Sitka Fine Arts Camp Receives $150,000 Gift, Donor Challenge


Sitka Fine Arts Camp has received a $150,000 donation towards the restoration of its historic campus on the former site of Sheldon Jackson College. In honor of the Fine Arts Camp’s 40th year, the same anonymous donor has pledged to match every dollar donated to the Camp during the summer of 2013, up to $100,000.

The Fine Arts Camp, which offers elementary, middle school, high school, and adult arts programs, enrolls nearly 700 students every summer to explore courses in visual arts, dance, music, theater, creative writing, and Alaska Native arts. In addition to offering unique creative opportunities to Alaskan students from Barrow to Ketchikan, the Camp’s nationally recognized programs have drawn attendees from as far away as China and over 50 professional instructors from across the United States.

Through the summer Matching Challenge, the Camp hopes to raise funds to continue its restoration of the historic buildings of the Sheldon Jackson College campus, which were built in 1911 and donated to the Camp after standing boarded up for several years following the College’s closure in 2007. In addition to supporting the renovation of the Sheldon Jackson campus, which is a registered National Landmark, donations to the Camp also enable it to provide over $50,000 in camp scholarships every year. The mission of the Camp, as described by its parent organization Alaska Arts Southeast, is “to build community in Alaska by providing opportunities in arts, culture and recreation in an inclusive, educational and inspirational environment.”

You can help the Sitka Fine Arts Camp reach its goal by visiting our website.


Sitka Fest Program Overview


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June 2-14

Arts educators from around Alaska come together for an intensive two-week immersion program of workshops and classes sponsored by the Alaska Arts Education Consortium in partnership with the Sitka Tribe, Sitka School District and Sitka Fine Arts Camp. Acclaimed Cultural Arts educator Nancy Douglas and faculty from around the U.S. lead workshops on a range of topics, from advances in brain research and Alaska Native arts to music, dance and visual arts.  The goal of the BAI is to educate and support teachers in a way that will enable them to better teach the arts across the curriculum and promote high achievement of all Alaskan students in and through the arts.


June 1-July 6

Bringing the world’s finest classical musicians to Sitka for a month of glorious chamber music concerts and community events, the 42nd SSMF season features the Rubens Quartet (the Netherlands), pianists Piers Lane and Navah Perlman, violinist Gil Morgenstern, and Festival Artistic Director, cellist Zuill Bailey—plus many more. Community events include a family concert, crab feed, movie series, “Bach’s Lunch” series and the Allen Marine Chamber Cruise. Visit the SSMF website for programs, schedule additions and other information:

Strange Attractor Theatre Company

Performance: June 15, 2:30 pm

In residence at the SFAC, the Strange Attractor Theatre Company presents: Enlightenment on E Floor North — a new, original theatrical performance investigating the difficult discussion of work life in America. Investigating the world of museum security guards, Strange Attractor uses their character-driven, highly physical, and outlandishly absurd acting style to reveal what actually happens when people pass the time while on the clock! Tickets are $10, on sale at Old Harbor Books and at the door.


June 10-July 14

Nationally recognized for its cutting edge arts camps, the SFAC provides youth and adults with the opportunity to develop artistic interests and skills under the direction of internationally-acclaimed instructors in visual arts, music, dance, theater, writing and Alaskan Native Arts. Each summer over 700 students attend camp. Public events include free exhibitions, art demonstrations and nightly performance “art shares” by students and faculty. See the new SFAC website for further information:

Adult Camp: June 10-14

Elementary Camp, June 10-14

Middle-school Camp, June 16-29

High-school Camp, June 30-July 14

Music Theater Camp; July 14-28

Dee Daniels Vocal Jazz Workshop

July 20-27; Concert: July 21, 7 pm

One of the greatest jazz vocalists of our time, Dee Daniels presents a week-long workshop for students of all ages with award-winning vocalist, arranger and composer Charenee Wade. Covering vocal technique, improvisation, theory, storytelling, stage presence and more, this dynamic new program within the Sitka Fine Arts Camp includes a performance with Daniels, Wade and the Native Jazz Quartet at the Sitka Performing Arts Center.

