Double Reeds at New England Music Camp

 oboe Teachingjpg oboe at NEMC

Double reed students at New England Music Camp have the opportunity to work one on one with our world-class faculty every day! Twice weekly private lessons and daily one-on-one coaching in large ensembles and chamber music provide a unique opportunity for students to learn a wide range of standard repertoire in a short period of time. Twice a week, students learn blank-making and trimming in small classes.  No prior experience is necessary, but reed-makers of all levels will be challenged.  Beginners learn the basics, and experienced reed-makers hone their skills, learning new techniques and building on their prior knowledge. Dr. Kitts and Ms. Roberts foster an environment that allows students to explore all the facets of double reed playing in an intimate and supportive environment. Proof that double reeds at NEMC have a LOT of fun: the intermittent sounds of bursting laughter coming from the Trustees building at NEMC can usually be traced to the reed-making studio!

Financial aid and scholarship are available. Join us this summer for a life-changing experience at NEMC!

Contact Fiona Bryan for more information today at 303-882-0543


lorrainedusokittsLorraine Duso Kitts is a Professor at the University of Central Arkansas teaching double reeds and adjunct oboe instructor at Hendrix College and the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. She plays Second Oboe with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra as well as freelances with the Conway Symphony Orchestra and Texarkana Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed in orchestras outside of the State of Arkansas such as the Knoxville Symphony, TN, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Estado de Mexico and Orquesta Sinfonia de Jalapa in Mexico. As a soloist she has performed John Corigliano’s Aria from his Oboe Concerto with the Arkansas Symphony and was a soloist with other ensembles, such as the Pine Bluff Symphony (AR), Fuzhou Philharmonic Orchestra in Fuzhou, China, and the Little Rock Wind Symphony. In August 2016, she performed the entire Corigliano Concerto with pianist, Dr. Kazuo Murakami at the International Double Reed Society Conference in Tokyo. Dr. Duso has premiered works by John Steinmetz, Christopher Theofanidis, Matt Quayle, Stefanie Berg and Paul Dickinson with members of the Arkansas Symphony double reed trio, DDG Trio (Duck, Duck, Goose). They have performed at the International Double Reed Society at the University of Redlands, California and at the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library, River Rhapsody Chamber Music Series. Dr. Duso Kitts begins her summers teaching reed making and masterclasses at Dixie Band Camp, an eighty-one year old establishment for junior and high school Arkansans for two weeks, and then travels to the New England Music Camp for the seven week program. Dr. Duso has been teaching at NEMC since the summer of 2000. She received her Bachelor of Music degree in Oboe Performance from the Indiana University, her Master of Music degree in English horn and Oboe Performance from Manhattan School of Music and her Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in Oboe Performance from the University of Michigan. Her teachers include Jerry Sirucek, Joseph Robinson, Tom Stacy and Harry Sargous.


Elizabeth Roberts

Elizabeth Roberts, Principal Bassoon and Director of Youth Education for the Charlottesville Symphony since 2001, joined the faculty at the University of Virginia the same year.  She became a member of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra as their contrabassoonist beginning in the 2017-18 season, and has played Second Bassoon with the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra since 2015.  Ms. Roberts was the Visiting Assistant Professor of Bassoon at the University of Missouri for the 2013-2014 academic year.  She freelances on bassoon and contrabassoon with the Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony, Washington National Opera, and Baltimore Symphony.  Ms. Roberts joined the faculty of the New England Music Camp during the summer of 2017.  She was a 2008 Virginia Governor’s Award for the Arts nominee, and has given world premiere performances of works by Arthur Weisberg, Bernard Rands, Barbara York, Gary Schocker, and Walter Ross.  Ms. Roberts has performed as a soloist with the Charlottesville Symphony, the Roanoke Symphony, the Harid Conservatory Orchestra and the Waynesboro Orchestra, and was invited to perform as a soloist and chamber musician at the International Double Reed Society conference in 2010 (OK), 2013 (CA), 2014 (NY), and 2017 (WI).

