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Kids, instructors enjoy orchestra camp

Emily Carlson, 14, from left, A.J. Derouin, 17, Morgan Stoeberl, 16, and Ethan Haines, 13, rehearse Thursday during the orchestra camp, which was held this week by the Willmar Community Education and Recreation Department. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR --Malachy Kinney seemed to think it was an odd question.

"Of course" he was enjoying orchestra camp, he said as he headed off to prepare for a recital. "I love orchestra."

Kinney, 11, a sixth-grader in Willmar, and the other music students were busy on Thursday preparing for today's final concert.

The one-week Summer Orchestra Camp will conclude with an 11:30 a.m. concert today in the auditorium at the Willmar Education and Arts Center. The concert is open to anyone.

The camp is a program of the Willmar Community Education and Recreation Department.

The group met every morning this week in the music rooms at Kennedy Elementary School, under the guidance of instructors Lisa Zeller and Steve Eckblad.

Zeller said the camp has included rehearsals, sectionals and some fun classes. At times the group split into two levels, with students with more advanced ability splitting off into a separate group. The students who sign up for the camp are asked to have had at least one to three years of orchestra instruction, she said, and their ages range from third grade through high school.

Thursday morning, the advanced students were playing a sweet rendition of "Danny Boy," while the larger, mostly younger group was rehearsing a fun, discordant piece that could have been the soundtrack for a scary ghost story.

A recital at the end of the Thursday session was open to anyone who volunteered, Zeller said. It closed with performances by the instructors.

It's the second year for the camp, Zeller said, and everyone seemed to be enjoying it.

Six high school students volunteered as interns/mentors with the camp. Their job is to play along, offer advice and help make sure others are keeping up.

Catherine Halvorson, 17, a senior at Willmar Senior High, said Zeller asked her to come to the camp to play along with the violinists. She had fun, and said, "I'm glad I did it."

Another violinist, A.J. Derouin, said a teacher asked him to participate, probably because "I do all the music classes at the high school."

"It's really cool to see how our orchestra has developed," Derouin said.

"It's good to see how the kids are interested in orchestra," he said. "It's been a fun week."

Laura McDaniel of Hutchinson waited Thursday to pick up her 11-year-old daughter Briannah after camp. They had heard about the camp from Briannah's violin teacher.

"She needs the exposure," because Hutchinson doesn't have a school orchestra program, she said. She plays with the Crow River Area Youth Orchestra, but many of the musicians there are more advanced.

Her daughter has been enjoying the camp, McDaniel said, and she's already asked to come again next year.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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