The Island Institute

A New Literature of Resilience

July 17—19

Everything is changing. Old options about how to live and how to understand ourselves are melting away just as surely as the ice. We don’t know what life-ways and worldviews will replace old ones or where new ideas will come from, but we do know that the imagining must begin. This gathering brings together a group of women writers, including Vietnamese novelist lê thi diem thúy and Mother Jones contributor Julia Whitty, to explore new strong stories about who we are, how we should live, and what our purpose is on this changing planet. Daylong events for “A New Literature of Resilience” take place around the SJ campus.

Native Jazz Workshop

Workshop: July 15-20

CD Release Concert: July 17, 7:30 pm

Offering students of all ages a unique opportunity to be part of an evolving new genre of music–the fusion of traditional native and folk melodies with jazz–this unique workshop covers the key elements of composition, theory, arranging and performance. Students study with members of the internationally-acclaimed Native Jazz Quartet (official 2013-14 Jazz Ambassadors of the United States), Reuel Lubag (piano), Jason Marsalis (vibes) and co-directors Ed Littlefield (drums) and Christian Fabian (bass).


Saturday, July 20. Registration begins at noon. Fee: $25 (limited availability)

Returning by popular demand, TEDxSitka brings together local, national and international speakers presenting 18-minute talks on a variety of topics, including our relationship with food, the nature of creativity, the meaning of community, etc. Speakers range from Camas Davis, founder of the Portland Meat Collective and Steve Grody, author of “Graffiti L.A.” to award-winning Vietnamese novelist lê thi diem thúy and W.T. McRae, clown and artist-teacher at the New Victory Theater on Broadway. Prepare to be inspired!

July 20, 1–6 pm


Workshop: July 15-20

CD Release Concert: July 17, 7:30 pm

Offering students of all ages a unique opportunity to be part of an evolving new genre of music–the fusion of traditional native and folk melodies with jazz–this unique workshop covers the key elements of composition, theory, arranging and performance. Students study with members of the internationally-acclaimed Native Jazz Quartet (official 2013-14 Jazz Ambassadors of the United States), Reuel Lubag (piano), Jason Marsalis (vibes) and co-directors Ed Littlefield (drums) and Christian Fabian (bass). 


August 1-3

A community-wide culinary festival designed to celebrate wild Alaskan seafood. Each year, the SSF brings in celebrity chefs and presents a wide range of public events. On the final day, the public is invited to participate in the seafood-themed parade leading from downtown Sitka to the SJ Campus on Saturday, August 3 at 11am. Once on campus, visitors can choose from any number of games and contests, ranging from a “fish head toss” to the 2nd annual Highland Games. The addition of a full- and halfmarathon is sure to boost the energy. With educational and entertainment booths at our Marketplace, live bands, cooking demos and tours, and of course, the best food around, this is sure to be the party of the summer.


Open daily 9-5

Known worldwide for its rare collection of 19th-century artifacts from each of the Native groups in Alaska, the SJ Museum offers two exciting public programs this summer: The popular Native Artist Demonstrators Program in which Alaskan master artists share their work, answer questions and offer workshops and lectures. This year’s artists include Roy Levine, Peter Williams, Abel Ryan, Selena Alexander, Emily Johnston, Sarah Williams, Jennie Wheeler and Daisy Demientieff, among others.

At Saxán (Love of all Things), held on the third Saturday of each month, includes handson activities and special events to connect young people and their families with the collection and learn about Alaska Native cultures and traditions.

For further information, call the museum or check their website because schedules are subject to change, and some Saturday public programs require pre-registration.



