Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra kicks off fall camp for upcoming season

In many ways, Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra's Fall Camp resembles any other camp for kids. There are campers in T-shirts and shorts, games and high jinks, pasta suppers and s'mores, and even a singalong with a banjo. What sets this annual three-day camp apart from other camps is a serious focus on rich and rewarding music and a willingness on the part of the campers to make meaningful connections with one another to improve orchestral performance.

"Fall Camp is an exciting time for us as it kicks off the 2021-2022 season," said Matthew Sheppard, artistic director, "It's also a time when each orchestra member learns to be an 'expert noticer,' embracing the music with curiosity, imagination, critical thinking, and collaboration."

Sheppard went on to explain that this year's seasonal theme is entitled "Flipped." The first concert on Nov. 7 is called "Negative Spaces."

Camp activities over the weekend had students noticing both of those themes with real-life applications and in the music they played.

Students in grade five through college in four orchestras began preparing the music weeks in advance. Fall Camp weekend, held Aug. 27-29 at Riverwoods Christian Center in St. Charles, was the first time the students rehearsed together in their full ensembles after a season and a half of social distancing and virtual performances.

"After practicing alone and playing in smaller groups, it's really exciting to play music together as a full orchestra," said Oscar Garcia, age 17, from Elgin.

The Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra attracts a national reputation for providing not only an engaging musical experience for its students, but also a comprehensive curriculum each season - one that aims not only to help these students develop artistically and technically, but also to prepare them for a future of complex ideas, creative risk-taking, and leadership as global citizens. With eight large ensembles and a thriving Chamber Music Institute, EYSO auditions hundreds of students each year. Last spring, EYSO was named Youth Orchestra of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

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