Mike Block String Camp opens a world of music to students

VERO BEACH — World class, professional musicians will soon gather in Vero Beach to provide an extraordinary opportunity for students to learn from the masters at the Mike Block String Camp (MBSC), Monday June 27 through Saturday, July 2. 

The camp is being held at Storm Grove Middle School, and is expected to draw approximately 100 students from Indian River County, other states and around the world.  

Nine highly regarded, accomplished musicians will provide instruction to students in multiple genres, encouraging them to develop their own improvisational skills, learn new styles and create their own music. Students will have the opportunity to perform, improvise, compose and arrange music through close collaboration with their peers working in small ensembles.

“At a typical music camp, there is one teacher for 100 kids,” said Vero Beach resident Kathryn Johnston, an attorney and mediator with the Dispute Resolution Center of the Treasure Coast and the camp’s executive director.  “The Mike Block Camp is unique – students receive far more personal attention than at other camps, and because of the small class sizes, they have the opportunity to engage with the faculty in a way that is not common at most other camps.”

Johnston first met Mike Block at a music camp in Kansas City attended by her daughter Bridget, Principal Cellist with the Vero Beach High School Symphony Orchestra and 2011 graduate.  Since that initial meeting, Block has proved to be a very popular clinician and performer at local public schools in Indian River County.

In 2007, Block taught in Vero Beach by himself, visiting every public school orchestra class and teaching more than 900 students.  Block invited fellow musicians to join him at the first Vero Beach Mike Block String Camp last year, which was so successful they plan to continue it as an annual event.

“Vero Beach has never seen the likes of this crowd,” said Johnston referencing the faculty musicians. “Each one has an international following.”

Mike Block, hailed by Yo-Yo Ma as the “ideal musician of the 21st Century,” is a Julliard trained multi-genre cellist and frequent performer with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble.  Block has toured with numerous nationally known string groups and is the Artistic Director and host of GALA: Global Art – Local Audience, a concert series at the Brooklyn Lyceum featuring a diverse array of musicians and artists in unique collaborations. He is also the lead teaching artist for Silk Road Connect, a partnership that joins musicians from around the world in presentations to sixth-grade classes in the NYC public schools.

Other faculty include Grammy-nominated Darol Anger, a brilliant violinist, fiddler, composer, producer and educator, is at home in a number of musical genres, some of which he helped to invent.  His music can be heard on NPR’s “Car Talk” theme, and he is a featured soloist on dozens of recordings and motion picture soundtracks. Anger has performed and taught all over the world, is a McDowell and U Cross Fellow, and is an Associate Professor at the prestigious Berklee College of music.

Dazzling bluegrass fiddler Brittany Haas plays fiddle in the internationally-acclaimed band Crooked Still, one of the most popular and innovative Alternative-Bluegrass bands in the country.  Her repertoire focuses on Appalachian mountain music played on the five-string fiddle. She studied with Darol Anger for several years and is a 2009 graduate of Princeton University, where she was also member of the marching band.

The music of exciting fiddler Hanneke Cassel, has been described by the Boston Globe as “exuberant and rhythmic, somehow both wild and innocent, delivered with captivating melodic clarity and an irresistible playfulness.”   At a young age, Cassel won the coveted title of U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion.  In addition, she holds a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Berklee College of Music, and has performed and taught all over the world.

Vibrant Celtic cellist Natalie Haas, also a Julliard graduate, is a seasoned performer, recording artist, and teacher who regularly plays with master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser throughout Europe and North America.Their first duo release, Fire & Grace, was awarded the Best Album of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards 2004.  Hass has appeared on over 50 albums, and teaches periodically at fiddle camps and workshops around the globe.

Victor Lin is an acclaimed jazz pianist and violinist with a primary focus on education.  Lin has an undergraduate degree in music from the University of Washington, a Master’s degree in jazz studies from Rutgers University, and is currently finishing his doctorate in music education at Columbia University Teachers College, where he teaches jazz piano and jazz ensembles.  He has been on the faculty of the prestigious Stanford Jazz Workshop for the past eleven years, taught at the Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp for three years, and also directs the jazz program at The Calhoun School in Manhattan.

Musical madman Joe Craven is a creativity educator, visual artist, actor/storyteller, festival emcee and recipient of the 2009 Folk Alliance Far-West Performer of the Year.  Craven has created music and sound effects for commercials, soundtracks and computer games playing on anything that has strings attached; violin, mandolin, tin can, bedpan, cookie tin, tenor guitar/banjo, mouth bow, canjoe, cuatro, berimbau, balalaika, boot ‘n lace and double-necked “whatever.” “Everything Joe touches turns to music,” says mandolinist David Grisman.

After 20 years performing classical violin and viola, Lauren Rioux crossed over to vernacular string styles, quickly becoming a rising star as an Appalachian fiddler, and currently performing with Scott Nygaard& Crow Molly, Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings, and the String Nation Orkestra. Rioux plays an active role in strings education throughout Maine where she maintains a rambunctious private studio of over 30 violinists, violists, and fiddlers ranging from age five to 65.

The camp is open to all ages, levels, and stylistic backgrounds. Low ratio student-teacher group classes are divided by ability level so everyone learns in an environment of their peers. Creative work is done in smaller ensembles, performing both traditional and original music.

Tuition is $490 for six days of classes, participation in two student concerts, and attendance at a special concert consisting of faculty performances.   Although the enrollment deadline was May 15, there are a very limited number of openings available.  Interested students should fill out an application immediately via the camp’s website:  www.MikeBlockStringCamp.com.

Faculty members are generously donating their time to perform in a unique concert on Wednesday, June 29, presenting “Musicians United for Haiti.”  The concert begins at 7 p.m. at the Vero Beach High School Performing Arts Center, which is donating the use of the facility for the performance.

Tickets to this exceptional concert are $30 in advance, $35 at the door, with proceeds to benefit two local non-profit organizations, Haiti Partners and Haiti Clinic.

For additional information, including camp application forms and a full schedule of classes, visit www.MikeBlockStringCamp.com or call Executive Director, Kathryn Johnston at 772-567-5641.

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