July 2nd, 2020: WCAMS Virtual camp 2020 update

It's just over two weeks to the start of our virtual camp, and I've been very impressed by your enthusiasm for this new venture - I'd predicted that we'd have about 50 people register, but we already have 90! Trying to find a schedule that allows so many people to attend all the classes they selected has been a challenge, and I hope that the few people who have a conflict will be understanding about the difficulties involved. Unfortunately, the Horn, Saxophone and Double Bass Only classes we'd originally offered had to be withdrawn due to low enrolment. The schedule is now online, so you can check how it works for you:

Virtual Camp Schedule

The virtual choir is our largest group of course, and Geordie has written a terrific up-beat song specially for us - "Count me in!" The music (score, parts and audio recordings) will be made available very soon to those who have registered for the virtual choir class. Instrumentalists should note that Geordie has included a few ways for them to get involved as well. In addition to the piano accompaniment, there's an obbligato part for treble instruments, as well as several places in the song to insert mini-videos of people saying "Count me in!" and other greetings on the lines of anticipating camp 2021. If you're interested in taking part in any of these ways, please let me know.

It's great that we're able to keep our WCAMS family together this way, and also help support our faculty. As all our classes are free to members, we'll be dipping into our reserves to pay the faculty honoraria, so any donations you make will be much appreciated. Please send them by Interac to fees@wcams.ca, or if you prefer you can send a cheque to our treasurer (made out to WCAMS, and mailed to 5468 Walter Place, Burnaby, V5G 4K3).


Irene Percival (on behalf of the WCAMS Board)

June 6th, 2020: WCAMS Virtual Camp 2020 update

Let's keep the WCAMS family together this summer during our usual camp week (July 19-26)! Please join us for our virtual camp - all WCAMS classes are FREE for members, although donations to help cover faculty costs will be appreciated.

The WCAMS website has now been updated to show exactly what we're offering at our virtual camp. To summarise, we have Onlys classes for most instruments and a Voice Masterclass, Celtic music, Conducting, Body Awareness through Movement, Chamber groups (for groups whose members live close to each other), and a new choral composition by Geordie Roberts, written especially for WCAMS in quarantine. Campers taking part in his song will submit their individual videos after camp to be edited together into a virtual choir, and the final video will be uploaded to Youtube and featured in our Fall edition of Westmuse.

Please sign up for any of these sessions on the WCAMS website: www.wcams.ca/camp. As always, you need to be a WCAMS member to attend our camp, so please remember to pay your $25 membership. After that, everything we're running is free! However, as a convenience to our members and faculty, we're also booking extra classes or private lessons - payment for these will be made directly to the faculty concerned.

I've previously received messages from many of you saying that you'd like to join this camp, but please could you now sign up "officially" as well, using the form on the website. This will ensure that nobody gets forgotten.

I look forward to "meeting" you again in July.


Irene Percival (on behalf of the WCAMS Board)

May 16, 2020: WCAMS Virtual Camp 2020, July 19-26

I hope you're all well, and finding some way to keep up your musical interests. I thank you for the messages of support I received after announcing that the Board decided that camp had to be cancelled. It was indeed a hard decision to make, but ultimately it was the only one possible.

Fortunately, modern technology provides new ways to explore music together, and we're pressing ahead with plans for "WCAMS Virtual Camp 2020". I've already received expressions of interest from both faculty and WCAMS members, and I'd like to update you about what might be possible.

Geordie is writing a song for the camp, which will be performed by a virtual choir of as many members and faculty as would like to take part. The score and rehearsal audio tracks will be available a few weeks before camp, and Geordie will be giving one or two virtual rehearsals for the work during the camp week (still July 19-26). Soon after camp week is over, choristers should make a video of themselves singing the song, and Kevin Klop will be compiling the individual recordings into a commemorative WCAMS camp video.

Geordie has also offered to run an online "Collaborative music class" - and for vocalists who can't physically get together with their accompanist, he'll record and send them a piano accompaniment to sing along with. Trish has several ideas about choral activities that can be done online, and Amy is also keen - more details to follow if there's any interest from you.

Several instrumental faculty would like to run virtual "Onlys" classes. Obviously the ensemble work that's a large part of some of these classes won't be possible, unless someone from the group would like to organize a virtual performance (with all the editing of individual videos that would involve!). However, with judicious use of mute buttons, faculty seem optimistic that other sections of the class could work well.