Ms. Roberts has taught bassoon, reedmaking, and chamber music in the Charlottesville, VA area since 2001, and has performed and taught at the Wintergreen Performing Arts Festival (VA), Beyond the Notes (UVA), where she served as Artistic Director, Music Mind and Reading (NC), the Cascade Festival of Music (OR) and the Coastal Youth Symphony Camp (GA), where she served as Program Director.  She currently serves as the Music Advisor for Crozet Arts. Ms. Roberts earned a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of Illinois, a Professional Studies Diploma and a Bachelor of Music from the Harid Conservatory, and a Master of Music from the University of Southern California, where she was elected to both Pi Kappa Lambda and USC Presidential Fellows, and received the Dean’s Special Commendation.  Her principal teachers were Arthur Weisberg, Stephen Maxym, and Frank Morelli.  She has pursued additional studies on bassoon with Nancy Goeres and on contrabassoon with Lew Lipnick and Holly Blake.



Meet the NEMC 2015 Girls Counselors

Get to know the 2015 NEMC Girls Counselors!

Heather Holinger Heather Holinger
Head Counselor, Girls
Hometown: Belgrade, Maine
College/University: Saint Joseph’s College (BS), University of New England (MS in Education)
Year round: 2nd  grade teacher in Belgrade, Maine.
Years at NEMC: Counselor in 1999. I worked in the office and then was Assistant Head Girls’ Counselor until 2010 when I became Head Counselor!


Chelsea KaneChelsea Kane
Assistant Head Counselor, Girls

Hometown: Simsbury, CT
College/University: Providence Coege
Instrument(s): voice, piano
Connection to or Years at NEMC: camper: 2 years, counselor: 4 years, assistant head: 1 year
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: I work as the director of vocal activities in the performing arts department at Suffield Academy, a boarding school in Suffield, CT. While that is exciting, most people would be surprised to know that I not only graduated from Suffield but I also have a co-worker connected to NEMC…Kim Wiggin! So, she gets to hang out with me ALL year!

Gillian Applegate

Gillian Applegate
Age: 20
Hometown: Bloomington, IN
College/University: Carleton College in Northfield, MN
Instrument(s): Clarinet
Connection to or Years at NEMC: I was a camper for 3 years, and this is my 2nd year as a counselor.
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: I shaved my head at a Buddhist monastery in New Zealand.



Laina CaesarLaina Caesar
Age: 19 (turning 20 during camp)
Hometown: Barrington, RI (just moved to Stockton Springs, Maine a few weeks ago)
College/University: Saint Anselm College
Instrument(s): Voice
Connection to or Years at NEMC: Camper for 3 years and counselor for 1 year. All three of my siblings are affiliated with the camp.
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: I’ve stood in 4 different states at the same exact time.



Kate Davis

Kate Davis
Age: 20
Hometown: Chicago, IL
College/University: Loyola University of New Orleans
Instrument(s): Flute
Connection to or Years at NEMC: This is my second year as a counselor at NEMC.
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: I was an Irish Dancer for 6 years growing up.



Jo Izaguirre

Joanna “Jo” Izaguirre
Age: 21
Hometown: Thibodaux, LA
College/University: Loyola University of New Orleans (Go Wolfpack! Awooooo!)
Instrument(s): Double Bass/ String Bass/ Upright Bass/ Giant Violin
Connection to or Years at NEMC: This will be my 9th wonderful summer at NEMC!
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: Most people would be surprised to know that I am the first generation on my father’s side and third on my mother’s to be born in the USA. Oh-oh say can you see, that my father was born in Mexico and my maternal great-grandmother was born in Canada! My first language was Spanish, but I lost it over the years.


Sam Luck

Samantha Luck
Hometown: Mount Desert Island, Maine
College/University: State University of New York at Fredonia
Instrument(s): Voice Flute and Piano
Connection to or Years at NEMC: 9 sessions
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: I am not a picky eater at all but for some reason I don’t like cake or peanut butter but I’ll eat almost anything else.




Nora MelloNora Mello
Age: 20
Hometown: Groton, MA
College/University: Michigan State University
Instrument(s): Piano and Flute
Connection to or Years at NEMC: I was a camper at NEMC from 2010-2012 and this is my first summer as a counselor!
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: I’ve been a vegetarian since the age of 3.



Kelly Newton

Kelly Newton
Age: 19
Hometown: Mansfield, Massachusetts
College/University: Texas State University
Instrument(s): Voice, Ukulele, Piano
Connection to or Years at NEMC: I’ve never been to NEMC before as a camper or a counselor, but after hearing about it, I knew it would be a great fit!
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: I love to bake. I try to find creative ways to make desserts using healthier ingredients than the typical versions. They don’t always turn out good, but I have fun!


