Canadian music students gather for Summer Sizzle 2015 camp

About 100 music students, along with music teachers, parents and composers from across Canada and beyond were in Mount Forest from July 19 to 21 to take part in Summer Sizzle 2015.

The event is “a keyboard kamp and pedagogy symposium” presented by Northern Lights Canadian National Conservatory of Music (CNCM).

The symposium returned to Mount Forest after being held in Yorkton, Saskatchewan last year.

Debra Wanless, a pedagogy specialist born and raised in Palmerston who now travels across Canada and the United States as a pedagogy specialist and clinician, said the Mount Forest event is a historical one.

“Nowhere in Canada does this happen,” she said during the opening ceremonies on July 19. “Nowhere in Canada can music students meet so many professional composers for not an hour, not a day, but for three days under one roof.”

This year’s theme was “an Exploration of Impressionism” and each group of students was assigned a Canadian composer/musician.

Leading the various groups were Jen Smith Lanthier, Beth Hamilton, Tyler Seidenberg, Randy Demmon and John Burge.

Meanwhile, specialized workshops were held for the music teachers on a range of topics.

“Many composers … travelled from coast to coast to join in the Summer Sizzle 2015 celebrations,” said Wanless, CNCM principal and founding member.

The “keyboard kamp” included daily workshops and master classes ranging in subject matter from composition to overcoming stage fright. A grand, three upright and numerous digital pianos were on site for the three days. Youngsters took walkabouts outdoors gathering sounds for group compositions, performed piano solos for instructors and were part of a Summer Sizzle choir.

Burge was the keynote speaker at a semi-formal gala convocation dinner on July 19. Smith Lanthier performed a dinner recital.

Burge has written many vocal, chamber, orchestral and choral works and currently teaches at Queen’s University in Kingston. Smith Lanthier teaches private piano and theory lessons in the Inglis Falls area, near Owen Sound, and also composes music.

Ted Ellis, a founding member of CNCM and a guest clinician at Summer Sizzle 2015, performed a lunch recital on July 20. The long-time piano teacher said he “considers it a privilege to be able to help students along their path to becoming self-reliant musicians.”

Monday evening’s dinner concert was by West Froese, a composer performer and music educator in Saskatoon who spent a year studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. His piano compositions are widely published.

The concert was followed by a Canadian jazz concert hosted by Froese and performed by “keyboard kamp” students.

The “keyboard kamp” wound up late Tuesday afternoon with “Kids and Composition” and each group of children introducing and performing music they had composed during the week.  

The Summer Sizzle Choir also performed prior to the closing ceremonies.