If you think all the fun of summer is winding down now that we’re into the dog days of it, think again. Slated for August 19 to 23, the inaugural Oregon Children’s Music Festival offers kids aged four to 14 a music day camp residency where they will have the opportunity to sing, play instruments and dance. During the camp, kids will form rock band, choir, dance, percussion and hip-hop ensembles.
The festival will be supplying sheet music, instruments and instruction. In fact, camp instructors include Portland artists such as Steve Aman, a well-known piano teacher, performer and collaborator with bands such as Ural Thomas and the Pain; Desmond Spann, who teaches high school and performs hip-hop with Speaker Minds; songwriter and guitarist Jerome Monaco; and percussionist Scott DeMay, who is also founder of Trade Up Music, which buys and sells musical instruments of all kinds.
Also instructing will be festival organizer Crystal Akins, a vocalist, conductor, and children’s music composer, with 20 years of experience staging such events. Based in Lincoln City, Akins, is one of four Oregon artists recently awarded a $100,000 Fields Artist Fellowship over two years by the Oregon Community Foundation and Oregon Humanities. As a way of addressing opportunity disparities in the state, she is using her award to create the festival and build the Lincoln City Children’s Choir, a new community music program starting in September.
Additional capital for the festival comes from the Lincoln City Parks and Recreation Department, and a grant from Explore Lincoln City. Donating space and volunteer time for the day camp is Oceana Family Literacy. A portion of the event proceeds is earmarked for Oceana’s Spanish Immersion Early Childhood Development Program and Neskowin Valley School’s shared community performance space renovation project.
Akins explains that the festival’s mission is to support children by connecting community through the joy of music making and contribution.
“I have used music to create social change across Oregon,” she said, “and am organizing this festival to create community support for long-term musical opportunities for children and families in our area.”
The weeklong camp will culminate in an intergenerational festival, Saturday, Aug. 24, at noon on the shores of Devils Lake at Regatta Park, at which the children from the music camp will perform. Also on tap will be Portland Taiko at 1 pm and Boka Marimba at 2 pm. That evening, the festivities will move down to the 51st Street beach access near Mo’s in Taft. There, you can get your groove on at 7 pm with Speaker Minds’ all-ages hip hop show, followed by a community bonfire and silent disco party at 8 pm.
As part of the daytime festival the Lincoln City Rotary Club will be dedicating its new “Music in the Parks” musical instrument playground. The brainchild of Rotary member Barbe Jenkins-Gibson, the playground came to fruition after a yearlong, $16,000 fundraising drive by the Rotary Club, with support from the Lincoln City Chamber of Commerce and Lincoln City Council. After the fund-raising was done, Lincoln City Parks and Recreation Department grabbed the baton, installing five xylophone-like musical instruments at Regatta Park to provide a delightful “hands-on” experience for people of all ages.
“The instruments are already a hit with our community,” said Lincoln City Parks and Recreation Director Jeanne Sprague. “We sincerely thank the Rotary Club of Lincoln City for their innovation and support of our public parks and community. What an incredible playground to have in a park.”
The festival will also feature Piano.Push.Play, a program founded by Megan McGeorge of Portland that works with local artists, to transform unwanted pianos into works of art that are then installed in public spaces. In Lincoln City’s case, pianos will be temporarily placed in Regatta Park, and at 51st Street in Taft, the Nelscott Deck, the Lincoln City Community Center and the public plaza next to Bob’s Books.
According to McGeorge, if it rains, volunteers will be standing by during the weeklong installation to tarp the pianos. As part of the fundraising effort, the festival will raffle off two of the pianos.
To register for camp, to purchase a $15 a raffle ticket to win a piano, to donate, or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 503-358-6143.
• And if you just want to enjoy some good music in a great setting, mark your calendars for Saturday, Aug. 24, at noon, at Regatta Park, and that evening at 7 pm at the 51st Street Beach Access near Mo’s in Taft. The music events are free and open to the public.