Prelude Chamber Music Summer Camp & Festival
Carrying the heart and soul of Prelude Chamber Music from one decade through the next and celebrating her 48th year in the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, the founding “Mama Prelude,” Jeanne Majors, and her colleagues and friends of Prelude Chamber Music make sure that every aspiring young string musician in this town, in neighboring communities, or even just visiting for the summer has a place to start and develop in the heart of Jacksonville.
Prelude Chamber Music, Inc., now in its fourteenth year, is a local non-profit that inspires budding and blossoming classical string musicians in the area. Making way for students of all ages and abilities to develop new skills through shared experiences with professionals in Northeast Florida, Prelude fills a gap between orchestra and private lessons.
Co-founder and Jacksonville Symphony violinist Chris Chappell explains: “The unique challenge of presenting a work of chamber music provides students and professionals with a goal beyond that of a solo or an orchestral performance. Musicians must prepare their parts as thoroughly as a soloist. Additionally, they must master the art of musical teamwork. Chamber music, unlike solo or orchestra, teaches group-directed rehearsal, rather than simply doing ‘my own thing’ as in a solo, or following the dictates of the conductor in an orchestra. In the end, a powerful chamber music experience should captivate our audience.
We want people to feel that every performer was actively and equally contributing musical leadership to the group, and that the group was powerfully unified in communicating the spirit of the composer. Our goal at Prelude is to guide our students in creating this kind of experience for their audience, which we believe will help shape them as musicians as well as human beings.”
Prelude Chamber Music continues to advocate for string music education in schools and communities. The organization relies heavily on community music lovers, professional string musicians and donors to support and fund its annual summer chamber music camp and festival. The program has evolved over the years to include multiple tracks that both nurture and challenge beginning to master level string musicians from kindergarten to young adults and beyond.
This summer, the Vega String Quartet, the professional Quartet-in-Residence at Emory University, will join with Prelude Chamber Music faculty in Jacksonville’s summer music camp and concert series. The “music of friends” camp, Prelude Chamber Music Camp & Festival, will take place June 8–17 in Riverside among the stained glass and historic hallways of two churches across from Riverside Park. The first week of camp, June 8–13, will offer expanded programming and will serve all levels of musicians and ages from beginners through intermediate to advanced and masters-in-training at the Riverside Park United Methodist Church.
Everyone will be organized into small ensembles that complement the individual’s skills, needs and instrument. Instructors and faculty, who are members of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra or special guest performers and instructors from the area, will teach, mentor and coach students through programs arranged for the student’s needs. Special guest performances and a Saturday student concert, for friends, family and the general public, will also be part of the week’s experience. Introducing a new format this year, the second week’s program during, June 15–17, will be reserved for the continuing Intensive group from week one to further their experiences through three days of intensive workshops, master classes and concerts with the Vega String Quartet and their Prelude instructors. The three-day festival of strings with Prelude Chamber Music and Vega String Quartet will be held at the Riverside Presbyterian Church. On the evening of June 16, the Vega String Quartet will give a free public concert. The week wraps up on Wednesday night with a student concert and a shared performance with the Vega String Quartet. You can find more information, see past performances and photos, and hear a clip of the Vega String Quartet at PreludeChamberMusic.org.
“We’ve been fans of Prelude Chamber Music Camp for six years,” says a mom of two Prelude campers. “The camp has been a staple of our summer activities. They have something for everyone, from my seven-year-old beginning violinist to my fourteen-year-old advanced violist. Beginners grow beautifully as musicians in a supportive and encouraging environment, while advanced players enjoy challenging repertoire and are expertly guided by some of the best professionals in the area. There’s plenty of time for friends and fun with enriching elective activities such as guitar, chorus, and fiddling.”
“For our students in their early years of learning their instrument, we focus on building strong foundations and making the personal improvements that they’re ready for, which can be different for everyone. We all know what those early years can do for you, and we don’t miss a chance to motivate or offer a word of encouragement or direction,” says Jeanne Majors.
Prelude Chamber Music Camp is uniquely focused on cultivating small ensembles, chamber style performance art and developing the skills it takes for a musician to play his/her part independently in a collaborative small team without a conductor.
“We also provide a chance to experiment some, but do so with the support and instruction of classically trained musicians who can help through the struggles. We’ve all been there before,” explains Vernon Humbert, another co-founder of Prelude Chamber Music and Jacksonville Symphony cellist.
All who wish to participate can register at PreludeChamberMusic.org by April 4th, and go to the placement auditions on April 11th at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church. Everyone is accepted to camp. The audition is used to help organize the ensembles and customize program planning for the participants.