2018 Alumni Guest Artist in Residence, Jim Holton

jim_at_pianoPianist, cellist, composer, arranger, and educator, Jim Holton has performed extensively in the Philadelphia, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York areas with many groups that include critically acclaimed Rhythm & Brass, Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band, and Joe Suddler’s Swing Machine who backed artists such as Jon Fadis, Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, and Al Grey. Jim has also worked with artists Tim Warfield, Clifford Adams, Larry McKenna, Tyrone Brown, Justin Faulkner, Charles Fambrough, Mike Boone, Tony “TNT” Jones, John Swana, Byron Landham, Mickey Roker, and Cornel Rochester.

Among recordings Jim is on are: Mike Boone’s “Better Late Than Never,” Tyrone Brown’s “The Magic Within” and “Bass Works,” Barry Sames’ “Celebration,” Khadijah Renee’s “Sentimental Me, a tribute to Sarah Vaughn,” and played on a grammy- nominated soundtrack, composed by Dr. Maurice Wright, for the documentary film, “Strokes of Genius.” Jim and his music have been featured numerous times on Philadelphia’s WRTI, 90.1FM, where he has been a guest of radio hosts, Bob Perkins, Maureen Malloy, and Jeff Duperon.

In October of ’08, Jim released the CD, “No Green Bananas, a retrospective,” which was favorably reviewed in The Philadelphia Inquirer, All about Jazz, and The Philadelphia Jazz Music Examiner. He has a BA in Music from Temple University and is currently a Minister of Music at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Ambler, PA. He is also principal cellist with the Academy Chamber Society under conductor Michael Kemp. He teaches piano, cello, music theory and improvisation to students of all ages and levels in the Philadelphia area. In addition to private lessons, Jim Holton is on the faculty of Mercer County Community College in West Winsdor, New Jersey as instructor of piano and cello.

Music Camp Scholarships: Impacting Young Lives

Have you ever wondered what happens to the money you place in those little round baskets we pass during the scholarship speeches at Bowl in the Pines concerts on Sunday afternoons at NEMC? A dollar goes a long way and every penny counts! You make a difference and Lucas Callahan is proof of this! Read the transcript of Lucas’ speech from a 2013 weekend concert. Lucas was a councilor in 2015 and hopes to return again and again! 


Good afternoon, my name is Lucas Callahan and this is my fifth year and 8th session at New England Music Camp. I have been a scholarship student at this camp for 7 sessions and I owe so much to the generous people who gave to the scholarship fun and those who made it possible for me to be at this wonderful place. I thank these people with all of my heart. Being a camper at NEMC has shaped me into the person I am today. Without this camp I wouldn’t possess anywhere near the skill that I have now. The scholarship fund helps deserving young musicians come to this magical place where they have the opportunity to work with a fantastic staff, learn amazing and challenging pieces of music, and shape themselves to be young adults.

I said this place was magical and I firmly believe this is true. I attended NEMC for 8 sessions and it was not because of all of the good times spent at the “Y” or getting annihilated by the faculty and counselors in the camper/faculty softball game. I come because of the sunsets on Burns’ dock, flag every morning, the DJ Dance, grilled cheese days, the wonderful people I meet, getting a ride from Maestro on his golf cart, the amazing seafood bisque, veggie lasagna, and delectable beef at banquet, and of course the fantastic faculty and counselors who make it all possible.

I was fortunate enough to be able to experience all of this fully and I have learned so much about music and myself as a musician. There is a saying that I always heard from my voice teacher Michael McCarthy; “It’s just eleven short months before I see you again”, he would say as I hugged him goodbye and the first time I heard that I thought he was crazy! Eleven months is a really long time, practically a year, and it seems even longer in the last 72 hours before camp, where ever second feels like an eternity and the anticipation and excitement is so high you can’t sleep. NEMC is a home away from home where people make friendships that last for a lifetime. I know I will send my children and grandchildren and maybe even my great-grandchildren to this marvelous camp.

NEMC is a family and I ask that you give all you can so that another person who might not be able to come here otherwise can have the opportunity to experience the magic of NEMC. Thank you.

Alumni Artist Jonathan Ring Interview

Each summer New England Music Camp welcomes a distinguished alumni guest artist back to camp. Artists spend a week teaching, performing and re-experiencing the magic of NEMC. The program, sponsored by the NEMC Board of Advisors, allows campers the unique opportunity to work closely with musicians who were once campers just like them and who have gone on to successful careers in music.

