By ELSIE PARINI
It’s more than just band camp… it’s Point CounterPoint. And this very special place, nestled on the shores of Lake Dunmore, is celebrating its six decades of nurturing young musical talents with an anniversary celebration this weekend, Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
Friday-Sunday is alumni weekend, which welcomes back former campers and faculty. The weekend’s highlight is an Alumni Chamber Music Concert and post-concert reception on Friday, Sept. 29, at the Salisbury Congregational Church, where PCP has performed for more than 40 years. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this free concert at 7:30 p.m.
For alumni who aren’t able to be in Vermont this weekend, there will also be a live PCP Alumni Play-In on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 2 p.m. via Zoom. All attendees will play Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major. This is a way for musicians of all levels to come together regardless of where they are in the world! Pick up your instrument, and play along with fellow PCP alumni everywhere. Zoom link: us02web.zoom.us/j/82869680000?pwd=Tm90RmxLVkl5djgrYjV6WUpnTkpHQT09.
Saturday’s Play-In will be followed by the final performance of the Emerson String Quartet perform at Middlebury College (see story on page 2).
WHAT MAKES PCP SO SPECIAL?
When Edwin Finckel started a small summer musical opportunity for his private studio students in 1963, he unknowingly created the Point CounterPoint legacy. The camp has seen several directors including Middlebury’s own Emory and Diana Fanning, who ran the camp for a decade starting in 1979, and current director and co-owner Jenny Beck who took the baton in 2008.
“Despite the fact that owners and instrument types have changed, and 60 years have passed, PCP is still the same,” Beck said. “There’s something about the place itself — a rustic camp on Lake Dunmore — that when combined with chamber music creates this magical community.”
Beck is not alone with this magical feeling, and said she receives “PCP love notes” regularly.
“At least 10 times per summer, campers tearfully tell me their lives are changed forever,” Beck reminisced. “Can you imagine? Every summer, I have the honor to continue this legacy started in 1963, and make a difference in people’s lives. As trite as that sounds, I am able to provide a ‘happy place,’ a ‘safe place,’ where kids of all ages (8-80+) arrive unplugged to find others just like them willing to nerd-out on chamber music, and where they instantly feel they belong.”
“I attended PCP as a camper in high school, then returned as a counselor in college, and during Jenny Beck’s first three years, I was the head counselor and on the music faculty,” summed up Elliot Cless, who now is a professional musician and educator, with a full-time teaching position as the Orchestra and Chamber Music director and at a private school in the Boston area.
“Attending PCP in high school ignited my passion for chamber music and cultivated my self-confidence as a violinist, propelling me into a career in music,” Cless said. “I fell in love with the setting and the vibe of PCP, which is a perfect blend of serious music training combined with all of the tried-and-true elements of a traditional sleep-away camp like campfires, swimming and boating, cabin bonding, capture the flag, etc.”
Cless said he jumped at the opportunity to return to PCP as a counselor, and soon discovered his calling of youth mentorship. “The work was meaningful: PCP cultivates a place of belonging, where every kid’s musical growth is celebrated, and where an awkward teenager can blossom via the supportive small camp environment and the collaborative spirit of chamber music.
“I not only owe my professional life to PCP, but I also met my wife at PCP during the summer of 2010 when we were both on faculty,” Cless added. “I am all the more eternally thankful for my time up there. It has been about 10 years since I’ve been back and I am very excited to return to this magical spot to commemorate 60 years of PCP!”
Former camper, counselor and current PCP Operations Manager Noel Mitchell also had some pretty nice things to say about PCP.
“After my first summer at PCP I was hooked,” said Mitchell, who lives in New Haven, Conn., and was first introduced to the violin in a very small pilot program her elementary school offered. Her education continued with solo competitions at Yale University during her K-12 years and at PCP.
“I was a camper for about eight years, and during my junior year of university I became a camp counselor at PCP,” she said. “I joined staff in 2023 as their operations manager, and just completed a full decade with PCP… What I’m looking forward to most about the 60th is being able to connect with not only individuals from my time as a camper, but also campers from previous generations. No matter how many improvements are made to camp, we all have this shared experience that we are able to relate to and bond. I can’t wait to get to know everyone, sit by the campfire, reminisce and exchange fun camp memories!”
Beck estimates that there are approximately 10,000 chamber musicians all over the world who have been a part of PCP since its inception in ’63. The “love notes” Beck receives are endless:
“I had never seen Johnny so confident and happy as he was when I picked him up from camp last summer. I had to make sure he had the experience again.”
“I just close my eyes and imagine I am at Point CounterPoint and it makes me feels more relaxed. It’s a magical place.”
“Thank you for everything that you do with PCP and spreading the joy of music. Nowadays, I always credit PCP with sparking my passion for music, and for starting my love for the violin. It was an unforgettable experience that’s really moved me to make music a central part of who I am.”
“After my family, preserving and growing PCP is the best thing I have ever been lucky enough to do,” Beck said. “PCP has changed my life too.”
Don’t miss the opportunity to see the Alumni Chamber Music Concert and commemorate this legacy at the free performance on Friday at 7:30 p.m. No tickets needed, just come and join in!
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Point CounterPoint and get info about the 60th anniversary weekend visit pointcp.com.