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Orchestrated . . . Musicians at the Waitaki Summer Music Camp perfect their skills before tomorrow night's concert. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

An annual event that warms the district’s cultural climate is taking place for the 23rd time.

The Waitaki Summer Music Camp occupies Waitaki Boys’ High School for 10 days each January. This year 65 people signed up, some attending the chamber music tuition for the first four days and others arriving for the subsequent orchestra sessions.

The camp culminates in a public concert tomorrow night in the school auditorium.

The camp has been organised from the outset by Dunedin musician Paul Claman and Christchurch colleague Al Sands.

“We love coming to Oamaru and the facilities at WBHS suit us very well, so we completely intend to keep coming back!” Mr Claman said.

Many participants return multiple times, from as far away as Auckland and Invercargill. A Wellington contingent makes the pilgrimage every year, as does a group from Timaru.

The campers stay in the school hostel and enjoy meals provided by its caterers. Mr Sands said they had a friendly family atmosphere. The youngest musician they had had was 10 and the oldest was 82.

In between music practices, they visit local cafes and go for bike rides to Kakanui. Back at the school, there is a table tennis tournament and a quiz evening.

Mr Sands said professional musicians from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra free.

“We’re exceedingly grateful. We must be doing something right, because they keep coming back too.”

The tutors are consulted on the programme to be performed in the public concert.

“We try and choose pieces from the standard orchestra repertoire and we take advice from our tutors about what we can manage successfully,” Mr Claman said.

“This year it’s a mighty Sibelius symphony, a great bit of British patriotism called Pomp and Circumstance(a nod to the Victorian anniversary – it’s the Land of Hope and Glory tune) and the Light Cavalry Overture, which is a neat wee bouncy piece.

“Strings are playing a New Zealand work by John Ritchie and the concert band is playing a Latin American fantasy piece.”

The concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and $20 for a family.

The prices had not changed throughout the event’s history, Mr Claman said. Proceeds were split with the Whitestone Community Arts Council, which provided support and promotion.

The Otago Community Trust and Bendigo Valley Foundation also helped with funding, which the camp organisers used to offer scholarships and subsidise attendees’ costs.