Dedicated to increasing our understanding of the land and ocean ecosystems of th Gulf of Alaska through education and research, the SSSC provides tours and public programs to over 12,000 visitors a year. Many come to visit the fully operational salmon hatchery or experience the Molly Ahlgren Aquarium, which has spectacular touch tanks filled with local tide pool fauna. The SSSC offers a range of summer camps for young folks (1st-6th grade) that engage with the local forest and marine ecosystems.

In addition, visiting scientists from prestigious educational and research institutions—Scripps Ocenaographic, Woods Hole, Duke, Stanford, Yale and NOAA–conduct research at the center year-round.

June 17—21: Ooey Gooey Camp (1st—3rd grade)

Make, Create & Fascinate (4th—6th grade)

June 24—28: A Swirl of Art & Science, in collaboration with SFAC (4th—6th grade)

July 9—12: Under the Sea (1st-3rd grade)

Animal Olympics (4th—6th grade)


July 17-August 31

A multidisciplinary residency program now in its second year, the Sitka Fellow program provides the space and time for artists, intellectuals and social entrepreneur to immerse themselves fully in innovative and ambitious projects that will change the world in ways big, small and subtle. Fellows are in residence for seven weeks an provided with studio and research space, meals and a community environment in which they can interact with each other as well as with local Sitkans. The residency is envisioned as an opportunity for young talent to share their individual passions with a diverse community – that is, to inspire and to be inspired.


“Shared oceans, Shared humanity, Shared responsibility”

August 14-18

What evidence is there that humans crossed the Pacific Ocean in prehistoric times? Exploring the notion of how human beings are connected by our oceans and their resources, this year’s conference draws on archaeology, oceanography, molecular anthropology, geography, and marine biology along with knowledge from Native American traditions in our exploration of human migrations across our planet’s oceans.

Session topics include: Ocean Currents and Gyres: Earthquakes, Tsunami And Debris; Island and Coastal Archaeology; Kayaks, Canoes, Rafts, Boats and Navigational Knowledge and Disasters and Human Migrations. Beachcombing adventures are available as well. Visit the Paths’ website for a schedule, registration details and further information.

Sitka Fest 2013


The second annual Sitka Fest—Southeast Alaska’s premiere arts, culture and science festival—returns with over seventy events based on and around the newly revitalized Sheldon Jackson campus. Sitka Fest features events produced by SJ campus partners, including the Sitka Summer Music Festival, Island Institute, Basic Arts Institute, Sitka Fine Arts Camp, Sitka Sound Science Center, Native Jazz Workshop, Sitka Seafood Festival, Sitka Fellows Program, TEDxSitka, Paths Across the Pacific and the Sheldon Jackson Museum. The mission of the festival is to celebrate Sitka’s rich historic heritage while promoting its diverse cultural offerings, ranging from Alaska Native Arts demonstrations to chamber music and dance concerts to theater productions, arts and science camps, special exhibitions, lectures, food tastings and educational programs for all ages.


Please click on the image to enlarge the calendar

Sitka Fest events take place at various venues around campus and throughout the community. The primary performance venue on the SJ campus includes the newly restored Odess Theater in Allen Hall. Named after Carol Odess, whose generous gift facilitated the final phase of renovations, the Odess Theater hosts the Sitka Fine Arts Camp “Art Shares,” hour-long variety show style performances featuring SFAC faculty, as well as a residency and performance by the Strange Attractor Theater Company, the Native Jazz Quartet, and the second annual TEDxSitka conference, among others. The main venue in downtown Sitka is Harrigan Centennial Hall, where most of the Sitka Summer Music Festival concerts take place. Situated on the waterfront with stunning views of Sitka Sound from inside the hall, Harrigan is well known as one of the most sublime concert spaces in the world. The third primary venue is the state-of-the-art Sitka Performing Arts Center, which is located on the Sitka High School campus about a mile East of downtown Sitka. The performing arts center hosts the final Fine Arts Camp student performances, the Dee Daniels jazz concert and this year’s featured Musical Theater Camp production–Seussical.