This summer San Francisco Symphony hornist, Jonathan Ring, will be the NEMC Alumni Artist in Residence. Music Director, Leon Gregorian says, “It is always a pleasure to work with former campers who have made it “big” in this most difficult and demanding music profession. Personally, I have enjoyed these collaborations immensely with our guest artists. I am confident Jonathan Ring’s residency will be interesting, valuable, exciting, and inspiring.  I do know that both our campers and our faculty always enjoy such productive visits from musicians.  I am also very excited to know that Mr. Ring will work very closely with horn students, with all the the brass students, perform with the faculty members and solo with the Symphony Orchestra.  Now that is a real Artist Residency Program .”

We are grateful to Mr. Ring for taking a few moments to answer some questions about his experiences at NEMC, his thoughts on music and music education, and what his return to camp will mean to him.

When Mr. Ring attended NEMC in 1975,1976, and 1977 he resided in Dorr, Sault, and Burns cabins.  As you read the following dialogue you will see that while there have been minor changes to the grounds and program over the years, Mr. Ring’s experience is quite similar to what campers in 2014 experience!

Can you share a musical memory from your time at NEMC?
NEMC was really the first place that exposed me to a lot of other musical kids.  I remember being blown away by the quality of the music and of how it felt to sit in an ensemble and create something larger than myself.  I remember playing horn ensemble music for the first time.  There are so many musical memories…

What is your favorite non-musical NEMC memory?
One day on the counselor’s day off, we moved his whole bedroom out to the floating dock and set it up out there.  When he came back to the cabin that night, he was surprised, to say the least!

How did your experiences at NEMC shape or impact your life?
I think the most important part of camp for me was the realization that there were a lot of kids like me out there, kids who were really into music.  It gave me a sense of belonging and a confidence to keep pursuing what it was that I loved.  It also was the first time that I had to keep a schedule by myself.  I made some good friends and still run into NEMC alums quite a bit – there are 5 in my orchestra!

What is it like to see your son at NEMC? How is his experiences similar and how is it different?
It is very heart-warming to see my youngest son Benjamin go to NEMC.  He had very much the same experience that I did in discovering that there are a lot of music kids out there.  He goes to a small school, as I did, and feels that he is very much in the minority at home.  Being immersed in music for the summer with his peers was a great experience.

What do you think the most important aspect of a music camp like NEMC is? Why should a child attend a music camp?
I see music camp as serving 2 purposes: first, to be able to study, perform and practice music during the summer unhindered by regular school with kids your own age and older.  Second, to just be able to be a kid and do camp things: make friends, swim, do arts and crafts, eat together, do campfires – all of the non-musical things that go on at camp.  The combination of these two things is what makes NEMC special!

What are you most looking forward to during your week back at NEMC?
I love to teach and am excited about being able to return to NEMC and share some of my knowledge and experience with the next generation.  I looked up to my teachers there and now will have the rather strange opportunity to be on the other side.

Your children are young musicians, how are things different for young musicians now than when you were their age?
A lot depends on where they are growing up.  I had very few opportunities musically where I was raised which was why NEMC was so beneficial to me.  My son has many more opportunities available to him and is busy most days after school doing music.  Also, the level is quite high.  This creates, though, a bit of a misconception about the realities of music as a career.  I see a lot of young musicians thinking that is it an easy road to being able to earn a living in music.  I actually think it is harder now than it was when I was younger, though certainly not impossible.  The state of the arts is different and there is more competition for fewer spots.

Do you have a specific message or anything special you share with them?
I am a believer in following one’s passion, having high standards and a strong vision of success.  However, I believe that being a flexible artist is the key.  Be open to all kinds of music – learn more than one instrument – write and arrange music.  These are things that can and will help you succeed as well as expanding your mind about the musical world.  There are a lot of talented kids out there, so what will make you stand out.  Aside from all this, music should still be fun!  It is a powerful art form and one that can literally change the world.

This is a traditional NEMC question that we always ask our counselors to share the answer to:  What is one thing that most people might be surprised to know about you?
I think that most people assume that because I play horn in a major symphony orchestra, all I like and listen to is classical music.  The reality is quite different – we mostly have rock and jazz blaring in our house.  I also play keyboards and am into vintage synthesizers of the 1970’s and ’80’s and secretly wanted to be a rock star…oh well!

Visiting Alumni Artist: Jonathan Ring, Horn

New England Music Camp is proud to announce that the 2014 Visiting Alumni Artist will be San Francisco Symphony hornist Jonathan Ring.

