Young musicians head to prestigious summer camp in New York

Dequan Smith-McConvey, right, plays with the orchestra at John Gray High School. He will be returning to music camp in New York for the second time. - Photo: Christopher Fletcher

With no cellphones and no internet, the Luzerne Music Center might not be the summer vacation destination of choice for many youngsters.

But for Amare Hamilton, 12, and Dequan Smith-McConvey, 15, the chance to spend a month at the elite music camp is an opportunity not to be missed.

Sponsored by the Cayman Arts Festival, the talented students will play alongside gifted musicians from across the world at the prestigious music center in New York State. Situated in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, the school states its mission is to provide intensive world-class tuition to gifted youngsters in a distraction-free environment.

Amare, a violinist, left Cayman to join the camp last weekend. Speaking to the Cayman Compass before his departure, he said he was grateful for the opportunity and determined to make the most of his chance.

“I think I am going to have a great time and a great experience and try to perfect my skills and become a better violinist,” he said.

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“I think I am going to be homesick but I think the idea of not having a phone is good because you won’t be distracted. People will be practicing as much as they can.”

Dequan, a cellist who aspires to play professionally, will be attending the camp for the second time.

The senior session, which he will attend, starts July 17.

He said taking part in the camp last year had helped him improve as a musician.

“There are some world-class musicians in this place and just by being around them, you end up becoming better,” he said.

Amare and Dequan are two of around 100 students that receive music tuition through the “gifted and talented” program organized by the Cayman Arts Festival.

Fran McConvey, a music teacher at John Gray High School, said the summer camp would allow them to hone their craft alongside world-class musicians and instructors.

“It is going to be an amazing opportunity for them to learn with other talented kids. The standard is so high, it also gives them a chance to see where they stand,” she said.

For the past four years, the Cayman Arts Festival has sent one student to the Luzerne Music Center summer camps. This year is the first time they have been able to send two students.

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