February 22, 2024

Aspiring vocalists gather at CIM for new summertime Great American Songbook Camp

Joan Ellison peeks out from behind a tan wall.

Classical music isn’t the only timeless art studied at CIM. No, this summer, a select group of young vocalists will enjoy a special week exploring the so-called Great American Songbook. 

From July 22 to 26, high school-age singers will spend their days with renowned singer and CIM voice faculty member Joan Ellison and other top-notch educators and collaborative pianists, mastering the music that is America’s cultural heritage.  

“I can think of no better place than CIM to carry the torch for America’s classical music,” said Ellison, whose recent engagements include Get Happy: A Judy Garland Celebration. “I am thrilled and excited to have the chance to explore this timeless music with 20 of the nation’s most talented young singers.”

The first order of business in the new camp will be to answer the question, “What is the Great American Songbook?” This will be addressed in a music history course exploring the timeless work of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, and many others.  

Other topics to be covered throughout the week include healthy vocal production and expression, song interpretation and physicality, phrasing, and microphone technique. Students also can expect to learn song-specific warmups and conditioning exercises and the basics of audio recording.  

The Great American Songbook Camp will culminate in a video-recorded performance in CIM’s Mixon Hall, in which every participant will sing a number practiced throughout the week.  

In addition to Ellison, “Songbook” leaders will include CIM voice faculty member Jennifer Call; assistant vice president of administration and operations Cassie Goldbach; eurhythmics faculty and recording production specialist Graham Rosen; guest pianist Rock Wehrmann; and guest presenters Barbara Rosene and Evelyn Wright.  

Detailed information about the Great American Songbook Camp, including an application form and fee schedule, can be found at cim.edu/songbook. Applications must be received by April 1 and include video-recorded performances of two pieces in contrasting styles. Participation is limited to 20 students.  

“Offering a deep dive into the great popular music of the past is one more way CIM trains students for careers of the future,” said Call, associate dean of preparatory and public programs at CIM. “Demand for this music is only growing stronger, and we are thrilled to make sure young performers are prepared to meet it.”