UTPB offering variety of arts camps

University of Texas Permian Basin is offering a new variety of camps this summer letting youngsters express their musical theater talents, along with band, orchestra and choir.

The orchestra camp is planned for June 8-11; musical theater, June 14-18; middle school and high school band is June 27-July 1; and for all-state choir, large school is July 14-16 and small school is July 19-20. The camps will be held at the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center.

The band camp is for students age 12 to 17; musical theater is for ages 13-18; orchestra camp is for ages 11-18; and the choir camps are for ages 14-18, the UTPB website said.

Band and choir camps were held in years past, but they were not offered last year because of COVID-19.

Woolston, an adjunct voice professor, said hours for musical theater will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a 7:30 p.m. performance that Friday. She added that she organized a similar camp when she lived in Indianapolis.

In registering, students should list any songs they know, monologues they may know and any dance experience they might have. Woolston said it helps with programming and new music will be added as well.

“… I’m excited to bring a similar kind of camp here and our big focus is on teaching the three fundamental parts of musical theater which are singing, dancing and acting. That’s what they call a triple threat,” Woolston said.

Mornings will start with choreography and movement. There also will be a master class every day where faculty members will talk about vocal technique, acting or they may have an audition workshop to talk about what kind of music students should prepare, and how they should get up and say their names, for example, Woolston said.

“Then we’ll do lunch and then in the afternoons we’re going to have individual coaching with the teachers for voice and for acting and then we do some group numbers at the end of the day,” she said. “The goal is to have kind of a showcase, kind of a review style performance …”

Another objective is to balance the ideas of process and product. “The product is the final show and you want the final show to look good …,” Woolston said. “The goal is also to help them in their process, in their development of these three different areas.”

Jean Gomez Fonseca, assistant professor and orchestra director, will be offering the orchestra camp June 8-11 for students from middle and high school.

Gomez Fonseca said the camp will be focused on strings and the idea is to bring students from around the area together to share, learn, play great music in a non-competitive way and uniting the community.

Middle and high school orchestra teachers in the area will be invited and they will be in charge.

“ … I’m inviting them to give the ideas of what they want to do. It’s not just a UTPB camp, but a Midland-Odessa camp that … the teachers are working to put … together and trying to get ideas to improve their own programs and improve music generally in the community,” Gomez Fonseca said.

Frank Eychaner, assistant professor in the music department, said UTPB has been systematically adding its theater offerings.

“… We have a drama department that is currently in abeyance and I think our intention is to reboot the drama department with the goal of producing drama educators … The musical theater camp is the next step in demonstrating both that UTPB can be a leader in theater and drama education and demonstrating that there are lots of students in West Texas that want to pursue drama and musical theater for their own enjoyment and their own growth, and for some of them as professionals,” Eychaner said.

Eychaner said the all-state camps, which help students prepare for all-state auditions, have been held since he arrived at UTPB in 2014.

“Band camp is a general camp about skills and skill building in ensemble disciplines (and) leadership training,” he said.

He added that it will help youngsters when they attend their high school band camps.

“UTPB’s larger mission is to provide excellent educators for every classroom here in the area and excellent music education for every student in the Permian Basin,” Eychaner said.

Gomez Fonseca noted that there are scholarships available for the camps.

“Camps are expensive. We’re able to do our band camp for $100. That’s primarily because we try to make sure it’s a musical experience first,” he said.
They don’t provide activities like swimming because the more that’s added, the more costly camp becomes, Eychaner said.

“We also are very fortunate to have some amazing grantors in our community,” he said. “The Rea Greathouse Foundation has been very generous to help us do things that invest in our community and so their funding has helped us be able to keep camp costs low,” Eychaner added.

The musical theater camp is $199 due to individual attention and class size; orchestra camp is $99; band camp is $119; the large school choir camp is $59; and the small school choir camp is $39.

“… We want to make sure that anybody who wants to come and do the hard work is not held back because of finances. The arts is not something that should only be available to the wealthy. It should be something that is available to any kid in our community because we understand it changes the trajectory of their lives,” Eychaner said.