Sitka Fest was established in democratic spirit of the Chautauqua festivals that flourished throughout America in 19th century. Like the Chautauqua’s of the past, Sitka Fest is an informal confederation of organizations that share the goal of cultivating an awareness of Sitka’s rich cultural heritage while making available educational opportunities in the arts, humanities and sciences for all ages. What is immediately evident from the Sitka Fest calendar below is that the wealth of this year’s offerings reflects Sitka’s historic role as a major cultural center of the north Pacific.

Sitka Fest represents a partnership between the SJ campus partners and is made possible by the thousands of volunteer hours and donations made by individuals and business, which continue to pour into the revitalization of the historic Sheldon Jackson campus and by support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

  • Tickets for Sitka Fest events are available through partner organizations and Old Harbor Books.
  • Further information is available at

2013 Counselors



Andrew Krahn is a board certified music therapist currently living in Boston. His clients include infants and toddlers with developmental delays, and at-risk youth. He received his B.M. from Berklee College of Music in 2011, where he received instruction on saxophone, guitar, piano, and voice. In addition to his work as a music therapist, Andrew teaches music in a variety of capacities, and performs regularly up and down the East Coast. Though he grew up in Rhode Island, he spent his earliest years in Sitka, a connection that has kept him coming back as often as possible.


Hello! My name is Campbell Longworth. Born and raised in Petersburg Alaska, I spent a lot of time traveling to other towns for music and sports related events. All through High School I was in cross country, jazz band, concert band and pep band. My last two years in HS I also picked up cheerleading and in my senior year I joined the choir. During High School, I had the opportunity to go on exchange to Ecuador. This was an amazing trip and opened my eyes to parts of the world I never knew existed. I now live in Fairbanks Alaska and study music education at the university there. My main instrument is trumpet but I have had experience on many different instruments and also have sung or otherwise performed in many local and university performances. I enjoy performing, both on stage and in the “pit.” During my stay at UAF I have sung in the operas, The Elixer of Love, and Don Giovanni, the musicals, High School Musical, The Music Man, and The wizard of Oz, and Have played trumpet in various shows as well, including, Two Gentleman of Verona and onstage in Don Giovanni. At UAF I currently play in the Wind Symphony, Jazz Band, Aurora Brass quintet, and Brass Choir. Most recently I traveled to and performed in Malaysia with the Borealis Brass. I’m looking forward to a fun summer getting to know everyone and working hard together!


My name is Tiffany and I’m the girls’ head counselor. I am originally from Kotzebue, Alaska but I went to high school in Sitka at Mt. Edgecumbe High School. I then studied film at Portland State University for four years, learning about history and theory while also engaging in the all aspects of the production process. I plan to continue filmmaking as a career, and just for fun. Some of my favorite things to do are to watch and discuss films, write poetry, make fresh juice, grow flowers, make people laugh, and ride the bus. I love Sitka very much and look forward to SFAC every year!


Sophia just finished her sophomore year at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN where she is studying music and anthropology. She enjoyed playing with Minnesota Youth Symphonies all through high school, and now plays with the St. Olaf Orchestra. While classical music has always been a fascination and inspiration to her, Sophia has also played in a Bluegrass band and an Irish folk band. When she isn’t practicing or studying, she enjoys knitting, running, and gardening.

ElsbethPoe.jpgELSBETH POE

Growing up in Davis California, Elsbeth caught a bad case of the theater bug at the age of seven. She attended high school at Natomas Charter School Performing and Fine Arts Academy and then received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Performance and a Minor in Shakespeare Studies from Southern Oregon University. Both in high school and while attending undergraduate school she focused mainly on performance but  has also always had  a passion for adapting stories for the stage and directing. Some of her directorial work includes her own adaptation of Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland, Julia Cho’s The Language Archive, An all female cast of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, and she was assistant director to Michael J. Hume in Southern Oregon University’s production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Elsbeth was lucky enough to be part of The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2012 season as Celia(U/S) in As You Like It, Helen/Andromache/Prologue(U/S) in Troilus and Cressida, and Lady Montague/Apothecary in Romeo and Juliet. She is currently playing Hero and Don John in The Idaho Shakespeare Festivals’ Shakespearience tour of Much Ado About Nothing. Elsbeth is currently based out of Boise, Idaho and is thrilled to be able to spend her summer in beautiful Sitka working with nothing but creative, passionate artists of all ages.


