BUCKHANNON – One Buckhannon-Upshur High School junior student is an accomplished musician and has attained some very ‘noteworthy’ undertakings lately.
The son of Scott and Lenora Wentz of Buckhannon, Camden Wentz is a junior at Buckhannon-Upshur High School who plays the cello so well that he was recently he was accepted into NYO2 – the National Youth Orchestra of Carnegie Hall. Camden said unfortunately, Carnegie Hall is closed due to the pandemic, but they are going to be able to do their in-person concert at State University of New York-Purchase College.
“There are about 100 youth in NYO2 from across the country,” Camden shared. “This is the first year I was accepted into NYO2 – however, two years ago I was accepted as an alternate in case someone could not attend.”
Camden said the group only accepts eight cellists.
“So, I am one of eight from across the country,” Camden shared. “To realize that I was one of eight to be selected was amazing, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Attaining this honor is not Camden’s first accolade. Regularly, Camden is a cellist with the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra.
“In a normal year, I would travel up there to Pittsburgh to play at Heinz Hall,” he said. “Right now, we stay in touch through Zoom due to the pandemic.”
Before joining up with the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, Camden said he performed with the West Virginia Youth Symphony Orchestra as the principal cellist.
“I was also accepted into the Governor’s School for the Arts and back in Upshur County, during a normal year, I am part of the Buckhannon Chamber Orchestra and last year, I had a string orchestra class at Buckhannon-Upshur High School,” he said. “I conduct the Upshur County Youth Symphony Orchestra, which I started.”
Camden said he created the Upshur County Youth Symphony Orchestra when he returned from West Virginia Youth Symphony Orchestra.
“We went on a European tour with the West Virginia Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2017 and when I got back, I realized there is a lot more advanced music people could be playing,” Camden said. “This was an enhancement, and we were having to travel clear to Charleston to get that orchestra experience. So, I thought maybe I could bring that enhancement to Upshur County by starting a group. Last week was our first in-person practice in more than a year due to the pandemic. However, we did put together a virtual concert that is on YouTube.”
Many folks might ask how a young man such as Camden became interested in playing the cello. Camden said his interest was sparked in a very unusual way.
“Back when I was in fourth-grade, we started learning about the Titanic,” he said. “I was interested, and I watched the movie. There was a scene with the orchestra up on the deck of the ship and there was something about that which was very interesting to me.”
Camden said when he was in sixth grade, he selected an elective class and took a class to learn to play the violin – an instrument he still plays.
“After playing the violin for about a year, I realized our middle school orchestra did not have any cellists – they had all moved up to the high school,” he said. “At that point, I tried out the cello to help out the orchestra, but I realized the cello was more interesting than the violin.”
He said along with the cello and violin, he also plays the viola and the double bass.
“A year later, I began taking private cello lessons and my instructor asked me if I would be interested in auditioning for the West Virginia Youth Symphony,” he said. “I was reluctant, but I did apply and was accepted.”
Along with all these accomplishments, Camden said he was also selected for All State.
“In eighth grade I was the first chair cellist, which is unexpected for the first year being accepted,” he said. “My freshman year, I was second chair cellist and last year I was second chair again. This year, I was accepted and am first chair. I was also accepted into All State second chair for the double bass.”
In the future, hopefully, Camden said he would like to join a professional orchestra, and he said he may also like to perform solo – but music is something that he definitely sees as his future career. Some of his favorite artists include Yo-Yo Ma, an American cellist who attended The Julliard School and Harvard University.
“I actually saw Yo-Yo Ma perform live in Pittsburgh with the Pittsburgh Symphony,” Camden said.
Some of his favorite musicians include Janos Starker, who was a Hungarian-American cellist, and Israeli American violinist Itzhak Perlman.
“I was actually on a Zoom call with the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony with Itzhak Perlman,” Camden said. “It was great to talk to the greatest violinist in the world.”
Along with his musical endeavors, Camden said he is part of the Glenville State College dual enrollment program at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.
“I am on course to graduate with an associate degree in general studies at the same time I graduate high school,” Camden said. “The main thing people should know is the cost of this is about one-tenth of the cost of attending college, and it is all online.”
Aside from music, Camden, who gives cello lessons, said he enjoys math and science.
“I am involved in the Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestras in Pittsburgh,” he said. “We do that virtually right now.”
Camden said he is working toward some other lofty goals in the near future. Stay tuned to My Buckhannon to learn about and share in his accomplishments.