2021 Summer Advanced Music Camp Concert

By Kelly Ko, FCSN East Bay Outreach and Enrichment Programs, Program Director

One of our most anticipated summer events is the Music Camp Concert. This final event features performances from every participant in a 3-4 day camp organized by Music Manager, Auntie Anna Wang. The camp typically includes beginner campers, who are new to music, and advanced campers, who already have experience in their musical instruments or vocals. However, since we are still in the midst of the pandemic, we have only included the advanced campers this year to ensure we can provide social-distance. 

The purpose of this music camp is to provide our musicians an opportunity to play music in a group, which is very different from playing solo. Performing in a band or orchestra is very difficult because it requires teamwork, and every musician must be in sync with the group. This is a challenge, but each of our special needs musicians have learned to perform smoothly with everyone. The road to becoming a musician features many obstacles, and many of our campers have overcome personal challenges to see progress as a musician. 

This year, we had 15 talented campers participate in our program. They rehearsed and practiced 10 songs for the virtual concert at the FCSN Fremont center for a total of about 10 hours over 3 days from 7/15 – 7/17, and on the 4th day (7/18), they pre-recorded the songs for the concert.. The musicians this year were:

Vocals & Instrumentals
Lawrence Wang – Saxophone
Andrew Quach – Keyboard
Tony Nakamoto – Guitar & PercussionGreg
Hebert – GuitarFrank Prenot – Drums
Richard Morales – Bass

Vocals
Michael Earhardt
Angel Ramos
Keyboards
Alice Jen
Neel Dhingra

Strings
Ansel Kam – Violin
Samuel Rachlin – Cello
Victor Gan – Cello

Brass &  Winds
Sudarsan Kannan – Trumpet
Darren Ko – Clarinet

All of the music was chosen by our well-experienced Auntie Anna, and arranged by our wonderful music director of many years, Tony Bolivar. He arranged the campers’ music based on the instruments they play and their skill level. Each musician was given their musical scores several weeks before the music camp started on 7/15, so they could start practicing their pieces at home. This year, the theme was 1960s to 2000s top hit songs from Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones, Queen, Backstreet Boys, Ventures and more, as well as FCSN’s 25th Anniversary theme song. This free concert will be broadcasted LIVE on Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube on Sunday, 7/18, at 7:30pm. 

On the first day of camp, all the campers and their parents were incredibly excited. When the campers performed the first song, Friends with Dreams (FCSN’s 25th Anniversary Song), we were all amazed at how well they were already doing. We could tell that the campers had efficiently practiced their individual pieces in the 2 weeks leading up to the camp. We were already filled with pride for all the musicians. Over the next 3 days, the campers continued to practice all 10 songs under the direction of Tony Bolivar. Many of the musicians’ parents were also present to help and support their child through the camp, showing how supportive and wonderful their parents are. There was definitely excitement and anticipation along with some anxieties and frustrations, but by the end of the 3rd day of camp, the campers sounded amazing together. Working together, they had accomplished a musical performance that many may have thought they couldn’t have achieved.

First song of the concert, “Friends with Dreams”

The 4th day of camp included a rehearsal, and finally, the last recording. The musicians wore their concert attire into their rehearsal, ready to record. After rehearsing each song 2-3 times, we started recording their final performances that would be used for the concert. Thanks to the music camp crew, all the songs were recorded smoothly and on time. For all of the musicians who worked so hard the last 4 days, the final recording marked the ending of the summer music camp. After the campers prepared to watch the concert that evening, our music camp crew worked diligently to prepare all the videos for the evening’s virtual concert. 

Finally, the event started at 7:30 PM with a video that highlighted behind-the-scenes footage from the practices, along with the Hawaii Five-O music in the background. These scenes were followed by introductory slides of all the musicians, music manager & music director, and the music camp crew. At 7:35 PM, the concert started with welcome remarks from our Music Manager, Auntie Anna and music director, Tony Bolivar. They also introduced the first song of the evening, “Friends with Dreams” which was composed by our wonderful and talented youth volunteer, Tony Guo. This was the perfect song to start off the concert. The next song was “Spy Medley,” specially arranged by Tony Bolivar, and the medley includes the theme songs from the 1962 “James Bond” movie, Pink Panther, and Peter Gunn. The third song of the evening was a popular song sung by the Backstreet Boys, “I Want It That Way.” Following that, we had the theme song from Austin Powers, “Soul Bossa Nova,” written by Quincy Jones. For the next song, Angel Ramos, one of the finalists from the Special Needs Talent Showcase, sang his final competition song, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” with our musicians providing instrumentals Our next performance was another medley, this one consisting of 2 songs, “Wipe-Out” by the Surfaris and “Walk, Don’t Run” by the Ventures. The next song was “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, which was a very fitting and meaningful song because we are facing not only the pandemic but also racism in the African-American and Asian-American communities. Our second to last song was an instrumental piece by Herb Alpert called “Rise.” Finally, the concert closed with “We Are the Champions” by Queen. The title of the song speaks for itself; everyone in the special needs community are all true champions. 

Campers and their parents practiced with music director Tony Bolivar

The concert ended on a high note and was a huge success. During the live broadcast, over 200 viewers tuned in via one of the 3 platforms: Zoom, Facebook Live, or YouTube Live. The concert attracted many viewers from other parts of the US, like in the East Coast, as well as from other countries around the world: Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, Japan, India, Thailand, Philippines, just to name a few. Many viewers left wonderful comments and praises for all the musicians through the chats and comments sections. After the live broadcast, over the next week, another 200 viewers have gone into Facebook or YouTube to view the recorded concert. The success of this concert is all due to the hard work of our music manager, Anna Wang, music director, Tony Bolivar, and the music camp crew (Penny Sapkunmongkon, Dora Chou, and Kelly Ko). Hopefully next year, we will be able to present the music camp concert in-person so that we can invite everyone to attend. We hope to see everyone again next year!

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