Alex Kramer is from the amazing Virginia town of Charlottesville where he grew up hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and going to lots of outdoor folk and bluegrass concerts. He has graduated from Yale University with a degree in Theater Studies. He has been acting in plays his whole life, and has recently ventured into writing and directing. He looks forward to moving to New York City to start a theater and film company, and work as a professional actor. He also takes great pride in his grizzly facial hair.


I’m currently a sophomore at the University of Washington in Seattle. I attended Fine Arts Camp throughout middle and high school, focusing mainly on visual and digital arts (ceramics, video production, animation, photography) and I am very much looking forward to returning and helping to make camp great.


Jake Turner is from Sitka and has previously been a camper himself, but this is his first year as a counselor. He now studies Theater Arts at Portland State University and has been in productions such as The Servant of Two Masters, a Commedia-style farce, and Urinetown: the Musical, a musical parody of musicals. His favorite dinosaur is the styracosaurus ad he never knows what color his hair will be next.


My name is Jeremy Neal and I have been going to SFAC for the past six to seven years. I go to Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida and plan on majoring in Dance and Journalism next year. I just spent last year as a foreign exchange student in Heidenheim an der Brenz, Germany and learned German as well as so much about myself. I very much look forward to working with the camp and partaking in its huge assortment of arts classes. Can’t wait to see everyone there!


Jesse Schreck is a junior at Yale majoring in American Studies. He’s in an improv group on campus, and in his free time he likes to write. Plays, mostly, but also essays, short fiction, and to-do lists. Though he’s a native New Yorker, he loves the outdoors and can’t wait to spend a month in Sitka, which he hears—from everyone he’s ever met—is the most beautiful place.


My name’s Raphael, and you can call me Raph if you’re part of my trusted inner circle, which pretty much everyone is except for Andrew Krahn. Fingers crossed, by the time you see me I will be a recent graduate from Yale. By the time you see me I’ll also originally be from Sag Harbor, New York, though that’s also true now. Theater and music are my main jams, though I’m all about any art you got and I’m very excited to get back to SFAC after a heartbreaking sabbatical last summer.



Taylor studies comics art at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. He really likes comics (duh) and art (duh) and SFAC (duh). He’s been spending the year working on a thirty-page comic project about time-travelling toilets, reading sci-fi, and playing board games. He grew up in Sitka, in the house that his parents still own. Last summer he was a counselor at the camp for the first time and it BLEW HIS MIND. He is stoked to be returning.


Tommy Bazarian hails from Portland, Maine, and is a currently a rising junior at Yale University where he majors in American Studies. His main interests include singing/songwriting, folk music, and acting. He is a member of Tangled Up in Blue (Yale’s undergraduate folk music singing group) as well as The Teaspoons, a smaller folk rock band. He has also appeared in numerous theatrical productions, including a show called Still Life, where he played a grape. Tommy’s hobbies include skiing and hiking, and each fall he leads groups of terrified Yale freshmen on outdoor orientation trips through the northeastern wilderness. His favorite kind of sandwich is chicken parmesan.




Lauren Tronick is from Los Angeles, California and is now a student at Yale University where she studies Anthropology and History of Science, Medicine and Public Health. She spends most of her time playing viola, singing folk music with friends, taking trips to beautiful places, and finding ways to play music in those beautiful places. In the fall, she plans to take a semester off to do research for global health, write and record songs, and learn how to do a cartwheel.


