Before last Monday, Gantry Rasche had never picked up a violin.
By Friday, the 9-year-old was able to play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" in front of an audience at the showcase for students of the Paducah Symphony Orchestra's week-long summer music camp.
"We have an outstanding faculty, and for them to be able to produce what they produce in, really, four and a half days ... is amazing," camp director Art Deweese said. The camp, now in its second year, ran from Monday to Friday and boasted an enrollment of 135 students, 25 of whom were in elementary school, Deweese said. Two showcases - one at West Kentucky Community & Technical College for younger kids, and the other at McCracken County High School - allowed the students to share what they'd learned with the public.
Deweese said enrollment numbers were slightly down from 150 students last summer, possibly due to the snowy weather that added several days to the end of the school year. He hopes to see higher attendance at the camp.
Both Gantry and camp mate Nathaniel Skinner, also 9, said they hoped to attend again next year, schedules permitting.
"I'd like to try more violin, if mom lets me," Gantry said.
Students in elementary school attended a half-day camp from 9 a.m. to noon for $75 while middle and high school students went for a more intense full-day camp for $125. The program also offered scholarships through the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
"Money should not be a factor for any student in our area who wants to attend," he said. "This is something that Paducah has needed for a number of years, and the symphony stepped up."
Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641.