For 30 years, Linda Kirkpatrick has organized and run the McDaniel College Summer Music Camp for students entering grades 7 through 12. In honor of the camp's 30th anniversary, Kirkpatrick will join the student band Friday evening at the college for a performance of "Kirkpatrick's Muse," a piece specially commissioned for the occasion at the camp's concluding performance.
A jazzy number, with a heavy Celtic influence, "Kirkpatrick's Muse" opens with drums before building into a heroic theme, practically becoming the McDaniel music director's "Superman March."
The piece was composed by Jay Bocook, musical director at the camp, whose work has been featured during the Olympic games. Bocook's history goes back to the camp's second year, returning each summer to teach a new group of performers. He said the Celtic influence of the piece came from the Irish and Scottish heritage of both McDaniel College and Kirkpatrick's surname.
The final piece is loosely adapted from an Appalachian fiddling tune "Glory at the Meeting House."
"It has that perfect kind of Celtic bouncing style you associate with that kind of music," Bocook said. "I wanted to utilize the Irish flute because Linda's a flutist. It just seemed to work out."
Katie Berry, a rising junior at South Carroll, will perform one of the flutes in the piece. She said she was impressed the first time she heard it.
"It's really hard, but it's also really fun at the same time," Berry said. "I like it."
Kirkpatrick said she wasn't expecting the final piece to be named for her when she commissioned a work for the anniversary but was thrilled to hear it.
The overnight summer camp lasts for one week on the campus, with classes throughout the day and evening. During the day, the students, from throughout Maryland as well as neighboring states, learn music theory and rehearse, then at night they take classes on world music, conducting, and playing other instruments. Kirkpatrick said she was excited by the breadth of classes the camp offers.
"I'm proud of the conducting class. We sometimes have had to take them in kicking and screaming, but then three years later, they're like, 'Guess what, Miss Linda. I'm going to be drum major at my high school,' " Kirkpatrick said. "We've actually had a lot of the Carroll County high school drum majors come from that class."
Kirkpatrick said she was also excited the students get to try new things at the world music and instrument swapping classes. In the latter, the camp rents a number of instruments for students to try something they've never played before. At the Friday concert, the newbies play a beginners concert. Berry said switching to the trombone has given her an increased appreciation for the work the other members of the band provide. Bocook said these classes emphasize what he loves about the camp.
"It's a great atmosphere. It's very relaxed," Bocook said. "There's a lot of learning that goes on, but it's never forced. It's all just nurturing."
Rich Matties, of Ellicott City, will study music next year at the University of Maryland, College Park, and said the camp has been a huge part of his devotion to playing music.
"I had been in band camp, but one of my friends recommended I come here. That was about four years ago, and I've been here ever since," Matties said. "During the summer, I used to have this lull in motivation ... and this camp came around and just helped me out."
For Bocook, he said he comes back every year because he loves the atmosphere.
"It's like my summer vacation," he said. "I get to spend a week in beautiful Westminster surrounded by great music."
Counselor Jordan Moore, of Baltimore, has attended the camp first as student, then as counselor, for the past seven years. He said it's up to the counselors to make sure the campers aren't getting into any trouble.
"I love getting to make music with all of these people," Moore said. "Mr. Bocook is a great teacher, and it's fun to get away during the summer."
Over the past 30 years, he said the courses have changed over the years, but the enthusiasm of the students has remained the same.
"Really the only difference is each year they seem younger to my eyes," Bocook said. "For the most part, they are very gifted, but very humble. There are some remarkably talented people up on the stage, but they don't try and steal the show."
Lauren McNerny, a rising junior at Century High School, said she's going to bring the experience of music camp back with her to her school's band.
"I like playing with musicians who are so much more experienced than I am. I feel like I get better just being around them," McNerny said. "I feel like there's a huge improvement, especially because the music at school isn't as hard. I like the challenge. Even if it's difficult, at the end of the week, you've got it down."
If You Go
What: Summer Music Camp concert
When: 7 p.m. Friday, July 24
Where WMC Alumni Hall, 2 College Hill, Westminster