by Elianna B. Thorne
It’s 7 AM, and already someone is practicing marimba. Another day begins at the MasterWorks Festival, a Christian performing arts camp which every summer draws students of classical performance from around the country and around the world.
Breakfast is at 8 AM. For a few hardy souls, a prayer group meets before breakfast to pray over the Festival; their concern is the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of all MasterWorks participants. Rehearsals begin at 9, and students and teachers alike commune with their program groups for instruction and fellowship. Orchestras, piano studios, a theatre troupe, intensive study sessions for wind and string players, film studies, and choir. Individuals receive weekly private lessons on their instruments, and chamber ensembles form and receive coaching from faculty members.
For those interested in additional learning opportunities, there are masterclasses throughout the Festival with world-class guest artists, many of whom appear as soloists on the orchestra concerts. There are also competitions for students to perform with the orchestras, both for instrumentalists and vocalists.
After gathering for lunch, participants are treated to a daily faculty devotional, setting them up for a pensive hour of quiet time alone with God before rehearsals recommence. On Sundays, this is replaced by a morning worship service and an entire afternoon free before the weekly faculty recital and worship singing in the evening. Afternoons are as busy as the mornings. Students with some free time complete work study hours, assisting the tech interns and office staff in clerical and menial tasks that keep the Festival running smoothly. They also serve as ushers and stagehands at the numerous concerts and recitals throughout the camp.
Weekday dinners are followed by small group Bible studies, led by faculty and co- facilitated by the students. These sessions provide participants with the chance to grow closer to God while building relationships with people from outside their programs. The remainder of the evening is spent in practice rooms and with friends. Various student-led entertainments spring up throughout the Festival, such as an improv night, a gong show, and social dances.
Qualified students have opportunities to develop leadership skills as counselors and apprentice string faculty. These individuals guide and support younger students in their journey through the four-week camp. The tech team, led by the Production Director, work hard at honing their particular skills in videography, lighting and sound, costuming for the theatre production and opera scenes, librarianship of the orchestral music, and various other areas of crucial importance to the running of the Festival.
Performing is the main focus of MasterWorks, and students embrace every occasion. Some lend their talents to the Sunday worship services; others reach out to the local community with
off-site concerts at neighborhood cafes. Pianists are given an opportunity to solo before each of the Friday and Saturday orchestra concerts. For the more ambitious, the Honors solo and chamber competitions offer a chance to play on recitals showcasing the Festival’s best.
The faith element of MasterWorks creates a healthy, nurturing environment that puts it in a class by itself. Participants grow in character as well as in musical ability, and leave changed. In addition, friendships are formed with colleagues who share their faith as well as a deep love for their art. The long days bond this community together in a unique fellowship that keeps them coming back year after year.