Music leader takes a rest

Transition: A former student comes back to take over the summer music camp Bill Sharkey founded in Arnold.

Arundel Live

June 01, 2000|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Ask Bill Sharkey of Arnold what he's doing this summer and you'll get an answer the county music teacher hasn't been able to give for nearly 15 years.

"I'm going to do as little as possible," he says with a laugh.

For the past seven years, Sharkey, 55, has been the proprietor and guiding spirit of the Arnold Summer Music Camp he founded in the early '90s.

Based at Antioch Apostolic Church on Ritchie Highway, the camp quickly became an artistic rite of passage for hundreds of local elementary and middle schoolers intent on developing their musical skills.

But now, after seven years on the job in Arnold and seven summers before that at the county's own music camps at Arlington Echo, Sharkey has sold his summer business as a prelude to his retirement from the Anne Arundel schools a year from now.

"I'm downsizing," he says, recalling the many hours he worked alongside his two children, who assisted him musically and administratively, and his wife, Sophie, who served as the camp's public relations specialist, nurse and official greeter.

"We've had many good young musical kids through, and there are a lot of good memories. But this was the time to let it go," he said.

The Arnold Summer Music Camp will live on: Sharkey has sold the camp and its name to Janet Jay, a graduate of Annapolis High School, Ithaca College and Arizona State University who is teaching instrumental and choral music at Annapolis Middle School.

Jay, 28, is at work planning her first season at the helm. The enthusiasm she brings to her latest endeavor is palpable as she discusses the direction she wants her camp to take.

"I went to a number of summer music camps," she says, "and they were some of the best things I ever did as a musician. I want to give that kind of experience to every kid who comes."

This year's day sessions, from July 10 through July 21, will offer musical instruction to children in grades three through eight.

In addition to Jay, a trombonist, camp staff will include Ray Ascione, former conductor of the U.S. Naval Academy Band; Diane Gerrior, instrumental music teacher at Severn River Middle School and a former Anne Arundel County Teacher of the Year; and Rob Stojakovich, a music teacher at Bates Middle School in Annapolis.

Trombonist Harold Reynolds of the Ithaca College music faculty is scheduled to spend five days at the camp coaching the brass section, conducting classes on jazz, and performing at the final concert.

Jay says there also will be guest performers each day. A Dixieland combo, a solo violinist and several chamber ensembles from the Navy Band are all slated to appear, as are some experts on instrument maintenance and repair.

"It is very exciting to be putting this together," Jay says. "Eventually, I'd like to expand our scope even further and have this become a full fine-arts camp where dance, drama and the visual arts are also represented. That would be totally awesome."

Information: 410-353-8069or 410-224-6007.

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