By Dr. Michelle Cheramy, Flutist
Professor of Music, Memorial University, St. John’s, NFLD
I remember well my first experience of the Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music: it was about 1984, the camp that year was being held on the campus of what was then Cariboo College (now Thompson Rivers University), I was a young teenager, and I was excited to be spending two weeks in an environment dedicated entirely to making music.
Little did I know then what a seminal experience the Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music would be in my life!
Attending KISSM as a high school student (which I did more than once) opened my eyes to a big, big musical world: jazz combos, African drumming, musical theatre...there were so many rich musical opportunities to be had. The faculty were first class musicians and educators who embodied creativity, passion, and excellence. The energy of the faculty was inspirational, and it was immeasurable fun to connect with kids from all over the region who shared my love of music.
After high school I decided to try to convert my love of music into a career in music, and KISSM was an important part of that journey. While a university student I returned several summers to work for the camp, and those summers taught me everything from the joy of working in a team driven by a shared vision to the difficulty of maintaining order in a junior saxophone ensemble (whew!). They also afforded me the opportunity to perform with established professional musicians, something keenly important for an emerging professional.
As I finished school, landed my first orchestra job and then a full-time university teaching position, I returned to Kamloops for a couple of additional summers to teach as regular faculty at KISSM. It was an honour to contribute to the continued legacy of the camp that had nurtured me as a student, but distance and other commitments eventually ended my affiliation with it.
Or so I thought!
Fast forward twenty-plus years and here I am at KISSM again! This time I am here as a parent, having travelled 7500 kilometres to hand my own children over to the dedicated staff of the summer school. My heart is full of excitement for my kids because I know what great fun, great music and great memories await them.
Since my time as a student at KISSM I have been lucky enough to perform as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral musician in venues across Canada and the US, and in Europe. The Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music nurtured and inspired me on my path to becoming the musician I am today, but even if I had not become a professional musician I would still consider my time at KISSM essential in my development as a person. I was and always will be proud to have been part of an organization that seeks to create an open, welcoming environment for all, and seeks to foster the best in each individual person (no matter how small)—goals that are universally relevant to all fields of endeavour.