HomeNew Camp Alert: Creative Vocal Lab and Choral Conservatory

Amy Malkoff's picture

A Cappella Learnin' is on the rise as more people seek to be involved at various levels from high school (or earlier!) to pro. Camps and seminars and classes are popping up all over. From Deke Sharon and Brody McDonald's Camp A Cappella for high school students, to The Vocal Company's innovative Next Level series, to all of CASA's festival offerings, if you want to learn it, someone's teaching it.

For the third year, students from grade 7-12 can also attend two two-week a cappella camps through SUNY Purchase (NY), the Creative Vocal Lab and the Choral Conservatory. With focus on composition, performance, and vocal technique, this program immerses students in a cappella in a fun and engaging way. We talked to lead instructor Evan Feist about this camp:

How did this come about?

When I went to SUNY Purchase (2005-2009) I started the first a cappella group there called Choral Pleasure. in 2008, Jazz Studies Director Pete Malinverni started a gospel choir called Soul Voices that I quickly became the manager of.  In 2011, Kelly Jackson, Director of Continuing Ed, Precollege & Youth Summer programs, was trying to start a GLEE-like "show choir" and Pete recommended me. Kelly gave me a call and I said i understood her idea but wanted to do something different, something I've never seen before: I wanted to create a student-driven non-repertoire based choir. I wanted the curriculum to be flexible enough to follow the students as they explore, and be able to delve into whatever aspect was interesting that day. I also wanted everything that was performed at the concert to be either written/arranged by the class and/or improvised on the spot. We teach a lot of music theory, song structure/form, songwriting techniques as well as vocal theory.

How many staff are involved? What are your backgrounds?

I am the lead instructor and my assistant instructor is Andrew Fox.  We usually have two TAs from the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music. Both Andrew's and my bio are up on our site: http://www.stacksofwaxproductions.com/meet-the-team/

How many kids will be involved? How do they apply?

Usually 20 kids in the first class and about 10 in the second. It's 5 hours a day, 5 days a week for 2 weeks (each) and the students range from 7 - 12 grade. Links with info and to apply are below.

How are you different than the other a cappella camps that have popped up lately?

Unfortunately we cannot accept college students, so that's one way we're different.  We are for middle school and high school students. Also, we focus on creation/composition and not just vocal production, the majority of our concert is filled with original compositions and some of them are not in song form (soundscapes, audio poems, etc)

Can kids still sign up?

Yes! The info is here:



Where do the students come from? How do they find out about it?

They find out about it through direct mail and their middle school/high school teachers. Most of the students are from Westchester.

How does this culminate?

It culminates with a concert that's professionally recorded and mailed to each student.