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Campers take the stage at UMaine's annual summer music program

The overnight camp returns after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine is welcoming campers to its annual weeklong, overnight music camp for middle and high school students.

Maine Summer Youth Music camp (MSYM) offers campers opportunities to learn and perform in jazz and string ensembles, concert and symphonic bands, and musical theater and choir groups.

Campers arrived on campus Sunday and will have eight rehearsals throughout the week before showcasing their skills Friday.

"It's just simply amazing what happens when you put together talented students [and] talented faculty, and you get them to work in this environment," Camp Director Christopher White said.

Over the years, it's not uncommon for campers to return as instructors. Jeff Priest started as a camper in 1978 and has returned as a teacher for over 25 years. His love for music also led a new generation — his son — to the same passion.

Growing up, Jason Priest attended the camp every year and now returns as an instructor, following in his father's footsteps. 

"It's very nostalgic. You remember all the great times as a camper and it influences you as a teacher because you want to give those kids a great experience, too," Jason said.

Both Jeff and Jason teach jazz at this year's camp. Jason, always keeping an eye out for how his dad does it.

"He [Jeff] planted a seed a long time ago," Jason said. "You think after watching him for 30 years you wouldn't get surprised anymore, but I'm always finding things like, 'Oh yeah, that's a great idea.'"

This year's camp is the first year since 2019 MSYM is offering an overnight camp for the full week. Last year, MSYM offered day camps, and the camp was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

On Friday, campers will perform "The Lion King Jr." and "Newsies" along with jazz ensemble performances at 2 p.m. Concert bands, orchestra, choirs, and string ensembles will wrap up the night with performances starting at 7 p.m.

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