By Greg Snodgrass
The Hayes School of Music (HSOM) at Appalachian State University announces the 50th anniversary celebration of its Cannon Music Camp, with a reunion to take place July 6–8. Past campers, faculty and staff will gather at the Broyhill Music Center on Appalachian’s campus to commemorate the event.
Reunion events include a concert given by current Cannon Music Camp faculty; a reception for camp alumni and guests; a reunion concert, which includes camp alumni; a banquet; and social time for former campers to become re-acquainted.
“I am constantly amazed at the number of people that are eager to talk to me about the Cannon Music Camp experience that changed their life and propelled them into a career in music,” said Dr. James Douthit, dean of the HSOM.
“Many professional musicians across the globe, some of whom matriculated to their collegiate studies in the Hayes School of Music and others who attended other institutions, fondly recall their experience in the Cannon Music Camp as a transformational moment in their path to becoming a musician,” he said.
The Cannon Music Camp is a three-week, music-filled retreat that offers a comprehensive course of musical instruction for student musicians who are rising high school freshmen to rising college freshmen, with intensive college preparatory work in performance and music theory.
Campers participate in daily ensemble rehearsals and music theory classes in an atmosphere that elevates the students’ musicianship. Each camper also receives one-on-one instruction from HSOM faculty in weekly private lessons.
Cannon Music Camp Director James G. Daugherty, who has been a part of the camp for the past 28 years, shared, “Ensuring that every student who attends camp has an opportunity to grow, learn and thrive in a positive musical environment with like-minded friends and a talented, caring faculty/staff is paramount to the Cannon Music Camp experience. I believe this is why our camp is as healthy today as it was that first summer in 1969.
“The impact of Cannon is far-reaching and goes well beyond what happens inside the three-week camp experience,” he said. “Our camp changes students’ lives, one note at a time.”
Cannon Music Camp history
In the spring of 1968, after several years of discussion, a committee of music faculty members was appointed to develop a plan for the establishment of a summer music camp on Appalachian’s campus.
These members included Dr. Nicholas Erneston, then-dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts; Dr. William Spencer, late professor emeritus of music who chaired Appalachian’s Department of Music from 1958 to 1972; HSOM Professor Emeritus Joseph Logan; and Drs. Charles L. Isley Jr., Walton Cole and MacWilliam Disbrow, all of whom are late professor emeriti of music in the HSOM.
A formal proposal indicating the rationale, operating procedures, instructional organization and budget was submitted in October 1968 to the university’s administration. On Jan. 9, 1969, Dr. William H. Plemmons, Appalachian’s second president, and Robert Allen, then-director of public affairs, met in Kannapolis with Charles A. Cannon, the late board chair of the Cannon Mills textile company.
Cannon donated $10,000 in support of the project, and the new summer music program at Appalachian was named Cannon Music Camp — both in memory of Cannon’s wife, Ruth Cannon, and in honor of Cannon.
According to Daugherty, approximately 135 students, representing six states, arrived on campus on July 13, 1969, to participate in the first session of the Cannon Music Camp. The camp faculty numbered some 17 members, assisted by 10 graduate music students who served as counselors.
In the 1969 session, the instructional program included symphony orchestra, concert band, concert choir, string orchestra and several small ensembles, Daugherty said. “Daily instruction was given in music theory and private instruction was provided in each instrumental area and in voice,” he added.
Over the past 50 years, 10,000 campers from 37 states and 13 countries have attended the camp.
The alumni concert to be held July 7 at 8 p.m. in the Broyhill Music Center’s Rosen Concert Hall is free and open to the public.