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Orchestra players gather at camp; concert tonight

Marlys Donaldson plays the violin during the Waitaki Summer Music Camp this week. PHOTO: NIC DUFF

As orchestra members from around the globe descend on North Otago for the 26th Waitaki Summer Music Camp, for one string musician it is a homecoming of sorts.

Marlys Donaldson, has been attending the camp since it began in 1996.

"It’s really like a big family. It’s really fun."

Ms Donaldson is a violinist and has been playing for almost 50 years.

Watching her school band perform inspired her to take up the instrument.

"That was how I started. I started in a group and then I had private lessons and went through the exams.

"I’ve done a lot of orchestra playing over the years," Ms Donaldson said.

One of the organisers Tim Wilkinson, said there are about 70 players attending the event at Waitaki Boy’s High School, which meant this year’s group made up a full-sized orchestra.

Ms Donaldson is originally from Oamaru and attended Waitaki Girls’ High School while her father, John Hammond Donaldson, was rector at Waitaki Boys’ High School for 15 years, so she has quite a connection with the town.

In 1995, she moved north to Christchurch but still returned to the Waitaki for the camp every year except for a three year hiatus between 2011 and 2013.

Ms Donaldson keeps coming back to the camp because she enjoys the opportunity to play music pieces from a wide range of eras.

"It’s always a challenge and it’s wonderful playing so much beautiful music."

It had been great to see how the camp had developed over the years, and to catch up with other people who routinely return to the camp year in and year out, she said.

Players who attended ranged in age from as young as 14 to over 80-years-old.

A public concert is being held in the Waitaki Boys’ High School auditorium from 7:30pm this evening.

Tickets are available at the door — $15 for adults, $5 for school-aged people or $30 for a family.


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