I am a student at Ohio Northern University double majoring in Marketing and Communications with a minor in Environmental Studies. I am from Willoughby Hills, Ohio (East of Cleveland). I played French Horn and Trumpet in High School and continue to sing in various groups. This is my second year as a counselor at SFAC! I am also excited to be working with the SFAC Marketing Team this year as well as being a counselor. My favorite part of camp is going to the student art shares to see what everyone has learned from such an amazing experience.


Tara Schmidt was born in Portland and raised in Nome, Alaska. After graduating high school, she moved to Spokane, WA to earn a BA in Broadcasting from Gonzaga University. Since she has moved back to Nome to work for a non-profit in the Tobacco Prevention and Education field. She is passionate art in its various media, but personal favorites are video, clay, and 35mm photography. She’s an avid runner, hiker, and thrives on new experiences. “I feel like a big kid going to the summer camp I never could!”


Zoe Sorrell is a student at the Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music, pursuing a Bachelor of Music in flute performance and a Bachelor of Arts in English. She also plays the piano and the Baroque flute. In addition to studying flute and English, Ms. Sorrell has been a dancer in Ballet Oberlin, was a 2011-2012 intern for the International Contemporary Ensemble, and is a published poet and essayist. She is highly passionate about combining her interests in various performing arts. She recently commissioned and premiered a piece for flute, piano, and reader that is set to one of her original poems. She is also currently choreographing a performance in which she plays flute and dances simultaneously. Ms. Sorrell has played in master classes for such flutists as Paula Robison, Amy Porter, Marina Piccinini, Alberto Almarza, Nina Assimakopoulos, and Ransom Wilson. She has been a student of Jean-Louis Kashy, Kathleen Chastain, Michel Debost, and Alexa Still.


Hi! I’m Katie! I’m from Wellsville, a small town in upstate New York. I graduated from Ithaca College in 2009 with a B.S. in Speech-Language Pathology and a minor in Deaf Studies. Currently, I am a Preschool Teacher in Brookline, Massachusetts. At night, I’m working on getting my Masters in Early Childhood Education and Creative Arts in Learning at Lesley University. As a teacher, I have a strong passion for teaching through music and I believe that it’s important to enrich the curriculum through the arts. In my spare time, I enjoy playing the guitar or piano, attending slam poetry, riding my bike, and spending time with my friends, family, and roommates! I’m really looking forward to being a counselor at Sitka Fine Arts Camp!! Can’t wait to meet everybody soon!


Lauren DiGiorgio was born in the greater Cleveland area and has since been inching her way westward. In 2002 her family relocated to Naperville, Illinois, and this fall she will be in her final year at the University of Iowa. Lauren is pursuing degrees in Bassoon Performance and Music Education and is excited to become a band director.  Lauren has enjoyed performing with-in the School of Music in concert bands, orchestra, various chamber ensembles, steel band, pep band, and marching band, as well as in the local music scene of Iowa City. In her free time, she enjoys trying new recipes, doodling, and watching movies on the couch with her cat and a good cup of tea.”


Guest Post: In Defense of Hiking

hiking young

A young Tiffany Creed enjoying (or pretending to enjoy) the great outdoors

Today’s blog post was written by Tiffany Creed, our Head Female Counselor for Summer 2013. Tiffany is a long-time member of the SFAC family, working her way from camper to Head Counselor. In this witty and lighthearted post, she talks about the evolution of her feelings towards recreation day. 

In Defense of Hiking by Tiffany Creed

Throughout elementary, middle and high school, my siblings and I attended all kinds of summer camps. Soccer camp, science camp, art camp, writing camp, horse camp, broadcast journalism camp, finance camp (seriously)… Etc, etc, etc. My least favorite camps were the ones that were outside. I hated the heat, I hated the mosquitos, I hated the lack of practical fashion choices. I knew deep down that in terms of the city girl-Alaskan chick dichotomy, I was about a 60/40, respectively. I hear your gasps, and yes, I was ashamed. A thoroughbred Alaskan that doesn’t like the outdoors? I should have been exiled.

