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New name and a new director for 2012 FHSU camp

7/15/2012

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

An annual week-long event in Hays will celebrate its 65th anniversary with a new name and a new director.

More than 300 students in grades 6 through 12 will converge on the Fort Hays State University campus beginning today for the High Plains Music Camp.

The camp, started back in 1948, underwent a name change for the second time in four years this summer.

In 2009, the addition of instruction of string instruments also added the word "orchestra" to the traditional High Plains Band Camp.

This year, vocal instruction was added as well, thus the name change.

Coincidentally, the new director is Avalah Allen, in her first year as vocal music professor at FHSU.

"We thought changing (the name) to 'music' was best," Allen said. "Band, orchestra and voice camp -- pretty long."

Allen, who came to FHSU after 14-plus years teaching at Washburn University in Topeka, was moving into her new office in Malloy Hall last year during the week of the camp. When she learned what was going on all around her, Allen suggested that vocal instruction be added to the camp.

"I thought, 'This is a great program, but why don't they have choir?' "

Allen said of her first reaction. "It had actually been discussed before, was in the works, though."

Allen's interest in the camp wasn't lost on administrators, including Ben Cline, chair of the theater and music department at FHSU.

"I think it was around about October, and Ben came to me and said, 'I need a director, and I need someone here on campus, and I think you have the skills to do it,' " Allen said.

Allen and her staff have been working nearly nonstop since in preparation for the coming week.

Taking on those kind of responsibilities in addition to her class load were made easier because of all the help around her, Allen said.

Allen's assistant director is Michelle Postier, last year's director who has 25 years experience at the camp, first as a student back in the late 1980s, then as a counselor, librarian, secretary and assistant director.

"Michelle's direction has been invaluable," Allen said. "Every step, I've learned along the way."

At last count, campers were registered from seven different states -- the four states bordering Kansas, Texas and Tennessee.

They will begin auditioning this afternoon for slots that will place them in groups with which they will practice all week.

Performances are scheduled for each evening at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center, beginning with faculty recitals Monday and Tuesday. Student ensembles will begin Friday night and continue through Saturday.

A complete schedule can be found online at www.fhsu.edu/music/band-camp/overview.

* Like usual, the camp will feature several talented guest artists, including Allen Vizzuti from Seattle on trumpet, conductor Rodney Dorsey from the University of Michigan and jazz musician Greg Fishman from Chicago.