Sam Peachey

Samantha Peachey
Age: 20
Hometown: Cleveland, OH
College/University: University of Rochester
Instrument(s): Violin
Connection to or Years at NEMC: Was a camper from 2008-2012. I had a lot of relatives who went to the camp. My mother and her siblings were campers.
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: I play rugby.



Claire Rumery

Claire Rumery 
Age: 20
Hometown: Brussels, Belgium
College/University: University of Northern Colorado
Instruments: Voice,  trombone, guitar, piano
Connection to or Years at NEMC: Father went to camp as a camper, counselor, and boys head counselor. I was at NEMC 2 years as a faculty brat, 3 years as a camper, and this is my 2nd year as a counselor!
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: I went skydiving 2 years ago and definitely plan on doing it again!!



Abby SchmidtAbby Schmidt
Age: 20
Hometown: Wynnewood, Pennsylvania
College/University: Temple University
Instrument(s): Cello and Voice
Connection to or Years at NEMC: I came to camp for nine years as a “faculty brat” when my mom was a cello teacher. I was a camper for six years! This will be my second summer as a counselor at NEMC. Last year I was a counselor for “up-dorm”, the cabin for 15 and 16 year olds and absolutely LOVED it! I am looking forward to this summer more than anything!
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: 
I played softball for two years in middle school and I was awful at it (that part isn’t surprising.)


Jo Tatlock

Jo Tatlock
Age: 19
Hometown: N. Ferrisburgh, VT
College/University: Maine College of Art
Instrument(s): Voice, French Horn
Connection to or Years at NEMC: 2 years as a camper
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: I traveled to Ghana in 2013 and taught English to a group of 15-18 year olds!



Sara Wagner

Sarah Wagner
Age: 20
Hometown: Whitehall, Pennsylvania
College/University: Sophomore Early childhood/Special Education (K-8) major at Cabrini College
Instrument(s): Voice, used to play flute until 8th grade.
Connection to or Years at NEMC: Grandparents (Bill and Dorothy Schmearer) both work at NEMC, older brother Mike went to NEMC and worked at NEMC as a counselor. I went to NEMC for 6 years!
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: I have been competitively swimming since 2nd grade.


Rachel ZafrenRachel Zafren
Age: 19
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
College/University: Bowdoin College
Instrument(s): Violin, French Horn
Connection to or Years at NEMC: 4 years as a camper
Fun fact that most people would be surprised to know about me: I once competed in a snowshoe running competition.





Snow Pond & NEMC Concert Series 2015


Snow Pond Concert SeriesSIDNEY, MAINE− Snow Pond Center for the Arts and the New England Music Camp announce their 2015 Summer Music Series. This exciting season will feature some of the world’s best musicians and performers. From the lights of Broadway, to a visit from one of the United States most esteemed Military Bands, and onto NEMC’s 36th Annual Pops Concert, the summer of 2015 promises to be one of the best yet.

The 2015 Summer Music Series kicks off with the Snow Pond Music Festival, featuring special performances from the Frederick L. Hempke Saxophone Institute and the Maine Chamber Music Seminar. The festival runs from May 31st-June 21st, and various recitals and performances will be listed on Snow Pond Calendar. Visit for a complete listing.

On June 28, the Bangor Symphony will kick off New England Music Camp’s 79th summer, with a special concert at the Bowl-In-The-Pines. NEMC Alumni, Evan Wilson, formerly principal Viola with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will solo with the Symphony, under the baton of music director and conductor Lucas Richman. The concert will begin at 3pm. Tickets: $15 General Admission, $9 Student.

Broadway is coming to Snow Pond on July 5th for Broadway Under the Stars. Broadway Music Director, Paul Staroba (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), leads this All Star cast of Broadway Veterans that includes Patty Goble (Ragtime, Phantom of the Opera), Mark Hardy (Les Miserables, Titanic), Marian Murphy (Les Miserables, Bright Lights, Big City), and Sal Viviano (City of Angels, The Full Monty).  This one-night-only Broadway themed concert under the stars and lights at The Bowl-In-The-Pines concert begins at 7:30pm. Tickets: $18 General Admission, $9 Student.

