SCI-FI SERENADE

The next generation of musician-scholars lifted off from the Tin Building Theatre at the Bosque Arts Center in Clifton on Thursday, August 3.

The live music and dance performances by 40 youths that afternoon was a culmination of a week’s worth of hands-on educational activities during the Bosque Civic Music Association’s summer music camp.

The theme for the 8th Annual BCMA music camp – “Outer Space and Music of the Spheres” – invited students to practice the musicianship through creative works inspired by science facts and fiction.

With the house lights off, the recital began with a grand entry in which the elementary school aged children performed the theme from the 1978 film “Superman” with kazoos and laser swords.

When the lights came back on, camp instructor Vicky Ketchum welcomed the families and friends of the tiny titan performers to the program.

“I’m amazed – and the other teachers are amazed – that in just three days, [the kids] have learned so much,” she told the audience. “You should be very proud of your kids. They’re really smart.”

After introductions of the four adult summer camp instructors and seven junior counselors, the young students split into two groups, each playing a different piece in a xylophone ensemble one after the other.

With drum accompaniment, the students in Kindergarten to second grade performed “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” followed by the third-to-fifth grade students performing the theme to the 1978 film “Star Wars.”

Instructor Kelsey Bryant introduced the next act – two choreographed dance numbers: the younger set to the techno-pop version of the “Purple People Eater,” and the older to the “Star Wars” theme with parachutes. The younger group wore “purple eyes” painted on their foreheads prior to the opening.

Bryant explained that during the week, the student-musicians created their own costumes for the show – black t-shirts with glowin-the-dark designs – while learning about famous musicians inspired by outer space, from Gustav Holst and Maltbie Davenport Babcock to Sheb Wooley and John Williams.

As the student-musicians formed a choir on stage in the dimmed light, the youths sang “Toembai” accompanied by instructor Beth Fry on acoustic guitar. The song – nonsensical but fun – allowed the kids to learn about “part-singing” and “rounds,” Fry explained.

Next, all the kids formed a single, large choir to sing the “Little Einsteins” theme song on stage, followed by an a cappella song titled “Neesa.”

To conclude, the choir and a xylophone quartet joined forces to perform “This is My Father’s World” with piano accompaniment by Ketchum.

Fry noted in her introduction to this piece that hymns like it were one of first genres of music written by American composers.

“This Is My Father’s World” is special, she said, because it used the symbol of “the music of the spheres” before humans discovered that physical objects in the universe, like planets and stars, really do make sounds on their own.

After the show, the instructors explained that making music and art is great “brain food” for young people by helping them develop reading and language skills as well as problem solving and listening skills.

Such creative education, thus, prepares young people for the unknown that exists outside the walls of the classroom, in the workplace, and beyond, they said.

The senior instructors for the summer music camp included Kelsey Bryant, Beth Fry, Vicky Ketchum, and Chris Pillsbury, and junior counselors: Laramie Crockett, Abigail Ketchum, Katie Rodriguez, Macy Rodriguez, Katelin Twarowski, and Sarah Tyler.

Lunch for the students and volunteers during the week was provided by the Bosque Civic Music Association, one of the many groups under the umbrella of the Bosque Arts Center.

The BCMA was formed in the late 2000s by a group of local music enthusiasts who shared a vision to encourage young people to pursue their aspirations in musical careers.

Throughout the year, the BCMA sponsors several musical and educational events, including a showcase of young musicians and a distinguished artist series.

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