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Local cellist Camden Wentz is attending Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan and is still achieving high honors. Recently, Camden was accepted into two National Orchestras and – COVID permitting – will be performing at Carnegie Hall and in three European Counties this summer. / Submitted photo

Accomplished local cellist accepted into two national ensembles

INTERLOCHEN, MICHIGAN – A former Buckhannon-Upshur High School student who now is a senior at Interlochen Center for the Arts, continues to make ‘noteworthy’ strides and has recently achieved two new milestones.

Camden Wentz, son of Scott and Lenora Wentz of Buckhannon, shared he was just accepted into two national ensembles – The National Association for Music Education All-National Symphony Orchestra, which he described as essentially the national version of the All-State Orchestra; and the Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the USA (NYO-USA) which is described as the much more prestigious sister orchestra of NYO2, of which he was a part last summer.

“The first one, The National Association for Music Education All-National Symphony Orchestra, has musicians from across the county,” he said. “I applied to be a part of this orchestra and I recorded an audition to be accepted. If COVID was not happening, I would have traveled to San Diego, California for an in-person convention.”

Camden said for the All-National Symphony Orchestra, each musician selected recorded their parts and said they will be put together for a video. He said they recorded two pieces. He said being a part of the All-National Symphony Orchestra is something he considers to be exciting and a great honor.

“I have applied to this orchestra before and was not accepted,” he said. “Usually there are one or two people from West Virginia who are accepted in the strings.”

When preparing for these auditions and while he is at Interlochen Center for the Arts, he spends approximately three to four hours a day practicing.

“That sounds like a lot, but that is what I came here to school for,” Camden shared. “It has become a habit and it is like training for an athlete. All of this time does not have to be intense – sometimes I just go through the things I have learned – I want it to become second nature to me to practice each day. When preparing for an audition, my practice sessions are more focused. On weekends, I do not go overboard, but I practice a little more – I just split the practice up rather than stretching it all together.”

The second placement, Camden said, is one that ‘takes the cake.’

“The National Youth Orchestra of the USA, sponsored by Carnegie Hall is one I learned I was accepted into the end of January,” Camden said. “Last year, I was in NYO2, which is the younger group. This one is the official one and it is for ages 16 to 19 and is very competitive as far as youth orchestras go. This audition was taped as well. There is scheduled to be a live performance as well as international travel with this group. It includes a European tour with concerts in Amsterdam, Berlin and Lucerne under the direction of Daniel Harding, with cellist Alisa Weilerstein as guest soloist.”

Camden said this is offered to the performers completely free of charge – the time practicing for the National Youth Orchestra of the USA, the performance at Carnegie Hall as well as traveling to the European countries to perform.

“This is 100 percent free for the musicians and I think this helps make it even more competitive,” Camden said.

Camden said he is set on pursuing a career in music and said attending Interlochen Center for the Arts offers him daily exposure to music.

“The cello teacher here attended the Julliard School in New York for music as well as the Boston School of Music and the Austin School of Music,” Camden said. “The backgrounds of these music teachers are really impressive and I think they have the tip and ideas for how to get into schools.”

Camden said attending Interlochen Center for the Arts is similar to attending two high schools at once.

“We have the music aspect, which is basically half of the day and then the other half of the day is actual academics,” Camden said. “Our core studies are very rigorous as well.”

So far, Camden said he enjoys attending a private music-based high school and said his favorite part has been that he knows he is receiving a ‘world-class education.’

“There is no doubt about it,” Camden shared. “I think another thing that helps to motive me is having peers that are just as dedicated as me about their art – not just music – whatever they are here for, they have worked really hard to get here and they are dedicated to learning and improving their skills.”

Camden said he has applications out but has not received responses back from all of the universities, colleges and conservatories where he has applied, so no firm decision has been finalized; however, he does plan to make music his career.

While Camden enjoys attending Interlochen Center for the Arts, he said he misses his Buckhannon home and misses being able to easily go out to public places.

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