International music students gather in Mount Pleasant
On June 23, some 15 young musicians from the Charleston area, neighboring states and Venezuela will gather at First Scots Presbyterian Church to hear violinist Ruben Camacho and pianist Pedro Uceda perform. This recital kicks off two weeks of intensive instruction and performing through the Charleston International Music School (CIMS) Summer Festival. CIMS students, aged 10 to 21, will perform at diverse locations including MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, Daniels Island companies BenefitFocus and SPARC, as well as Franke at Seaside in Mount Pleasant.
Their teachers are local musicians who play with the Charleston Symphony and Chamber Music Charleston. They are Ruben Camacho (violin), CIMS founder, Frances Hseih (violin), and Timothy O’Malley (cello), providing individual and ensemble instruction as well as master classes. In addition, Russian violinist Larisa Elisha will travel from Georgia to offer a master class on Monday, July 1.
This intense program for strings students started in 2011, when Ruben Camacho, a native of Venezuela, wanted a way to reach out to the many students he had left behind in Caracas, when he moved to Charleston. The idea for an international festival in Charleston grew from his friendship with Ken Lee, the minister of music at Mount Pleasant First Baptist Church where the festival classes are held. The first year, 10 violin students traveled from Caracas to join a handful of local music students. Since then
word about the paradigm-changing nature of the camp spread so much that most students this year are from the Charleston area. As the mother of one participant, Mae K. Schutte, said, “True to their mission statement, my daughter has grown so much personally and musically from the excellent international faculty, the Venezuelan students and mentors, as well as the new friendships locally and from abroad. I am so thankful Maddie (her daughter) had this experience.”
Sometimes the students were unable to talk to each other much because of the language barrier, but they enjoyed playing music together. The mission of CIMS is to build the community through excellent classical music instruction and performance by children and young people. One way the festival benefits the community is by bringing inspiring performances to local businesses and organizations. Past CIMS participants continue their music studies in American and European universities, often on full scholarships. See www.charlestoninternationalmusicschool.org for additional information.