BRAVO Music Camp: A Fanfare of Experiences

After two weeks of musical nurturing, BRAVO Music Camp’s culminating program was Friday, July 17, 2009, at Alfred E. Beach High School. To the waiting and anxious crowd, the Little Mozarts, 5 thru 8 years, the chorus, the band, strings, and piano performers, demonstrated improved musical skills.

The campers had been engaged in classes under the following consultants: Mr. Felix E. Farrar, Strings, Music Appreciation and Theory, a violinist, educator and Founder and Executive Director of the Harlem Festival Orchestra, a free-lance musician in Atlanta and New York; Mrs. Portia Shuler-Hawkins, Piano Master Class, a performer and private teacher in her Roswell, GA studio; Mrs. Angela Small Blalock, Vocal Technique, Voice, a soprano, performing with the Opera Columbus Company, the Columbus Light Opera, South Philharmonic Orchestra, the Savannah Symphony Chamber Orchestra, the Augusta Symphony Orchestra; Mr. Luther Washington, II, Guest Choir Director, organist/accompanist, and instructor, the founder of the semi-professional choral group called Opus I; Mr. Tony Jackson, Band Director, the director of bands at Myers Middle School; Ms. Leah Hannon, Student Assistant, a junior music major at Armstrong Atlantic State University; Mrs. Atsuko Inagawa Smith, Arts & Crafts, an art instructor for the City of Savannah, the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, the Savannah- Chatham Public School System, the Tybee Art Association and the Telfair’s Jepson Center for the Arts; and Mrs. Rose Overstreet Smith, Camp Coordinator, music educator for over 45 years in Chatham and Liberty Counties, who operates her private Music Studio.

In addition to rigorous musical study as well as art classes for Little Mozarts, BRAVO sees the urgency to eradicate obesity in youth to promote healthy bodies. Therefore, under the direction of Mrs. Burma Ruth, a physical fitness volunteer, and Mr. Farrar, each day campers were engaged in recreational activities: exercising, running, kickball, basketball.

This summer, camper Juarez Jack, 13 years old, moved from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Savannah. Campers Bernard Terry and Chloe Terry were visiting their grandmother from Shiloh, Illinois. Nevertheless, they did not feel as outsiders because of their common language, music. To experience the historical value of Savannah, the campers took a fieldtrip to River Street, First African Baptist Church, Franklin Square, and the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum.

One of the highlights of the campers’ day was Amateur Hour where campers volunteered or were chosen by consultants to showcase a piece they were studying. At one of the Amateur Hours, Mr. Farrar, violin, and his daughter, Danielle Farrar, piano, age 12, performed Bach’s Prelude in C. Danielle attends Victory Christian School in Atlanta. Erin Fisher, 6 years old, Evan Fisher, 4 years old, (accepted to camp because of his exceptional musical skills), and Mina Smith, 5 years old, the Little Mozarts, showcased on violin, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Their performances were received graciously by fellow campers.

Parents, campers, consultants, staff, and volunteers had the opportunity to meet and greet Wednesday, July 15, at Butler Memorial Presbyterian Church at a Pot Luck Dinner. Each adult contributed toward the Pot Luck. After dinner, Mr. Luther Washington, II, organist and Guest Choral Director, performed, and camper Q’unique Toxey, 9th grade, sang “This Little Light of Mine.” She will attend Savannah Arts Academy in the fall.

The food contributed to the true success of the camp. The campers’ return to Mrs. Elaine Lovett for more each day was proof of how delectable breakfast, lunch, and snacks were. On Friday, prior to dressing for the culminating program, the campers’ high energy and nervousness were minimized with slices of watermelon.

BRAVO, Black Youth Reaching to Achieve in Vocal and Orchestral Music, achieved well these two weeks, and the musical seed has been imbedded for future success in forty-five young people. Board Members, Mrs. Johnye Gillans, President, express thanks to parents, campers, consultants, staff, volunteers, and the Savannah community for their support. Please visit the webpage for coming events: www.bravomusiccompany. com.

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