It is indeed, Jim. A pair of one-week Summer Music Clinic courses are held each year for junior and high school music students. The budding musicians stay in the new Ogg Hall dormitory (or commute to campus from the Madison area) and spend the week taking classes that range from band, jazz ensemble and orchestra to choir, dance, musical theater and film music history with UW faculty and visiting professors.
The music camp concept grew out of the popularity of touring bands and band contests in the 1920s. The Sousa band was in its heyday, traveling the country and performing for huge audiences and enthusiasm for music was high. The first Summer Music Clinic was held at the UW-Madison School of Music in 1928. Over the years, the program has survived the Great Depression, economic pressures, a polio epidemic, a World War II housing squeeze, campus antiwar riots and the competition of increasing summer offerings for youth. The educators who founded the camp could scarcely have imagined its tremendous impact.
In 1937, the UW Board of Regents created scholarship awards for 10 outstanding young musicians to attend the camp. Hundreds of students have benefited from these scholarships over the years, and they have gone on to careers in symphony, opera and music education as well as business. In some cases scholarships have been awarded a quarter-century later to a son or daughter of a previous recipient.
During the 1950s there was a tremendous swell of participation in the program, which endured throughout the tumultuous 1960s. Richard Wolf, clinic director from 1962 to 1973 remembers: “The campus riots and antiwar protests gave me the greatest concern during my tenure. I vividly remember looking out the window of my sixth floor office overlooking State Street and seeing the National Guard in full combat dress with fixed bayonets, lined shoulder to shoulder, and tear gas heavy in the area. This was May, and I was processing some 2,000 applications to bring junior and senior high school students to campus. The clinic was fortunate to survive those difficult times. Parents were apprehensive about sending their children to our campus.”
More than 850 students came to campus for the popular program in 2010, one from as far away as Tanzania. Middle school campers got a dose of inspiration from Madison resident Ray Bailey, who attended the music camp in 1933–35. “Not a day goes by that music isn’t part of my life,” he told them. From the sounds of it, Jim, you and Ray shared a magical musical experience.