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Perlman Music Program returns to the Island: Music to fill the air once again

Among the signs of hope and renewal this spring, few are as welcome as the bright blue awnings of the Perlman Music Program’s (PMP) campus at Crescent Beach.

Unable to open safely last year during the pandemic, PMP convened virtual lessons and recitals. Young musicians and alumni stayed connected to their instructors and each other, while music lovers were able to enjoy performances online all year.

Recently, PMP announced it will definitely return to the Island this month. “It’s an absolute joy to return to our Shelter Island home,” said founder Toby Perlman. “We’ve found incredible ways to connect virtually over the past year, but there’s nothing like camp. It’s where it all clicks, where everyone feels the most connected, the most relaxed, the most themselves. It’s where lifetime bonds are formed and favorite memories are made. I cannot wait to hear string quartets and our orchestra under our performance tent again.”

The staff is working to freshen up learning and living spaces, set up recording equipment and the outdoor performance tent, and welcome back the Chamber Music Workshop and the Summer Music School. Every student who took part in virtual learning last summer is invited back to camp for a joyous reunion.

The Chamber Music Workshop will take place June 4-27. Twenty-nine young artists and 12 artist-faculty will reunite and delve into chamber music masterworks spanning from Joseph Haydn to Florence Price.

The Summer Music School will run from July 2 -Aug. 22. Thirty-two students, ages 14-18, will come together for a curriculum focused on solo, chamber music, orchestral and choral performance.

The road back to Shelter Island was not straightforward, according to PMP staff. Over the last several months, they worked to obtain the proper permits and approvals from New York State. A health and safety task force was formed, local medical professionals were consulted, and campus facilities were enhanced, all while navigating frequent updates from the state and the Department of Health. A myriad of challenges had to be solved, with educational priorities and the physical and mental well-being of the entire PMP community in mind.

While working toward an in-person camp this summer, PMP’s priority was always to bring the audience back too, as soon as it was safe. With the public health scenario improving and the welcome progress of vaccinations, came a carefully considered plan to reopen the outdoor performance tent. 

A limited schedule of public events for the Chamber Music Workshop will take place between June 11-26. The calendar, along with updated health and safety guidelines for camp guests, is available on the PMP website (perlmanmusicprogram.org). Seats are available by advance reservation only.

PMP operates under the New York State Children’s Camp guidelines, which currently require that all guests on campus are vaccinated against COVID-19. PMP is also requiring that guests wear masks during their visit. The performance tent will be arranged for socially distant seating, and a brief health screening and temperature check will be added to the welcome and check-in process.

Anticipating much interest in their first live, in-person concerts in two years, PMP plans to reserve a portion of seats for members, and a portion for the general public, to make performances accessible to as many as possible. Guests may request two seats per date. For more information, email [email protected].

PMP is also planning for a return of the Annual Summer Gala, on Friday, August 13. The popular event will feature the PMP String Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Itzhak Perlman under the performance tent, followed by a dinner and festive surprises. Said Anna Kaplan, Executive Director: “This year, our Gala will be a moment to celebrate what’s most important at PMP: the incredible artistry of our students, and our close-knit community, who come together from Shelter Island and beyond to help us make these moments possible.”

Plans for the Summer Music School are still in development. PMP hopes to open Works in Progress concerts to the public on July and August weekends. Updates will be announced by the end of June via the PMP weekly email newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter mailing list, individuals can visit perlmanmusicprogram.org.