But I knew better than to admit it. I did the hikes and I did the birdwatching and I didn’t complain (very often). All the while I secretly yearned for an air conditioned room in which to sew a pillow, learn my lines or do science experiments. However, the coveted, dirt-free brand of camp only accounted for about half of the summer.

My least favorite camp was called Camp Habitat. It is and was a truly fabulous program for learning about wildlife through outdoor-based activities and day hiking through the backwoods of Fairbanks, Alaska. We always had to go to the marsh to look at (and be eaten by) bugs, we always had to dig through pellets of fur that owls had regurgitated in search of the bones of rodents, and we always had to eat our lunch in a dusty, bottomless canvas tent.

Naturally, in my early years of SFAC, I didn’t enjoy Sunday rec day very much. Substituting a day of improv, Dance Jam, and mask making for an elevated walk? No, thanks. I always picked the easiest hike, and I had to have my friends on the same hike, or I would just die.

hiking now

Tiffany embracing nature on the Herring Cove trail in Sitka

Somewhere between 6th grade and my last years of camp, though, something changed. I found myself looking forward to the hikes rather than being opposed to them. I started feeling indifferent to whether my friends would be on the same hike as me or not. Was I maturing? Was I coming to terms with my destiny as a true Alaskan girl? Maybe. Or maybe I simply challenged myself a little and made it work for me.

What I realized is that you need not be a devoted fan of the outdoors to enjoy a day hike. You just need something to think about. The perfect hike, for me, is one where I don’t say a word out loud, but in my head I’m going a mile a minute. By adjusting my attitude, I am now able to appreciate the natural world and the peaceful space it provides for me.

Those who have been to SFAC before know that it’s fast paced and there are a lot of new experiences and ideas to absorb in such a tragically short time. Rec day is halfway through camp, so it’s the perfect time to process and rejuvenate for the second week. If the outdoors are not your thing, think of rec day as your own personal mobile meditation so you’ll be emotionally refreshed and ready to be the best artist you can be.

Guest Blog: My Musical Odyssey

Adult Camp Poster Hames

Today’s blog post was written by Sitka resident Cindy Litman about how Susan Wingrove’s class during last year’s Adult Camp helped to demystify classical music for her. 

IMG_8712 2

Today’s guest blogger, Cindy Litman (center), with SFAC’s Program Directory, Kenley Jackson (left), and SFAC’s former Development Director, Cassi Olson (right)

I was a latecomer to classical music. Raised on folk music, I was introduced to classical music by my budding musician daughter. I attended concerts and operas as a dutiful mother, then discovered to my surprise that classical music could be as emotionally compelling as folk music—even without words! I enjoyed the complexity of classical music and increasingly found myself listening to it almost exclusively.

 Classical music touched me on an emotional level, but lacking a musical background, I wanted tools to understand it on an intellectual level as well. I read books with titles like Classical Music 101, and tried to grasp references like “probe eternity in the final movement of Beethoven’s last sonata” (Denk, 2013).

When we moved to Sitka, my musical education continued at the Sitka Summer Music Festival. I enjoyed the accessibility of Susan Wingrove’s pre-concert lectures, and avidly read her program notes. I enjoyed her descriptions of music, and the biographical sketches that contextualized the music in the lives and times of the composers. I enjoyed hearing about events in composers’ personal lives that shaped their music. I enjoyed the guilty pleasure of hearing excerpts from Susan’s favorite The Love Lives of the Composers.

When the first-ever Sitka Fine Arts Camp Adult Camp offered a class on exploring chamber music taught by Susan last summer, I eagerly enrolled. My daughter had attended Sitka Fine Arts Camp as a middle and high school student, and I loved the opportunity to dabble and delve into the arts that the Fine Arts Camp provided to young people. I was excited—and a bit intimidated—to be offered the same opportunity. While I was tempted by a number of adult camp offerings (painting? drumming? acrobatics?), I reasoned that Susan’s class would have the greatest impact on my life after camp.

