Tuesday Practice

USD Music Professor John LaCognata, this year’s director of the 68th Annual Summer Music Camp at the university, conducts a concert band Tuesday afternoon at the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts on the USD campus.

This week, more than 120 students from eight states gathered at USD to be immersed in a world of music.

The students in grades five through 12 participated in small and large group bands and choruses, took private lessons and classes, and enjoyed numerous concerts and performances during the 68th Annual USD Summer Music Camp.

“I feel the camp has been going great!” said USD Music Professor John LaCognata, this year’s camp director. “This camp provides [students] with an opportunity to experience a variety of ensembles, including choirs (Concert Choir and Show Choir), Orchestra, and bands (Concert Band and Jazz Band). In addition, classes offerings include piano, guitar, bell choir, music theory, electronic music, music composition, jazz improvisation, conducting, world drumming, and Orff bells.”

The USD Music Camp is a six-day intensive immersion in music, said David Holdhusen, chair of the USD Music Department who has been involved with the camp for many years and is a previous camp director.

“On Sunday afternoon, 120 students walk through the doors of the Fine Arts building,” he said. “Six days later, they put on a concert. … When the campers arrive on campus, they haven’t seen the music before. Some of them don’t know anyone. But it doesn’t matter where they’re from, these students come together and they work together to make a beautiful sound.”

Campers at the USD Music Camp are kept busy from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. each day with musical endeavors. Every camper signs up for to participate in at least one large group band, orchestra, or chorus and then many also take optional ensembles like Jazz Band, Opera, Pep Band, and small group ensembles.

Most bands and specialty groups practice twice a day, and in between those practices, campers take private lessons and elective classes. Small group master classes for each instrument and voice are also held. And then there are camp concert events each night, during which students are entertained by faculty members, honors students, and others.

Music camp culminates with two concerts staged by the students during the last two days of camp. Last night’s Thursday night concert featured the Junior and Senior Jazz Bands, Pep Band, and the Junior and Senior Show Choirs.

Tonight, the Grand Finale Concert will be held featuring the Orchestra, Junior and Senior Choirs, and the Junior and Senior Concert Bands. Tonight’s concert, which starts at 7 p.m. in Aalfs Auditorium at Slagle Hall, is free and open to the public.

“Everyone is encouraged to attend the concert! … I always enjoy the final concerts the best,” LaCogata said. “Seeing the students make such wonderful music after only a week of rehearsals is truly amazing.”

LaCognata hopes that all participants in this year’s music camp will walk away with a lasting impression from camp.

“Hopefully, they will have many great memories of making music with their fellow campers,” he said. “This is after all, a music camp. We hope they learn something about the music making process that they can apply to their future performances.”

The 69th Annual USD Summer Music Camp will be held in mid-July, 2020. Registration and other information will be available next spring.

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