REPORT: STAR LAKE MUSICAMP 2023 – AUGUST 12-19, 2023 – The humid, steamy summer days of August found approximately 150 campers taking planes, trains and automobiles from the USA and Puerto Rico, Argentina, Chile, Canada, and United Kingdom arriving at The Salvation Army Eastern Territory Star Lake Camp in Bloomfield NJ. Dozens of music staff and counselors united with Territorial Music Secretary Derek Lance, Assistant Territorial Music Secretary Simon Morton, Territorial Youth Secretaries Majors Antonio and Jennifer Rosamilla into a team of ‘round-the-clock intensive music training of brass banding, choral training, composition, percussion, timbrels, and piano. With a quick Razzle Dazzle followed by a few Oskie Woskies, everyone embarked into the venerated Music Encampment known as Star Lake Music Camp 2023.
Special guests for the encampment, bringing expertise and guidance for their realms, were Marcus and Alexandria Venables, Dr. Harold Burgmayer, and Ronda Atwater. Marcus and Alexandria Venables are soldiers in the Canada and Bermuda Territory, composers, teachers, conductors, and soloists who brought joy and enthusiasm to every task they undertook, as well as newly premiered compositions. Dr. Harold Burgmayer, a world-renown Salvationist music leader and educator brought new compositions for his ensembles and breathed new life into foundational pieces, even a secret Star Lake Pep Song project. Ronda Atwater, a music leader from the Eastern Pennsylvania Delaware division, powerfully led the daily worship accompanied by the Worship Band with Doug Berry through the Scripture of Zephaniah 3:17.
“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (New Living Translation)
Richard Woodrow, flugel player from The International Staff Band, and B/M Darryl Crossland, Eb soprano from Florida each brought exuberant musicality and teaching for their students. Regardless of circumstances – whether facing marathon brass or choral rehearsals, compelling theory projects, formidable Bb Flugel or Eb soprano parts, torrential rainstorms, or fierce rollercoasters at Dorney Park – these two were ebullient with enthusiasm in their gale.
The Eastern Territory is abundantly supported by numerous phenomenal Divisional Music Directors, and all of them were liberally placed in multiple locations, leading campers at all levels to understand that individual practice is a vital component of being one’s best. Practice makes permanent. Practice does not make perfect…practice make permanent. Learning a passage of music needs individual devotion to the discipline of practice. As in the words of St. Jerome, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.”
All music students advanced in music making and music analysis, composition and theory, melodies, harmonies, and movement, all while witnessing performances of elite musicians innovating the art of disciplined musicality. Composition classes helped young composers sharpen their skills of expression and notation.
One fantastic evening program was BONE-AFIDE, a multiple international award-winning trombone ensemble who showcased the versatility of their instrument. Each member of BONE-AFIDE is a professional orchestral musician with the leading philharmonic ensembles of Europe: Robert Moseley, Angus Butt, Isobel Daws, and Tom Berry. Their arrangements, compositions, and solos were exquisite examples of zealous hard work, impeccable stamina, and flawless musicality.
The Eastern Territory of The Salvation Army USA has devoted itself to intentionally developing leaders, resourcing musicians of all kinds by creating innovative opportunities for musicians to disciple others in living Christ-like lives though music ministry. Music connects our intellect with our feelings – our head with our heart – bringing a clear focus with genuine feelings. Music binds memories, hopes, dreams, feelings, inspiration, convictions, and mission. This week at Star Lake Music Camp 2023 has been devoted to growing artists who bring melody, harmony, and rhythm together to speak God’s loving hope into the listener’s present, past, and future.
Harmony is the language of heaven, and sometimes we find ourselves with a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, and a soul that is weary. Music and movement find a way to reach into each of these situations as a tender healer with strength and meaning. Music brings a way to untangle the knots of our soul and loosen the grip that anxiety, anger, and fear can have. Musicians can connect to and touch the heart in ways that words cannot, bringing hope.
The campers and staff of Star Lake Music Camp 2023 joined together for 7 days and created beautiful music together.