Q&A: Choir director spends summer at music camp

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Q&A: Choir director spends summer at music camp

Brian Fancher sings a tune with one of his students at Walden

Brian Fancher sings a tune with one of his students at Walden

Nina Kindrachuk

Brian Fancher sings a tune with one of his students at Walden

Nina Kindrachuk

Nina Kindrachuk

Brian Fancher sings a tune with one of his students at Walden

Ben Kloppman, Guest Writer

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In an exclusive interview, The Paw Print’s Ben Kloppman sat down with Mr. Fancher about his upcoming plans for summer.

Ben: What are your plans this summer?
Fancher: I’m going to work at the music camp I worked at the last two summers, The Walden School in Dublin, New Hampshire. I’m there all summer; they actually have two programs, there’s one for adults anywhere from 18 all the way in their 70s this past year which is a week long. And then we have another camp for student ages 9-18 that’s a five-week program so this last summer I was gone for a full two months. I’m hoping to do it again.

Ben: Nice! How’d you find out about the camp?
Fancher: I actually found out about it through my girlfriend because she actually went to the camp as a student when she was that age. She went for six straight years and she would always talk about how amazing it was. And then she actually started working there herself a couple years ago, and I went to visit her at the camp and I was only there for four days but while I was there I realized how amazing of an experience it was. I was like ‘I have to figure out a way to work here’ because it’s really amazing.

Ben: I’m glad you got to work there. What’s your role inside the camp?
Fancher: My role in the camp has actually changed. My first year I was a staff member so I was working in the office and making sure everything worked, I was running errands and picking up mail, coordinating bus trips for the hiking and swimming trips. I would set up chairs and do other stuff like that, I was really just making sure that the camp functioned. In addition to that, I was the primary photographer for the camp. Most of the pictures on their website are actually ones that I took.

Ben: What was your role this past year?
Fancher: This past year, I was a faculty member, meaning I was actually teaching. So I was teaching two classes a day, and then I taught a bit of the choir. It was a very different experience, [but] it was great.

Ben: So you liked the role you had the second year better?
Fancher: Yeah. The first year I actually didn’t want to do faculty because the entire rest of the year I’m teaching children, and the summer is the time where I don’t have to teach children. It was still an amazing time, but the entire time I was like ‘man, I wish i was teaching’. Luckily the second year it panned out so that I could. Certainly it’s exhausting, but it’s incredibly rewarding so it really made it worthwhile.

Ben: That’s good! So while you were a teacher, did you guys have any performances?
Fancher: The camp itself has tons of performances throughout the summer. For some performances well bring out artists to perform and run workshops and master classes. And the every week there’s what we call a composers forum where the students have music they composed performed by sometimes faculty sometimes themselves and then they get to sit down and kind of have a Q and A to talk about their composition process, what went into the piece, different suggestions for how to approach it. Usually there’s eight of those type of performances. There’s also a choral concert at the end, so throughout the entire day we’re singing every day in different settings. There’s lots of different groups singing lots of different stuff and I got to work with the high chorus. So I got to work with treble voices and we sang a bunch of different repertoire over a pretty long concert. It’s pretty impressive what we’re able to put on for only having one summer.

Ben: That’s cool that the kids can write pieces for faculty or themselves to perform. Did you ever get to write a piece for the kids to perform?
Fancher: I have not written a piece for the kids to perform, but actually it’s funny you say that [because] every summer the school commissions the faculty to compose a piece for the international cannebrian ensemble. And this year I wrote one. It was the first I had ever composed for public performance. It was just a piano solo piece, about five minutes long. It was a cool experience, I’ve done tons of arranging, but I’d never really tried to come up with my own ideas out of thin air. But it was a ton of fun, if I ever find the time again I’d do it again, but it incredibly strenuous, it took a lot more time than I expected it to.

Ben: That’s really cool! It seems like you have a lot to do at Walden. Do you have a favorite activity or thing to do?”
Fancher: “That’s tough [because] there’s so much great stuff to do.

Ben: How about a top five?
Fancher: In no particular order: hiking, dances, composers forums, concerts and workshops, and I try to play frisbee as much as I can, so whenever I get the chance, it’s one of my favorite things to do. This sounds like hyperbole, because it kinda is, but it’s really a magical, life-changing place. Over the course of the five weeks, everyone becomes really close and it really is kind of a family by the end of it. It’s really an amazing experience.

Ben: Walden sounds really great! I hope you have a good time there this summer!
Fancher: Thanks!

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