Mr. Ring will visit NEMC during the week of July 7th. He will perform and conduct master classes throughout the week, including a performance on the 3:00pm Sunday, July 13th, concert at Bowl in the Pines.

Mr. Ring joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1991 after holding positions in the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Fort Wayne Philharmonic. He currently serves on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he teaches horn and coaches chamber music. He earned a B.M. from Northwestern University, where he studied with Dale Clevenger. He also studied with Robert Fries and Jerry Peel. Mr. Ring is a founding member of The Bay Brass and has appeared on numerous television and motion picture soundtracks. In addition to his work on the horn, Ring is an accomplished keyboard player and composer, writing in both classical and jazz idioms.

We look forward to welcoming Jonathan Ring back to camp this summer!

Author Paula Lee – A Lesson in Bowing

Meet New England Music Camp alumna, Paula Lee. Paula attended New England Music Camp from 1973-1976 when campers were accepted as young as 9 years old. On the blog today, she shares her wit and humor in a guest post describing her experiences at NEMC and the important life lessons to be learned at camp!  

Paula is a writer and historian who splits her time between Paris, Maine and Massachusetts. Her books include “Game: A Global History”; and her newly released memoir, Deer Hunting in Paris: “A Memoir or God, Guns, and Game Meat”. We are proud to note that her memoir is currently featured at #1 and #2 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Maine list!


A Lesson in Bowing

When she was eleven, my Canadian friend Kirsten Koza got sent to summer camp in the USSR. She was so traumatized by rectal thermometers and communist toilets that she wrote a hilarious memoir called Lost in Moscow. So I said to her, “Hey, it could have been worse. When I was nine, I got sent to music camp in Maine!”

It wasn’t music camp that was the problem. I loved New England Music Camp. I just wished I was there on my own, without an annoying prodigy of a brother on the “boy’s” side of camp, and later, my baby sister following me around and telling my friends she was my baby sister. Unlike them, I wasn’t a gifted musician. I was an average violinist who’d never tried the Suzuki method and couldn’t keep time with a metronome. Because I was largely self-taught in my instrument, I had no idea that the string section was supposed to bow in the same direction at the same time, creating a pleasing effect akin to synchronized swimming. Somewhat unwillingly, I learned that Orchestra music featured symbols called “bow marks” that looked like this:



These symbols instructed violinists to “Up bow!” or “Down bow!” (Woof! Woof!) This added requirement did not help my musicianship, as I am the sort of person who cannot pat their head and rub their belly at the same time, partly because I cannot figure out why anyone would want to behave so bizarrely. Fittingly, my brother won Honor Musician. I won Honor Camper, because where I flourished was in Solfeggio, Short Sheeting, and Introduction to Canoe.

I still remember most of the words to “On the shores of Messalonskee/Queen of Belgrade’s Chain,” and watching Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians on movie night. At New England Music Camp, I learned how to square dance and hit a bull’s eye with bow and arrow. I met kids who played viola, piccolo, and flugelhorn – the musical equivalents of unicorns. My sister’s flute teacher, Glynnis Stout, was a legend among the campers, and one day I hope to base an actual character on her. Because, let’s face it, no-one ever expected me to become a professional musician, so I went on to travel the world by myself, got a doctorate in architectural history, and ended up a writer. This doesn’t mean that all those years spent practicing violin were mere exercises in futility. At NEMC, the blanket requirement of having to audition for a spot, meet regularly for rehearsals, and perform for a real audience taught necessary lessons in facing rejection, learning the value of self-discipline, and the sheer fun of taking your bows after putting on a show.

And it was fun. Looking back on it, my delight in sitting in those practice cabins, sawing away on my violin and swatting away spiders, was a good indication that I was well suited for the state of solitude that writers crave. I also learned that I excelled at archery, which had unexpected repercussions for my current situation as memoirist who writes about game meat, giving the idea of “bow marks” a whole other meaning. The point being that life, like music, is not a thing but an experience — and if experience tells you anything, it’s that even staid symphonies can be full of surprises. Up bow!


All-Star Orchestra Alumni

NEMC Alumni All-Stars

The All-Star Orchestra is a new ensemble comprised of top players from major orchestras across the United States. We are proud to note that several of the “All-Stars” are NEMC Alumni! Members include clarinetists Jon Manasse and Jessica Phillips Rieske, percussionist Matthew Strauss, and we’ve also heard that alumna, Nicki Balm’s father, trumpet player Neil Balm, is a member of this distinguished group of musicians! The All-Star Orchestra aims to inspire audiences for classical music via public television, DVDs, and websites dedicated to music education. The series of one-hour episodes will begin airing on public television this fall – check your local listing. You can click here to see details on each of the episodes.



