Young music makers descend on USD

By Travis Gulbrandson

Although most classrooms at the University of South Dakota have been empty since spring commencement, the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts has been bustling with activity all week.

The USD Department of Music currently is hosting the 62nd annual USD Summer Music Camp, which concludes tonight with a concert at 7 p.m. in Aalfs Auditorium.

“It’s always a whirlwind when you have 180 kids, but there’s so much energy it’s really fun,” said camp director David Holdhusen, Ph.D. “The students seem to be enjoying themselves, and there’s definitely music being made, which is what we were hoping for.”

According to camp manager Becca Lunstrum, there are 176 campers from eight different states, including Kansas, Missouri and New York, as well as a student who came all the way from Norway.

While there, they have the opportunity to choose from 16 elective classes, six major ensembles and six auxiliary ensembles.

“Everything is going as well as we could have planned, so all the prep-work has gone over very, very well,” Lunstrum said. “There’s a lot going on, but that makes it a fun time.”

Despite the planning, there are always surprises, such as schedule problems and broken instruments.

“You can never anticipate everything,” Holdhusen said. “The thunderstorm on Sunday night was kind of interesting. At the time when they were supposed to be walking from here to the dorm was right when the storm hit, so we had to adjust for that, too.

“But those are things you just roll with,” he said.

The camp staff consists of 48 members, including 19 from the USD faculty and 24 USD students.

Many of the counselors were once campers themselves. James Stueckrath, 19, of Osmond, NE, went to camp for six years and is now in his first as a counselor.

“It’s a whole different perspective,” he said. “I feel like I’m a lot busier this year, actually running and doing stuff instead of just staying on one room with an ensemble. The whole time I’m running, getting mallets, instruments, music copied making sure everyone has everything that they need.

“It’s really busy, but it’s a lot of fun seeing all the new kids coming up and working so hard,” he said.

Many of the campers return year after year, as well. Holdhusen said that of this year’s attendees, “about 100 of them” have gone at least once, with a handful of them in their sixth year.

Krista Stueckrath, 18, is one of those sixth-year students. Over the course of the week she has participated in percussion ensemble, choir and show choir.

“This is my last year (as a camper),” she said. “It’s been fun ever year that I’ve been coming, so I really enjoy it. … Every year I meet someone new, and always have a different group of people to hang out with.”

Trina Swanson, 15, is a third-year camper. She played multiple instruments throughout the week: Oboe in band, tenor saxophone in jazz band and violin in orchestra.

“It’s a lot of fun getting to do everything,” Swanson said. “I like coming here because at school in your music programs, you’re always under pressure for competitions, and here you can just come and have fun playing music.”

It’s also a chance to learn new things.

“I know last year I had never done improvisation solos for jazz band,” Swanson said. “I was too afraid to do it at school, but here, it was fun to figure out and then take back to school.”

There will be two performances today. The first will take place at 11:30 a.m. in Colton Recital Hall, and will feature chamber strings, opera, chamber choir, and other small ensembles.

The second will be at 7 p.m. in Aalfs Auditorium, and will feature concert bands, concert choirs and string orchestra.

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