New England Music Camp students will also get the luxury of meeting and working with Alumni Guest Artist, Darmon Meader of the New York Voices, who is originally from Oakland, Maine. Meader will have several live performances while he is in residency at NEMC from July 6-13th. Schedule of events TBD.

On July 18th, New England Music Camp will present their 36th Annual Pops Concert at the Messalonskee Performing Arts Center in Oakland, Maine. The NEMC Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Chorale, and Jazz Ensemble perform in this energetic performance that also features a Silent Auction. All proceeds go directly to the NEMC scholarship fund. Seating is limited. Performance begins at 7:30. Tickets: $20.

An NEMC tradition, Maine Appreciation Day, will be celebrated at the Sunday, July 19th Concert. The Artisan Market will begin at 1pm and run throughout the 3pm Concert. Various area artists, craftsmen, and gourmet carts will be selling their goods. Bowl-In-The-Pines, 1pm-5pm. Free to the Public.

On July 31st, the world famous Air Force Strolling Strings, will be performing at the Bowl-In-The-Pines. Come enjoy a BBQ Picnic, while the strings stroll amongst the trees, followed by a concert to feature select NEMC campers and Faculty. Tickets: Free. BBQ: $10 adults, $5 Veterans and Children age 11 and under.

The final performance of the season will be by New England Music Camp’s musical theater students in their performance of Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim. Directed by Marian Muprhy Powell, this unbelievable group of young talent will leave you lost in the woods “wishing” for more. Performances will run August 7th through the 8th in Alumni Hall, at 7:30pm. Tickets: $15, Students $9.

New England Music Camp will continue to hold free weekend concerts and weekly recitals throughout the summer. All concerts are held at the Bowl-In-The Pines and all recitals at Alumni Hall. NEMC Concerto Competition winners will perform with the faculty orchestra on July 15th and August 5th.

Concert Dates: July 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 19th, 25th, 26th and August 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th.

Recital Dates: July 1st, 8th, 10th, 15th, 17th, 22nd, 24th, 29th, 30th and August 5th.

Tickets will go On-Sale to the public on May 11th at 10am. All proceeds from ticketed events go towards student scholarships, instruments and other aspects of Snow Pond Center for the Arts programs. Please visit for tickets and details on all summer events.

NEMC Roadshow In Michigan

NEMC Open HouseOn Wednesday, October 22nd Matt will visit Parkside (Jackson), Jackson High School and Chelsea High School; on Thursday, October 23rd he will visit Chelsea High School, Dexter Middle School, and Pinckney High School; and on Friday, October 24th, watch out Ann Arbor, Matt will be at Skyline, Clague, Pioneer, and Huron Schools! And because he isn’t busy enough, we are sending Matt to St. John’s High School and East Lansing High School on Monday!

Don’t see your school on the list?
Come join us in Ann Arbor on SUNDAY OCT. 26th at our OPEN HOUSE! New Campers can enter to win a $200 scholarship and don’t forget that current campers can earn $100 credit towards tuition for every registering camper they refer this year. So grab a friend and come on out!

Open Auditions for Into the Woods Nov. 9th at CAP 21

New England Music Camp will host open auditions for the 2015 summer musical theaterproduction of the Tony Award winning musical comedy, Into the Woods, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.


WHEN: November 9, 2014, 11-3pm (sign in begins 10:30am)

WHERE: Cap 21 Studios, 18 W. 18th Street, 5th Floor – Studios 502&504


Music: two contrasting contemporary musical theater pieces, 32 bars each

Monologue: Prepare one 1-2 minute monologue of your choice

Actors should come prepared to read from sides.

The production will be led by NEMC Artistic Director Marian Murphy Powell and Music Director S. Mark Aliapoulios. The Musical Theater program at NEMC guides students through daily professional style rehearsals with an emphasis on collaboration. Participants in this program experience significant personal growth while developing as actors with strong singing and dancing skills.

For more information about Musical Theater at NEMC visit  or email info @

Into The Woods at NEMC will be presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).

NPR From the Top Broadcast this Week from NEMC

This Week’s NPR From the Top Broadcast at New England Music Camp

NPR From the Top picture

Tune in to your local NPR radio station’s broadcast of From the Top with Christopher O’Riley this week and you’ll hear wonderful music recorded live this past June at the Bowl in the Pines at New England Music Camp.