Alumni Guest Artist Jon Manasse to Perform

This week we welcome New England Music Camp Alumni Guest Artist, Jon Manasse, back to camp. Mr. Manasse will visit clarinet lessons, conduct master classes and perform on both the Wednesday night faculty recital and the Sunday afternoon concert at Bowl in the Pines. Wednesday evening’s performance includes Weber Clarinet Quintet, Op. 34 with members of the NEMC faculty (8pm, Alumni Hall) and Sunday Mr. Manasse will perform the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the NEMC Symphony Orchestra (3pm Bowl in the Pines).

Among the most distinguished classical artists of his generation, clarinetist Jon Manasse is internationally recognized for his inspiring artistry, uniquely glorious sound and charismatic performing style. Mr. Manasse plays with the Stamford Symphony Orchestra, and is the principal clarinetist of the American Ballet Theater Orchestra and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra. He became the principal clarinetist of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in 2008. Jon Manasse and his duo-partner, pianist Jon Nakamatsu, serve as Artistic Directors of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival. Manasse is a Buffet Crampon and Vandoren Performing Artist. He has been Associate Professor of Clarinet at the Eastman School of Music since 1995, faculty member of Juilliard in 2007, and distinguished artist in residence at Lynn University’s Conservatory of Music since 2008 in Boca Raton, Florida.

We are grateful for the opportunity to welcome Mr. Manasse back to New England Music Camp and look forward to the next several days of fantastic music making!

NEMC Alumni Concerts Raise $8k for Storm Relief

On March 16, 2013 NEMC alumni Ara, Ani and Alicia Gregorian (violin, violin and cello) performed together with concert pianist Thomas Sauer in a benefit concert to raise money for those in the NY area still suffering after Super Storm Sandy.

The two concerts were held in the Sohotel Artspace Gallery in NYC and the Gregorian family proudly raised $8,000, all of which was given the Robin Hood Foundation in support of their relief efforts after the storm. The Gregorian family especially enjoyed having several NEMC friends attend the concerts!


Peace of the River – BellaMafia Bowdoin College

Kyra Babakian (NEMC August ’04 – ’07) recently wrote to tell us that her a all-female cappella group, BellaMafia, at Bowdoin College sings Peace as a warm-up at every rehearsal. She wrote, “Singing Peace makes me feel overwhelmingly content and at ease. It’s also been known to make me cry.” Her mother, Sue Markel, was also a camper at NEMC and when she heard the group sing Peace she also got a little teary-eyed.

The group recently recorded Peace for their new CD.  Kyra says, “Singing Peace with my a cappella group has been such an incredible experience, because it makes me feel as if I’m combining Bowdoin and NEMC, my two favorite places!”

Alumna Emily Mervosh to Film Documentary about Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland

Hello NEMC!

My name is Emily Mervosh and I was a camper in 2008. NEMC holds a very special place in my heart, as it helped me grow as both a musician and as a person.

This summer I am traveling to Ireland/Northern Ireland to produce a documentary about an AWESOME youth orchestra, the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland (CBOI), which is trying to use music to overcome religious intolerance. Protestants and Catholics fought very violently for decades – a conflict which has become known as The Troubles. Although these two groups haven’t been fighting since 1998, there is still a lot of tension between them.

Throughout my life, I have seen how music can be a unifying force and how well it can teach people the nuances of life and relationships. I believe that the CBOI is a safe haven for its young Protestant and Catholic members to interact with and understand each other, and to expose their hearts through the music they play.

The film will be premiered in NYC in the fall of 2013 when the orchestra comes to play at Carnegie Hall, will be screened in Ireland/Northern Ireland, and submitted to festivals. One of my long-term goals is to bring this film and a presentation to legislatures and school superintendents in New York and New England as proof that music is extremely important and that it is absolutely imperative that it remains in our public schools.

I have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the film. This money will allow me to hire a professional crew and rent the equipment (i.e. camera, audio) necessary to shoot the film.

Check it out: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1028313278/exploring-the-power-of-music-with-the-cboi

Any contribution would be greatly appreciated :) Since this is crowdfunding, it is equally important that you spread the word to people you know that would be interested in contributing too!

I want this film to reach as many people as possible. I believe we can learn from what the orchestra is doing.

If you have any questions about my project, feel free to email me at: emervosh@gmail.com or call me at: 516-375-5414