Utah Music Festival raising funds through new website
Ryan Summerlin December 14, 2012
Each year, Eric Samuels, director of the Utah Music Festival and School, takes two months to recruit faculty from various, well-respected music schools and performance groups around the country to come to Park City for six weeks.
Throughout the past 18 years, members of the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and staff from Juilliard, Northwestern and the Colburn schools have all participated in the Utah Music Festival and School.
While they are here, they not only teach and work with young musicians from Utah and the Western United States, but also develop friendships that last throughout their lives.
"Our format is that the teachers are more like mentors during the festival," Samuels explained to The Park Record. "The problem is that when they’re here, the community doesn’t hear about them, because we don’t have the marketing budget to adequately get the word out."
Samuels hopes that will change with the launch of a new fundraising website, http://www.razoo.com/story/Park-City-Community-Youth-Orchestra-And-Choir-Utah-Music-Festival-And-School .
"We’re trying to get the word out that we have this website, which runs through www.razoo.com , the same organization that helped the Park City Foundation with Live PC Give PC campaign a few weeks ago," Samuels said. "Everybody up here knows of the success of that campaign. The harsh reality was that we simply didn’t have the technical staff to jump on board quickly enough to participate this year. Park City Foundation was willing to represent us, but we were too late.
"So, the new website is designed to raise money for not only our summer festival, but for our year-around activities."
The activities include free school performances, tutoring and workshops.
"We want to be a resource for private teaching, but also help the kids play their school-orchestra music better," Samuels said. "Our goal is to bring these teachers in for clinics, master classes and performances during the school year.
"We also want to assemble both young players, from third grade through high school, and adult amateur musicians to form an after-school, youth-and-community orchestra, band and choir program," he said. "To do that, we will need parent volunteers and student coordinators from Treasure Mountain Junior High, Park City High School, Park City Day School, Weilenmann School of Discovery, and some schools from the Salt Lake Valley, including Waterford and Rowland Hall."
Samuels also wants to get in touch with home-school families and area music educators to achieve this goal.
"Most other communities around the nation with similar demographics to our population in Park City, have the financial resources that support such efforts for many years," Samuels said. "My wife, Alison, and I, having been immersed in musical activities since our youth, feel this would be a terrific addition to the already established athletic environment in Park City, which our young people are fortunate to have."
The music festival itself has some supporters, including Park City High School and the Weilenmann School of Discovery, which has hosted the event in the past.
"We also were able to hold the festival’s last two weeks in Park City Community Church this year," he said. "That was phenomenal."
Samuels founded the Utah Music Festival and School in Utah because he felt there was a large, under served population of young musicians in the area.
"The schools in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico don’t have a place to go, unless it’s a music festival in Colorado," he said. "Even then, there are only 600 spots for students to participate in Aspen Music Festival, which runs from June to August, and there are probably at least 60,000 deserving young people who play as well or better than those students who are accepted to Aspen, who don t have a place to go."
Through his own demographic studies, Samuels found other music festivals around the country only accept a portion, if any, of the nation’s young players.
"The Marlboro Chamber Music Festival in Vermont invites maybe 30 to 40 elite kids in the summer and others like the Colorado Music Festival, Maristone in Seattle, and Santa Fe don’t cater to young students and Idyllwild in California only accepts a few kids.
"So, this huge under-served population, starting with our local kids in Utah, is our reason for existing," Samuels said. "Our goal is to bring Park City alive hourly during the summer, and we want to showcase all styles of music, including classical, jazz, folk, country and bluegrass. And if we had a marketing budget, we will be able to attract more people, faculty, players and students."
Samuels’ drive was fueled by parents’ feedback during this past summer’s festival.
"They told us that we inspired their children to practice three to four hours a day, when these kids had not even practiced for 30 minutes a day before," he said. "They also told us that they were able to see their children playing with technique that they had never heard before.
"If we can help do something like this in a week, imagine what we can do year round," Samuels said. "That’s where the fundraising comes in."
For more information, about the Utah Music Festival and School, visit www.utahmusic.org. To donate, visit http://www.razoo.com/story/Park-City-Community-Youth-Orchestra-And-Choir-Utah-Music-Festival-And-School .