Photo courtesy of the New York Times

The New York Times feature on band camp at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra took front and center in the Arts & Leisure section of the paper’s Sunday edition. The first-person account of the week-long program shares the experience of working with and learning from the BSO pros:

We sat next to the Baltimore players, drank beer with them and sipped from their decades of musical wisdom. We experienced the obsessive nature of orchestra musicians and felt their physical pain, self-doubt and, once in a while, supreme confidence.

The academy was a kind of fantasy camp, better known to rock and baseball fans. But unlike air-guitarists or flabby softball players, we faced a high level of intensity from the start. The music was difficult, even for the pros many of us hoped to keep up with. Virtually all of us were there to improve our technique and musicality, not merely soak up star power.

For their part the players in the orchestra, who are living through a demoralizing period of pay cuts, defections, unfilled positions and a feeling they are unappreciated, had complicated reactions. The experience brought a whiff of resignation from professionals who had devoted their lives to working toward artistic excellence yet had to compromise their game, all the while smiling at high-paying guests.

Similar camps are conducted in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Minnesota and Utah and have proven to be a good way to raise revenue as symphonies across the country face budget cuts.

Read Band Camp for Grown-Ups at

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Susan Dunn

Susan Gerardo Dunn is the founding editor and publisher of Baltimore Fishbowl.