The sounds of singing and dancing in Jussi Björling Recital Hall announce that the 2012 Gustavus Show Choir Summer Music Camp has opened in the Schaefer Fine Arts Center on the Gustavus campus. The camp runs Sunday, July 15 through Saturday, July 21. Its finale performance begins at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday in Björling Recital Hall. Tickets are not required for the performance and it is free and open to the public.
With the popularity of show choirs in high schools across the nation and the immense popularity of the hit TV series Glee and Smash, it’s not surprising that thirty-eight singers and dancers from across the Midwest and as far away as Texas are on campus for the experience. Camp director and organizer Brandon Dean, assistant professor of music at Gustavus, is pleased with the camp’s inaugural season and the work of musical directors Lin Warren, Terry Voss and choreographers April James and Stephen Todd.
The schedule is packed with a combination of music and dance rehearsals, vocal, sectional and choreography sessions, and community building projects to bring the thirty-eight individual performers together into one ensemble.
When Rachel Bruch-Anderson, a junior at Hastings High School, heard that her show choir director, Lin Warren, and choreographer, Stephen Todd, were planning to work at the Show Choir Camp at Gustavus alongside director Terry Voss of Totino Grace High School and choreographer April James, her decision of what to do during the 3rd week in July was a simple one and she hasn’t regretted her decision for a minute. A seasoned stage performer, her passion for singing and dancing on stage hasn’t diminished since her first stage experience was in 2nd grade when she was cast in the musical Oliver Twist.
A postcard announcing the summer camp attracted the attention of Michael Clement, a junior at Iowa City West High School. Although Michael has only had two years of show choir experience and this is his first show choir camp, his stage presence and talent project that of a seasoned performer. He believes his greatest challenge is working with a new and unfamiliar choreographer, April James, who is stretching the young performer’s skills.
For Clement, Bruch-Anderson and the other members of the ensemble, the major challenge is to learn a lot of music and choreography in just 5 days. The gratifying piece of that challenge, in Bruch-Anderson’s words, is that “everyone is working so hard and so well together.” Even after obvious mistakes, the support and respect from directors, choreographers and the other performers is outstanding. And, as the week progresses, the intense focus and concentration easily seen on the performers’ faces will disappear as confidence takes its place.
Saturday’s finale performance will open with Let Me Be Your Star, the Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman tune made popular by TV’s Smash!, followed by the Benj Pasek and Justin Paul ballad Like Breathing from the musical Edges. The finale continues with Kirby Shaw’s arrangement of Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch’s Boogie Shoes and concludes with a medley of tunes from the 2nd season of TV’s Glee.
The 2012 Gustavus Show Choir Camp finale performance begins at 3:00 p.m., Saturday, July 21, in Jussi Björling Recital Hall. The event is free and the public is cordially invited to attend.
For the members of the ensemble, the finale will conclude a hard week’s work at building a performance ensemble from thirty-eight strangers whose single connection a week ago was a love of singing and dancing. On Saturday, no longer strangers, they’ll pack their bags and take their experiences from the week into another year with their high school show choirs.
Michael Clement will return to Iowa City with great memories of this week at Gustavus and plans to return next summer for Gustavus Show Choir Camp, Opus 2.
“Oh yeah, I’ll be back.”