showcase included performances by the youths' band, a children's choir and concluded with a demonstration of hip-hop dance that participants learned from choreographer Arturo Miles. Also on display in the back of the church was a small gallery of children's artwork and photography mastered by Camp Opera youth with the help of instruction from local volunteers, including local professional photographer Aaron Packard. Camp Opera is a summer workshop first launched last year by operatic tenor Scott Piper of Vermillion. Its focus is to enrich the minds of the young and "young and heart" in the wonders of the fine arts, he said. The workshop may include opera in its name, but that's not the only direction of the program. "The hope of Camp Opera is to demonstrate that it matters not what form of art you choose to express yourself with." Piper said, "What matters most is that we are even capable of art." Piper thanked the numerous volunteers, staff and local families that helped make the last month's artistic experience possible. He also thanked the Vermillion community, noting that such an endeavor wouldn't be possible without local support. The community provided opportunities for the Camp Opera children to perform in front of audiences during the month of June. "We are very grateful for the support of local churches," Piper said. "We looked for opportunities to take our students to perform at local churches, in order to share the music they have been working on." An intermission was held following the conclusion of The Magic Flute performance, to give the children and local musicians time to regroup before staging the second act of the performance, mainly their showcase. Before that portion of the evening's show began, Piper urged the audience to relax and simply enjoy the artistic performances they were about to experience. "This is a relaxing half," he said, describing the format of the show's second act. "Just sit back and allow our children to entertain us. Allow their love of art and entertaining to wash over us," he said. "It's amazing what our kids are able to do. It's been very enjoyable to watch them develop their own concepts of what this show is all about." According to Piper, the mission of Camp Opera is to cultivate in young minds the appreciation of all art – contemporary and classical, and to teach those minds to communicate what they learn. The workshop is more than simply a summer experience for youth in the Vermillion community. Camp Opera, Piper said, provides young people with the tools necessary to express their gifts to the community and to the world.