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Cazenovia College provides venue for band camp; free concert to be held Saturday at Caz High School

Signature Music Camp had planned to strike up the band this month at SUNY Geneseo, but in June there was a water-main break in the music department building at the Livingston County campus in Western New York.

“We didn’t know what we were going to do,” said Signature founder Dr. Richard Ford. “We had 60 campers all set to participate in our 20th season, but we didn’t have any place to go.”

Then Ford contacted Cazenovia College.

Executive Vice President Susan Berger and John Lehmann, the college’s director of dining, conferences and catering services, made the arrangements for Signature to quickly relocate here. Colleen Prossner, the manager of the Cummings Theatre, also opened welcoming doors to the Signature campers.

“Cazenovia is really perfect for us,” Ford said. “We draw most of our campers from Onondaga, Madison, Oneida, Cayuga and Cortland counties, so Cazenovia is a great central location.”

For most of its 20 years, Signature students camped at Ithaca College before moving to Geneseo last year.

While the majority of the young musicians hail from rural upstate school districts, Ford feels especially proud of the program’s diverse demographics. This year, there are numerous campers from varied ethnic backgournds, including two students from Russia.

“That’s one of the things that’s nice about our residential camp,” Ford said. “A lot of the rural kids have never seen that kind of diversity.”

The 60 students along with counselors-in-training (former campers) and Ford’s staff of professional music educators arrived at Cazenovia College in July 15, and gave a concert in the park on July 21.

Playing music can be fun, but it’s also hard work. The campers’ days start with ensemble rehearsals and class work from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. In the late afternoon, campers can swim, play frisbee or other pick-up games or just hang out on the lawn. Evening events include skit night, staff and camper recitals, scavenger hunts and carnival night.

The 2012 Signature Music Camp orchestra will perform its final concert at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 28, at Cazenovia High School Auditorium, at 31 Emory Ave., in Cazenovia. The aspiring musicians will be conducted by Stephen Paparro. Admission is free; 478-7840.

Russ Tarby is a contributing writer at Eagle Newspapers. He can be reached at russtarby@netscape.net.

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