From NPR: From the Snow Pond Center for the Arts in Sidney, Maine, this week’s From the Top features one of the strongest teenage oboists From the Top has encountered in the past few years performing a gorgeous Elegie by Francis Poulenc … a 14-year-old violinist performs Vieuxtemp’s virtuosic show piece, the Yankee Doodle Variations … and we meet a harpist who shares some wonderful stories about growing up studying music on rugged and rural Mt. Desert Island, Maine.

Click here to find a station near 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!

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!

Jon Sirlin Remembers Davis Wiggin

Over the years, Davis Wiggin has touched the lives of countless young people and their families. We are overwhelmed by the kind and powerful words being written on our Facebook page and sent to us via email. The following is a beautiful piece written by last summer’s Assistant Head Boys Counselor, Jonathan Sirlin. 

This will be, I’m sure, one of many eulogies and remembrances written about Davis Wiggin over the next few days, and I’m afraid that I’m going to be forced to start it in much the same way that the rest of them will. There are very few people in my position, that of having first met Davis through my experiences as a camper at New England Music Camp, that first encountered the man under any other circumstances than those I’m about to describe. For us it is this moment that will stand out in all of our minds as we think back on the life of a man who devoted so much of himself to spreading love and tradition to the strangers around him, and who aspired to eliminate all these strangers by turning them into his family.


I’m one of hundreds in a generation of campers, parents, siblings, and extended family members who met Davis for the first time in the doorway of their home, welcoming in a stranger who promised to show them a very persuasive, but brief, video (as long as they had a VCR), and who only wanted an hour or so of their time to talk about a place up north in Sidney, Maine that he held near and dear to his heart. And yeah, sure, he’d love to stay for dinner, as long as you’re offering.


And this is just how my family and I first came to know Mr. Wiggin. In the foyer of a modest suburban house on a sleepy road in New Rochelle, New York, just as the leaves had finished falling and the front lawn was preparing for months of hibernation under a blanket of snow. My mother had told me earlier in the day that a man was coming by to talk to me about how much fun it’d be to go to my sister’s old summer camp. Confused by the prospect of having to already think about summer when I had just yesterday found my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles winter hat after hours of searching in my closet, I decided it was best not to ask questions and to just sit and smile while my parents tried to get me to go to that dreadful band camp my sister wouldn’t stop talking about. Besides, my mom said she’d be cooking a special dinner for the occasion, and I’m not one to ever turn down a free meal.


So, after finishing my homework and mentally preparing myself for the evening’s half-hour of hysterics with a new episode of The Simpsons, our doorbell rang. My family had tidied up the house a bit for our guest and encouraged me to do the same, so I changed out of my New York Mets t-shirt and put on a solid-colored collared shirt. When the collared shirt came out, that’s when you know I meant business. We opened the door to a cheery-eyed smiling man who was just so very happy to see us all again. We welcomed him inside and, after a few formalities and pleasantries in the entry way, we all made our way to the television room and watched the New England Music Camp promotional video.


I remember thinking the video was incredibly boring. Like, mind-numbingly, drool-inducing, watch-your-fingernails-grow boring. Not because it didn’t do a good job of depicting how wonderful the camp was, but because my sister had already told me every single thing the video said (and more), and her stacks upon stacks of photographs from summers past were in regular rotation throughout the house. She was the world’s best saleswoman, singing her cabin’s favorite songs, explaining their inside jokes, and practicing her viola eight thousand hours a day, a custom she says she learned at camp.  My family had been to the camp before, and though I was young, I already understood what made the camp special.


So, when Davis asked me if I’d enjoyed the video, of course I said yes. My parents and I engaged in a conversation with him about the prospect of my going there the following summer, and I told him I had a few reservations about being a camper. I wasn’t like my sister: I hated practicing. I liked goofing off and playing around on my instrument more than playing anything written on the page of music in front of me, and I’d had some bad experiences with sleep away camps in the past. I just wasn’t sure if it was right for me. It was in reaction to this that Davis’ smile grew the widest it had been all day, and he told me that it was for all these reasons that I should go to New England Music Camp. That the camp was really a fun, exciting environment in which music played a big factor but didn’t necessarily have to be the most important part of any camper’s experience. That the counselors are all qualified to help soothe away my homesickness on that dreadful, eternally long first night. That I was not alone in my reservations about attending a camp that had “music” in the title. That I was among dozens of other kids who would be right there along with me, unsure of their surroundings at first but soon carefree enough to enjoy every second of their time there. I had to go to New England Music Camp, he said, to prove to myself that I could do things I didn’t think I could do, and I would never be alone doing so.


