This Sunday I’m lucky enough to begin a fantastic gig: hosting CBC Radio 2’s weekly classical music performance program, In Concert.
Preparing tomorrow’s show put me in mind of summer camp – and thus conjured up all kinds of feelings and recollections.
Once upon a time there was a camp called Toronto Music Camp that happened every June, right at the end of the school year on the shores of Lake Couchiching, near Orillia, Ontario. I spent five years there as a camp counselor. I think it still exists, but these days it’s called Music by the Lake.
TMC wasn’t all fun and games (although there were many of those, too) – it was a lot of hard work – hours of rehearsal every day. The large ensembles used to rehearse in a cavernous barn with a tin roof. I remember one year we were playing the Planets by Gustav Holst and it seemed as though our endless repetition of the first eight bars of section J provoked Mars, Bringer of War to open the heavens upon our heads. The sound of the rain thundering on the roof made it impossible for us to continue.
Another year it was so cold, the coldest June in decades, that we had to light as many candles as we could find just to stay warm in the 19th-century farmhouse where the chamber ensembles rehearsed.
Those were five of the happiest fortnights of my adolescence. In those days it felt like there was TMC, and the rest of the year until the next TMC – two different levels of existence.
The mother of all musical summer camps in this country is a residency with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada – and I think that the instant camaraderie of the camp experience must have something to do with the magic that the NYOC produces year in and year out. This Sunday you can hear a fabulous concert by the NYOC on In Concert, beginning at 11 am in all Canadian time zones (except 11:30 in Newfoundland) on CBC Radio 2 or online at cbcmusic.ca.