The class definitely lived up to my expectations. An experienced music educator and pianist for the Anchorage Symphony, Susan taught the key elements of musical style and forms and brought them alive through guided listening exercises that helped class members apply what we were learning. We also benefited from Susan’s relationship with the Sitka Summer Music Festival. Class fees included a concert ticket, and Susan highlighted composers and pieces on the Festival program. During one class period, we enjoyed a private performance and conversation with members of the world class Cypress String Quartet, who were featured at last year’s Festival.

Each year the Cypress String Quartet commissions a contemporary composer to add to the chamber music repertoire. In class, we listened to Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award winning composer, Jennifer Higdon, among the most performed living American composers at the moment, whose Impressions was commissioned by the quartet in 2003. “She loves color,” Susan explained of Higdon. “She says she approaches music as if she were a painter looking at a canvas.” In class, we listened for the color in Higdon’s Piano Trio: I. Pale Yellow.

Through experiences such as these, Susan demystified classical music. While introducing the elements of music, she also helped us see that understanding and appreciating classical music does not spring only from musical expertise, but from human experience as well. By underscoring its connection to common human experience—e.g., colors (Higdon), homesickness (Dvojak), love or loss or war or hope—Susan gave us the confidence to trust our own responses to music, and the tools to hone our listening with greater knowledge of musical elements and forms. I left the class with a list of resources to continue my musical education and a greatly enriched experience of the Summer Music Festival concerts and of classical music in general.

And happily, I also learned some new stories from The Love Lives of the Composers.

PS: This year at adult camp, I am enrolling in Painting, where “we will explore alternate ways of mark making and applying color theory.” That seems the perfect follow up to exploring chamber music inspired by the question, “Can music reflect colors and can colors be reflected in music?”

During the month of May Sitka Fine Arts Camp is offering Hames Center members a 15% discount on Adult Camp tuition. To register and receive the discount please visit the front desk in the Hames Center. 

Grace Kelly


“What if I told you that the future of jazz, which many have pronounced dead or dying in the last two decades, rested in the hands of a 16-year-old Korean American saxophonist named Grace Kelly? … I’ve heard the future of jazz and it is Grace Kelly.” – David Was, NPR’s Day to Day

         We have an exciting concert coming up at the Performing Arts Center on May 18.  Grace Kelly and her Jazz Quintet are nationally renowned and have been lauded for their lively and unforgettable concerts. Their presence in Sitka is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
           At just 20-years-old, Grace has already accomplished some amazing things. At 14 she appeared with the world famous Boston Pops playing one of her own compositions. A recent graduate of Berklee College of Music, Grace has performed over 500 concerts at such venues as the Newport Jazz Festival, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.
        Grace has worked with such legendary performers as Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Harry Connick Jr., Esperanza Spalding, Toots Thielemans, Hank Jones,  Adam Rogers,  Rufus Reid, Kenny Barron, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Terri Lynn Carrington among others. In addition, she has received numerous accolades from some of the jazz community’s top musicians. On the subject of Grace Kelly, legendary jazz trumpeter Winton Marsalis has said “[she] plays with intelligence, wit and feeling. She has a great amount of natural ability and the ability to adapt. That is the hallmark of a first-class jazz musician.”
     Grace’s collaboration with her teacher Lee Konitz, an album titled GRACEfulLEE, was given four-and-a-half stars by Downbeat Magazine and was named one of the best jazz recordings of 2008.
grace_kelly V1 4987-1        Still not convinced that this is a concert that you absolutely should not miss? Maybe the words of jazz pianist Monty Alexander will convince you otherwise:  “She is not an artist for Jazz lovers only but one for the whole world.”
        Don’t miss the musician that has been called the “future of jazz”!! Tickets for the concert are available now at Old Harbor Books. $20 Adults; $15 Students/Seniors