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VOL. 132 | NO. 71 | Monday, April 10, 2017

PRIZM Music Camp and Festival Expands

By Andy Meek

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Memphis’ PRIZM music camp and international chamber music festival is adding a new location as well as an extra week of programming.

Memphis’ PRIZM music camp and international chamber music festival is expanding, with a new location this year as well as an extra week of activity.


The PRIZM Ensemble, formed in 2004, consists of classically trained Memphis musicians who specialize in chamber music and work to develop and promote Memphis-area talent through education and performance opportunities.

PRIZM is the ensemble-in-residence at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church in East Memphis. It performs several chamber concerts during the year and also puts on the annual PRIZM Camp & International Chamber Music Festival each summer.

For the next camp and festival in June, the first week will take place at PRIZM’s longtime home of Shady Grove Presbyterian. The new second week will bring PRIZM into the heart of the city, at First Baptist Church on Broad Avenue.

The thinking, says PRIZM Ensemble co-founder and executive director Lecolion Washington, is to expand the reach of PRIZM’s programs, create more access and opportunity for young musicians, and build an inclusive atmosphere dedicated to enhancing the musical development of young people.

“We’re expanding, because last year we were at capacity,” Washington said. “We’ve been doing the program at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church for a long time, and last year, we were just bursting at the seams. And instead of moving the entire operation, we just decided to add another week at another site.”

By doing that, PRIZM is able to have a program at a predominantly white church and a predominantly black church “to allow us to keep living that mission of trying to build diversity through chamber music and through our work,” Washington added.

For the now two weeks of programming, students will be able to join for one or both. The camp is open to any student who’s at least 12 years old and has a minimum of two years of experience on their instrument, and auditions aren’t necessary to qualify. Scholarships are also available.

The PRIZM International Chamber Music Festival happens concurrently to the camp, and all concerts are open to the public. The international classical musicians who travel to Memphis each summer take part in festival performances in addition to serving as camp faculty. The repertoire and ticket information for the 2017 festival concerts will be announced later this spring.

This year’s camp and international chamber music festival will run from June 5-17. The cost to attend is $375 for one week and $700 for two weeks, and need-based scholarships are available.

Admission to all concerts is $20 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors, while children under 12 can attend for free.

PRIZM music camp veteran Lindsey Baker, who plays the bassoon, praised the sense of community the festival fosters.

“I have learned and grown as not only a musician but as a person through the four years I’ve participated,” Baker said.

That’s something Washington likes to hear, as it reflects the multi-pronged mission of the organization.

“The things we really value are diversity, opportunity and access,” he said. “When we look at our faculty, for example, we want to make sure they’re extremely diverse. Also for the student population. We look and see – do we need to be recruiting more students of color? Do we need to be recruiting more boys? That’s something we’re working on now – recruiting more young boys into the program.”

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