The Gift That Keeps Giving

We recently received an amazing email from alum and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Bella Markham, who you may remember had a fantastic Arts Leadership project we profiled a few weeks ago.  We share her thoughts below on how the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award has changed her life.

Mr. Perlman and Bella

When I received the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award last year, the first thing that I considered was attending the Perlman Music Program again (PMP). Last summer (2009) I spent 6 1/2 weeks on Shelter Island, New York studying under the direction of Itzhak and Toby Perlman. It was the most amazing staff of instructors. I studied with Heidi Castleman, one of the most incredible viola instructors I have ever studied with. It was the most inspirational and challenging musical experience that I have ever had. It was there, last summer that I made the decision that I wanted to be a professional violist for a lifelong career! I knew that my goal was to make this program a part of my education and development as a musician an annual priority. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation made it possible for me to attend again this summer! It truly was a gift not only to me but to others in the world that I can share with.

A typical day at PMP would start off with breakfast, some aerobics class to pump us up for practicing, then practice time from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM, of course with 10 minute breaks at each hour. After lunch, we usually have chamber rehearsals and coaching with the head chamber instructor Merry Peckham. If time allows then it’s always nice to go relax on the beach or go swimming! Sometimes I took my sketchbook to draw the beautiful outlook on the beach. At 5:00, we all go to chorus where we have a wide variety of music to sing, from Mozart’s Requiem to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. I never imagined myself being able to sing such amazing works of music, chorus is so much fun! After chorus, we have dinner. And let me tell you, there will never be a camp that has better food than PMP! For example, we have a special Korean Barbeque every year. It’s my favorite dinner! After dinner, we have orchestra in which Mr. Perlman, or “Mr. P” as we all call him, conducts us. We do orchestra for about 2 hours and by 10:00 P.M. it’s the “little’s” curfew time. When it comes to the weekends, we have many outreach opportunities such as going to perform at Vineyards and High schools and so many cool places.

But one of the most special things at PMP is the friendships that are formed. It’s so refreshing in a sense to be able to connect with other young people that are the same age as you. And it’s not awkward to have musical conversations or talk about what pieces you are working on. It’s so inspiring to be around them. I encourage you to go online to to read more about the program and the faculty and how to attend. PMP is such an amazing place. There will never be enough words to express my love for PMP.

Here at From the Top it’s wonderful to hear how young artists’ lives have been positively influenced by the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. We look forward to many exciting things from Bella in the future!