Then we ate and it was awesome. Over dinner Davis had the opportunity to tell me about the traditions in the dining hall at New England Music Camp, that we got a fresh loaf of home-made bread with every meal, that everything was served family style, that tables competed to see who could finish their meal first, that we got ice cream sandwiches as regularly as we wanted. He had me at “home-made bread.” I attended my first summer at New England Music Camp in 1999, and I’ve since returned for eight summers in various capacities.


At camp over the next few summers, as I got to know Davis better and as I got to understand the world a little bit clearer, I saw that what Davis embodied in his spirit and tenacity was at the very core of what the camp stands for and what makes the place run so well. New England Music Camp has a formula that they know works: their summers are consistently enormously successful at providing a warm, welcoming environment enriched by music for countless kids who sometimes don’t really feel like they fit in so well anywhere else. It’s a place where you say grace before you sit down to eat, even if you don’t believe in it, not because of religious persecution, but because that’s just what we do. It’s a place where you’ll learn the lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel’s The Boxer whether you like it or not, because everybody around you seems to know it, and they look like they’re having a pretty damn good time singing it. It’s a place where you’re going to dress up several times a week regardless of how much you dress up at home, and no we don’t care that you only have two white button-down shirts you’ll dress up anyway, because that’s the way it’s always been done and that’s what makes us feel good. It’s a place where at the end of every night you’ll put your arm around the person next to you, whether it’s you’re best friend or a counselor you haven’t spoken a word to all summer, and you’ll sing a song about tranquility, strength, faith, and peace. It’s a place steeped in tradition, a world untouched by the insanities and injustices of the outside world, a place where every member of the community knows his or her role because it is both clearly defined and totally malleable. By the end of the summer, whether you like it or not, you belong. Davis knew how important tradition was for a healthy, joyful life. His was one filled with people who knew just how happy he was, because they got to see him smile as he watched his world thrive summer after summer, rather than crumble down and fall into the past.


As sad as an occasion this is, we must be thankful for a few things. We have to be happy that Davis lived to see the seventy-fifth anniversary of his camp. We have to smile thinking about the hundreds of faces who got to see him laugh one last time, whose lives he must have known he touched forever. We have to be happy that his and his wife Jeanette’s endeavors have created love, happiness and life in this world, especially with the recent arrival of Matt and Kate Quayle’s beautiful baby Helen, a child truly born out of a New England Music Camp romance. As long as there is love at New England Music Camp, there will be life, and as long as there is life, Davis’ traditions will live on.


I owe a great deal of the successes in my life to my experiences at New England Music Camp, and I’m happy that I can pinpoint the moment when Davis convinced me it was my time to join the NEMC family. As I continue my relationship with the camp, in whatever capacity that might be, I’ll always have a face and a moment to stamp on the birth of my time there: a smiling face, a jolly face, a face that knew what was right for me before I did. Every time we go and tell a friend, neighbor or stranger about the beauty, love, and everlasting impact of New England Music Camp, we’ll be doing Davis’ bidding, and as long as that goes on, he’s as alive as any person could ever hope to be.

Remembering Davis Wiggin

With the very saddest of hearts, we deeply regret to inform our NEMC family and friends that our dear Davis Wiggin passed away peacefully last evening, November 13, in Bonita Springs, Florida. Davis fought a valiant battle against pancreatic cancer with courage and strength. Despite the long battle and increasing pain, he never lost his sense of humor and remained passionate about his deep, abiding love of NEMC. With his wife Jeanette, he led the camp for over 40 years, and his legacy will be forever present.

We know that you may also be wondering about possible services and/or remembrances. At this time, the family is making these decisions but all of the specifics are not yet available. There will be a service celebrating Davis’ life in Essex, Connecticut, on Saturday, November 26th, followed by burial at the State Veteran’s Cemetery in Middletown. We will keep you all informed and let you know when more details are available.

The family has established the Davis E. Wiggin Memorial Scholarship fund at New England Music Camp, and requests that remembrances are made to this in lieu of flowers.