Let The Music Play

The nation’s oldest music camp celebrates its 80th season this summer at Eastern Kentucky University.

Founded in the midst of the Great Depression, the Stephen Collins Foster Music Camps – with numerous options for middle school and high school students – continue to draw young musicians from throughout the nation and even internationally.

Only the famous Interlochen Music Camp in Michigan has a longer history in the U.S. than EKU’s Foster Camp.

Many young musicians return year after year to the Richmond campus. The camp’s first director, in 1936, was Henri Schanbl, a former member of Kaiser Wilhelm’s personal band. Other directors through the years have been the camp’s founder, Joseph Van Peursem, 1940-63; Nick Koenigstein, 1964-67; Dr. Hartwell, 1968-99; and Dr. Joe Allison, 2000-07, before current director Ben Walker took the reins in 2008.

From 1948 to 1964, a certain canine was on hand to greet the campers. The music department’s mascot, Mozart, was buried in a grave immediately behind the outdoor pavilion used for many concerts and named for Van Peursem. This year’s Grand Finale Concerts are scheduled for Friday, June 26, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the EKU Center for the Arts. For more information about the camp, visit fostercamp.org.