Depending on how much the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, it may be possible to run some chamber groups, but this would require all members of the group to be in one location, with the coach connecting via Zoom (or whatever platform is preferred). Of course, this will only work if all members of the group live close together - but it's an option that the faculty would enjoy if there are any groups interested.

As you'll see, plans are still rather vague, but please let me know (irene@percival-music.ca) if you might like to join an "Onlys" class, a chamber group, or one of the choral sessions. There will be no charge for any of the virtual camp activities, but as we intend to pay the faculty, donations are welcome. All participants must be WCAMS members, so if you haven't yet renewed your membership this year, please do so by completing the form on our Membership Page, or by sending your $25 membership fee via interac to fees@wcams.ca.


Irene Percival (on behalf the WCAMS Board)

April 19, 2020: WCAMS 2020 camp is cancelled

With considerable regret, the WCAMS Board has decided to cancel the 2020 WCAMS music camp in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While the situation appears to be improving in British Columbia and some camp activities (e.g., chamber music) would likely have been possible, it is far from clear when large ensembles (especially choirs) would be advisable.

Although we could have continued to wait to see how the upcoming relaxation of physical distancing measures unfolded, we decided that it was important to make a decision now - rather than postponing what might be an inevitable cancellation anyway - in order that WCAMS members have the certainty they need to make plans; we know that this is especially important for our members who live outside of British Columbia.

We're hoping that we can still offer a few ways for our members to connect in July. We're exploring the possibility of having some faculty members teach an online master class, or any other aspects of the "Onlys" classes that would work online. Chamber groups may also work if all members can be physically in one location. It might also be fun to create a virtual choir or instrumental ensemble as a souvenir of "Online Camp COVID". If you'd be interested in either participating in an online class or producing or contributing to a musical souvenir, please let me know (irene@percival-music.ca). Other suggestions are also welcome.

In the Fall, our Westmuse newsletter will be devoted to your stories of "How you coped musically during COVID-19". WCAMS members are very creative, so this will definitely be something to look forward to. Please send your submissions throughout the summer to westmuse@wcams.ca.

For those who have already made payments towards camp, you will be refunded all monies paid less the membership fee. We encourage those who have not yet made payments and those who had not registered for camp to pay your annual membership fee so that you can continue to receive membership benefits such as notices of the AGM and the camp 2021 opening date, as well as Bits&Bytes, Westmuse News and other WCAMS benefits. You can pay your membership fee by Interac (sending $25 to fees@wcams.ca) or by mailing a cheque with the membership form found on the WCAMS web site.

We will be holding our annual AGM in July as usual and would love to see you there. We don't yet know whether this will have to take place online or if COVID-19 restrictions will have been lifted enough to allow people to meet face-to-face - maybe it will be a mixture of the two!

We thank you for your patience and understanding during the past few months, and look forward to meeting you all again in 2021.

Irene Percival (on behalf the WCAMS Board)

March 28, 2020: Message from the President

I'd like to address the concerns of several campers who have questioned the responsibility of holding a public event this summer in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Let me first assure you that we would never hold a camp at a time when public health officials recommend against large gatherings. However, planning for the WCAMS camp started long before Christmas: a contract has already been signed with Quest, and faculty have been chosen.

Fortunately, the Quest contract can be cancelled with minimal penalty until June 2nd, so there is plenty of time for us to wait and see how the pandemic progresses and what advice public health officials provide closer to July. In the event that the pandemic is contained within Canada as quickly as it appears that it was contained within China, we would prefer not to have cancelled the 2020 camp unnecessarily.

We appreciate that the need for physical distancing may make you nervous about registering for camp. Rest assured that if camp is cancelled, you will be returned all monies paid (except for the membership fee). Furthermore, we are making allowances for delays in paying the deposit until we have a clearer idea if camp will go ahead. Of course, if you have applied and still wish to withdraw your registration, please contact our registrar (Veronica Roenitz, camp@wcams.ca).

The WCAMS Board will be meeting in April to discuss this issue, and I will keep you informed of any future developments. Meanwhile, stay safe, and use some of your 'physical distancing' time to keep practising – music will help keep us sane over these difficult times.

March 13, 2020

We are aware that some people may be holding back applying to camp, waiting to see how the situation develops with COVID-19.

If the summer music camp is cancelled for any reason, campers will be refunded all monies paid (less the membership fee). In addition, while our usual policy is that campers' deposits are not refundable, in the event that camp goes ahead, anyone unable to attend due to a government quarantine or isolation order will also receive a full refund (less membership fee).