In 2012, a group of local residents who shared a passion for music, came together to discuss ways of creating a summer-only chamber orchestra as a way to reach out and teach music to the young people throughout Southern Wisconsin.

Turtle Creek Chamber Orchestra This Is Beloit“To supplement the offered music classes in the school system, we thought a summer string camp for students might be helpful in developing and encouraging young musicians,” says Greg Roy, business manager and a founding board member. “Dr. J. Ian Nie, a music professor at Beloit College, and his student, Carol Roy, called a meeting in April, 2012 along with other interested musicians and teachers of music. Turtle Creek Chamber Orchestra (TCCO) was launched and quick action was taken to file incorporation papers as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit.”

“It’s a labor of love.”

Turtle Creek Chamber Orchestra conducts concerts as well as a children’s music camp every summer. Nearly all operational expenses are paid from donations, an annual silent auction and performances. The funds received go to cover expenses, and to support scholarships for at-risk students interested in music. TCCO is a volunteer-driven organization; there are no paid staff members. “It’s a labor of love,” says Roy.

Every summer, TCCO plays eight concerts, mostly in the Beloit area, as well as nearby cities such as Edgerton, Delavan and Janesville. Each concert averages between 100 and 150 people. “We’ve grown tremendously,” says Roy. “There might have been seven people at our first concert. Since then, we’ve done a better job spreading the word. We recently played before 350 people in Janesville.” TCCO plays selections from Brahms, Bach, and Beethoven to John Williams and Vaughn Williams, as well as favorite Broadway and show tunes.

The musicians are from the southern Wisconsin area and most are full-time teachers, or, have their own private studios and students.  Many of them play for other groups such as the Beloit/Janesville Symphony, Rock Prairie Chamber Orchestra and Milwaukee Symphonia.

Students who participate in the mini summer camp come from all across the area including Beloit, Monroe, Janesville and Fort Atkinson. For four days, students learn the fundamentals of playing string instruments such as violin, viola, cello and bass. Students are placed in beginner, intermediate and advanced classes.

Organizers expected 20 students for the first camp but were pleasantly surprised when 39 enrolled. Last year, 59 students took part and 70 are expected at this year’s camp. Local merchants donate food for the campers and every participant receives a t-shirt. The last day of camp includes a pizza party and a performance by students for friends and family. “Everyone has a good time,” says Roy. “It’s a real ego boost for the kids as well as a character builder. Every year, at least 50 percent of the campers return from the previous year.”

The future looks bright.

And the future looks bright for the Turtle Creek Chamber Orchestra . Roy says plans include expanding the four-day summer camp to four weeks, and possibly creating an international music festival that would draw music lovers from around the world to Beloit.

“We love Beloit and Beloit supports us 100 percent,” says Roy. “We want people to not only enjoy the music, but our city as well. We’re excited about the future.”

Learn more about the Turtle Creek Chamber Orchestra | www.turtlecreekchamberorchestra.org

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